Seven American Generals Who Shaped How We Wage War

Winning wars requires more than just an army; it requires military tactics and strategy. Planning an offense or a defense on a football field takes thought and effort. Imagine multiplying that offense or defense to include thousands of men, horses or tanks, and supply needs. There have been many great generals in history, who relied upon smart strategy, or, in some cases, a willingness to accept great losses, to secure an American victory in wars from the American Revolution to Desert Storm.

These generals varied from the calm and thoughtful, like Eisenhower to the brash and loud, like Patton. They shared a commitment to duty, patriotism and a belief that their army could be victorious.

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George Washington

George Washington is most often remembered as the first President of the United States; however, before he was President Washington, he was General Washington, leader of the Continental Army. Washington was a skilled military leader and strategist, and his defeat of the British is a memorable moment in military history.

In 1776, Washington and the Continental Army lost the colony of New York to the British. Washington was frustrated and angered by his defeat, and did not forget it, even as his troops left Valley Forge in the spring of 1778. Washington communicated his plan with the Continental Congress in a series of letters, and in 1779, received a letter from the President of the Continental Congress to think himself, “at Liberty to direct the military operations of these States in such a manner as you think expedient”.

Washington’s initial strategy required the full cooperation of France, but also required a British willingness to fight in New York. The British preferred to fight further south, believing this provided them with an advantage. His initial strategy placed the decisive battle in New York City, but this was not to be. The French encouraged a final battle in Virginia.

In 1781, Washington learned that the French navy had effectively trapped the British army in Virginia. This led to the creation of a new strategy.  The decisive battle would be fought at Yorktown.

Outside New York, Washington built bread ovens and army camps, and circulated letters discussing his attack on New York, then under the command of British General Clinton. Everything possible was done to maintain the impression of a planned assault on New York City.

Leaving behind a small force, Washington and most of his troops set out for Yorktown. In September, a large number of American and French forces gathered in Williamsburg. The Battle of Yorktown began by the end of that month, and ended by the 18th of October with a British surrender.

Washington’s smart use of confusion tactics provided the cover and space necessary to amass troops at Williamsburg and to take Yorktown. His willingness to be flexible with his plan brought success for the young nations.

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  • I don’t recall Schwarzkopf wanting to go to Baghdad at all. He knew the mission of Desert Storm was to simply push the Iraqis out of Kuwait. Although it’s been a couple years since I read his autobiography.

    • IndigoRed

      Schwarzkopf did oppose an offensive on Baghdad because he simply hadn’t the men and materiel for such an operation. He had planned on the liberation of Kuwait with minimal power projection, and without backup forces – he had no reserves. Force projection into Iraq to Baghdad would have left his small force vulnerable to Iraq’s remaining forces which were still formidable.

      • Archer110353

        You are correct. US forces did not have adequate forces nor did we plan on having the required supply chain for the push towards Baghdad. It was never the goal. The goal was to push Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. This was accomplished.

    • john_koenig

      I recall him saying off the record that he was ready to take Baghdad but was rebuffed by Colin Powell.
      Think of the misery that could have been avoided if we had gotten Saddam 15 years earlier.

      • Charles Cates

        Yep, most of the wars past WWII have had more than a military objective. Oil, oil, oil…

        • Heartland Patriot

          Aw, sad that HRC lost?

          • Charles Cates

            No. I don’t like pols. I don’t like gov. I worked for those bastards 15 years

        • 714knarf

          Nonsense…it has never been about oil…we have enough oil on this continent to supply our needs for the next 500 years. the problem with the wars since WWII is that we forgot that we won WWII not with body counts but by destroying the enemy’s ability to conduct war.

    • Phillip Barker

      Look at the tape of him announcing the halt. He could barely contain his rage about being told to stop.

      • The campaign was ended arbitrarily at 100 hours. Schwarzkopf wanted a few more days to mop up and consolidate his gains. NOT invade Baghdad. He was not alone in that assessment.

  • Grant’s success was due to the fact he had more troops and supplies and did not mind getting half his forces killed since he knew eventually the other side would run out of bodies. He got over 7,000 of his men killed in 30 minutes at Cold Harbor and still refused to stop the offensive, his genius was based on getting his men killed he was no commander he was a butcher.

