Guns & Patriots

The Big 10: America’s Greatest Generals

Selecting the top 10 American generals was easy in one way, tough in another.

Easy in the sense that American military history – not counting the colonial era – is so brief (barely 235 years since Lexington and Concord). Tough in the sense, that there are a lot of really fine general-officers who, for whatever reason, did not make the final cut, though barely missing it.

Readers for instance will question why I did not include the likes of Generals Winfield Scott, Ulysses S. Grant, George Marshall, Dwight Eisenhower, Douglas MacArthur, Norman Schwarzkopf, and others. Frankly, there is no reason other than the fact that a list of 10 can not include 15 or 20, so much of the selection-weight had to be based on personal preference.

Following are my top 10 favorite American generals in historic-chronology:

Gen. George Washington, Continental Army

No list of the top 10 greatest American generals (or greatest generals in world history for that matter) can ever exclude Washington in my opinion. Though often underrated as a tactician – and yes, he did have his tactical flaws – Washington was a strategic genius and a master at raw leadership. He knew how to build an army from nothing. He knew how to keep that army together when it was coming apart. He had sense enough to surround himself with superb officers (both American and allied). He welcomed and heeded the counsel of those officers. He was not averse to taking risks. He refused to quit. His physical and moral courage were unmatched. And at the end of the day, he won the American Revolution.

Gen. Nathanael Greene, Continental Army

Gen. Greene – one of Washington’s ablest commanders – has always been one of my favorites. Commenting on his army’s successes, he once remarked, “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.”

Gen. Andrew Jackson, U.S. Army

A hard-bitten, somewhat-ruthless Indian fighter nicknamed, “Old Hickory,” Gen. Andrew Jackson’s unconventional warfare campaigns against native American Indians were enough to earn him a berth on this list to be sure. But his greatest military victory – the decisive defeat of the British in the Battle of New Orleans – was accomplished in extraordinary fashion with an unlikely army composed of U.S. soldiers, sailors, Marines, pirates, a few freed slaves, Choctaw Indians, and militiamen from several states.

Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate Army

Aside from the fact that Gen. Forrest personally killed 30-31 men in single combat over the course of the American Civil War, had 29 horses shot out from under him, and was seriously wounded four times; the so-called “Wizard of the Saddle,” was perhaps the best cavalry or mounted infantry (dragoon) commander America has ever produced. The New York Times in his 1877 obituary, said Forrest was “considered by many to have been the most formidable cavalry commander … in the Armies of the South.”

Indeed, the speed, shock, maneuverability, and mobility of his forces in action were hallmarks of Forrest’s operations. His soldiers loved him. His fellow generals admired him. His enemies were terrified at the mere mention of his name. Gen. Robert E. Lee said of his finest subordinate commanders, the most remarkable was one he “had never met” — Forrest. And U.S. and foreign military officers alike have studied Forrest’s campaigns over the decades since the end of the war. It has even been speculated that some aspects of the German Blitzkrieg were patterned after some of Forrest’s operations.

Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, Confederate Army

So much has been said about “Stonewall” Jackson’s masterful maneuvering in the Shenandoah Valley that it almost seems redundant to mention it here. What I will say is that had Jackson not been killed, and had Lee had him at Gettysburg, the war might indeed have had a different outcome.

Whenever I think of Jackson, I think of the Battle of Chancellorsville where Jackson’s Confederates appeared out of nowhere, smashing into the Union Army’s right flank and literally rolling up the encamped Federal force. Sadly, that night Jackson was mortally wounded – his left arm shattered –in a friendly fire incident during a leaders-recon mission. Following the amputation of Jackson’s arm, Gen. Robert E. Lee remarked, “He has lost his left arm, but I have lost my right arm.” Worse for Lee, Jackson would develop pneumonia and die within eight days.

Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, U.S. Army

Though many of my Southern brethren may skewer me for listing Gen. Sherman, it is impossible to have such a list and deny him a berth as he was a master of the concept of “total war,” and the so-called “first modern general.” His campaigns through the heart of the South were terribly destructive, but undeniably effective.

Gen. Robert E. Lee, Confederate Army

The so-christened “Marble Man,” Gen. Lee may forever personify the ideal American commander. A gentleman with unshakable integrity who earned the undying loyalty of his men and the almost reverent respect of his enemies, Lee dumbfounded the numerically superior Union Army time-and-again. Had he won the war – which his limited resources would never enable him to do – he would have been far more than the “ideal” commander. He would have been the perfect commander.

Gen. John A. Lejeune, U.S. Marine Corps

Gen. Lejeune is the father of the modern Marine Corps, and that reason alone is enough to land him a berth in the top 10 greatest American generals.

Gen. Alexander Vandegrift, U.S. Marine Corps

The reasons for Gen. Vandegrift’s receiving the Medal of Honor are frankly the same for why he is deemed one of the greatest-ever American general-officers; that being he led the now-famous 1st Marine Division (made famous by Vandegrift and a succession of leaders after him) in the first ground offensive against the Japanese during World War II. Though often isolated and without adequate resources on the far side of the world, Vandegrift led his Marines to victory in some of the most grisly combat – both conventional and unconventional fighting – of the entire war.

Gen. George S. Patton, U.S. Army
No self-respecting list of the top 10 American generals could exclude the great Gen. George Smith Patton Jr.; the always-decisive commander who frequently defied his superiors, raced across Europe faster than his fuel and supplies could keep up with him, crushed or routed his enemies at every turn, and once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

[AUTHOR NOTE: Next up, America’s greatest sea captains and admirals.]

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  • andyk1985

    Cant argue with the list too much, though it was clearly made by a jarhead… I think MacArthur needs to be there though, his invasion of Inchon alone was a masterpiece, regardless of what happened later in his career.

  • SouthernPatriots

    it is a daunting task to try to come up with a list of 10, and though we can quibble with one or two, we understand and respect the reasoning given for those and reluctantly agree with the one who robbed and rampaged through the South, though we would try relegate him to the 25th rank in a top 25. Thank you for your list but most especially the explanations.

  • HenryIII

    You missed the boat listing Patton. Omar Bradley (Commander of the First Army WWII) was ten times the general that the self-bloviating, aristocratic, pimp-in-a-uniform Patton was. Patton cared nothing for his soldiers and only for his brutal pursuit of infamy. Dog tags left the front by the truckloads in Patton’s unit, while Bradley’s soldiers fought the fight without amassing the casualties Patton did. Omar Bradley was called the Soldier’s General. I met him as a young PFC and he was a great gentleman.

  • Frank E Hanson

    Andrew Jackson and the battle at San Jacinto!!

  • Frank E Hanson

    Andrew Jackson at the Battle of San Jacinto!

  • KRScorps

    I was very pleased to see two Marines listed here, particularly Gen. Vandergrift, who my Dad served under for four months on Guadalcanal. However, there were other Marine generals who better deserve to be listed among the Top Ten of American generals. In particular, Gen. Oliver P. Smith led the 1st Marine Division through the Chosin River campaign. He saw the trap he was being led into by General Almond’s US X Corps and did a masterful job of extricating the Marines, as well as destroying 6-8 Chinese divisions and saving X Corps in the process.

  • KRScorps

    I was very pleased to see two Marine generals listed here, particularly Gen. Vandergrift who my Dad served under for four months on Guadalcanal. However, there is at least one other Marine General who is better deserving of mention. Gen. Oliver P. Smith led the 1st Marine Division through the Inchon and Chosin campaigns in Korea. His performance was epic. He suspected in advance that he was being led into a trap at the Chosin Resevoir and took steps to limit the damage. He successfully extricated the division, along with its equipment and casualties, in a fighting retreat that destroyed 6-8 Chinese divisions and saved General Almond’s US X Corps in the process. Magnificent!

  • salesmonsters

    Hard to imagine that you didn’t list John “Blackjack” Pershing, Pershing is the only person to be promoted in his own lifetime to the highest rank ever held in the United States Army—General of the Armies (a retroactive Congressional edict passed in 1976 promoted George Washington to the same rank but with higher seniority. Pershing attained that in 1919 while still in his prime. Pershing is symbolic of the modern army. Pershing led the American Expeditionary Forces in World War I, and was regarded as a mentor by the generation of American generals who led the United States Army in Europe during World War II, including George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar N. Bradley, and George S. Patton. Pershing was a six star general!

  • 7mm

    Chesty Puller

  • 7mm

    Chesty Puller

  • sweetsorrow

    It was Sam Houston at the Battle of San Jacinto.

  • Bob Rodachy

    If Sherman was alive today, he would surely be convicted of war crimes. Such a dishonorable man does not belong on this list. His presence is an insult to all of the others.

