War is a nasty business. But it is something that happens. And in war, generals are made. Our list talks about the greatest generals of all time and their achievements. We also talk about some of their military tactics and military strategies.
What makes a great general? Well, if he can overcome a bigger challenge, that is one thing. And these military generals definitely had to overcome obstacles and challenges.
General George S. Patton
If you ask people in Germany, he might not be a popular choice. Or who knows. But General Patton is the one who effectively stopped Hitler in Europe. In 1942, he rehabilitated the demoralized troops and drove them across France. He then relieved American soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge and went deep into Nazi Germany to end the war.
But we also have to mention one of his biggest achievements before the war. He developed US Army’s armored warfare doctrine and took part in the first-ever US military action using motor vehicles.
Patton embraced new developments and opportunities. He used new technology to his advantage to stop Hitler in Europe and essentially conquer Nazi Germany. For that, he is among the best commander generals in American history.
Gustavus served as king of Sweden from 1611 to 1632 and helped put the country on the map. His greatest victory came at the Battle of Breitenfeld during the Thirty Years War. His forces, alongside the Saxons, flanked both sides of the Catholic army and annihilated the enemy at the battle.
Many call him the Father of Modern Warfare. Some of his other nicknames include The Lion of Midnight and Gustav the Great. He essentially steered Scandinavia through the grim Thirty Years War.
Gustavus championed the use of dynamite and helped determine the political and religious balance of power in Europe. Gustavus was also among the first generals in military history to employ the concept of Combined Arms. It is a situation where different troops and forces are deployed alongside one another to achieve a common goal.
Alexander the Great
Alexander was a great military strategist, among the best history has ever seen. Sadly, his life was cut short and he had only nine battles throughout his life. But the world conqueror belongs among the greatest generals of all time.
During his life, the military commander conquered more than half of the then-known world. He started by conquering the Persian Empire, then India, and spread his culture even to Egypt.
Even the great Napoleon Bonaparte considers Alexander one of the greatest generals because of the execution of his campaign in Asia. Even today, top-ranked military universities study his battle tactics and strategies.
Jan was a Czech general, a successful military leader, and remains a national icon. Because of his eye patch, many called him One-eyed Zizka.
He led the Hussite armies against the German king Sigismund and became a folk hero because of his work. He was never defeated in battle and invented the idea of a tank.
Zizka was the first general to use cannons as field weapons rather than simple siege units. Fun fact: he had a unique death wish. Jan wanted his skin to be turned into war drums so that he can continue leading his men after his death.
Frederick the Great
Frederick II was King of Prussia from 1740 to 1786. He expanded the kingdom’s territory through his victories. Some of his greatest victories came at the battles of Rossbach and Leuthen during the Seven Years War. There, he managed to defeat larger armies with great maneuvering.
He remains the longest-reigning of all the Hohenzollern kings. He was a cultured and sporting leader who modernized the judicial system and allowed all religions to be practiced freely.
Zhukov was a Soviet general and Marshal of the Soviet Union. He served as Chief of the General Staff and Minister of Defense. During World War II, he oversaw some of the most decisive victories by the Red Army.
While General Patton helped eradicate Hitler from France and Western Europe, Zhukov defeated the Germans in East Europe.
He has only 10 battles in his history. He remains one of the most important and most successful Russian generals in World War II.
Zhukov was responsible for the successful defense of Moscow, Stalingrad, and Leningrad against German forces. He pushed the Nazi forces back to Germany. He was loyal to Stalin while the leader was alive but denounced his mistakes and brutal repression after Stalin’s death.
When you wreak havoc on one of the biggest empires in history, you deserve a spot among the greatest generals of all time. Hannibal was a Carthaginian general who managed to come close to conquering Rome.
Sadly, his people betrayed him and the Romans captured him. Hannibal managed to trick Hannibal Romans into attacking in unfavorable conditions, eventually wiping out their cavalry. According to some Roman historians, Hannibal’s army killed 70,000 Romans at the Battle of Cannae.
At the Battle of Zama, Hannibal’s forces were defeat by Scipio Africanus. Carthage fell to Rome following the battle. And the sad part was he was finally defeated not on the field, but by the government whose interests he had fought for.
Ulysses S. Grant
His performance commanding Union troop in 16 battles help him get a spot on the list. He also served as the 18th president of the United States from 1869 to 1877. As a president, he was effective in civil rights creating the Justice Department.
Grant was one of the key figures during the American Civil War. The Union Army fought to preserve the United States and end slavery. He is considered an American hero.
Caesar was a Roman general and politician who is one of the greatest leaders, military strategists, and conquerors of all time. Famous for his conquest of the Gauls, he expanded the Roman Empire to a powerhouse in Europe.
Sadly, civil war broke out between Caesar and Pompey. Today, historians admire Caesar’s fine campaign in Africa. During his quick war in Anatolia, present-day Turkey, Caesar said his famous words, “I came, I saw, I conquered”.
Takeda was a great military leader in feudal Japan. Famous as the Tiger of Kai, he was one of the most powerful daimyos with military prestige in the late stage of the Sengoku period.
He was a warlord of great domestic skills and amazing military leadership. Shingen is famous for his tactical genius and innovations. His use of the cavalry charge at the Battle of Mikatagahara was revolutionary at the time.
The First Duke of Wellington was an Anglo-Irish soldier and Tory statesman. He was a leading military and political figure of 19th century Britain. Wellesley served two times as a prime minister. The Duke of Wellington is famous for ending the Napoleonic Wars by defeating Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
He has never lost a major battle.
Napoleon fought in more than 70 battles, losing only eight of them, mostly at the end of his life. He remains one of the top 5 greatest tactical generals of all time. Many consider him history’s greatest general.
Napoleon quickly rose in the ranks of the French army and then declared himself French leader of the First French Republic.
He led the French armies in the Napoleonic Wars. Considered a military genius, many universities and military schools study his wars and campaigns to this day.
His tactics included intense drilling of the soldiers and speedy battlefield movement and combined arms assaults between infantry and artillery. He had a relatively small number of cannons.
As an innovator, Napoleon pushed the French military toward field guns, much lighter than those of the British. This allowed Napoleon to move his guns quickly around the battlefield and use them to their maximum effect.