As the world inches ever closer to World War Three (looking at you U.S.A. and North Korea), I thought I’d take some time to think about past military leaders. During my musing, I made a list of my top 10 picks. These ten are my picks for the cream of the crop of military leaders. Each one extremely experienced and capable when it comes to commanding their troops in battle and winning. Unfortunately, my picks are all dead, but hey, I’d take the ghosts of these guys for sure.
10. Major General Andrew Jackson
The lowest ranked of the ten, Andrew Jackson had a lengthy and productive military career. During the War of 1812, Jackson made his name by crushing the British and Native Americans. He later captured New Orleans from the Spanish and ruled it with the use of martial law. The reason Jackson made this list is because he tough as hickory and isn’t afraid to commit war crimes (think Battle of New Orleans and First Seminole War.)
9. Lieutenant General Thomas Jonathan Jackson
Better known as “Stonewall” Jackson, General Jackson was a force to be reckoned with and is still revered for his military tact. He was a graduate from West Point and led the Confederate Army to many successful battles. Jackson is on the list because he was extremely capable to lead without Robert E. Lee and his successful Valley Campaign. He would have been higher up, but his early death made Jackson one of the biggest question marks of the Civil War.
8. General Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.
“Stormin’ Norman” spent his childhood first in New Jersey, then Iran and followed by Germany. He eventually enlisted in the army and reached the rank of major when he entered the Vietnam War and proceeded to do two tours. He was also part of the Invasion of Grenada and the Gulf War and served as commander of United States Central Command. Schwarzkoph is on this list because of his modern combat experience and his influential roles in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.
7. General of the Army William T. Sherman
A graduate from West Point, General Sherman served in the Second Seminole War and the Civil War. Sherman was wounded multiple times and continued to fight in the field. He eventually got control of the Western Theater and proceeded to chase the Confederate army through Georgia, into the Carolinas. Sherman is on this list because he was a brilliant strategist and wasn’t afraid to engage in ‘scorched earth’ tactics, leveling anything in his path.
6. General of the Army Ulysses S. Grant
Another graduate of West Point, Grant was the final General of the Army in the Civil War. He started off as part of a volunteer company but quickly rose through the ranks. Although not always successful, he won key campaigns such as Vicksburg and Chattanooga, opening the Confederacy to an invasion. Grant is on this list because of his sound victory over Robert E. Lee and the fact that he might have been a drunk the whole time. Can’t predict what a drunk general will do.
5. General of the Armies John J. Pershing
The only American to be promoted to General of the Armies during their lifetime, Pershing led American forces during WWI. Prior to WWI, Pershing served in both the Spanish- and Philippine-American Wars. During his command of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in WWI, he relied heavily on massive infantry attacks. While not always successful, Pershing is on this list because he made many improvements to military gear and units. Pershing also led during WWI, with no precedent to rely on, making him an innovator.
4. General of the Army Douglas MacArthur
Although not the first time MacArthur saw action, he served during WWI on the Western Front. After the war, he became one of the youngest major generals, at the age of 44. During WWII, MacArthur led the war in the Pacific Theater and led the island-hopping campaigns against the Japanese. He eventually occupied Japan and was the Supreme Allied Commander in Japan for the duration. He later served in the Korean War as well. MacArthur is on the list because he easily led one of the most grueling campaigns having to capture individual islands. He also ruled a country, No B.D. Wong.
3. General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eisenhower began his military career during WWI, even though he never saw action in Europe. He later served in WWII, making his way up to Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force. He oversaw the Allied invasion of Sicily, Allied Invasion of Italy, Allied assault on Normandy, just for a few highlights. Eisenhower also planned the liberation of western Europe and invasion of Germany. He is on the list because he pretty much ran the show on the ground from 1943 until the end of WWII.
2. General of the Army/General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold
General Arnold graduated from West Point (of course) and went on to pioneer aviation. He obtained Military Aviator Certificate No. 2 and set several altitude records in 1911. Arnold served in both WWI and WWII. Arnold assisted in strategic bombings in North Africa, Europe, and Japan during WWII. He is on this list not just because he was practically one of the original members of the Air Force, but because he ran the lights show for ever part of WWII at some point.
1. General of the Armies George Washington
George Washington was the man in charge of all the revolutionary forces during the Revolutionary War. That means he was also in charge of Andrew Jackson (weird, right?). Every American that ever took a history class during grade school knows how important and awesome GW was during his time spent leading the troops against the biggest military force on the planet at the time. He is my number one pick every time. Just look at this completely factual video describing his time in the Continental Army.