  • sweetsorrow

    The mark of a great general is too win at a cost far less than your enemy not ‘agreat gentleman.’ Bradley may have been the soldiers general but he was not the caliber of Patton. My father served under both and he knew that he was less likely to get killed under Patton then Bradley.

  • napensnake

    That would be Sam Houston

  • victorbarney

    I’m so glad that you included the great Gen. George Smith Patton Jr., who I still consider the great military commander of all time, especially considering all the “idiots” above him at the time! Hopefully, it was General Marshall at the time that was bright enough to undrstand just how essential General Patten was to winning WWII! If only General Patten had understood that “Marxism” had been in the hearts of our Politicians mostly since 1913 at least, but I don’t think even that could have slowed him down! However, that may be exactly why he was killed?

  • sweetsorrow

    I agree MacArthur needs to be on the list but so should Eisenhower, Bradley, Grant, Puller and probably many others. Maybe the list should be best 25. This nation has been blessed to have had so many great military leaders, when we needed them most.

  • CalvinC

    Sherman would have taken his name off the list and added Grant. Grant showed Sherman how to live off the land in his Vicksburg campaign. He lifted the Federal siege at Chattanooga in about three days, he led the Federal Offense that ended the war. Both times Lee went north he got his Army whacked and had Grant been at Antietam or Gettysburg Lee would not have been allowed to go back to Virginia.

  • Martin

    I’m going to say Terry Allen deserves some discussion. Patton and Bradley didn’t like his drinking, informal relationship with his troops, and more, but when it counted, they refused to go into battle without him.

  • KC135TopBoom

    I mostly agree with the list, and am happy MacArthur is not on it. He was more of a politician than a General. He got more Americans killed or captured then the Japanese could do without him in the war.
    General Patton was right, we should have taken on the Russians in Europe after Germany surrendered.
    I would have liked to see Generals Curt LeMay and Jimmy Doolittle on the list.
    What about Admirals? Here I would list King, Nimitz, Halsey (USN), and Nelson (RN).

  • Sturgis

    MacArthur does not deserve to be on the list. He deserted an army in the Phillipines. At best he was a good administrator.

  • Sturgis

    I do not believe that MacArthur should have been on the list. At best he was an able administrator. He lest his Army in the Phillipines and left a much better general in his place.

  • ellizabeth

    Scratch that bastard Sherman. He was a complete moron.

    In his cavalry days, he slaughtered 42 horses so their riders couldn’t escape, and then left the horseless men in the middle of nowhere. Completely sick moron.

    In the Civil War he slaughtered children and their mothers, after they were starved and raped. Maybe 9/11 was payback for the burning of Atlanta.

  • ellizabeth

    All Union generals should have been shot or publicly hung for treason.

    The South had a Constitunal right to “throw off” an oppressive government. So, that’s what we did.

  • Orrin LaMonte Donohoe

    Hard to reason why any confederates would make that list–they were,are the enamy

  • ellizabeth

    TO HELL WITH THE NORTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They will always be the enemy.

  • emiarmstrong

    I posted a comment on Facebook. Robert E. Lee does confound me. He had his Southern forces charge up a hill while they were surrounded on both sides by Union forces. This was at Gettysburg. I’m merely a laywoman, so perhaps you can explain this tactic to me, but I thought it insane.

  • cantius

    Robert E. Lee was an AMERICAN General. He should be mentioned, and thankfully he was. Sounds like someone has a hangup?

    How about General Miles of Civil and Indian war fame. I don’t think any others were as decorated as him, even though Pershing outranked all.

  • Rob Clarke

    I’m from the North but anyone who studies the Civil War would have to admit that the South had better generals. Besides this is a list of American generals which they all are.

    The more I read about it the more I find that the South stood for more conservative ideals which I identify more with anyway.

  • cantius

    You know what you are correct. I am from the great (gag,gag, blah) state of New York. and my son is taught the truth by some teachers. Of course i have a little to do with him finding the truth. Any “truth” without question is false.

  • stephenelkin

    You are so right! Kerosene Billy does NOT belong here! He was a TERRORIST and a killer of women and children!

  • bigred81

    Jackson? He routed the worst troops in the Union army, commanded by the worst Generals in the Union Army on several occasions, including Chancellorsville. You didn’t mention his falling asleep during a battle or the fact that Lee promoted Longstreet ahead of him. Longstreet’s counterattack at the Wilderness battle is still taught at West Point and was the foundation for Desert Storm!

  • Janhus

    You must be a Southerner or a liberal. In today’s PC environment, all of the above 10 generals could be charged with war crimes. Sherman ravaged Georgia and South Carolina but spared North Carolina because they barely voted to secede from the Union.

  • bigred81

    Very good point, esp when you take into account his victory at Fredericksburg was due to the Union attempting the very same type of attack.

  • emiarmstrong

    Was that (at Gettysburg) known as Picketts Charge? Tell me about the one at Fredericksburg. I find this interesting.

  • emiarmstrong

    Both North and South were and are Americans. That war was over long ago, but some people are still fighting it.

  • Ronnie Glenn Lanier

    Gen. Sherman was the first terrorist. Not listing Chesty Puller makes me question your knowledge of the American Fighting man….other than that I like the article!
    Southern Brethren,
    Glenn Lanier

  • Bernallen

    Many of the generals listed here are great in a tactical or operational sense (Forrest and Stonewall for example). MacArthur, with all of his personality quirks and political conflicts, was a strategic mastermind. His use and command of much larger forces, in a theater that encompassed a greater expanse than the continental U.S., was nothing less than sheer genius. Inchon – another strategic masterpiece. If Chancellorsville (a tactical action, with no lasting results) is a main factor in the selection of Jackson, the SW Pacific would be overwhelming support for Mac. No comparison between forces, setting/theater, weapons or enemy.

  • tdupuy

    When evaluating generals, you need to consider ethical and strategic performance in addition to tactical battlefield performance. For those reasons, Greene, both Jacksons and Sherman don’t belong on this list – Grant, Pershing, MacArthur and Eisenhower do.

  • FlaJim

    MacArthur should have been on there but Eisenhower? He and Marshall were armchair generals, more diplomats than military men. Grant never won a battle where he didn’t have overwhelming numerical superiority and had an incredibly high casualty rate among his troops. Bradley didn’t formulate any strategy of note and got held up with moderate resistance by the enemy.

  • bigred81

    The Gettysburg attack is often known as Pickett’s charge. At Fredericksburg, the Union forces attacked again and again against a force of Georgians dug in behind a stone wall and supported by artillery who almost without casualties, wrecked three Union divisions. On another area of the field, General Meade pierced Jacksons wing and was forced to retreat when no support arrived. Much as happened to General Wrights Georgians on July 2, at Gettysburg.

  • bigred81

    The Gettysburg attack is often known as Pickett’s charge. At Fredericksburg, the Union forces attacked again and again against a force of Georgians dug in behind a stone wall and supported by artillery who almost without casualties, wrecked three Union divisions. On another area of the field, General Meade pierced Jacksons wing and was forced to retreat when no support arrived. Much as happened to General Wrights Georgians on July 2, at Gettysburg.

  • tdupuy

    When evaluating generals, you must consider ethical and strategic performance in addition to tactical battlefield performance. For those reasons, Greene, both Jacksons and Sherman don’t belong on this list – Grant, Pershing, MacArthur and Eisenhower do.

  • misantrop50

    I agree that General Washington should be number one, he accomplished the impossible,beating the British Army. General Greene was a good general, but during the Revolutionary War Benedict Arnold was much better. I know of his loathsome treason but look at his remarkable march to Quebec in 1775, building and leading the fleet that stop the British on Lake Champlain in the late summer of 1776, the indisputable fact that his actions at Saratoga won the day. Saratoga brought the French into the war which assured an American Victory. If we had relied on Granny Gates to win Saratoga it would have been a different outcome. Also Winfield Scott should have greater consideration, Old Fuss and Feathers won the war against Mexico and his Anaconda Strategy was decisive during the Civil War.

  • Janhus

    MacArthur was a maniacal egotist who cost thousands of American soldiers their lives because of that ego. He insisted that America invade the Phillipines because of his pledge that “I will return.” Notice the “I” rather than a “We.” Over 100,000 American casualties resulted from the invasions of the Phillipines and the nearby island of Peleliu. These southern prong invasions were totally unnecessary.
    The northern prong through the Marshall and Marianas Islands was, in fact, all that was needed. Roosevelt knew this and wasn’t going to allow MacArthur his ego trip but MacArthur blackmailed FDR by threatening to reveal that America had broken the Japanese military codes prior to the “surprise” attack on Pearl Harbor. MacArthur’s invasion at Inchon was brilliant but everything he did in Korea, subsequent to that was a disaster. MacArthur was a failure as a General.

