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Old February 19th, 2014, 05:34 AM
El Maestro El Maestro is offline
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Greatest military commanders the world never had

As the title says, which military generals had the chance to leave their mark in history if their fates were different?
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Old February 19th, 2014, 05:45 AM
Gurroruo Gurroruo is offline
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Originally Posted by El Maestro View Post
As the title says, which military generals had the chance to leave their mark in history if their fates were different?
While Suvorov had he lived longer could have beat Napoleon's arse and wipeout his little empire while it has still a child.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 05:46 AM
TFSmith121 TFSmith121 is online now
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So they had to reach general officers' rank historically,

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Originally Posted by El Maestro View Post
As the title says, which military generals had the chance to leave their mark in history if their fates were different?
but not actually see active/wartime service as a general officer, or if they did, did not get a chance - for whatever reason - of serving long enough to develop a reputation?

Best,
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Old February 19th, 2014, 06:19 AM
Richter von Manthofen Richter von Manthofen is offline
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Duke of Reichstatt - aka Nappy II - would have inherited his fathers genius and have led the Austrian Armies to victory in the 1866 war.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 07:53 AM
profxyz profxyz is online now
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Obviously it's going to be hard to judge what peacetime officers were going to be good in actual war, primarily because in peace the quality of officers is generally judged through the development of military theory/plans (like Clausewitz I guess, even though he did fight in the Napoleonic Wars early on - maybe Schlieffen), which may not be the correct metrics to judge wartime ability.

For example, Henry Halleck was pretty good in theory and wrote/translated a lot of the books that would be used by the nascent US Army, but when it came to the actual US Civil War he kind of sucked, completely missing the big picture in the West (focusing on Corinth and not Chattanooga) and not particularly improving the situation in the East when he transferred there either.

I suspect Jomini would probably be there too. I tend to think any attempt to reduce war to a couple of principles (if not outright mathematics and geometry) might have worked well in the 18th century, but not so much against a Napoleon or any of his military offspring. (Certainly his methods didn't work too well for US generals during the Civil War).

As for those who could have fared better:

Claudius II Gothicus and Aurelian, Roman Emperors who in their short reigns largely concluded the Crisis of the Third Century.

Nikephoros II and John I Tzimiskes, the two short but brilliant military generals of Byzantium. (Although they were succeeded by Basil II who was pretty good as well).

A couple of the nobles who fought in the War of the Roses (Oxford, Warwick, Somerset) would have fared quite well in the Hundred Years' War if they had been born a generation earlier.

Selim I of the Ottomans could definitely have done better (esp. against Hungary) had he not died after only 9 years on the throne.

I guess Desaix & Joubert during the Napoleonic Wars.

Von Seeckt might have been put to better use on the Western/Eastern Front rather than on the Turkish front.

I would think that Zhang Xueliang would have been good in the Sino-Japanese War.

A couple of writers who analyzed the US defeat in Vietnam (Col. Harry Summers) might have been able to reverse things, though ultimately political issues decided the course of the war.

Last edited by profxyz; February 19th, 2014 at 08:07 AM..
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Old February 19th, 2014, 10:28 AM
Nytram01 Nytram01 is offline
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Isaac Brock is the first one that comes to mind for me. Not only was he stuck in what he considered an unimportant part of the Empire and sidelined during the greatest conflict of his life in Europe but when war against America broke and he finally had the chance to prove himself he was shot dead in the first major battle of the conflict at Queenston Heights. He's regarded as a good commander today, but had he lived he might have gone on to achieve greater success. Who knows? He may have come to be regarded as second only to Wellington amungst British generals of the era.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 07:31 PM
slydessertfox slydessertfox is offline
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Profxyz already mentioned Claudius Gothicus and Aurelian. I'm going to add Phillip II of Makedon to the list. It would have been interesting seeing how he'd handle the invasion of Persia as opposed to Alexander. He definitely had the skill to give them a good beating.

Others:

Titus Labienus was up their with Caesar in military talent-if his career wasn't interrupted by the civil war, he might be able to expect a pro-consulship of his own and some military fame.

