Who would you want leading your armies if you had a choice of anyone in history?
Many of the great minds in military history achieved greatness in such different ways. If you needed a commander to lead your army and he could come from any era, who would it be and why?
Before I answer your question I must point out that the use of the 'Chinese Gentleman' to be somewhat 'leading', in legalise you understand .
The man I would have leading my armies without a jot of hesistation is the legendary and honourable Taoist Master Wo long also known as Zhuge Liang, Born 181 AD - Died 234 AD aged 53, style name Kongming, chancellor of Shu Han state during the Chinese 'Three Kingdoms' period in the first 100 of the last milenia.
This gentleman was not only the greatest and most accomplished military strategist and statesman of his era, he was also an accomplished scholar and inventor. His reputation as an intelligent and learned scholar grew even while he was living in relative seclusion, earning him the nickname "Wolong" (literally: "Crouching Dragon") to an extant that his family name Zhuge has become synonymous with intelligence and strategy in Chinese culture.
He invented the repeating crossbow, the wheel borrow and the kongming lantern. Why, even after his demise he managed to outwit his nemisis general Sima Yi by banning mourning for his death so that when the enemy invaded, not only would they have no idea that he had actually died but they would be confronted by his last startegic ruse.
What he did, and this is an ingeniuos startegy, was to order a wooden life statue of himself to be made and dressed and mounted on a chariot as though awaiting the enemy . When Sima Yi saw it, he and his army took such a fright that they fled from the field of battle; and so it said in Chinese lore, "A dead Zhuge Liang can outwit a live Sima Yi."
When Sima Yi realised what had happened he remarked that Zhuge Liang was indeed the cleverest man under heaven.
You taught me something today, Mab. One of the items on my bucket list is learning more about Chinese military history. It sounds like your man preferred wits and cunning to straight up confrontations. Such is the greatness of the best generals.
It would change given force composition and nature of the engagement. Different persons seem built for different era. Rommel, for example below, might be outclassed if facing Carthaginian Elephants with a smaller Roman force (Scipio), as he was a combined arms, specifically, a Panzer Commander. Chuikov and Grant might night be successful without masses of infantry to waste.
If I had to make one decision, for one commander, who I think could adapt and perform the best over a variety of terrains and possible situations; I would probably say Alexander. Numerically speaking, and it is hard to separate the myth from reality, if even 20% of what they say is true, he faced the greatest odds of anyone before or sense. Not only did he do this repeatedly, but he arose victorious each time, as he tore apart the Persian Empire, and a few smaller nation-states. He fought from the crowded city-states of Greece, to the Sands of Arabia, to the mountains of Afghanistan. His usual tactic was to have his infantry hold the line, while his companion cavalry would strike at a specific point on the enemy flank. However, he did fight other types of engagements, ones where his cavalry were not available, some where they were all he had. He fought traditional sieges, and battles over bridges.
Would he be able to match tanks with Rommel? No. Just the same as he Zhukov would likely decimate him given artillery and rifle infantry. However, if either of these two commanders faced him under any situation other than that which absolutely favored them, I think Alexander was the most adaptable, and would win.
I think his greatest accomplishment was how he overcame the walled island fortress of Tyre. He could've just left it, but instead used technical innovation and doggedness to bring it down. Brilliant commander.
Alexander was a brilliant Commader I agree, I also like the impressive group of generals you've cited are all contenders; please consider the General Temujin, the Genghis Khan. What that man was able to do has yet to be equalled in my view.
True, Khan did build something amazing, but he also benefitted from state-of-the-art tactics and other nations just weren't ready for. Combined with his brutality and cunning, it wasn't hard to see what the Mongols were becoming.
Marcus Arellius would be my choice. He was not only a great philosopher, but a genius on the battlefield.
He always did build a great command and control system where it became almost impossible for enemies to overcome the legions. The last truly great Emperor of that version of the Roman Empire.
Genghis Khan. A ruthless and successful warrior - take no prisoner, get it done kind of guy. Although, I wouldn't want to be on the other side!
My answer is an easy one: Miyamoto Musashi, the best samurai warrior, in the book of the five rings you can see how a great strategist and warrior he was, also he created a new style of swordplay and it's simple amazing. He's an amazing example of "adaptation", a great skill when we are talking about survival in the battlefield.
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