Help support TMP


"Top 5 Military Geniuses" Topic


37 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the Historical Wargaming in General Message Board


Action Log

05 Apr 2016 5:17 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Removed from TMP Poll Suggestions board

Areas of Interest

General

Featured Hobby News Article


1,142 hits since 8 Oct 2015
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian09 Oct 2015 10:25 a.m. PST

Who would you nominate?

ironicon09 Oct 2015 10:35 a.m. PST

Napoleon
Alexander
Frederick the Great
Lee
Jackson

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian09 Oct 2015 10:40 a.m. PST

Napoleon
Marshall
Moltke
Thomas
Pershing

skippy000109 Oct 2015 10:41 a.m. PST

Oswald Boelcke
Iulius Caesar
Jan Ziska
George Washington
Frederick the Great

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2015 10:48 a.m. PST

Napoleon
Pyrrhus
Hannibal
Marlborough
Davout

redbanner414509 Oct 2015 10:57 a.m. PST

Ghengis Khan
Alexander
Hannibal
Gustavus Adolphus
Robert Guiscard

Winston Smith09 Oct 2015 10:57 a.m. PST

Grant
Washington
Scipio Africanus

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2015 11:02 a.m. PST

Sun Tzu
Alexander the great
Hannibal
Napoleon Bonaparte
General Vo Nguyen Giap

Gone Fishing09 Oct 2015 11:07 a.m. PST

Alexander
Hannibal
Napoleon
Lee
Rommel

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2015 11:25 a.m. PST

Most of the wargamers I've met, at least in their own minds.

Random Die Roll Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2015 11:38 a.m. PST

Alexander
Attila the Hun
Rommel
Patton
Napoleon

Cerdic09 Oct 2015 11:40 a.m. PST

Alexander
Napoleon
Frederick
Ghengis Khan

mad monkey 109 Oct 2015 12:31 p.m. PST

Ghengis Khan
Shaka
Marlborough
Gaius Marius
Admiral Yi

Huscarle09 Oct 2015 12:37 p.m. PST

Hannibal
Sertorius
Genghis Khan
Marlborough
Nelson

Winston Smith09 Oct 2015 1:15 p.m. PST

I would question quite a few on this list as "strategic" Geniusses.
There are a few conquerors, like Alexander, Atilla and Genghis who were nothing but … conquerors who did not know when to stop.
Patton was not in a position to exercise "strategy". He's more like what SPI used to call "operational".

And Hannibal failed. Tactical genius, yes. But he had to abandon his army and flee, just like Dugout Doug.

As for Lee, his great strategic thrusts failed. He did ok tactically because he faced morons. Jackson? Maybe but on a small scale.

ironicon09 Oct 2015 1:36 p.m. PST

And Grant WAS??

raylev309 Oct 2015 1:39 p.m. PST

Grant
Napoleon (thru 1809)
Wellington
Marshall

Each of them knew how to win with the forces they had and the constraints within which they had to work.

Teppsta09 Oct 2015 2:29 p.m. PST

Ghengis Khan
Sun Tzu
Alexander the great
Napoleon Bonaparte
Nelson

Winston Smith09 Oct 2015 2:35 p.m. PST

Yes. Grant was.

Gone Fishing09 Oct 2015 2:42 p.m. PST

Winston, I think someone could poke holes in any of the names that have been listed (including yours), attributing their success entirely to things like the men under them, the resources they commanded, the "morons" they faced or the weather; it's simply the nature of lists like this.

The question was regarding military geniuses. This can, of course, be defined in several different ways, not all of them contingent on final success. Don't forget that even geniuses have bad days (I'm sure you know your Horace), and many geniuses have likewise failed, whether in the short-run, the long-run, or both. I'm not arguing that we take any name and start calling the man a genius in spite of his failures, but the arguments you put forward above sound a touch thin regarding the men being discussed.

On a more positive note, this has been an interesting list. It's definitely hard to stick to five!

rmaker09 Oct 2015 3:01 p.m. PST

Yes. Grant was.

Indeed. He, unlike the more highly touted Lee, realized the true nature of the ACW, that is, a war of attrition, and shaped his strategy for that war.

cosmicbank09 Oct 2015 3:10 p.m. PST

Maxim
DuPont
Kaiser (SHIPYARD)
the guy that ran bofors during ww2
H G Wells

Who asked this joker09 Oct 2015 4:16 p.m. PST

Sun Tzu
Napoleon
Alexander the Great
Fredrick the Great
Ghengis Kahn

myxemail09 Oct 2015 4:43 p.m. PST

Berthier

A name I did not see among in any of the above lists

Major General Stanley09 Oct 2015 5:27 p.m. PST

Winfield Scott, excelled at every level of command, rose without influence to the highest levels and designed the strategies to defeat Mexico and the Confederacy.

