Who was the greatest American general ? – History, Politics & Society


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The one and only George Washington. General, Founding Father, and 1st President.

Personally I think that Washington is out-shone by Lee, Grant, and Patton. Washington just has the most ‘glorification’.

{To answer this question, you need to define ‘greatest’.

The general who made the greatest contribution to his country?

George Washington. We lose the WoI without him.

U.S. Grant gets second in this category, since without him the USA likely loses 11-15 states to the Confederacy.

Sam Houston isn’t mentioned often, but his improbable victory at San Jacinto led to the independence and later annexation of the Republic of Texas (Texas, parts of New Mexico, parts of Colorado, and parts of Wyoming) as well as setting the stage for

Winfield Scott, who led a brilliant campaign against Mexico, leading to the Mexican Cession (California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, and the rest of Colorado and New Mexico).

Thomas MacDonough (actually a naval rather than army officer), blocked the British invasion of New England during the War of 1812. Had the invasion succeeded, the United States stood to lose the Great Lakes region and parts of New England.

Honorable Mentions:

George Dewey (another admiral), won control of the Philippines in 1898. Not on my top 5 list because he was dealt a devastatingly good hand.

Matthew Ridgway, took over from MacArthur after the Chinese entered the Korean War and led the UN forces to a successful conclusion of that war. Can be credited with South Korean independence.

The general with the greatest strategic skill?

Off the cuff I’d say Nimitz, Washington, Scott, Grant, Eisenhower.

Tactical skill?

Off the cuff again, R.E. Lee, Spruance, Patton, T.J. Jackson, pick your own 5th.

Sherman should be mentioned for sure somewhere, but mentioning him AND Grant in any category seemed kind of redundant.

Given my areas of specialization, this list is probably skewed towards the Civil War and the Pacific Theater of WWII. (Or maybe just more accurate there? I left MacArthur out on purpose.)} –Tricericon

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