Friday, December 22, 2017

Who Were The Greatest Commanders Between 1648-1789: Candidate Pool

Knotel image of a Prussian officer, filled with frustration that he failed to make the cut for this post

Dear Reader,

Today, we are going to do something a little fun. Motivated by a recent article about math and military greatness, I have updated an older series on commanders in the Kabinettskriege era. For those new to the blog, essentially: Who were some of the greatest generals between 1648-1789?  In the vein of my earlier post, Who was the Best? on relative efficiency compared between eighteenth-century armies, we will be examining the great captains this age. But how can we define military "Greatness?"In order to get a wider picture of these individuals military capabilities, I will be ranking the 15 men as commanders by 5 criteria:

A) Battle win-loss record.
B) Achievement and sustainment of strategic/political aims
C) Charisma/inspiration of soldiers under their command
D) Scale of operations under their personal command
E) Display of originality/flexibility in thinking

The top fifteen enumerated in the following posts were chosen from this list. In order to make the list, they had to hold an independent command on land (I might consider admirals in a separate post). If your favorite Kabinettskriege-era general didn't make the list, comment below, give some reasons why, and I might just consider updating the post.

Here are the contenders, in order by time period:

Karl X Gustav of Sweden
Jan III Sobieski, King of Poland
Henri, Vicomte de Turenne
Louis de Bourbon, Prince of Conde
William III of England, Prince of Orange
Duc de Villars, Marshall General of France
John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough
Prinz Eugene of Savoy
Peter I of Russia "the Great"
Karl XII of Sweden
Peter von Lacy
Nadir Shah
Maurice de Saxe, Marshall General of France
Leopold von Anhalt Dessau
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland
Prince Charles Edward Stewart
Frederick II Hohenzollern, "the Great"
Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick
Prinz Henri of Prussia
Leopold Joseph von Daun
Ernst Gideon von Loudon
Franz Moritz von Lacy
Pytor Alexandrovich Rumyantsev
Piotr Semionovitch Saltykov
Sir William Johnson
James Wolfe
John Bradstreet
Robert Clive
Jeffery Amherst
Louis-Joseph de Montcalm
Victor Francois, Duc de Broglie
Obwandiyag (Pontaic)
Sir William Howe
George Washington
Charles Cornwallis
Benedict Arnold
Nathanael Greene
Bernado de Galvez
Banastre Tarleton
Daniel Morgan
Alexander Suvorov

This post will be followed by three others, each containing five individuals who made the top fifteen spots.

Top 5

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns


  1. I was concerned Suvorov wasn't there, but he's the column's rear guard.

    1. Yes, and he ranks rather high in the final 15 listing as well.

  2. Interesting list but you forget about King John III Sobieski, he is worth remember for not only for Battle of Vienna, but also for battles of Podhajce (1667) nad Khotyn (1673).

    1. Yes, you are right! I will add him right away.