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Newsmax's List of America's Greatest Military Commanders

portrait of george washington in his uniform
A portrait of former President George Washington, by Charles Wilsson Peale, features Washington at Princeton during the Revolutionary War and is dated 1779. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 08 July 2020 11:33 AM

From its inception in 1776 to the present day, the United States has been blessed with military geniuses in all the services.

Each conflict served to magnify the bravery, tactics and intellect of at least one American commander. World War II gave us at least eight, offering proof that they were indeed part of the Greatest Generation.

Here are Newsmax's picks for those who recognized opportunity on the battlefield, the ocean and the air when it came, and boldly struck and turned the course of the battle and perhaps even the war to America's favor.

Revolutionary War

Gen. George Washington: When the Founders declared their independence from King George III, they agreed that there was but one person to command America's Continental Army.

Washington held his undisciplined, poorly trained and meagerly equipped force together until a decisive battle could be won to turn the war. That strategy was realized at Yorktown, leaving the British forces demoralized and defeated.

War of 1812

Gen. Andrew Jackson: The future president made his mark at the Battle of New Orleans, where he found himself in circumstances similar to Washington: He commanded 5,000 inexperienced and poorly-trained men to defend the city against an approaching force of 10,000 highly-trained, battle-hardened British troops.

Once the smoke had cleared, the American forces listed only 71 casualties to the British's 2,037. The battle prompted Billboard's 1959 top hit by Jimmy Horton, "The Battle of New Orleans."

American Civil War

Gen. Ulysses S. Grant: Following his graduation from West Point, Grant repeatedly distinguished himself during the Mexican-American War, but it was during the Civil War where he truly left his mark.

His western victories, especially at Vicksburg, made Grant Lincoln's choice as general in chief and earned him the moniker "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. His tenacious 1864 Virginia campaign led to the final defeat of Robert E. Lee's army.

Gen. William T. Sherman: Another West Point grad, historian B.H. Liddell Hart called Sherman "the first modern general" in history.

Sherman's reputation and career sharply rose along with Grant's as the result of the Battle of Vicksburg. He ultimately proved his mettle by inflicting total war on the South during the Atlanta campaign and his subsequent March to the Sea.

Adm. David Farragut: Farragut, the first admiral in the history of the U.S. Navy, fought in both the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War.

But he demonstrated the importance of sea power during warfare by capturing New Orleans in 1862 and Mobile two years later in decisive naval victories. Following the war, President Lincoln promoted Farragut to vice admiral — America's first.

World War I

Gen. John J. "Black Jack" Pershing: After Pershing was given the command of the American Expeditionary Force during WWI, he rejected British and French demands that his 3 million-man army be integrated with their forces.

He insisted U.S. forces fight totally under U.S. command. He, like George Washington before him, rose to America's highest military rank, general of the armies.

William "Billy" Mitchell: Just as Farragut demonstrated the strategic importance of sea power, Mitchell did the same for airpower, and is referred to as the "father of the U.S. Air Force."

A spiritual intellectual, Mitchell commanded 1,500 American, French, British and Italian aircraft to victory at Saint-Mihiel in 1918. This was one of history's first coordinated air-ground offensives.

World War II

Gen. Dwight D. "Ike" Eisenhower: Appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as supreme allied commander in Europe, the future two-term president oversaw the most successful allied coalition in military history.

His successes included the daring D-Day Normandy invasion, defeating the German Ardennes offensive and spearheading through Germany's Western Front armies.

Gen. Douglas MacArthur: Brilliant, controversial and born to a military family, MacArthur and his father, Arthur MacArthur Jr., became the first father and son to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

He served in three wars — WWI, WWII and Korea — and led two campaigns in the Philippines, one from 1941 to 1942, when he was ordered to leave the islands to avoid capture by the Japanese, and another from 1944 to 1945.

MacArthur achieved phenomenal success in the Pacific despite his inadequate supplies and limited troops and ships.

Gen. George S. Patton Jr.: "Ol' Blood 'n' Guts" was almost universally believed to be America's best field commander of the Second World War.

He led the Western Task Force in the North Africa Campaign where he took the beaches near Casablanca, Morocco, then commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean, where he overwhelmed Sicily. As an encore, Patton led the Third Army in a race across France that overwhelmed Germany in something of a reverse blitzkrieg.