  • Wain Pearce

    Chesty Puller is considered by most Marines as the greatest Marine to ever live and should have been on the list. 5 Navy Crosses 1 DSC.

  • Seadragonconquerer

    Eichelberger, who did most of McA’s heavy lifting during the Pacific War. Otherwise, very interesting and well-justified list.

  • atcin96

    Bedford Forrest huh…? Oh he was a great general alright, Tennessee has a park named after him, however I think he was insane, a racist of the worst sort…a murderous killer, a real KKK’er. You don’t happen to be a grand dragon yourself are you?

  • Seadragonconquerer

    1) The Peleliu bloodbath belongs on Nimitz’s bill, not MacArthur’s. MacA’s
    performance during Round One of the WW, for us 1917-18, seems to
    have been quite good, and, post-Buna, he handled the New Guinea
    campaign exceptionally well; big distance, minimal casualties.
    2) MacA thought in political, not just military terms. Had we not done the
    Phillipines, it’s quite likely the (Huk) communists would have taken
    over the main Islands after the Japanese surrender; bad enough that
    we lost China,northern Korea, northern Indochina.
    3) “MacA blackmailed Roosevelt by….”. Important point, if true. Source?

  • AlPennyworth

    Judging from the quality of the comments already listed, perhaps it is not a good idea to have a comment section.

  • Proud2beFree

    Robert E Lee made inexplicably bad tactical decisions at Gettysburg that cost him the battle. I agree that he was a very inspirational leader, but his generalship at that battle is enough to make me think twice about him. It seems that you’ve fallen prey to the same mystique that caused the union armies to fear him so much until Grant convinced his troops that Lee’s men were human.

  • Proud2beFree

    Not true at all. While the south had overall better generals at the start of the war, towards the end the Union had learned and was far better led.

  • celticfox

    I cannot believe Dwight David Eisenhower is listed as merely one of the Generals of WWII. He was the Allied Commander in chief in charge of all forces and dealing with multiple nations and Generals as diverse as Patton and “Monty” not to mention the architect of “D” Day and the serious decisions that entailed. He is definitely a top ten 5 star general. I agree with the comments about Sherman. You have him in the wrong company.

  • celticfox

    I cannot believe Dwight David Eisenhower is listed as merely one of the Generals of WWII. He was the Allied Commander in chief in charge of all forces and dealing with multiple nations and Generals as diverse as Patton and “Monty” not to mention the architect of “D” Day and the serious decisions that entailed. He is definitely a top ten 5 star general. I agree with the comments about Sherman. You have him in the wrong company.

  • celticfox

    I cannot believe Dwight David Eisenhower is listed as merely one of the Generals of WWII. He was the Allied Commander in chief in charge of all forces and dealing with multiple nations and Generals as diverse as Patton and “Monty” not to mention the architect of “D” Day and the serious decisions that entailed. He is definitely a top ten 5 star general. I agree with the comments about Sherman. You have him in the wrong company.

  • MIcopperhead

    Great selections, Mr. Smith. Four of my personal favorites are on your list, Washington, Stonewall Jackson, R.E. Lee and Forrest.

  • AARguy

    Actually, Pershing was a five star Army General (along with MacArthur, Eisenhower, “Hap” Arnold, and Marshall). The only six-star General was Washington, a rank awarded posthumously so that he would be in a class by himself.

  • NavyP3Pilot

    Agree wholeheartedly with excluding Sherman. Tactical abilities do not trump ethics – nowhere, nohow… and you should not wage war on the civilian populace.
    Also, Forrest shunned the KKK when it became racist.

  • emiarmstrong

    Thank you for the information. I find this war to be an extremely sad war. At least we are all Americans now

  • NavyP3Pilot

    Agree wholeheartedly that Sherman does not belong. Tactical ability does not trump ethics – no way, no how… You don’t wage war on civilians (unless perhaps they be central bankers).

    Also, Forrest abandoned the KKK when it turned racist.

  • AARguy

    You praise Gen Greene for his spirit of “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.” yet ignore this spirit in Gen Grant. One can comment that U.S. Grant was not the tactical genius of R E. Lee, but Grant DEFEATED Lee and saved the Union. You praise Gen LeJeune over Grant. Hmmmm… after decades in the Army, I can categorically state with extreme confidence, that SAVING THE UNION makes for a better OER (Officer Efficiency Report) than either Greene or LeJeune deserve. And I agree about Nathan Bedford Forrest. He’s a brilliant Soldier, but a criminal. Using your criteria, Gen Peiper of “Malmedy Massacre” fame, will be in the top ten when you get to ranking European Generals.

  • old_top

    I see where you put several “Confederate” generals on your list. You could say they were American generals or were they “Traitors”, who didn’t merit the right to be called an American. It was your call, so be it. History, not you and your opinion, always has the last word. Your list also included Generals who were more impressed in themselves and their puffed up egos then the welfare of the men that work under them. Having spend what seems like a lifetime in the military, I will always adhere to the adage ‘Mission first, but men always’.. Your list, definitely not mine….

  • A. G. T. Jr.

    1. Gen. George Washington, 2. Gen Douglas MacArthur, 3, Gen. John “Blackjack” Pershing, 4. Gen. George Patton, 5. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, 6.Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, 7. Adm. William “Bull” Halsey, 8. Gen. Matthew Ridgeway, 9. Gen. Jonathan Wainright, 10. Gen. William Mitchel.

    Gen. MacAuliffe’s “Nuts” was trendy, and Gen. MacArthur’s “I Shall Return”
    was prophetic.

  • A. G. T. Jr.

    Definitely, Gen. George Washington must be first. 2. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, 3. Gen. George Patton, 4. Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, 5. Gen. Anthony MacAuliffe, 6. Gen. John Pershing, 7. Adm. William Halsey, 8. Gen. Jonathan Wainwright, 9. Gen. William Mitchel, 10. Gen. Matthew Ridgeway

    Gen. MacAuliffe’s “Nuts!” was trendy and Gen. MacArthur’s “I Shall Return” was prophetic.

  • elcid76

    Sam Houston won at San Jacinto. Don’t think Jackson was still alive then.

  • elcid76

    Forrest was no criminal. He fought within the rules of war and defeated everybody the Union threw at him. He did help to form the Klan, but repudiated it when it became a racist group.
    He had black soldiers in his units who fought. He proposed freeing all slaves, but was overrulled by the politicians. Lee, Jackson and Longstreet also were for freeing the slaves. Before the Proclamation.

  • elcid76

    Don’t forget Nimitz and Bradley.

  • elcid76

    A lot of historians feel that Lee was having an angina attack at Gettysburg or even a minor heart attack. He was not at his best, but JEB Stuart being gone the first 2 days had a tremendous effect on the battle.

  • Bear43

    America has produced many great generals and it is very difficult to choose just 10 as the greatest. After reading the comments already posted it is evident that no one will agree to the top 10 as we each have our own thoughts about the list.

    My list is:
    1. Robert Edward Lee. When war broke out Lincoln offered to Lee the union generalship first. Leave was a master of maneuver but he did make mistakes as all generals make mistakes. Antietam and Gettysburg were his worst performances.

    2. George Smith Patton Junior. The greatest American General in the European theater. If Patton had had to gasoline and other supplies he could have entered Germany in September 44. The Siegfried line had not yet been manned by Hitler’s troops. If Patton had been able to do this, German troops in the rest of the Western Europe would’ve had to retreat to their borders.c

    3. George Washington. Others may have been greater generals as far strategy, but Washington was the only leader capable of defeating the British and holding the American army together.

    4. Nathanael Greene. His campaign in the South was brilliant. with his subordinate General Daniel Morgan, they defeated Cornwallis and freed the Carolinas of British control. The battle of the Cowpens fought by Morgan broke the back of Tarleton’s cavalry and the terror they had inflicted on South Carolina. Meanwhile Nathaniel Greene wore down Cornwallis who then retreated to Virginia and was defeated by Washington at Yorktown.

    5. Douglas MacArthur. I know and understand about MacArthur’s defeat in the Philippines 41 and 42. I also understand that he was called “bug out Doug” for leaving his Army and escaping to Australia. Roosevelt ordered MacArthur to leave. William Manchester who served as a Marine in World War II stated that MacArthur lost fewer men in combat than any other American general of World War II. MacArthur’s re-conquest of the Philippines especially Corregidor and the landings at Inchon in Korea are enough for me to put them on my list.