  • Erica

    Patton fought in the Mexican American War? Maybe you mean he was in Pershing’s expedition to Mexico in 1916

  • Wade Gregg

    His troops called him “Old Blood and Guts” –> wrong. The American press coined the term “Old Blood and Guts.” Patton’s troops affectionately called him “Georgie” especially while he was in command of Third Army in Europe.

  • Benton Rollins

    McARTHUR WAS VERY OVER RATED. HE WAS GIVEN 24 HRS NOTICE OF THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR AND DID ALMOST NOTHING TO PREPARE OUR FORCES IN THE PHILLIPINES. HIS AIR FORCE WAS CAUGHT ON THE GROUND AND DESTROYED, WHICH LEFT THE GROUND TROOPS IN DIRE STRAITS. HE LED THE UN TROOPS ALL THE WAY TO THE CHINESE BORDER IN THE KOREAN WAR AND IGNORED WARNINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR THE CHINESE . WHEN THEY ATTACKED THE UN FORCES WERE ROUTED AND FORCED WAY BACK INTO S. KOREA. BIGGEST MARINE CORP RETREAT IN HISTORY. FIRED BY TRUMAN BASICALLY FOR INSUBORDINATION. WANTED TO DROP THE A-BOMB ON CHINA WHICH WOULD HAVE STARTED WWIII. PLUS HE WAS VERY ARROGANT, CONCEITED, AND FULL OF HIMSELF.

  • Jmorrow

    An interesting selection, but Patton, MacAuthur and Eisenhower would not have accomplished anything without Marshal. He changed the way we waged war by engaging the full industrial resources of the US in the effort.

  • Randy Finley

    General Patton did not serve in the Mexican American War (April 25, 1846 – February 2, 1848). That would have been difficult since he wasn’t born until November 11, 1885. He did however participate in the Pancho Villa Expedition in 1916. A little solid research and proper references would make for a much more interesting and credible article.

    • Grabber

      You are correct sir…perhaps the writer is referring to the Pancho Villa incursion into Mexico as the Mexican American War.

    • Dar

      Thank you, Randy, for letting them know. Words (and titles) do mean things.

    • David Couvillon

      He served in the “Pancho Villa Expedition”. Mar 1916-Feb 1917.. (I guess technically you could call it a Mexican American War).

    • Phillip Barker

      They also grossly misrepresented the events of the Korean War. MacArthur was fired because he insisted on following retreating Chinese troops into China to destroy them rather than let them regroup, regain strength and attack again.

      • Ralf Zabotskowitz

        They never crossed the Yalu, so they didn’t follow them into China. China told Mac that if he persisted in his campaign to the Chinese border (
        In North Korea) they would enter the conflict. Mac didn’t believe them, believed if they did our airpower would be able to stop them. He was wrong.

        • Mike Casey

          no the CIA was wrong, it was their job and they screwed up at every opportunity, it was their job to monitor aggression around the globe Mac’s job was Japan and that was a masterpiece of nation building, the Chinese were in the war from the first shot as was Russia

      • Dave_TX

        MacArthur was grossly insubordinate and was too old to understand the changed nature of warfare after the development of the Bomb.

        • Mike Casey

          yeah and Truman’s genius have left us with the problems we have today with N Korea

          • Dave_TX

            As I implied above, your understanding of the war is as poor as MacArthur’s. I suppose you think another world war would have been an acceptable outcome.

      • MacArthur also requisitioned 20 atomic bombs for his planned invasion of China. Also missing in this article is MacArthur ignoring obvious signs of Chinese intervention as Allies Forces approached the Yalu River.

        This was not going to be pretty. The Chinese were well-prepared and knew of MacArthur’s intentions and game plan.

        • Gary

          Actually, the Chinese were poorly trained, prepared,
          and equipped. The only thing they had was numbers. A large portion of their Army froze to death at the Chosin Resevoir.

          • In fact, the Allied forces did not face the regular Chinese Army. The Chinese consigned to battle in Korea were almost entirely hasty conscripts. Volunteers in name only, enlisted under duress, whose training consisted of a forced march to the Front.

            China was in for the long haul. Their regular forces in reserve, those in Korea were merely cannon fodder. Delaying the expected MacArthur China offensive. No big surprise on their performance, considering.

