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"Best French Commanders" Topic

33 Posts

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19 Apr 2011 8:06 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board
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1,011 hits since 31 Oct 2010
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

LHMGKodiak Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 7:56 a.m. PST

I cant think of any but my French history is pretty weak.

Diadochoi Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:00 a.m. PST


LHMGKodiak Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:07 a.m. PST

There is DeGaulle early on before he became a politician.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2010 8:12 a.m. PST

Napoleon III?

tobermoray Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:13 a.m. PST

They made a sequel?

LHMGKodiak Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:13 a.m. PST


But I have not read enough about them to really know. Napoleon is probably the best you are right (I should have said excluding him) but I was thinking there must be some obscure ones who are really good we just dont hear much about them. Napoleon certainly won a lot of amazing battles but his tactics were kind of like a battering ram and didnt really care about his troops from what I have read.

Whereas some one like Creighton Abrams inflicted two to three times the losses on the germans as he took. The well fare of his men being a big concern.

Jovian1 Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:13 a.m. PST

Turenne? DeSaxe? Lannes? Davout? Vauban? Charlemagne (I don't know if he should count as being French). Plenty more to discuss, like Richelieu, what are the criteria?

Duck Crusader Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:18 a.m. PST


LHMGKodiak Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:18 a.m. PST

what are the criteria?

Good question. Can anyone before the 20th century even compare when you consider the complexity of modern warfare??

LHMGKodiak Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:21 a.m. PST


I dont know about general but MacArthur once said he was the best clerk he ever had under his command.

Thresher Fezian Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:31 a.m. PST

"Good question. Can anyone before the 20th century even compare when you consider the complexity of modern warfare??"

I don't know. Would an outstanding general from the 20th century still be outstanding when commanding an army from a previous century? A whole different set of problems if you ask me.

Duck Crusader Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:36 a.m. PST

Logistics without the benefits of modern (IE ANY!) railroads or transport aircraft? And sail powered ships? Please. Napoleon is actually way ahead of his time, just for issuing his men rations instead of expecting them to live solely off the land. If he were alive today he'd probably comment on how easy a MODERN general has it!

NoLongerAMember Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:36 a.m. PST

Joffre and Foch.

willthepiper31 Oct 2010 8:50 a.m. PST

Despite being on the losing side, the Marquis de Montcalme did a very good job leading French and allied Indian forces in New France. Constantly outnumbered, cut off from reinforcements, he managed a very strong campaign.

willthepiper31 Oct 2010 8:52 a.m. PST

Does Joan of Arc count as a French general? Having God on her side no doubt helped, at least with the military victories (although not so much with English jurisprudence).

DeanMoto Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 9:49 a.m. PST

Bigeard; Napoleon was Corsican

quidveritas Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 10:15 a.m. PST

Once again, no criteria. No way to even start to answer this.

Dean Moto raises a good point -- Napoleon wasn't French.

I think Charlemagne is the winner by most standards but only if he counts as being French -- you could make a good argument that he wasn't.


Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP31 Oct 2010 10:36 a.m. PST

Good question. Can anyone before the 20th century even compare when you consider the complexity of modern warfare??

I dispute the assertion that modern warfare is *more* complex, or that the comolexity required a better kind of generalship. All warfare is complex, but in different ways. Surely Caesar and Alexander had complexities to deal with, not the least being having to coordinate with no radio, and supplies supplied by mule and river.
Could Stormin Norman have managed the complexities of managing Gaul or Macedonia without radio?

"Different" does not mean "better".

Black Bull31 Oct 2010 10:52 a.m. PST

As i understand it Corsica was ceded to France in 1768, Napoleon was born in 1769

LHMGKodiak Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 11:10 a.m. PST

Having "radio" ie communications is not new and it adds a dimension of complexity to the equation that earlier commanders may or may not have even understood.

The better question then should be what are the criteria that a general should be judged by?

So I would say the first one would be:

1) More wins than losses [especially campaigns, for example Washington lost more battles than he ever won but he won the last one]

Supercilius Maximus Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 11:30 a.m. PST

Lifted from WD3, to which all plaudits/brickbats/exploding toner cartridges should be addressed…..

For those not familiar with the tune:-

YouTube link

Dum, dum, dum, dum
Dum, dum, dum, dum……

I am the very model of a Gallic major general
I smoke Gauloises and shrug my shoulders in a way ephemeral
On famous Frogs in uniform Kodiak needs to get a fix
So back we go to Roman times to start with Vercingetorix.

