We have fought wars through out our history as humans in this world. Although wars should always be looked at as bad, they also are opportunities for heroes to show their metal. Wars and battles have produced many heroes that later went on to do a lot of good for the world. The generals who formed the strategy during battles are usually considered heroes because their cunning and astute thinking is what wins wars. Let’s look at 7 of the greatest military leaders who were known for their strategies.
7. Helmuth Von Moltke:
Helmuth Von Moltke the elder was the chief of general staff for Prussia and later the united Germany for almost 30 years. He is known to be one of the first military leaders who transitioned into modern warfare with huge armies. He is famous to have said, “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy” which means that during the heat of the battle all plans are forgotten. Keeping this in mind, he came up with the strategy to create several army corps all of whom would operate independently and create their own plans during battle while keeping in mind the general objective. He won great battles against Austria-Hungary, Saxony and later France.
6. Erich Von Manstein:
Manstein was one of the greatest German strategists during World War II. He worked together with Rundstedt during the invasion of France. He suggested plans that were unusual for the German army but when they were used, they resulted in great victories across the Seine. This got him promoted to the rank of General. He later commanded the Panzer Corps and became Field Marshal of Army Group South that tried to break through to the trapped German soldiers in Stalingrad. He wasn’t successful because Hitler didn’t allow the German pockets to try and break the encirclement. Manstein later claimed that Hitler should have resigned left the war to professionals. He was the last of the successful German leaders still fighting when the war ended. He was tried for war crimes and faced a sentence of 18 years but was released after 4 due to health reasons.
5. Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Eisenhower along with Churchill was the head of the allied forces during the Second World War and is credited with the eventual allied victory. He was a very religious man and is credited with the “In God we trust” motto adopted by the US during his presidency. During WWI he was the commander of the US Tank Corps and held other instructional posts. He lacked on field experience but his strategic and diplomatic capabilities made him the person of choice to take the command of the complete allied forces in the European Theater during the later stages of the war. He later went on to become the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. His strengths lied in the ability to lead flamboyant commanders who often tried to outperform each other and maintain diplomatic relations with a wide variety of allies.
4. Thomas J. Jackson:
Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson was one of the greatest generals of the American Civil War. He lost only one battle in his complete career when he got wrong information about the numbers of Union soldiers he was fighting. He earned the nickname Stonewall because he prevented the North from reinforcing their army in Richmond by not letting them cross the Shenandoah Valley. The North send three armies of about 52,000 to fight Jackson’s 17,000 strong army but met failure in all 5 battles. Jackson was a great strategist and waited for the opposition to make the first move, anticipating their moves according to the terrain and then made his offensive accordingly. Jackson was accidentally shot by his own men and his left arm was amputated. He died 8 days later due to pneumonia.
3. Hannibal Barca:
Hannibal is credited with devising the pincer maneuver that has been used so many times since then. He crossed the Alps with his army and wanted to conquest the entire Roman Empire. He defeated the Romans at Trebia and Lake Trasimene. Then came the battle of Cannes which is one of the bloodiest single day battles of all times. Hannibal anticipated the Romans to attack his center with the ancient phalanx formation which is impossible to break from the front and so he positioned all his best soldiers on the flanks. When the Romans attacked, Hannibal’s army was ready for it and the soldiers at the center retreated, drawing the Roman army in. The flanks moved to surround the Romans and the cavalry covered any chance of retreat from behind. What ensued was a slaughter of the Romans during which more than 50,000 men died from the Roman side and 10,000 on the Carthaginian side.
2. Napoleon Bonaparte:
Napoleon Bonaparte was probably one of the greatest military generals in Europe. He managed to capture almost complete Europe and lost very few battles. His strategies were what gave him the edge even when all of Europe allied against him. He often won against larger armies, luring them in and then attacking their weak points. He made the mistake of chasing the Russians into Russia which as Hitler will tell you is a big mistake. The Russians retreated and let the Siberian winter do its job. When he got back to France he had lost a large part of his army but his ambitions hadn’t been satisfied so he raised another army. Some say that he had lost his touch as in Waterloo he was defeated because of his own mistake of starting the fight too late and letting the allied soldiers to receive reinforcements of 50,000 troops.
1. Alexander the Great:
Alexander of Macedon was such a great military leader that he is now called Alexander the Great. He fought 17 major battles and won every single one of them. He extended his empire all the way up to India where he finally met defeat mostly because his own army was sick and tired of the endless conquest. Many times he engaged much larger armies and sill managed to win because of his better strategies and the more organized way of fighting that his army employed. His most famous battles were against the Persian Darius III where he out maneuvered the Persian army at every move.