          • Alec Ordway

            A large portion was slaughtered by the marines under Gen. Oliver Smith at Chosin and the “attack in a different direction” campaign. Thank God Gen. Smith didn’t listen to MacArthur’s subordinate Gen. Almond and proceed recklessly into the interior. His foresight to build airstrips and stockpile supplies saved the division.

        • Matthew T. Costello

          wouldn’t that have been the intelligence agencies jobs, Mac job was Japan

        • Matthew T. Costello

          the problem was the cowardly Democrats wouldn’t let Mac fight the Chinese who were fighting us….Marshall only fought in one small battle, had no idea what war was about, Truman was a captain of artillery who was more offended about the way Mac dressed than the soldiers killed and wounded…you know how easily Dems are offended, Bradley was a sloppy Butcher of a general and thought he was a great general yet all the generals knew Mac was by far their superior and said so on several occasions that is why they were all afraid to confront him

          • As much as I don’t like Communism, expanding the war into China would be a fool’s errand. China would serve no tactical or strategic purpose. Using A-bombs would be genocidal in China, again for no tactical purpose.

            It would with great certainty start WW3. North Korea was primarily a RUSSIAN client state. They asked STALIN for permission to invade South Korea, not China. Invasion of China would likely provoke Russia to enter the fight.

            Russia had SUBSTANTIAL and relatively superior forces in the region. Moreover, use of A-bombs in China would almost guarantee the Russia would use their own A-bombs in Europe. MacArthur was well past his prime in Korea, and his insolence only compounded the issue. When you speak of being out of touch, the amount of time in previous decades that MacArthur spent in the US was best measured on a watch, not a calendar.

            MacArthur was rightfully dismissed. Anyone of lesser stature would have been demoted, court-martialed, or worse.

          • Dave_TX

            Actually, Mao wanted Stalin to send arms so that he could invade Taiwan. Stalin instead sent him arms and made Mao send the 2 million “volunteers” into NK.

          • China had a plethora of reasons to act in Korea. China’s ongoing and eternal issues with Taiwan notwithstanding. Stalin may have given his blessings and permission for China’s actions in Korea, but there were no formal orders.

      • Pertinax4

        Read the forgotten war. McArthur was asking the joint chiefs for nukes in China and Russia, along with mining their harbors etc. all after being asked if he could hold Korea at the Pusan perimeter, or did he need evac. He was flipping crazy. Thank goodness for Ridgeway. The greatest American General.

        • disqus_CiVP3JkCb9

          Eisenhower later threatened nukes.

          • Matthew T. Costello

            any one with any sense would threaten nukes if no one else had them, that’s what they were there for

          • Nelson Kerr

            We were not the only People with Nukes at the time, Where did you get that silliness from?

          • George Erdner

            America was the only nation with a large inventory of deliverable nuclear weapons. The Soviets didn’t have the means or the inventory to pose a credible nuclear threat until a few years after the Korean war.

        • Matthew T. Costello

          that was just a saber rattling , MacArthur was the greatest general in American history, and he lost fewer men in a longer period of time than Ridgeway, he was ordered bt the joints chiefs for bomb from the air half a bridge, none of the joint chiefs could match him in intelligence or bravery, Bradley lost more at the Battle of the Bulge than Mac in the entire war, Read American Caesar, all Ridgeway did was hold the line and give us a North and South Korea we have today, find me a war that Ridgeway won

          • Meliton Arriola

            Ridgeway followed orders, something that MacArthur had a problem with. His soldiers in the Pacific had him pegged right, Dugout Doug.

          • Matthew T. Costello

            read a little about Mac, the WWII soldiers were incredibly unfair to him, he used to seek out death on the Battlefield

          • Mike Casey

            yeah one of the GREAT orders was to bomb half a bridge from the air, wanna try it? like all liberals Truman thought he knew it all and Acheson was a feeble minded moron, but they thought they knew all about warfare look at the mess they caused talk about being brought up on charges, Truman’s policies were criminal

          • Dave_TX

            I’ve stood on the remaining half of the bridge. The North Korean half is gone and has been since 1950.
            Fools like you do not understand how the world changed after WWII and how the primary mission was to push the NKs out of South Korea while at the same time avoiding kicking off another world war.