    6. Nathan Bedford Forrest. For all the reasons stated in the article. He started out as a private and became a lieutenant general (the highest rank that time.)

    7.Gen. Alexander Vandegrift. For all the reasons stated in the article.

    8. James Longstreet Confederate Gen. It has been written that Longstreet was the finest corps commander on either side of the Civil War. Both on offense and defense he was the best. However, Longstreet was unable to convince Lee that Pickett’s charge was a mistake

    9. J.E.B. Stuart Confederate Calvary General. One of the finest cavalry officers ever. He was everywhere.

    10. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson Confederate Gen. For all the reasons mentioned in the article.

    This is my choice. If you don’t like it, choose your own

  • GUARDIAN_of_the_2ND

    I would of added Pershing but the only space you could give him was Gen. John A. Lejeune’s and has a lover of “Corp” I can’t do that. How about a top 11 list. As a Southerner I understand the hate of Sherman but the hate he had for the South won out over Honor. It is an HONOR that Lee a man of total honor, Forrest a true military wizard and “Stonewall” Jackson the man you would want as a hands on leader of men were named to your list. You are correct had “Stonewall” Jackson not been killed the end of the war could/would of been different. Most people do not understand that the Army of the South had a lot less men and limited supplies. It won most of the battles of the war till it ran out of “SUPPLIES”. The won because of leaders like “Stonewall” Jackson, Forrest and Lee. AND because the war was NOT about slavery it was about unfair taxes and an attack on their way of life.

  • Nathan Bennett Albright

    I definitely think that the list should easily be a Top 25 list–and Pershing would make an excellent addition (almost certainly on the top 25). Winfield Scott would also make an excellent addition–the man was the second biggest military hero of the War of 1812 (to Andrew Jackson) and won a textbook military campaign with inferior numbers against Mexico, took their capital, and managed to win an acceptable peace with an army of 10,000 effects. Even taking into consideration the weakness of the opponent, that is still an impressive undertaking. From the Civil War I say that George Thomas deserves consideration–a steady and reliable leader, unbeatable on the defense (see Chickamuga) and vastly underrated on the offense (Logan’s Cross Roads and Nashville).

    Those are just a few suggestions, though.

  • GUARDIAN_of_the_2ND

    I would of made it a top 11 list and added Pershing. It is an honor the Gen. Robert E. Lee, Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson made your list. You are correct had “Stonewall” Jackson not been killed the end of the war might well of been different. The Confederate Army was made up with far less men with little or no supplies. Because of men like these and the men that served under them the South won most every battle till they ran out of supplies and of course the death of “Stonewall” Jackson. This was a shame to the nation over a war that should of never been fought. A war that was not about “Slavery” but in fact was over unfair taxes and an attack on the Southern way of life.

  • AARguy

    Gees… how could I forget Bradley? That was “Plebe Poop” at West Point! My Squad Leader would have me bracing for HOURS!!! I didn’t put in Nimitz because he was just a Navy guy… GO ARMY!!! BEAT NAVY!!!

  • Janhus

    After the destruction of Truk, the Palau Islands were turned into a strategic center for the concentration of Japanese air and naval forces. This was a potential threat to Nimitz’ naval group during the invasion of the Phillipines. Without this invasion, Peleliu would never have been considered a target.
    As for the Huk; the Japs would have turned over the Islands to the Allies as they did elsewhere. Without 100,000 American casualties.
    There are numerous references to the fact that we had broken the Japanese military codes and were monitoring the Japanese fleet as it approached the Hawaiian Islands. The British and Dutch were shocked at the success of the Japanese attack because they too were reading Japanese radio traffic and monitoring and tracking radio traffic from Nagumo as his fleet approached the Islands. They knew we were doing the same. It’s the reason FDR’s military command were shocked when he ordered the courts marshall of Kimmel and Short. They knew he had ordered them to left in the dark so that the Japs would not be deterred in their attack. He couldn’t foresee that one bomb would destroy the Arizona (1003 dead) or the Japs, like the Brits at Taranto, had modified their torpedoes to run in the shallow waters at Pearl Harbor. FDR wanted to get into the war with both feet. It’s why he had published his delaration of war on Nazi Germany 2 days before P.H. He wanted to ensure that Hitler would declare war on us. It’s also why it was so important to get MacArthur and his staff out of the Phillipines. They ,too, were reading Japanese radio traffic. FDR couldn’t allow them to be captured and tortured into revealing this secret.

  • Buckindaburg

    As in any war, the winners write the history. I must join the ranks that support Washington. He was a very wealthy man prior to the war and could have easily joined the elite, British aristocracy. Instead, he had the vision to understand what a great experiment was taking place in forming the United States. How often does such an event take place, and when it does, how often is there someone to recognize it and seize the day?

  • Buckindaburg

    I would join with anyone supporting Washington. A very wealthy man prior to the war, he recognized the greatest experiment about to take place and seized the moment. He could have very easily become a British elitist and ignored the plight of the American colonists. What a leader of men!

  • Chris

    I am a Southerner and I don’t care much for Sherman for ovious reasons, but anyone with a brain mus concede that Sherman new how to win and that is what being a military leader is about, it’s not a popularity contest. I would have liked to see Chesty Puller included in the top 10 as well but like you said a list of 10 can not consist of 15 or 20, so Chesty can be 11.
    As far as these Generals being war criminals, I think that any General before the age of PC insanity that accomplished his mission and killed the enemy could be accused of war crimes. War is about killing and destroying the enemy and if our government would remember this fact we would not be bogged down in the long controversial conflits we have today. Swift decisive action with maxium destruction from our military would cause our enemies to think twice about taking us on. Instead we make our Soldies and Marines fight within unrealistic ROE that only make us appear inept and afraid of serious conflict and emboldens our enemy; when in actuallity the only fear and ineptitude comes from our political leaders.

  • Frank E Hanson

    Disqus, Your good, Make it Sam Houston then. Still he was great at San Jacinto!! Frank Hanson The psalmist said, “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He has mercy on us” (Psalm 123:2).

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  • HOO

    Leaving out MacArthur is not acceptable. Read American Caesar.

    For those criticizing Sherman they just do not get it. He showed how to make the other side give up (the point of the whole thing) without senseless meat-grinding battles. He bullied the South psychologically demoralizing them simply by traveling about destroying their homes industry and property without killing too many people. He didn’t especially object to slavery but he hated people who caused DISORDER. Read Sherman, Merchant of Terror, Advocate of Peace or The Soul of Battle.

    In any case thank God for these great men of strength, character, and wisdom.

  • Charles J. Neilson

    General Vandegrift stands alone amongst all generals as the best leader in that his 1st Marine Division was dropped off by the Navy into a remote area where jungle warfare was not part of the conventional training and within the air and naval bombardment of the Japanese enemy. To add insult to injury, the Navy’s fighting fleet took off within a couple of days followed by incomplete combat unloading of the amphibious ships after only 3 days of a planned 5 day effort, leaving the General without the supplies he had brought across the Pacific to that isolated site. To add insult to injury, his superior, Admiral Ghormley, was more concerned about hiding the fleet and leaving the 1stMarDiv expendible as was the top brass in the US (General Marshall, Eisenhower, Admiral King, etc.). After almost losing Guadacanal time and time again to Japanese land forces, naval bombardment and peripheral naval battles (4 out of 5 US cruisers were sank the first night at Battle of Savo Island – a feat the Navy no doubt likes to hide, especially when singling out good men like Commander Bucher and the USS Pueblo during the ’60′s) as well as bomber attacks, nightly air harrassment, and other Japanese efforts to destroy the 1stMarDiv. Gen Vandegrift played the hand he was dealt better than anyone, in my opinion. He gave Admiral Nimitz just enough time to replace Admiral Ghormley with a real fighter, Admiral Halsey and all at once the US Navy was working with the beleaguered 1stMarDiv. The Pacific war was won at this early juncture in spite of all of the subsequent island hoppings. During the Japanese attack at Bloody (Edson’s) Ridge, some Japanese made it down to the airfield and one was found hiding in General Vandegrift’s tent closet! This was no General in the rear with the gear. He carried the same grace and gentlemanly demeanor that Robert E. Lee was associated with and the same respect by his troops. Read “The Battle for Guardalcanal” by Samuel B.Griffith II, his XO and you will be amazed at the lack of logistical support he got and the number of times he could have been overrun.

  • Carl E Creasman Jr

    The real question is determining “what defines successful General.” Washington would never make a Top 50 list of world generals if we mean fighting concepts. As a historian, and a conservative, I love President Washington. And his greatest accomplishment as General was holding the army, thus the country, together during the American war. So, if we mean “great leader” and broadly define “leader” to include the success of the overall operation, then yes, Washington belongs there. But, if we say that, Stonewall Jackson nor Sherman really belong there.

