Author Topic: Worst US General?  (Read 9770 times)

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Offline bob48

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2012, 04:12:18 PM »
Have read 'Backwater War' recently, I admit that Mark Clark did cross my mind.
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AmericanPride

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2012, 04:38:57 PM »
My vote is Robert E Lee.

Offline besilarius

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2012, 05:22:03 PM »
My personal view is that Mac does deserve to be really up there, and #1 is about right.
This is because of his total unreality concerning the preparation of the Philippines.  He consistently fabricated strengths, training, and numbers when reporting on the situation to the War Department. 
The campaign was totally screwed up from the attack on Clark Field which destroyed the aircraft, through the absolute lack of any resistance to the Japanese landing, to the withdrawal to Bataan while forgetting food supplies. After his headquarters put out news communiques that the beaches were defended in depth, a number of correspondents drove up and found nothing.  The vaunted Philippine army Macarthur was trumpeting was nowhere to be seen.  When they got back to Luzon and asked for clarification, they were threatened with jail if they suggested anything but Macarthur's report.
Then he did it again before Korea.  He reported to the War Department that the forces in Japan were well trained, equipped, and prepared.  Infact, they were doing no training, and were unprepared for a troop of cranky cubscouts.
When the Norks attacked in Korea, General Eisenhower was asked for his opinion, "Keep in mind this is the same staff, the same people, who confidently predicted the total defeat of the Japanese on Luzon, nine years ago.  Do you see a pattern?"

After Big Mac, I lean toward Horatio Gates, because he had ambitions that were political, and he could potentially have really screwed up the new republic.
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Offline mirth

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2012, 05:59:20 PM »
Have read 'Backwater War' recently, I admit that Mark Clark did cross my mind.

Thanks for the reference to 'Backwater War'. Definitely going to check it out.
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Offline mirth

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #19 on: April 20, 2012, 06:05:11 PM »
My personal view is that Mac does deserve to be really up there, and #1 is about right.
This is because of his total unreality concerning the preparation of the Philippines.  He consistently fabricated strengths, training, and numbers when reporting on the situation to the War Department. 
The campaign was totally screwed up from the attack on Clark Field which destroyed the aircraft, through the absolute lack of any resistance to the Japanese landing, to the withdrawal to Bataan while forgetting food supplies. After his headquarters put out news communiques that the beaches were defended in depth, a number of correspondents drove up and found nothing.  The vaunted Philippine army Macarthur was trumpeting was nowhere to be seen.  When they got back to Luzon and asked for clarification, they were threatened with jail if they suggested anything but Macarthur's report.
Then he did it again before Korea.  He reported to the War Department that the forces in Japan were well trained, equipped, and prepared.  Infact, they were doing no training, and were unprepared for a troop of cranky cubscouts.
When the Norks attacked in Korea, General Eisenhower was asked for his opinion, "Keep in mind this is the same staff, the same people, who confidently predicted the total defeat of the Japanese on Luzon, nine years ago.  Do you see a pattern?"

After Big Mac, I lean toward Horatio Gates, because he had ambitions that were political, and he could potentially have really screwed up the new republic.

Good summation of MacArthur. As far as Korea goes, Inchon was a moment of brilliance that MacArthur was still capable of. After that he fell back into his bad habits. The advance north of the 38th parallel was an excellent example of his distance from reality and Ned Almond became his cheerleader for it.
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Offline OJsDad

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #20 on: April 20, 2012, 07:48:06 PM »
Watching a show on the history channel about the American Revolution, someone stated that Arnold was a good commander.  If he hadn't betrayed the Americans, he would most likely have been considered a national hero even today.  Is he on the list at all because of that betrayal, or because he was a piss poor general.
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Offline besilarius

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #21 on: April 20, 2012, 08:16:35 PM »
Probably because of selling out his country, but once he turned his coat, he wasn't very good.
Most likely he was trying hard to not think too much, because his actions were traitorous.
Michel Ney didn't do a very good job at Waterloo.  If you look carefully at his actions, it seems like a man who is torn by conflicting loyalties.  Rather than think, and use his tactical skills, a number of historians have suggested he just wanted to strike out.  He had promised the King to bring Napoleon back in an iron cage, and then found he could not.  His honor was compromised.
“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out until too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along”.  Terry Pratchett.