          • nrthstaar

            MacArthur was an ego-maniac who should have been court marshaled for his gross failure to act after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

          • Mike Casey

            Mac lost fewer men in the entire war than was lost at the battle of the bulge….the reason they didn’t fire him or bring charges against him was because FDR and Marshall knew he was far smarter than they were a better leader and general and they had planned to let the Pacific go until after Germany was defeated, but MacArthur’s leadership was making all the difference and he was far too popular in the US to let him go

          • Portland Dave

            No, FDR and Marshall held onto MacArthur because he was even better at manipulating the press than Roosevelt was. MacArthur did NOT pursue, let alone create, the strategy of island-hopping it was Nimitz who created and followed that strategy. In fact, most historians now feel the retaking of the Phillipines was an unnecessary and wasteful exercise of MacArthur’s ego.

          • 4BlueStars

            True, he was an egomaniac. And his failure to take appropriate defensive measures after Pearl Harbor is inexplicable.
            But his strategy of attacking the weakest points and bypassing strongholds like Rabaul, allowing them to die on the vine, resulted in fewer casualties throughout the entire war than some, like Clark, sustained in single campaigns.

          • George Erdner

            The bypassing strategy came from Chester Nimitz, not MacArthur. And MacArthur’s lower casualty numbers stem from the fact that most of the fighting and dying in the Pacific theater was done by US Marines, under the command of Nimitz. The Army had relatively little to do in the Pacific theater. And, if MacArthur had gotten his way, America wouldn’t have used nukes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and there would have been MILLIONS of dead American GIs as MacArthur attempted to invade Honshu.

          • nrthstaar

            That’s because Nimitz with the Navy and the Marines did the heavy lifting in the Pacific.

          • Jesse Denton

            The Army made over half of the beach heads in the Pacific. The Army simply did not have a cameraman with each company to document what they were doing. The Army’s soldiers joked a Marine squad was 7 riflemen and a cameraman. MacArthur kept the press at his hdq, I think because of his vanity. Nimitz was more the hero in the Pacific but never sought the glory like MacArthur.

        • Randy Brown

          bullshit a general that didnt want to win the greatest general ! bullshit

      • nrthstaar

        MacArthur should have faced court marshal for doing nothing to defend the P.I. after the attack on Pearl Harbor, even though he had eight hours warning. Instead he nominated himself for a Medal of Honor which he was given, I assume it was a PR move by Roosevelt and Marshall. Wonder what Gen. Short and Admiral Kimmel thought.

        • K Larry Richie

          …I agree Phillip Barker…A tragic disgrace how McArthur left the American and Philipino forces hanging out to dry…My uncle Howard was on Bataan–He survived the take over of Bataan by the Japanese, but died three months later in the Japanese POW camp…

      • Edward Tilton

        MacArthur bungled into North Korea with large gaps between units. The Chinese had warned us that if any UN troops crossed the 38th Parallel. All of a sudden a million Chinese had them surrounded. Just like Bataan we took a beating.

    • Willik

      General Patton was a Logistics genius which made him great tactical commander in the field. No commander in WWII was better at it and he had to do it in a hobo’s ”rock soup” style.

      He succeeded DESPITE his American superiors who were “Allies” and not American as far as he was concerned.

      As an aside: General Patton was dyslexic, yet overcame it to become one of the greatest, if not the greatest, field commander the US has EVER fielded. And he lead, many times, from the FRONT!

    • Eric van Tassell

      whoever wrote this was not paying attention in ESL class

    • Just_Plain_Theo

      “General Patton did not serve in the Mexican American War (April 25, 1846
      – February 2, 1848). That would have been difficult since he wasn’t
      born until November 11, 1885.”

      Hey…Patton was just that good! 😉

  • eramthgin

    Generals MacArthur and Eisenhower do not deserve to be on this list.

  • Joe Wilson

    What about old Fuss and Feathers? Made it to Mexico city with a tiny force and ended the war, was offered the presidency of Mexico by the Mexicans but refused. the came up with the Anaconda plan that strangled the South into submission. Missed a good one there author.

    • Pertinax4

      Think about his army. Lee, Grant, Mclellan, Jackson etc etc. Mexicans never had a chance. But you are right incredible feat.

  • cglover

    Where is William Tecumseh Sherman?
    The first American general who truly understood war..and how to fight and win.

    • Archer110353

      Sherman reported to Grant…or did you miss that bit of information?