Grant had every possible advantage, with the worst possible luck would have had a hard time losing. Lee knew he had to make something happen to win. He ran big risks and they didn't come off.

raylev309 Oct 2015 6:10 p.m. PST

Lee was a good tactical general…that was it. He did fine in his AO, but never fully grasped the overall nature of the war and his role in it.

rmaker09 Oct 2015 7:16 p.m. PST

Lee was a good tactical general

Even that is questionable. He was the army commander with the highest proportional losses in the ACW. Even when fighting on the defensive. The only major battle where Lee did not lose more heavily in proportion than his opponent was Fredericksburg.

And the man who ordered the frontal assaults at Malvern Hill and witnessed the results would, if a genius, NOT have ordered Pickett's charge at Gettysburg.

Toy Soldier Green09 Oct 2015 7:58 p.m. PST

Napoleon
Jackson
Hannibal
Jomini
Sun Tzu

Old Contemptibles Supporting Member of TMP09 Oct 2015 8:04 p.m. PST

Not in any particular order.

Napoleon
Fredrick the Great
Hannibal
Rommel
Wellington

Five isn't enough! I could list twenty.

nevinsrip09 Oct 2015 9:52 p.m. PST

And Grant WAS??

Victorious. Isn't that the objective?

Because I only am interested in American History, up until the Wild West period, I don't really have a large pool to draw from. Here are a few men who understood war. Military Geniuses? Maybe not. But they all changed the thinking of the way that war was
fought.

Dan Morgan who understood the nature of his troops and got the most out of them. Changed the way battles were fought forever.

Nathanial Greene. Who bent, but never broke. Always kept his eye on the objective, which was to bleed the British dry.

Andy Jackson. New Orleans and the Florida campaign. Taking Florida changed the country forever. The last foreign territory on the East Coast was dispatched.

And Grant, who knew that the South could be ground down and could never win a war of attrition. He was correct.

Winston Smith10 Oct 2015 8:59 a.m. PST

I wonder why the guys like Lee and Hannibal who LOSE their wars are considered "geniusses" while the guys who brought them to bay are dismissed with a shrug. Interesting.
Three or four mentions of Hannibal and only one of Scipio.

Gone Fishing10 Oct 2015 10:09 a.m. PST

You make an excellent point, particularly regarding Scipio. After all, he did beat Hannibal on his home turf with (presumably) all the resources of Carthage against him. Had Carthage been bled white by the time of those last battles? I'm rusty on the campaign, so I'm genuinely asking.

I'm sticking with Lee over Grant, though. I think the former generally has the bigger reputation, in spite of losing, for several reasons. There is the romance of the "lost cause" idea (which Hannibal might also possess, incidentally); this has nothing to do with genuine talent and is all about sentiment, and so really has no bearing on the question. A far more important reason is the fact that one man was fighting with only a sliver of the resources of the other fellow, and yet still managed to run an effective campaign for years. THAT is worth noting. If the positions had been exactly reversed in terms of men, logistics, supplies, etc., how long would Grant have lasted against Lee? We have no way of knowing, because it didn't happen, but I suspect it wouldn't have been for very long. To me it doesn't take great natural ability for a 300lb man to win a pushing match against a man half his size, and I remain bewildered why the first should be called a genius for realizing "Hmmm, I think I'll just keep pushing."

This is not to say Lee didn't have serious weaknesses, however. Foote famously said that Pickett's Charge was the price the South paid for having Robert E. Lee for their main battle commander. It was well said.

vtsaogames10 Oct 2015 10:25 a.m. PST

Ghengis Khan
Alexander
Napoleon
Moltke
Grant

mandt210 Oct 2015 8:15 p.m. PST

Sun Tsu
Caesar
Napoleon
Guderian
Billy Mitchell

BW195911 Oct 2015 5:50 p.m. PST

Scipio – Zama enough said
Grant – his Vicksburg campaign WAS brilliant
Washington – A true genius at winning with a losing hand
Scott – for Mexico and 1812
Mark Clark – just kidding, evil grin he was anything but

jwebster13 Oct 2015 2:26 p.m. PST

Well I'm glad someone mentioned Julius Caesar – although a talent for self-promotion never goes to waste

Scipio vs Hannibal – yes Hannibal's army at Zama had issues compared to his one in Italy, including defecting allies. Doesn't detract from Scipio's success though.

Hannibal gets my vote for winning several battles with a much smaller army than the opposition. Strategically his campaign didn't succeed as he didn't have the strength to take Rome.

The further back we go in history, the harder it is to differentiate genius from the winning side's ability to write the history books.

Sun Tzu – I just looked him up – the historical evidence of his actual success is not clear. Doesn't invalidate his writings.

Restricting this to 5 is hard. Any general that actually figured out what the war is about (most wars are fought with the strategy and tactics of the previous war) is a cut above the rest, whether famous or not.

Thanks

John

Khusrau14 Oct 2015 10:55 p.m. PST

US-centric just a bit? we have 5000 years of recorded warfare, and you guys have only been at it for 4% of the period..

Prince Eugene
Pyrrhos
Napoleon
Gustavus Adolphus
Chinggis Khan

I hesitate to add any leader post 1900 as I really don't think we have the historical perspective yet, and I would consider subbing out Eugene for Attila.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.