    If we mean, though, as warriors, fighters, accomplishment on the battlefield, then Stonewall could be #1 or maybe #2 after Patton, but then Washington does not belong. He simply was very weak in how he handled the battle. Face to face with equivalent forces, Patton, Lee, Puller, Jackson (either man) would have destroyed him.

  • salesmonsters

    A six star General is known as General of the Armies of the United States. The rank has been awarded only twice in the History of the United States. 1919 – General John (Black Jack) Pershing was awarded the rank due to his great leadership of all allied ground forces in Europe during WWI. In 1976, Congress and President Ford posthumously awarded General George Washington the rank of General of the Armies of the United States.

  • Jeff

    Sad that no general in the last 60 years is listed here. I think I would drop the murderer Sherman and replace him with MacArthur, but that’s just my opinion and your list is a solid one.

  • AARguy

    I have notified the Superintendent of West Point that what they teach there is wrong. I’ve asked him to send me a corrected version of “Bugle Notes”, the Cadet “Bible” that has all the military traditions and other info we learned as Plebes.

    On a more pleasant note, can any of you military experts explain why a Major outranks a Lieutenant, yet a Lieutenant General outranks a Major General?

  • salesmonsters

    Way to question boldly! Okay, let me know when the superintendent gets his facts straightened out.

  • andrewlohr

    Regards to Pershing (did he really quell a Muslim revolt in the Philippines by threatening to hang them with pork in their mouths, a food forbidden to Muslims?), but he did not lead “all allied ground forces in Europe during WWI;” the French general Foch did.

  • the29thtn

    Okay, I know that this list is subjective, but Sherman? Sherman was certainly better than Grant, at least as far as command ability goes, but he was nowhere near the best Union General. If you feel the need to include a Unionist, George H. Thomas (The Rock of Chickamauga), was a far better general than either Grant or Sherman.

  • salesmonsters

    Foch you Frenchy. Pershing told the French and the British that the American forces would be under his command, not theirs as they hoped, because after three years of fighting it was apparent that they could not fight an offensive war. If you guys don’t want to recognize Pershing as one of the top American Generals, if not the top, then I don’t know what to tell you. Maybe a course in American Military history is in order for y’all.

  • salesmonsters

    It was Sherman’s tactics that ended the war. Too bad some Americans are still taking sides in that conflict.


    Failure to include Grant, who won the Civil War, yet have Jackson and Forrest on your list says a lot. Even your disclaimer doesn’t salvage such poor judgment. Douglas MacArthur also towers over 5 or 6 of your selections.

  • Cool_Hand_Luke

    Stonewall Jackson’s death did change the way Robert E Lee operated.

    They were a team and Jackson would run and take initiative from Lee’s orders. Lee approved of his sometimes risky and daring actions.

    Had he been at Gettysburg, I believe he would have taken Culp’s Hill on the first day and changed the outcome of the battle.

    Special order 191 was found in an envelope with cigars and allowed the Yankees to have knowledge of what the great general Lee was up to at Antietam.

    His tactics were solid but the Yankees “knew” what he was up to and the old gray fox did not have the element of surprise which was a Lee trademark.

    Longstreet’s procrastination and lack of will to move quickly and with authority to carry our Lee’s orders is what doomed the South at Gettysburg.

    “Duty is ours, consequences are God’s.”

    Stonewall Jackson

  • stephenelkin

    The killing of women and children did NOT end that war! And isn’t it funny that more books have been written about The War Between the States than any subject!

  • salesmonsters

    Spin it any way you want. Sherman cut off Lee’s supply lines, and that was that for Lee. As for killing women and children, war is hell, that’s the point of it. Do you think Truman was a war criminal and terrorist too? The atomic bombs he ordered killed 90,000–166,000 people in Hiroshima and 60,000–80,000 in Nagasaki. Men women and children. What are you to do when the enemy won’t quit? For six months, the United States had made use of intense strategic fire-bombing of 67 Japanese cities. Together with the United Kingdom, and the Republic of China the United States called for a surrender of Japan in the Potsdam Declaration. The Japanese government ignored the ultimatum. I don’t doubt there were more books written about the Civil War than any other. It was a transformation into modern warfare, and it is of particular interest to Americans. That doesn’t mean you have to take sides. You need to look at it objectively.

  • Thomas

    Here is my list based on merit and not anything else: George Washington, Robert E. Lee, George Pickett, Stonewall Jackson, George Crook, BlackJack Pershing, Dwight Eisenhower, Chet Nimitz, George Patton, and Omar Bradley.

  • ThomasTheReb

    The Confederate forces under Lee were instructed to respect private property. Why could not Sherman do the same? If Lincoln wanted to just destroy a rebellion, you think that destroying their livelihood went far to winning their hearts and minds? I think Sherman’s actions are part of why the south has never really stopped fighting, but rather switched strategy, tactics, fronts, and is still fighting today. Lee had plenty of ammunition at Appomattox, freshly made powder from my hometown of Augusta Georgia (which Sherman interestingly bypassed) were in numerous boxcars along the rail close to the end of the war. Problem was Lee didn’t have food, and he didn’t have men (the men had mostly been used up or gone home). What Sherman did was not needed, it was an unneeded excess in an unjust war.

  • ThomasTheReb

    I love Nimitz, but he’s not a general ;-)

  • ThomasTheReb

    Grant? Really? Strategically, he knew what had to be done. Doesn’t make him a great general by any means. MacArthur, on the other hand, Does belong on the list. I think he should replace Forrest (who was never part of the US military, unlike the rest of them).

  • ThomasTheReb

    Traitors? They were defending the Constitution, which continues to be trampled on to this day.

  • William R. Bridgeman

    Nothing has been said about Sherman’s opponent before Atlanta, Joesph E. Johnston, who fought a masterful defensive campaign with limited resources. Whew, long sentence. Consider Kennesaw. Anyway, had he not been replaced by Hood — oh,well.

  • William R. Bridgeman

    Nope, if you visit Fayetteville, NC you will see the ruins of the Federal arsenal which was destroyed when the war was nearly won. It was razed out of spite.

  • ThomasTheReb

    You fail to mention that Rommel Studied Jackson’s Valley Campaign when Nazi Germany was developing Blitzkrieg, and that everything Jackson did in the war is till taught at the Academies. Desert Storm was modeled after Napoleon’s key tactics, which Longstreet most undoubtedly was using at the Wilderness. (FYI, Jackson was famous for falling asleep during and through battles. Reason being, he and his men were exhausted. You can earn the nick-name of “foot-cavalry” without working your rear off!)

  • William R. Bridgeman

    Pershing never wore more than five stars, but he was America’s only “General of the Armies”. Washington was posthumously promoted to that rank in 1976 as it was felt he should not be outranked.

  • ThomasTheReb



    Douglas MacArthur was the greatest American General of all time. He liberated more territory than Patton, and at much less loss of life. But because he fought against the Japanese his exploits are given less weight. The Inchon landing was one of the greatest tactical moves of all time.

    Winfield Scott was a General for 5 decades. He was a great trainer of fighting men. He led his men in two battles in Canada during the War of 1812. One of the first times that Americans defeated British regulars in a stand up meeting engagement. I love Andrew Jackson, but he fought on the defensive at New Orleans, a much less difficult task.

    John Pershing. Led the fight against Mexican bandits and the American Expeditionary Force in the Great War. Managed, agaianst French wishes, to keep the Americans fighting under American officers.

    I would leave off Greene and Lejeune for Scott and MacArthur. And as much as I respect Thomas Jackson, there are too many Confederates on the list, so I replace him with Pershing.

  • ThomasTheReb

    I fail to understand why those GA boys never got that support. They had that freakin hill! Nor do the history books mention the NC Troops that made Pickett’s Charge…it’s always about the Virginian, haha.

  • ThomasTheReb

    Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, all of these men served in the US army before the CS Army. From their point of view, they were defending their country, their home states. They were defending the constitution, while the Lincoln administration seemed to make a point to destroy it.

  • bigred81

    Had Jackson been at Gettysburg is one of the great what if’s of history. If the 2nd Corps had taken Culps Hill on 7/1 it probably would have ended the battle at Gettysburg and the Union forces would have formed up near the MD border as was Meade’s original plan.
    Jackson may have pushed the 2nd Corps deeper towards Harrisburg and as such may have been late in arriving all together. Or as at Seven Days, he may have just stopped for a nap and been late in responding to Lee’s orders.