Then Clovis, Martel, Charlemagne (which takes the total up to four)
And best known to the English race, its Bill the Bastard Conqueror….
Jeanne d'Arc, Vauban, Turenne, Conde and Luxembourg are all well known,
And any 18th Century buff would call himself a Saxe-ophone.

And any 18th Century buff would call himself a Saxe-ophone.
And any 18th Century buff would call himself a Saxe-ophone.
And any 18th Century buff would call himself – himself a Saxe-ophone.

Our standing army was the first to dominate the Continent
Till <<Marlborough s'en va-t-en-guerre>> and left us feeling impotent
But still in matters military foes both young and ven'rable
Would need to be a genius to beat a Gallic general.

We then turn to the marshals of the Empire and the Consulate,
Whose mastery of warfare makes cadets at St Cyr mas turbate
There's Ney, Moreau, Massena, Marmont, Lannes, Davout and Bernadotte
And though he's really Corsican, young Boney was a damn good shot…..

Canrobert, Bazaine and though the First World War came as a shock
We still produced the likes of Petain, Joffre, d'Esperey and Foch
And whilst you can't compare us since exactly with Vesuvius
We're hardly all deserving of our reputation dubious.

We're hardly all deserving of our reputation dubious.
We're hardly all deserving of our reputation dubious.
We're hardly all deserving of our repu – reputation dubious.

We're smelly and we're arrogant, and snobbish about cheese and plonk,
But don't assume our knapsacks all include a towel and drapeau blanc
You'll see from those I've named above that there were more than several
Who made it chic and quite elite to be a Gallic general.

You'll see from those I've named above that there were more than several
Who made it chic and quite elite to be a Gallic general.

Huscarle31 Oct 2010 12:06 p.m. PST

Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque
Bertrand du Guescelin
Maurice de Saxe
Henry of Navarre

Jakar Nilson31 Oct 2010 12:35 p.m. PST

Montcalm? No. Now the Chevalier de Lévis, on the other hand, there was a great enemy commander that you could admire. While Montcalm was holed up in Quebec, Lévis was causing the British no ends of problems with his many Quebec-Montreal runs. Montcalm wanted (and got) his big European battle, while Lévis knew how to fight North american-style. Not to mention that he actually re-took Quebec before the St. Lawrence thawed out.

Of course, it was all for nought when the fresh British reinforcements forced his surrender.

vtsaogames31 Oct 2010 2:03 p.m. PST

Lévis did not recapture Quebec. He beat the British army but failed to take the city.

Porkmann Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 3:35 p.m. PST

Napoleon was about as French as Mussolini and "de Saxe" was as the name suggests – a German.

William the Conqueror was pretty effective.

LHMGKodiak Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 6:09 p.m. PST

No votes for DeGaulle. He wasnt a bad general and a pretty savvy politician.

Agesilaus Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 8:02 p.m. PST

How about Admiral Comte de Grasse at the Battle of Virginia Capes, or we Americans would all be speaking English.

Flat Beer and Cold Pizza Inactive Member31 Oct 2010 11:28 p.m. PST

Suffren? Jean Bart?

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP01 Nov 2010 3:07 a.m. PST

William the Conqueror wasn't French. He was Norman. There was a difference back then…..

Zopenco 201 Nov 2010 3:14 a.m. PST


Warbeads Inactive Member01 Nov 2010 3:22 a.m. PST

I think a lot of these answers about who is or isn't French are determined by the differences between a Nationality- when did Nations as such become what we mean by the term today – and being a member of an ethnic group. A lot like the ongoing current debate about " hyphenated " Americans or the "<insert state name> then American" viewpoint prior to our 1860's Civil War.

Napoleon was, IIRC, French by the sense of being a citizen of France who owned Corsica but the Corsicans, as many regional peoples (Catalonia, Basque, Scots after union with England,) appear to have listed being"French" as of secondary importance. For centuries it was where (region you came from) that many referenced themselves as before a "nation" such as 1700 "Germany."



Porkmann Inactive Member01 Nov 2010 3:23 p.m. PST

Correct – but I couldn't think of anyone new.

Normans were Nordo-Germanic themselves.

Shadyt10 Nov 2010 8:49 a.m. PST

Napolean for sure.

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