Adm. Chester Nimitz: When President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Nimitz as commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet 10 days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, he had his work cut out for him.

Nimitz commanded World War II's largest geographical expanse with a fleet that had been largely decimated. His carrier-based naval airpower, combined with submarine fleet, augmented by the advantage of having cracked the Japanese diplomatic naval code, allowed him to spearhead history's greatest armada to victory.

Adm. William "Bull" Halsey: Halsey was to the Navy what Patton was to the Army: bold and decisive in battle.

Immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor, Halsey took command of Carrier Division 2, using the carrier Enterprise as his flagship. After he conducted a series of successful raids on Japanese-held islands and provided a base for the Doolittle Raid, Halsey was appointed commander, South Pacific Area.

His slogan of "hit hard, hit fast, hit often," was soon used throughout the Navy.

Adm. Raymond Spruance: Spruance commanded and was victorious in the two most significant sea battles in the Pacific theater. The first was the Battle of Midway in 1942, which marked the turning point of the war in the Pacific. The second was his defeat of the Japanese fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea at Leyte Gulf in 1944, which helped seal Japan's ultimate fate.

After Leyte, Spruance steamed his fleet westward, hitting the islands of Truk, Saipan, and Iwo Jima.

Gen. Curtis LeMay: LeMay is credited with developing and putting into practice daring and controversial low-altitude nighttime B-29 Superfortress firebombing attacks in the Pacific theater that devastated Japan's cities.

Later, two of his B-29s dropped the first atomic bombs used in wartime, destroying Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which put an end to the Pacific War.

Post-war, LeMay directed the Berlin Airlift, bringing in supplies to West Berlin after the Soviets blockaded that area, then directed the Strategic Air Command for 10 years.

Gen. James H. "Jimmy" Doolittle: While a lieutenant colonel in the newly-formed Army Air Force, the forerunner to the U.S. Air Force, Doolittle was assigned the Herculean task of formulating a response to the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Just as Japan brought the war to the United States, Doolittle decided to return the favor: He took the war to the Japanese homeland. His plan was to lead a flight of 16 B-25 medium bombers off the deck of an aircraft carrier, fly into Japan and drop their ordinance, then land in China.

Although the damage that the Doolittle Raid inflicted was minor, it sent Japanese forces that were sorely needed elsewhere back to Japan to protect the homeland.

Korean War

Gen. Douglas MacArthur: After North Korea invaded its southern neighbor, the United Nations authorized the United States to select a commander of a coalition of Allied forces to come to the aid of South Korea. In June 1950 the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously chose MacArthur as commander in chief of the United Nations Command. A falling out with President Harry S. Truman led to his discharge.

Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway: Like MacArthur, Ridgeway fought in three wars: WWI, WWII and Korea. He gained fame as an airborne commander during World War II in Sicily, D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

Ridgway succeeded MacArthur in Korea on April 1951, where he revitalized U.N. forces and sent the Chinese offensive that had aided North Korea in retreat. Afterwards Ridgeway succeeded Eisenhower as supreme allied commander in Europe for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Vietnam War

Gen. Harold G. "Hal" Moore: Moore was the first of his West Point class to be promoted to brigadier general, major general and lieutenant general, and was awarded the military's second-highest decoration for valor: the Distinguished Service Cross.

He was presented with that for his legendary command of the Seventh Cavalry when it was outnumbered and surrounded by North Vietnamese Army troops at the week-long Battle of Ia Drang Valley. His conduct established the role for U.S. combat operations for the rest of the Vietnam War.

Gulf War

Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf Jr.: Known as a strategic thinker, "Stormin' Norman" saw action in Vietnam before being selected to command United States Central Command.

While in that position he drew up contingency plans in the event Iraq, which was saber-rattling at the time, were to invade a neighboring country. Shortly afterwards, Iraq invaded Kuwait.

Schwarzkopf drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait and successfully ended the war in just six months, three weeks and five days. His frequent televised press briefings during the conflict made him America's favorite military figure.

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From its inception in 1776 to the present day, the United States has been blessed with military geniuses in all the services. Each conflict served to magnify the bravery, tactics and intellect of at least one American commander. World War II gave us at least eight, offering...
military commanders, history, washington, macarthur, eisenhower, jackson
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2020-33-08
Wednesday, 08 July 2020 11:33 AM
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