  • PSA7

    It’s pathetic, immature and destructive for the south to continue fighting this conflict. My forebears are from the south, (TN),and I just can’t understand why we harbor animosity over a century later when NONE survive from that era! Yeah, war sucks, sometimes soldiers cross the line, blah, blah, blah… build a frickin’ bridge and get over it! We are The United States and WE need to act like it! WE have common enemies out there that come from places where debate such as this is forbidden by law and ideology. Debate and discuss events all you like, but having ill will or bad feelings for a region within your own nation because of something that noone alive was party to is just an exercise in obsessed insanity!!

  • bigred81

    I am no expert on Napoleonic tactics, and far more men might have lived through the civil war had the generals of the day been less so, but the counterattack at the Wilderness as unique for the war.
    Jacksons valley campaign was brillant, he took advantage of his enemies weaknesses, which any good general does.

  • bigred81

    The whole Longstreet delayed idea is a product of post civil war politics. Lee never mentioned it, no officer on either General’s staff’s ever mentioned it. It is a fabrication of the “Lost Cause” cult, esp Gordon and Early, who in the need to create the myth of Lee needed a scapegoat.

  • HCUA

    I find it incredible that General MacArthur is not on this list. He engineered the defeat of a great and barbaric fighting force in land action in the South Pacific, plus the landing at Inchon, one of the great military strategies of any war.
    He also had great personal courage, as shown in several of his actions. You REALLY missed the boat on this one.

    Also, wasn’t Chesty Puller a general, the best marine ever? Where is his name?

  • ccwglock

    Patton was the best! He got my Dad home in one piece.

  • ccwglock

    Patton was the best! He got my Dad home in one piece.

  • cleanbreak

    Do you really think that when Lee marched in Pennsylvania his troops did not confiscate food and other supplies from the citizens? Of course they did. His army would have starved otherwise. So, how would he have justified this action? He would have used the law of necessity to supply his army so it could fight effectively. Sherman would have used the same reasoning to justify his attempt to bring the war to an end. We conservatives have more pressing concerns than to refight the Civil War. Let’s put these things to rest and concentrate on our immediate challenges. Jesus will judge rightly all those who lived at that time. How will He judge us if we neglect current events for an obsession with the past? Will Christianity remain vital in the USA? Current trends raise serious questions about its future. Many conservatives are also Christians and are appalled at the direction we are moving. We have enough current issues to fight together; there is no advantage to dividing about the past.

  • HCUA

    The reasons that people are still fighting The War Between The States is because the antagonism towards Southerners and their beliefs comes from outsiders, often Northerners, and liberals and leftists who think that they are better than Bubba, and who think that they are so much better than anyone else.
    The outsiders want to destroy all of the things that Southerners hold dear such as their traditions, their flags, their great heroes like Robert E. Lee and Bedford Forrest, and with the connivance of some elected officials in the South, who should be also defending the traditions, but, who are working, in their cowardice, to helping the outsiders in the destruction, and it is working.

  • Richard Sherman

    Hmmmm! I thought this was a list of American Generals?
    Although I do agree Stonewall Jackson was a brilliant leader he fought for the South, and although we are once again a complete Union he did fight for the Confederacy.
    At that time these secession States were never recognized as a separate State, Country or Nation.
    Therefore Jackson, Forrest and Lee were leading an “illegal” army.
    I am not judging the motives or morality of the South in this statement, just prism we are looking at these Confederate Generals through.

    I would also venture that if one were to consider Confederate Generals how would one leave off James Longstreet who I believe is the Confederacy’s own “first modern General.” Very much under rated.

    In closing, how do we list the Generals of an enemy of the United States without listing our amazing British foes from the French and Indian War and also the American Revolution, and Germany, and Spain, and Japan, or even the Russians or perhaps the Taliban?

    I think the criteria for the list was a tad over extended.
    There is nothing wrong with recognizing any of these Generals as GREAT!
    They must have been because they were studying each others tactics and reading each others books and papers.
    Oh, as far as Sherman, Can someone name a General that took more ground with fewer battles and less loss of life on either side?
    Rick Sherman

  • Richard Sherman

    Lee understood that he needed the support of the citizens of the South where most of the war was fought.
    He would have to be an idiot to not give that “Standing Order.”

    Sherman, on the other hand, was in the South – like it or not ENEMY TERRITORY – and the whole idea was to make the citizens demand an end to the war. Citizens who took an oath of allegiance and did not advocate the war were “expected” to be unharmed.
    In the 19th century and without instant communication between factions of his army it is not untypical for some isolated horrendous decisions to be made. That has happened throughout history.
    Micro-managing war is a very recent technology.
    I have yet to decide if it is an advantage or a curse.

  • Richard Sherman

    The key word is “nearly”

  • HCUA

    Some people here can’t tell the difference between a general and an admiral. Put General Nuisance and General Misunderstanding on the list.

  • HCUA

    We may all be Americans now except the Commie in Washington. He is a Kenyan.

  • Abiss

    Agreed. Tactically speaking you could add half a dozen others to that list too.

  • Chris

    Your an idiot, Lee, Jackson and Forres were still American Generals.

  • DrBerkeley

    Marshall, Pershing, Eisenhower, maybe even Grant and Petraeus.

  • DrBerkeley

    Marshall, Pershing, Eisenhower, maybe even Grant and Petreaus

  • rongr

    I cannot believe that General George Thomas, (the rock of Chickamauga), was not included on this list. Although a native Virginian, he cast his lot with the North when the Civil War began, simply because he believed that this nation was an union and could not be dissolved because of political differences. As far as his generalship was concerned, he had no equal in the North, (not the mentally unbalanced Sherman, or the incompetent Grant, who took a full year to defeat an opponent he outnumbered 3-1). All General Thomas did was to win the war in the west against an enemy that was at the very least numerically equal, and in some cases, superior, (the battle of Nashville, December 1864). The reason that no one remebers him, is because of the basic hatred that the buffon Grant and the pyscho Sherman had for him. After the end of the war in 1865, Grant and Sherman both, quickly made light of his accomplishments because they knew that had the truth come out, their generalship would have been exposed for what it was; a fraud. And so sir, all I can say is that you may take the aforementioned list and shove it

  • RobertB

    You have forgotten or maybe you will get to the United State Air Force in a separate report. That being said, because they were Army generals and one of them later served in the US Air Force; your list should include General Hap Arnold and General Curtis Lemay. Lemay flew combat missions in Europe, mastermined the B-29 campaign against Japan and made the Strategic Air Command the backbone of US nuclear might during the Cold War.

  • Buddy

    I would rather face a Sherman any day than to deal with the lying,backstabbing,two faced politicians of today.At least you knew where you stood with Sherman;he was an animal and a terrorist and you either killed him our he killed you. The S.O.B.s we deal with today come at you from behind their politically correct facade but the outcome is the same. They are laying waste to our republic as surely as Sherman laid waste to the South.

  • Cetansapa

    Of the ten listed by Mr. Smith, George Washington would top my list. Today’s history re-writers continue to malign his character and motives, some even claiming he was nothing but a mercenary in it for whatever he could gain personally. That is patently ridiculous! Anyone who studies that period thoroughly and objectively must conclude that our revolution might have fallen apart with out him at the helm. General George S. Patton is only a half pace behind in my estimation and that is based on having read numerous books about him and by him and being acquainted with a few men who served in his army, not on the movie. I wish we had generals now with the same drive and the courage to tell it like it is to this treasonous administration instead of just clicking their heels and saying yes sir, yes sir, three bags full, please don’t hold up my next promotion or my retirement. I am glad I retired before the person now occupying our White House weaseled his way in there.

    As for those whose comments indicate they still want to fight the Civil War, get over it. Such residual bitterness is not only destructive to the individual and a waste of energy, it is also harmful to the nation. Considering that the one some call president continually bad-mouths our country before the world, we cannot afford to be divided on issues that simply cannot be changed.

  • johndubose

    As a son of the south, I think it a tragedy that the south had such good generals. Their presence delayed the necessary end of slavery and caused a lot of extra suffering.

  • AmericanThunder

    Julius Caesar had his friends in the Roman Senate and so America has it friends at home and abroad.