      • UnderCoverBrother

        Grant was too drunk to supervise

        • Dave_TX

          Another believer in the myth of the Lost Cause.

        • Pertinax4

          None of Grants decisions pointed to the bottle as a cause.

      • Pertinax4

        Sherman was under Grant, but deployed his army much more carefully , and successfully than Grant.. but Grant was up against Lee..who is to say he didn’t do exactly what you needed to do to beat Lee?

        • Archer110353

          I agree. Sherman was a brilliant tactician and his troops as a result of their respect for him were inspired to forge through hardship and fought without any restricted rules of engagement. Both Grant and Sherman understood this concept of warfare as it may have been the only way to obtain the enemy’s capitulation without prolonging the death and destruction in a war of attrition.

        • Thank you for this post!

      • Edward Tilton

        Sherman refused a Promotion that would have made him Grants equal. He decided to enjoy his autonomy.

    • Phillip Barker

      He would have been tried for war crimes in today’s world. Being willing to burn everything in your path against an already defeated enemy does not make you a great general.

      • Dave_TX

        Sherman did not burn everything in his path. Obviously you grew up with the great lie of the Lost Cause. After the war people who lived many miles from the path of Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee claimed he burned them out. That was a good story to pass down to the grandchildren, but it was a lie.

        • Phillip Barker

          Every reputable source I’ve read confirms he burned military targets, industry targets, infrastructure targets, and private property. His stated reason for doing it was to crush the south in a way that they would not economically recover for 100 years. That strategy worked. It’s considered a war crime today.

          Directly from his written orders:
          “To army corps commanders alone is entrusted the power to destroy mills,
          houses, cotton-gins, and for them this general principle is
          laid down: In districts and neighborhoods where the army is unmolested
          no destruction of such property should be permitted; but should
          guerrillas or bushwhackers molest our march, or should the inhabitants
          burn bridges, obstruct roads, or otherwise manifest local hostility,
          then army commanders should order and enforce a devastation more or less
          relentless according to the measure of such hostility.”

          Apparently every district and neighborhood entered by Sherman’s men was very hostile. Don’t try to rewrite history. There’s ample evidence of the brutality of the march. His march is the reason there are so few antebellum homes in the south. They were all burned by his men. There’s also ample communication from Lee’s commanders begging him to allow them to implement the same policies against the north to level the playing field. He always replied that he would rather lose than become barbarians raiding and plundering civilians like Sherman.

          • trollkiller1

            its not a war crime to destroy property, unless you’re an oversensitive revisionist Southerner longing for the days of slavery and the Confederacy

          • When you destroy food stocks, livestock, crops, and shelter it is indeed what we consider a war crime. Stalin killed more Ukrainians doing this than Hitler killed Jews in the gas chamber.

          • gladileft

            But Lee did confiscate and burn stock, property etc. in his retreat from Gettysburg.

          • Pertinax4

            The women of the South hated Sherman. He told them at one point that Grant was butchering their husbands back east. He was burning some crops and buildings, and killing hardly anyone, and yet he was the devil? Strange where we place our priorities. On stuff rather than lives. It’s what made him a military genius. He understood war like Scipio.

        • SylviasDaddy

          Either you lack accurate information (nothing to be ashamed of) or you are being malicious.
          I call your attention to “War Crimes Against Southern Civilians” by Walter Brian Cisco.

      • It is POSSIBLY a war crime in this era, to loot and destroy civilian foodstuffs and anything of value to the enemy. Moot point. War is HELL, Sherman knew that, and his strategies forced the South into an earlier surrender. Pure and simple.

      • trollkiller1

        “already defeated”? funny how none of the Confederate Generals knew that

    • HardCorps

      “Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number.”

      This General had some understanding of war, himself.

      TJ Jackson, Lt Gen

      • Pertinax4

        He was tardy to a few battles. But he knew what it was about for sure. A better Confederate choice would be Forrest. Good thing he wasn’t given more command earlier.

        • HardCorps

          Thank you, for the reply.

          Do you have a certain book that you would recommend, concerning LtGen Forrest, General Sherman, and/or General Ridgeway?

          Thanks, again, for your time.

          Stay vigilant, 24/7/365.