During filming of Airplane, Leslie Nielsen used a whoopee cushion to keep the cast off-balance. Hays said that Nielsen "played that thing like a maestro"

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"With your eyes closed?"
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AmericanPride

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #22 on: April 20, 2012, 11:56:41 PM »
If we're going to use "insubordination" as the primary reason to classify a general as bad, then treason ought to be a greater reason to rank a general poorly; with the honorable mention of Benedict Arnold, that also includes all of the generals that took up arms against the federal government during the Civil War. Ricks also quotes McArthur's "role in the gassing and suppression of the Bonus Marchers in 1932" because "you can't defend a country by undermining it." So where does that leave the generals that condemned America to its bloodiest war that tore the country about for four years and resulted in the deaths of over 500,000 Americans?
« Last Edit: April 20, 2012, 11:58:19 PM by AmericanPride »

Offline bob48

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2012, 05:31:50 AM »
Have read 'Backwater War' recently, I admit that Mark Clark did cross my mind.

Thanks for the reference to 'Backwater War'. Definitely going to check it out.
Its an interesting book, and quite informative, although I have to say that the writers sytle is a bit hard work. He is very repetative and I have rarely read a book with so many basic spelling and gramatical errors which makes me think that proof reading was a bit off.

Nevertheless, worth reading, and the Stackpole books are generally of good quality.

My own interest in the Italian campaign is (a) because my Dad served with 5th (Yorkshire) Infantry Div, and took part in the Sicily and Italy campaigns, including Anzio.
And (b), I'm engaged in some research that may eventually result in a module being produced for LnL's NaW series, although its early days yet, and we have some Western Front stuff on the go first, the first of which could be of special interest to Canadians! 8)
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Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2012, 08:13:19 AM »
I think MacAurthur is a good choice to be high on the list.  He had strokes of brilliance but on the whole his operational inpetitude let to two of the worst defeats in our country's history - the Philippines and the Chinese counterattack in Korea.  He also did his very best to alienate the Australians in the early days of the Pacific war when they were the ones doing the vast majority of fighting and dying in New Guinea.  Against this of course we can put his stroke of genius at Inchon (partly foiled by Ned Almond) and the competence of his island hoping campaign that saved thousands of American lives in the South Pacific by allowing Japanese garrisons to 'wither on the vine.'  His greatest legacy is that he gave great speaches, many of which are inscribed in granite at West Point.  Seriously, some of them will make your spine tingle just reading them. Also the force of his personality caused otherwise level-headed generals to hero-worship him. 

Horatio Gates isanother good canditate IMO.  Won Saratoga on the back of Benedict Arnold (who he sacked before the battle) and then went on to try to undermine Washington and later nearly lose the entire war in the southern colonies.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2012, 08:27:26 AM by Airborne Rifles »

Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2012, 08:31:17 AM »
Benedict Arnold is a strange choice to me.  If you include him then I agree with AmericanPride that you would need to also include Confederate generals as well, and that get's into some murky waters of loyalty and Causes.  After all, Arnold never actually succeeded is getting the plans for the fortress at West Point to the British.

Offline bayonetbrant

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2012, 07:29:54 PM »
Hey Rifles - Glad you made it! :)
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Offline Airborne Rifles

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #27 on: April 22, 2012, 08:06:09 AM »
Thanks Brant, I'm glad I made it too!

Offline Martok

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #28 on: April 27, 2012, 05:22:44 AM »
No surprise to see Mac, Gates, McClellen, and Burnside on that list.  I'm not sure if MacArthur deserves the #1 spot, but he *is* highly overrated. 


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Offline bob48

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Re: Worst US General?
« Reply #29 on: April 27, 2012, 10:11:52 AM »
Just to play devils advocate..........we could also say that some of those Generals performed well at lower command levels, and in other circumstances. Burniside did a pretty reasonable job as a commander under Sherman, and Mac did ok early in the war in West virginia, and organised the army to a high degree. Both failed as higher level COMBAT commanders.  By the same yardstick, then include Hooker, who again performed well at div-corps level, and did a lot of good work in forming the corps and creating a structure - like the div-corps insignia, but again failed when put in higher command.

Perhaps we should ask who was the worst General in all respects or narrow it down to a more specific topic - such as field command or theatre command?
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