  • John

    I am an American Southerner. I had two great granddaddies that fought for the South and I honor their service. I have the Confederate battle flag haning over my work area in my carport. I am proud that I live in the South and dont particularly care for the North or people from it. However, I am not still fighting the war and am willing to fight alongside or for any American.
    I am also novice historian and have studied enough to understand that while Sherman was a cold hearted bastard it was his strategy that broke the South. He arguably won the war for Grant and Lincoln. He is most assuredly one of the greatest Generals in American history

  • franknowzad

    No Gen MacArthur? Two world wars, Korea, should have been listened to about Vietnam. Gen. Petraeus instead of some losing C19 donkey walloper…

  • the29thtn

    Still fighting the war? Yes we are still fighting two wars. One against ignorance and one against big government. The “Civil War” did not start in 1861 and it did not end in 1865. The war started between Hamilton and Jefferson in 1789 and it continues to this day. In American politics one is either traditionally a big government Hamiltonian who argues that the Constitution is living, or a small government Jeffersonian who believes one follows the Constitution. Conservatives are never going to win this fight if we don’t get past this ignorant belief that the “Civil War” was primarily about slavery and recognize that Hamilton won in 1865 and he’s going to keep winning until we reverse what Lincoln and the Hamiltonian North did to our government and Constitution. If you want Constitutional government, it’s time to start supporting states rights, nullification, and everything else Jefferson and Madison gave us. It’s also time to recognize that Total War does not work unless you are willing to carry it all the way to the point of 100% genocide, because nobody you use it against will ever forgive you if they are alive. There is plenty of evidence that Sherman had nothing to do with ending the war sooner, he just made Southerners hate Yankees. Thomas destroyed the Army of Tennessee while Sherman was marching around burning things unopposed. Historians have argued that Sherman killed the South’s willingness to fight, but there are plenty of surviving letters from home telling the soldiers to fight harder because of the destruction that awaits if they don’t.

    Let me put it another way. How did you feel after the terrorist attacks of 9-11? Did you feel like submitting or did if just make you mad? Did you want to surrender or did you want to rip the living heart out of the terrorists? 9-11 is a perfect example of total war, and it should demonstrate to everyone that it does not work. You hate the terrorist as much as we hate the Yankee terrorist, Sherman. The memory of Sherman only makes us want to fight rather than making us hesitant. Total War, and Sherman, are failures.

  • Poison_Pero

    Pathetic. Sherman was a man of his time (as all of us are), and he was no more brutal than his peers….I’m betting you don’t like Truman for pulling the trigger on the A-bomb as well.

  • Poison_Pero

    Thrilled to see NB Forrest made your list. Most Americans have no idea who he is, let alone how brilliant he was…That said it’s too bad he was one of the first KKK leaders. Doh!

  • Richard Sherman


  • the29thtn

    Another Myth. The KKK was founded in Pulaski, nowhere near where Forrest lived. If Forrest was an early leader of the KKK, it would have been founded near Memphis.

    The grain of truth in this myth is that in an attempt to get publicity, the KKK later elected Forrest, even though he was not a member, as Grand Wizard because of his reputation as a leader. However, Forrest can only be proven to have preformed one act as Grand Wizard. That one act was to order the KKK to disband.

  • Stanley

    Major General was originally Sergeant Major General. Lieutenants outrank Sergeants

  • jimfromkcj

    It may be politically correct to exclude General MacArthur from this list, but his masterful use of limited resources and his bypassing and isolating large numbers of japanese troops would make the list, and that doesn’t consider Korea and the invasion of Inchon.

  • Laszarus_Long

    Well that is an outright lie. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Eddie L

    Hey Mr. Smith enjoy reading this article how about an article America’s greatest admiral also ? Admiral David Farragut, Raymond Spruance, Chester Nimitz just to name a few.

  • franknowzad

    PERSHING was an ignoramus who slaughtered his own men by refusing to let them learn their trade alongside British Expeditionary Forces. In just a few months of fighting, against a retreating army (and far fewer divisions than were placed against BEF forces) he lost a fifth of the amount of men who were killed during 4 years of total war by the BEF. Patton was lucky to have Montgomery alongside him to destroy Waffen SS divisions. Sooner or later you run out of flanks…

  • John Fielding

    What Sherman did was exactly what was called for under the circumstances. Lincoln was not winning over hearts and minds. He was for winning the war. If Sherman does not do what he does, Lincoln might have lost re-election to McClellan, and the war would have not been won at all.

  • RSemmes

    The rapes, arson, and sometimes murder committed by Sherman’s forces constituted war crimes not only under the Geneva Convention of 1863 but also under the preceding common law of war, as it was taught at West Point when Sherman attended. He must have slept through that class. What Sherman did in Georgia and the Carolinas is no different from what the Serbs did in more recent times in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo.

    Some yankees do not seem to realize who the good guys were in the War Between the States. Lincoln was big government tyrant in the Hamiltonian mode while the South stood for Jeffersonian principles of limited government. Read Winston Churchill’s chapter on that issue in his history of the US ”The Great Republic”.

  • RSemmes

    If you have ever stood on the battlefield at Waterloo and surveyed the ground of the charge of the Imperial Guard against Wellington’s center, you see a preview of what was later to happen in Pickett’s and Pettigrew’s charge at Gettysburg. Surely Waterloo was taught at West Point and Lee must have known the result.

  • bigred81

    There is some scholarship that thinks Lee was attempting a classic Napoleonic attack, with his cavalry attacking Meade’s rear. Lee overestimated the ability of his men and the resolve of the Union army which for the first time had a commanding General who wanted to fight and had the skill to do it.

  • NotfooledbyRhetoric

    Exactly. Allies bombed key targets in Europe to reduce supplies to the German army. This too helped win the war. By 1944 Germany wasn’t able to keep up with demand for military supplies. The battle of the bulge stalled because of the lack of fuel as a result of allied bombing of refineries. In these allied bombings many civilians did die.

    Question. How many civilians were killed by Shermans soldiers?

  • CB22

    I heard it was wrapped in pig skin. Either way, it might be somethin’ to think about……..

  • CB22

    Unfortuately your statement about total war is true, however, sometimes it is the only thing that is acceptable. For instance, a drug crazed, serial rapist / murderer, attacking his victim almost never is stopped without total, lethal force. Our liberal political enemies as well as our Muslim brethren will never be subdued with partial measures.

  • the29thtn

    Well… I don’t consider taking out a murderer on a rampage total war. Killing his wife and children and burning down his town to convince him to surrender would be total war.

  • ChiefBoring

    Thank you for the kind remarks on the Georgians. Two of my great uncles were behind that stone wall at Fredericksburg, and in the wheatfield on the second day at Gettysburg. The were in the 18th Georgia Infantry. Both were later captured; one at Cedar Creek, October 19th, 1864. The other, wounded at Spotsylvania in May, was at home recuerating when captured by Sherman’s forces at Roswell, July 11, 1864. He spent the last year of the war at Camp Douglas, where POWs were treated worse on purpose than those at Andersonville because of a lack of supplies, when Grany refused to exchange prisoners.

    Despite my family history, I understand Sherman’s selection. As to comments on Forrest, his detracter should study a little more history. He was not a racist, but supported the furtherance of black progress after the war, and ordered the disbanding of the KKK when it became violent. It’s resurgence started in the 20s in the midwest, notably Illinois. When it marched in Washington in 1924, it carried the US flag.

  • gzigoris

    God, what a hornets nest. Great Generals did what was needed to win the war.. No mister nice guys. But what makes a great general? Leaders, don’t lead from the some protected spot. Leaders lead from the front with the men. Patton was one and if you ask any man that served with Chesty, they would follow him to hell if he asked. That is what makes a great General.

  • blarman

    @Bob  Dude, get over it.  To quote another famous General “War is Hell.”  The notion of “limited warfare” is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetuated by the liberal media.  War affects everyone whether in the combat or not.  The whole purpose of war is to make your enemies stop wage war against you.  You do that either by physically reducing their _ability_ to fight or psychologically debilitating their _will_ to fight.  The enemy has to have both ability and will to wage war.  That’s why we have nukes – they are the ultimate psychological AND physical force for stopping war before it begins.

    You field a military to win wars – not to be nice to the enemy.

  • KeepPowderDry_GunsUnregistered

    Sherman in 1865, like Truman in 1945, ended a horrible war by using overwhelming brutality. One used torches and kerosene. The other used nuclear weapons. The manner in which they stopped their wars will be argued pro and con until the Lord comes again. The undeniable truth, however, is that they succeeded in stopping protracted wars that began and ended as unwinable by the underdog. Were it so, that America would still have such resolve to end conflicts instead of disposing of young Americans like cord wood, with no end in sight.

  • Mike Bloomfield

    Nathan Bedford Forrest was a racist, murderous, killer who also was a brilliant tactition. Contrary to what the29tn states, Forrest was indeed a founder of the KKK. He also was the man who ordered all the black people and southern whites that were in the northern armies, put to death at Fort Pillow!

  • 2War Abn Vet

    Any list of greatest generals like the lists of
    greatest presidents is superfluous. George Washington stands alone. Without the
    “Indispensable Man” there would be no United States and certainly no

  • charlesbrandon

    You Must be a southerner. Well He was doing his job and won.