          • Pertinax4

            if you haven’t read Shelby Footes 3 book series “Civil War a narrative”, you should. My favorite Book/books of all time! Forrest might have been the greatest soldier from American history. Fierce, and smart. They should do a movie on his life. The man was a raging inferno in battle. Fascinating life. As far as Ridgeway, I would start with “The forgotten war’ by Clay Blair? It will leave you with pride in being American. How we wouldn’t conclude a peace until we could guarantee the safety of N Koreans , and Chinese who had defected/surrendered. They would have been killed or imprisoned at home. So we went on for a few more years of stalemate that cost us many casualties.

          • HardCorps

            Thanks. I appreciate your time.

    • Eric Belander

      That would be Stonewall Jackson. He understood modern war before Sherman did.

      • Dave_TX

        Jackson was very inconsistent. He performed well in the Valley and at Chancellorsville, but failed miserably in the Seven Days Battle.

      • SylviasDaddy

        Please furnish the details of any war crime or atrocity that Stonewall Jackson or men under his command committed.

    • UnderCoverBrother

      The consumate war criminal…

    • Thank you. Where is William Tecumseh Sherman? Nothing against the others, but every American general since General Sherman has studied and used the tactics devised by General Sherman.

    • Sharon

      Don’t mention that name in public in the South. You might be sorry. He is not considered one of the best by the military.

  • sargeh

    There is no way MacArthur belongs on this list.

  • j40bob

    Many of these generals were simply more famous than some of their contemporaries who may have been better. Sherman was probably better than Grant, as good as Grant was. Omar Bradley may have been as important as Patton. It’s hard to say how good MacArthur was. His non-stop public posturing made him look more heroic than he probably was. He cost a lot of lives in Korea by pursuing the Chinese forces as far as he did. Schwartzkopf was made famous by his well-received public descriptions of the war. As the article stated, his tactics weren’t extraordinary; he overwhelmed the Iraqis with superior numbers and weaponry. There were a lot of good generals, including a couple on this list. But the list is mostly popularity.

    • Jeeper752

      Decades ago I had the opportunity to ask the opinion of Army and Marine veterans of MacArthur’s Western Pacific Command.

      The Army vets thought “Doug” could walk on water.
      The Marines said they would not even pee on him if he was on fire.

      Korean War vets I had the chance to ask had the same opinions and broke down along service lines.

      • Pertinax4

        I went to High school where McArthur did. We were worshippers so to speak. But a thorough reading of WW2 , and Korea, and you will understand what he was. Nimitz was the real deal in WW2. Had we totally followed his plans we would have probably ended the war much earlier. Korea is just an example of almost insane egotism displayed by Douglas. Ridgeway saved our bacon in Korea. A brilliant General who nobody knows about. Our best ever.

  • Kurt Taube

    I would have included Robert E. Lee and possibly Stonewall Jackson, even if they were best known for fighting against U.S. forces.

  • UnderCoverBrother

    Ridgway is credited with being the first allied general to recognize the Chinese pattern of attack and its vulnerabilities. He saw that the Chinese came ferociously in overwhelming numbers, but fought only briefly before retiring to rest before attacking again. Ridgway reasoned that Chinese supplies were limited by the amount each man could carry on his back and, in heavy fighting, were soon used up. Ridgway found considerable success in launching immediate counter-attacks before the Chinese could resupply its soldiers.

    • Dave_TX

      That, and he knew how to use his artillery to great advantage.

  • sciajoe

    The article missed an important points with Ike. During the time between WWI and WWII, the army gave him the task to study the relationship between the military and industry to better work with industry should we get in another war. That assignment had a lot to do with his appointment to serve in Britain and to become allied commander in Europe. He had a mind for logistics and managing troop and material movement. We had plenty of tacticians, but only one general with Eisenhower’s unique skills. He also had political skills – working with generals and world leaders from many countries. If he had an ego – it did not show – he always showed up for work and never brought attention to himself.

  • Dave_TX

    Grant recognized the Civil War had to be prosecuted across the whole of the South in a coordinated fashion unlike his predecessors. Certainly, Winfield Scott had recognized the continental scale of the war, but he was shoved aside and left only his anaconda idea of using a blockade to isolate the South. Grant took advantage of the network of rivers and the North’s ability to repair and build railroads to move troops and supplies rapidly across the war zone while using the telegraph networks to stay in communication with the far flung armies. The Civil War was the first modern war and Grant was the first modern general.