It would have been nice to see if Alexander's son, Alexander IV, could live up to his father's legacy.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 07:40 PM
eliphas8 eliphas8 is online now
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Jan Ziska could have been far more remembered.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 07:48 PM
Sabot Cat Sabot Cat is online now
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Shi Dakai really should have been the military leader of the Taiping Rebellion if it were to have any chances of success, considering his previous record for combat prowess, logistical know-how, and popularity among the peasantry as a sort of folk hero.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 08:11 PM
Lars Porsenna Lars Porsenna is offline
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Originally Posted by slydessertfox View Post
Titus Labienus was up their with Caesar in military talent-if his career wasn't interrupted by the civil war, he might be able to expect a pro-consulship of his own and some military fame.
He wasn't quite up there with Caesar, and had more expertise in commanding cavalry, but I'd sure rate him as being higher than Pompey.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 08:29 PM
phil03 phil03 is offline
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Charles de Gaulle, if France would have listened to is military theory in the late 30's WWII will have been quite different and he could have ended up been a sort of French Rommel or Guderian
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Old February 19th, 2014, 08:43 PM
TheKnightIrish TheKnightIrish is offline
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US Civil War

Perhaps Nathaniel Lyons, John F. Reynolds or of course Philip Kearny!

Napoleonic War

What about Sir John Moore survives and returns to fight the Peninsula War?

Victorian Age

Garnet Wolseley was a great general and won many accolades but because he never pitched into a European enemy at a higher rank he gets lost in discussions that focus on Marlborough, Wellington and Slim...

Sir Archie Hunter - Kitchener's Sword Arm, yet Kitchener denied him the early WWI field command he desired. A great organizer and a very aggressive general he would either have been very very good or a disaster. Certainly later in the war his aggressive tendencies might have been bad on the Western Front.

Sir William Francis Butler - one of the Wolseley Ring who saw the Boar War coming a mile off and what it might actually look like. Give him half a chance and the resources he needed...well who knows.
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Old February 19th, 2014, 10:00 PM
Heisenberg Heisenberg is offline
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An Isaac Brock that survives Queenston Heights.
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Old February 21st, 2014, 04:26 AM
Fiver Fiver is offline
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Originally Posted by profxyz View Post
I suspect Jomini would probably be there too. I tend to think any attempt to reduce war to a couple of principles (if not outright mathematics and geometry) might have worked well in the 18th century, but not so much against a Napoleon or any of his military offspring. (Certainly his methods didn't work too well for US generals during the Civil War).
"Some of our generals failed because they worked out everything by rule. They knew what Frederick did at one place, and Napoleon at another. They were always thinking about what Napoleon would do. Unfortunately for their plans, the rebels would be thinking about something else." - Ulysses Grant
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Old February 21st, 2014, 10:55 AM
slydessertfox slydessertfox is offline
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Originally Posted by Lars Porsenna View Post
He wasn't quite up there with Caesar, and had more expertise in commanding cavalry, but I'd sure rate him as being higher than Pompey.
Actually now that I think about it, a pro-consulship of Syria-bringing with it the opportunity to attack Parthia to get revenge for Crassus- seems like the best fit for him.

Illyria would work as well.
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Old February 21st, 2014, 03:35 PM
Old Airman Old Airman is offline
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My vote goes to one of most forgotten (by Western historians, anyway) generals, one who can, more than any over person, claim that he single-handedly kept Japan from attacking USSR in 1941, the guy who doesn't even has a page on English Wiki. Iosif Apanasenko was commanding officer of Soviet Far Eastern military district since early 1941 and managed to create "Apanasenko's turnstile", a system which allowed to train Siberian recruits while maintaining full defensive preparedness in case Japan tries something funny. Famous "Siberian Rifles" divisions, who in Dec. 1941 gave to Nazis a first taste of future defeats were, for the most part, his "gift to Motherland". We would never know how good he could have been as a general on a battlefield (he was but a humble Partisan commander during Russian Civil war), but a commander with such obvious administrative talent could have been extremely good in modern total warfare. IOTL he had been killed by a German air strike a mere month after being transferred to ETO.
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Old February 21st, 2014, 06:31 PM
Blackfox5 Blackfox5 is offline
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I think Richard O'Connor would have placed much higher in WWII if he had not been captured in 1941 or if he had been allowed to eliminate the Italians in Libya before Churchill sent troops to Greece. He likely would have become the leading British general of the war, replacing Montgomery.

If Rosecrans had won at Chickamagua, he might have been the one to take Atlanta and marched through the South.

If Chiang Kai-Shek had trusted him, Li Zongren would be remembered as the man who defeated the Japanese and the Chinese Communists.

If Kimmel had taken better precautions at Pearl Harbor, he might be as remembered as Nimitz today for leading the defeat of Japan.

If Richard Montgomery had lived and somehow taken Quebec, he'd likely be one of the most famous Americans of the Revolutionary era.
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Old February 22nd, 2014, 09:16 AM
PulkitNahata PulkitNahata is offline
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Originally Posted by Richter von Manthofen View Post
Duke of Reichstatt - aka Nappy II - would have inherited his fathers genius and have led the Austrian Armies to victory in the 1866 war.
Or crowned himself Emperor after the revolution of 1848.
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