  • charlesbrandon

    During WW2 The Germans said that General Patton was the only General they feared. Because he was said that “No son of a bitch won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb Son of a Bitch die for his country.” In his 3rd Army was the 4th armored infantry. They defeated the Germans to relieve the 101st airborne at Bastogn.

  • Larenzo1

    Lee had no supply line to begin with and in war even to this day we have a code of conduct. The kill and burn orders of Sherman would have been illegal and thus no soldier would be obliged to obey them as matter of fact they would have a legal and moral responsibility not to. I suspect thos that urge the intentional killing of civilians here have never fired a shot in war.

  • Larenzo1

    He was more like the Taliban. I fear you do not know what you are talking about.

  • Larenzo1

    I agree if anyone deserves to be there Mac does

  • MSgt

    Ya only need officers to politic the politicians…..Good NCOs make the military and the Generals great.

  • charlesbrandon

    I know that and that’s one reason I never called a Sergeant, sarge. But some
    in my command thought they’d never get caught doing dirty deeds such as
    selling on the Black markets.

  • HOO

    Thank you for your kind and thoughtful response. HOO

  • MSgt

    I reiterate…GOOD NCOs!!

  • KeepPowderDry_GunsUnregistered

    …the South stood for Jeffersonian principles of limited government. RSemmes, give me a break! The war was about free labor, stopping the use of subjegated human lives as fee labor. Color it any other way you want, and you ignore the 800# gorilla in the living room: slavery.

  • Kbuzz

    Not so.  Slavery was not even remotely why we had the Civil War.  Keep in mind that both the North and South had Slaves.  It was about taxes, ie., Money. 

    The South had cotton & tobacco, with cotton being the main product.  However, to make cotton profitable, it had to be shipped to the refineries that resided in the north.  When the south loaded the cotton bales on the trains, they had to pay a tax through every State the cotton traveled through, than paid an additional tax to have it refined, and taxes to get it back to the south.  
    Tired of this unjust taxation, the South found it could ship the cotton to England and back at a substantially cheaper cost.  The North than promptly placed a naval blockade to southern ports – this was before the war started.  Money was the reason.

    As for the Slavery issue: it was brought-up late in the war; Southern plantations were freeing slaves, and “Mandingo” was not typical of slavery in the south – contrary to popular opinion.  
    Look at it from a business standpoint.  Slaves were purchased, and they were not cheap.  Does it make sense to pay a lot of money for an asset than abuse it?
    Also, there were laws against abusing slaves.  And why may you ask was the South freeing the slaves.  Let me explain.  Master’s were required to house, feed, clothe, and take care of the medical needs of the Slaves – required by law, and you could be held accountable, as there were many cases where the Masters were..  Free the Slave, and you don’t have to take care of him.  Instead, you pay them a salary, charge them for rent, clothes, food, and if they get sick – thats their problem.  Bottom line, it was cheaper to hire them, knowing full well that the only thing most of them knew was picking cotton.  Had the war not intervened, it was postulated that most plantations would have done away with Slavery – it made for business and economic sense.

    I will grant you I simplified this discussion, but you should be able to see the business logic behind this approach that was being practiced.
    Were their atrocities – you bet, but even the north exploited the slaves just as bad.
    Read about the history of New York sometimes.  And keep in mind, slavery still exists today in virtually every country.

  • Ryan Quattro

    Your post is a thousand percent wrong. You somehow manage to ignore the Misouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Fugitive Slave Act, the Compromise of 1850, the Dred Scott Decision, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Bleeding Kansas, John Brown’s revolt…no person who really knows history can deny that slavery was  the cause of the  civil war. 

    It was the agitation of the Aboitionists and the Southern’s vehement defense of the peculiar institution that gave us the Civil War. 

  • Ryan Quattro

    The South was to the Civil Wart what the Nazis are to the Second World War. Only racists and people who believe humans should own other human beings think the South was the good guys. The South was as anti-Liberty as you could get. Hitler and Stalin also used slaves as did the South. 

    The South deserved what they got because they spent centuries raping, beating, and killing black men. They deserved no pity.

  • Rufus2012

    Wow- a southern man with a brain. can he be a product of the public schools in the south.

  • Rufus2012

    And Jeesus. The south was fighting for Jeesus.

  • Bill Oakley

    Your top 10 is suspect when you leave off General Grant who is better than all you listed on the battle field above! He is singularly the one most responsible for leading the defeat of the South while winning just about every fight/battle that he commanded on the field!

  • lghollis

    If Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee were traitors then so was George Washington.

  • lghollis

    If the “Confederate” generals were “Traitors” then so was Washington.

  • Richard Schubiger

    you don’t know history ryan you only know the politically correct version of U.S. history which is 100% falsified version of U.S. History if the civil war was about freeing slaves why didn’t Lincoln just buy all the slaves like England did? It would have cost a lot less than starting a war and Abraham Lincoln openly said he would not free the slaves if he thought he could win the war without freeing them so if the war is supposedly about slavery why would he ever say that he would not free the slaves if he thought he could win the war without doing so?

  • ryan

    You have no idea what you are talking about, Richard. Firstly, the war was about the EXTENSION of slavery, not the eradication of it. The South pushed for decades to extend it beyond the South while the North fought against it. That was the most immediate cause of the war.

    As for Lincoln and this is where your ignorance truly shines, Lincoln did NOT fight the war to end slavery. Rather, he launched the war because he viewed secession as illegal. He viewed the war as a rebellion and he had the legal authority and responsibility to squash it. (The Constitution does explicitly grant the President the right to do put down a rebellion.)Lincoln did not believe that the federal government had the legal authority on its own to end slavery, even though he was in favor of abolition. He believed–and rightly so–that only a constitutional amendment could end slavery in the US. That would require the approval of the states.

    However, Lincoln was stridently against extension of slavery and that is why the South was so deadset against him. Ultimately their fanaticism in defending the most illiberal human construction is what brought the South down.

    You need to read a history book,Richard.

  • Richard Schubiger

    Again like I said before this is a completely falsified version of U.S. History that you are preaching and the immediate cause of the war is what Kbuzz said. Slavery is just how they justified the war. The History books we read in High school, Middle School, College are usually completely made up remember history is written by the victors we can’t pretend to know anything about history by only studying the explanation the victors have given us may I suggest two “Real” history books for you

  • ryan

    Like I said you don’t know what you are writing about. The fact that you cite books written by an economics professor and not a historian only confirms to me that you are a complete ignoramus when it comes to Lincoln and the Civil War. Thomas DiLorenzo is NOT an expert on Lincoln, the Civil War, or anything pertaining to history. His area of expertise is economics. These are undeniable facts.

    What is also a fact is that it is you who is reading ‘falsified” history. If you want to know the “true” history of the civil war I suggest you pick up books by David Herbert Donald, James MacPherson, Shelby Foote, William C. Davis, Emory Thomas, Stephen B. Oates, James D. Wert, and Stephen W. Sears among others.

    You really have to re-evaluate where you are getting your information from. If you want to know what’s with your car you go to a mechanic, not a musician. Conversely, if you want to learn to play an instrument you go to a musician not a mechanic. You have chosen to learn about a subject from a person’s whose training is in a completely different field of study. That is mindbogglingly idiotic.

  • Harold Massengale

    Very good, Richard. As a twenty year Army Ranger, and disliking using this cliche-here it comes. The obvious objective is to win any conflict, but when it’s carried out in a fashion that most of the rest of the world views as ruthless, then the ‘bad guys’ are apt to multiply with the most recent example being our two ten-year wars. The hearts and minds truly do mean something to the rest of the world (Taliban decapitating on live tv notwithstanding), why do you think the Germans were flocking to surrender to the US and NOT the Russians?
    Good points, Mr. Sherman.

  • Ken

    Your brush is a little too wide. Raping killing and beating was not a universal wide-spread reality for centuries as you mistakenly state. You need to get over your hate and consume some real

    historical facts. Most soldiers from the southern states were economically and educationally disadvantaged as most blacks.

  • ryan

    Rape, beating, and killing were part of slavery in the US. That is a fact. You need to open a history book.

    Yes, they were economically and educationally disadvantaged. It was because of this that they embraced white supremacy. If they didn’t have the goods or material, they at least belonged to the same racial club.

  • Dave

    I wish i was born in the south. #yankeeshame

  • nrthstaar

    This is a bogus list. The confederates should not be on the list, they were traitors. Additionaly no one from the Air Force or since wwII. I’d put George Marshall ahead of many of these, particularly Patton.