  • Dave_TX

    Right up to the beginning of WWII Patton saw a role for horse cavalry and even designed a new cavalry saber.

    • Frankly, if horses didn’t eat like horses, Patton would have used them to augment his armored cavalry.

  • Tony Bell

    Our greatest general was the one who didn’t lead men in combat beyond the rank of captain: George Marshall.

    • Pertinax4

      I think of him as the greatest American of the 21st century. Planner/General/Statesman . Steven Ambrose told a caller once on a show that whenever the big 3 (Stalin, FDR, Churchill) met in their meetings Yalta etc. That the undisputed head of the table was wherever Marshall was sitting. He garnered that much respect. And rightly so.

  • Willik

    General/President Eisenhower was a “Political” general who never heard a shot fired in anger.

    He WAS good at delegating authority to those who could apply where necessary, in both his service as SHEAF commander and President.

  • SylviasDaddy

    Yes, just as the German Army’s atrocities forced Poland and Czechoslovakia and Ukraine into an earlier surrender, and persuaded millions of Jews to abandon all hope.
    The authors of the Axis atrocities paid with their lives.
    The damyankees who did that and more were never punished.

    • trollkiller1

      comparing Union forces to Nazis is historically absurd and morally beneath contempt, unless you’re a member of the KKK. Ironed your sheets yet?

      • SylviasDaddy

        [Definitions taken from “Webster’s Third New International Dictionary of the English Language Unabridged” (Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.; 1981)]

        BIGOTRY: Obstinate and unreasoning attachment to one’s own belief and opinions with intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.

        IGNORANCE: A lack of knowledge, either in general or of a particular point.

        INTOLERANCE: Unwillingness to tolerate a difference of opinion or feeling, or refusal to allow others the free enjoyment of their opinions.

        PREJUDICE: Unreasonable predilection for or objection against something; or an opinion or leaning adverse to anything without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge; or an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics; or an opinion or judgment formed beforehand or without due examination.

        Since your remarks were couched in the form of a jeer, some readers might think that you are bigoted, intolerant, or prejudiced. I prefer to be charitable and think that you are simply ignorant – that you lack knowledge of 1860s history. Ignorance is nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to be jeered at. I am glad to help you gain the information you lack.

        I call your attention to “War Crimes Against Southern Civilians” by Walter Brian Cisco. That book will give you the information you don’t have.

        Best wishes to you!

  • Pete Julian

    Where is Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson? Victims of the PC crowd.

  • Alec Ordway

    General Jacob Devers was a better tactician, better at logistics, and a better leader than Eisenhower, Bradley and Patton combined. He could have shortened the war by months and saved lives and prevented the Battle of the Bulged if he’d been allowed to cross the Rhine at Strasbourg.

  • Pertinax4

    General Ridgeway may have been our greatest General ever. His meat grinder destroyed Chinese troops at an alarming rate. He only stopped and fought a defensive battle because he was told to stop. He knew his troops and capabilities, and he led them like a warrior. Read about him if you want to know our best General. Marshall called his feat in Korea one of the greatest military feats in history. And it was. Sherman #2. Washington #3. But then there is George C Marshall, the General you would put in charge of any military, anywhere at any time. Stone cold brilliant. We have had some good ones.

  • Sharon

    He is listed in military textbooks as one of our three best – innovative, smart and great judge of the other side. He was a victim of politics.

  • Sharon

    McArthur was a prima donna and did not have a great tactical mind as did Patton.

  • Joshua Kramer

    How does one speak of great American generals and not include Lee?

  • Ronnie Bishop

    The Patton speech revealed how powerful winners think . Just like Trump!

  • John A. Aragon

    How can the author say that the Battle of the Bulge was “the largest battle the U.S. Army has ever been involved in.” What about D-Day?

    • RedWing55

      Not even close. D-Day had 3 Infantry Divisions assaulting the beaches and 2 Airborne Divisions dropped behind enemy lines. The Battle of the Bulge had the 1st US Army (3 Corps), 3rd US Army (3 Corps), 9th US Army (assigned to 21st British Army Group) as the primary land operations.

  • David Bradley

    MacArthur must share the blame for the disastrous loss of his air force after Pearl Harbor. With hours of advance notice his command failed miserably to take the fight to the Japanese on Formosa and to be ready with planes on patrol for the attack they knew was coming.

