OK? So, who was the greatest General?

by Rob Morgan

We were contemplating the idea of command on the tabletop, Brian and I.

Of course, there’s been a lot in these columns about good and bad generals over the past year or two and probably will be more to come. “Plenty of comment on bad commanders and their shortcomings, but, who,” he said, “was the best of history’s commanders?”

We came up with a list.

From me, it was Alexander the Great. But Vo Nguyen Giap? Or Lee? Brian opted for Bonaparte, which shows his colours clearly! Between us we chose a remarkable medieval warrior in first place, instead of arguing over twentieth century generals in single battles
or campaigns.

We chose Saladin in second place, if you’re interested.

Statue of Jan Žižka by Bohumil Kafka at National Memorial on Vítkov Hill in PragueCzech Republic

Jan Zizka (1360-1424 AD) was a Bohemian (Czech) adherent of the Protestant Hussite cause. He began his military career fighting at the Battle of Tannenberg against the Teutonic Knights. Known generally as ‘One-Eyed Zizka’ for obvious reasons, he led the armies of the Hussites in fighting off no fewer than three crusades against them. Never defeated, he won a dozen huge
pitched battles, including Vitkov Hill, Horice, and Nekner, often against substantial odds.

He won scores of smaller encounters, and sieges. In one of the latter, he lost his sight entirely and from then fought his wars totally blind.

After he died of the plague, his soldiers called themselves ‘orphans’.

He’ll always be linked to the Hussite ‘armoured wagons’, horse-drawn fortifications which were used like modern day APC’s- as mobile pillboxes. They were very much a gunpowder army too, knocking down ‘chivalry’ wherever they encountered it.

A great army to wargame with!

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1 Response to OK? So, who was the greatest General?

  1. Paul Le Long says:

    Here’s my tentative top ten!
    * Napoleon
    * Philip II of Macedon
    * Alexander
    * Julius Caesar
    * Genghis Khan
    * Hannibal
    * Jan Ziska
    * Helmuth von Moltke (the elder)
    * Maurice of Nassau
    * Vo Nguyen Giap

    Very difficult to narrow it down!

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