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Military Leaders

Messiahs, diplomats, intellectuals, and philosophers have certainly contributed to the twists and turns of history, but they have flourished only when protected by military leaders who could ensure the survival of their way of life. The most influential leaders in world history have come not from the church, the halls of governments, or the scholastic centers but from the ranks of soldiers and sailors.

Throughout time, peoples fortunate enough to have great military leaders and innovators in warfare among their numbers have prospered, controlling their territory and dominating their neighbors. Civilizations without strong military leaders have found themselves subjugated or annihilated. In still other instances, military leaders have proved to be tyrannical despots to their own people as well as to their enemies.

This next group of pages identifies some of those military leaders who have dominated their times and exerted profound influence on the future.

On the list of the top 100 military leaders spanning from the fifth century B.C. to Desert Storm in the 1990s, great battle captains share honors with military innovators, and writers on the art of war have their place within the list, as do liberators and conquerors. Ruthless barbarians, who have murdered their opponents and terrorized their own peoples, also have a rank in “the 100.” Political leaders, regardless of their historical prominence, rank on the list only if they directly commanded their country’s armed forces. The list includes no mythological characters or legendary figures whose actions and accomplishments lack substantiation.

Some of the top 100 lived centuries ago, and the test of time has validated their perpetual influence through the ages. The status of the more recent military figures included on the list is subject to the passage of time, world events, and the emergence of other new leaders.

It is, of course, difficult at best to compare military leaders separated by as many as twenty-five centuries. Nevertheless, the following biographies summarize the achievements of each leader and place each in perspective. In some instances, accomplishments stand alone to provide justification of ranking, while in other cases, comparisons to their contemporaries clarify positions within the top 100.

I will not be able to write about everybody that I have seen on this “top 100″ list, for I do not have the time, nor the ability to do that sort of thing. I will however write about a group of people whom I feel were the most influential.

Napoleon wrote: “The Gauls were not conquered by the Roman legions, but by Caesar. It was not before the Carthaginian soldiers that Rome was made to tremble, but before Hannibal. It was not the Macedonian phalanx which reached India, but Alexander. It was not the French army that reached Weser and the Inn; it was Turenne. Prussia was not defended for seven years against the three most formidable European powers by the Prussian soldiers but by Frederick the Great.”

Below is a list of the Top 100 Military Leaders of all time that I am going to follow: (I will not write on all of them, just the ones that I personally feel were the most influential)

  1. George Washington
  2. Napoleon I
  3. Alexander the Great
  4. Genghis Khan
  5. Julius Caesar
  6. Gustavus Adolphus
  7. Francisco Pizarro
  8. Charlemagne (Charles the Great)
  9. Hernando Cortés
  10. Cyrus the Great
  11. Frederick the Great
  12. Simon Bolivar
  13. William the Conqueror
  14. Adolf Hitler
  15. Attila the Hun
  16. George Catlett Marshall
  17. Peter the Great
  18. Dwight David Eisenhower
  19. Oliver Cromwell
  20. Douglas MacArthur
  21. Karl von Clausewitz
  22. Arthur Wellesley (First Duke of Wellington)
  23. Sun Tzu
  24. Hermann-Maurice Comte de Saxe
  25. Tamerlane
  26. Antoine Henri Jomini
  27. Eugene of Savoy
  28. Fernadez Gonzalo de Cordoba
  29. Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban
  30. Hannibal
  31. John Churchill
  32. Winfield Scott
  33. Ulysses Simpson Grant
  34. Scipio Africanus
  35. Horatio Nelson
  36. John Frederick Charles Fuller
  37. Henri de la Tour d’Auvergne de Turenne
  38. Alfred Thayer Mahan
  39. Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke
  40. Vo Nguyen Giap
  41. John Joseph Pershing
  42. Maurice of Nassau
  43. Joan of Arc
  44. Alan Francis Brooke
  45. Jean Baptiste Vaqueete de Gribeauval
  46. Omar Nelson Bradley
  47. Ralph Abercromby
  48. Mao Zedong
  49. H. Norman Schwarzkopf
  50. Alexander Vasilevich Suvorov
  51. Louis Alexandre Berthier
  52. Jose de San Martin
  53. Giuseppe Garibaldi
  54. Ivan Stepanovich Konev
  55. Suleiman I
  56. Colin Campbell
  57. Samuel Houston
  58. Richard I (the Lion-Hearted)
  59. Shaka Zulu
  60. Robert Edward Lee
  61. Chester William Nimitz
  62. Gebhard von Blucher
  63. Bernard Law Montgomery
  64. Carl Gustav Emil von Mannerheim
  65. H. H. (Hap) Arnold
  66. Mustafa Kemal
  67. John Arbuthnot Fisher
  68. Heihachiro Togo
  69. Moshe Dayan
  70. Georgi Konstantinovich Zhukov
  71. Ferdinand Foch
  72. Edward I
  73. Selim I
  74. Giulio Douhet
  75. Heinz Guderian
  76. Lin Piao
  77. Isoroku Yamamoto
  78. Harold Rupert Alexander
  79. Erwin Rommel
  80. Lennart Torstensson
  81. Saddam Hussein
  82. Fidel Castro
  83. Horatio Herbert Kitchener
  84. Tito
  85. Karl Doenitz
  86. Kim Il Sung
  87. David Glasgow Farragut
  88. Garnet Joseph Wolseley
  89. Chiang Kai-shek
  90. Frederick Sleight Roberts
  91. Saladin
  92. George Dewey
  93. Louis II de Bourbon, Prince de Conde
  94. Kurt Student
  95. George S. Patton
  96. Michel Ney
  97. Charles XII
  98. Thomas Cochrane
  99. Johann Tserclaes von Tilly
  100. Edmund Henry H. Allenby