  • Joe Dalva

    Who is “Norman B. Schwarzkopf”? Should that not be H. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.?

  • Joseph Sciarillo

    The piece on General Eisenhower left out his greatest ability. He had a vast knowledge of American Industry and its relationship to the military. During the time between the world wars, the army tasked him to learn about and analyze the relationship and write a white paper (large report) for the War Department. His grasp of logistics and knack for detail made him a perfect choice as Allied Commander. I do not know of any other generals of that time who understood how to get the right forces to the right place with the right materials as well as he did. He also had a unique ability to focus on mission without letting his ego get in the way. He was not afraid to share the limelight so long as he got the job done.

  • Bob Konradi

    The “island-hopping” strategy was definitely not Mac Arthur’s. It was Chester Nimitz’s plan. Mac Arthur wanted to attack one Japanese stronghold at a time, going up the Asian mainland and its principal islands, one at a time. It would have taken many years and cost huge American personnel losses. Nimitz wanted to go straight across the Pacific and leave the isolated Japanese outposts to wither on the vine. Also to Mac Arthur’s discredit: he had substantial notice of the attack at Pearl Harbor, and was told to disperse his forces, yet let our fleet of B-17s under his command out in the open where they were (the next day) attacked and destroyed, thus losing our SE Asian principal strike weapon for a total lack of action to protect them, even with plenty of notice. IMO, as has been suggested by others on this blog, he should have been court-martialed and relieved of command. It was only because of a glut of other commanders also being relieved of command that he was spared this ignominy, as Roosevelt couldn’t admit that all his top commanders in the Pacific were incompetent screw-ups.

  • Steve Keeney

    Your crediting General Douglas MacArthur—who was confined to the “SW Pacific Theater” in Australia until the latter stages of WWII—with primarily crafting the winning strategy in the Pacific Theater, without even a mention of Admiral Chester Nimitz suggests to me that you should go back to your military history books. Nimitz is commonly known to have crafted that near flawless strategy with limited resources until the tide in the European Theater was largely turned. For shame! S. Keeney, Denver

  • “During D-Day, Patton led a fictitious army division as part of the overall distraction strategy employed by the U.S. and allies”
    Helpful if you got your facts straight.
    He did not lead a fictitious army division.
    He led a fictitious army group (First United States Army Group aka FUSAG).

  • Dugout Doug should have been court martialed for his disastrous defense of the Philippines.
    With full knowledge that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, he did not prepare the American forces to repel an invasion.
    We should never have invaded the Philippines but rather taken Formosa as Nimitz wanted.

  • Bill Petty

    General Omar Bradley must be included here!!!

  • Jaybo

    Left out 2. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee

    • RhodeIslandAspie

      Why should they be listed? For bolting the US Army and choosing to fight with those who wanted to end this Republic?

  • Randy Brown

    well finally we all know the name of the general responsible for us not winning another war since WWII. Containment not victory , so men die for a tie or they die only to see victory snatched from them by politicians and the war mongers ( Vietnam ) and today we not fight to win but to appease some group or other. How sad to see a great nation like ours , as it falls to our current state

    • Pertinax4

      You must believe that the General is the one who decides what we do in a war, and not the civilian authorities. Ridgeway took over retreating, demoralized US forces in Korea after the Chinese invaded with overwhelming numbers. Our troops were cold, and heading south back to the Pusan perimeter in expectation of evacuation when Ridgeway took over. McArthur was asked 3 times if he could hold the perimeter or if he needed evac. But to not let it get out, in case the S Koreans bolted. He responded with rambling messages asking for Nukes, and WW3!!! Ridgeway was able to halt the retreat, and inflict what was termed the MEATGRINDER on the Chinese troops. He advanced back north. He was told to stop at the 38th parralell by superiors, and he pushed slightly north of it to secure defensible ground. Marshall called it one of the great military feats in US history.

  • Kenny Dexter

    Wendell Fertig should be near the top of the top. Stayed behind after the US army surrendered in the Philippines in WW2. Raised a army of 25,000 men and controlled the island of Mindanao, letting MacArthur bypass it. The Japanese only controlled the major cities. Did this and when supplies arrived by sub had a military band playing on the docks. 2000 miles behind the lines. History screwed him in the books. Who else can show this as a American General. Read the book “They fought alone”.