Worst Military Leader on the winning side

Travelgall

MIA
Kit Reviewer
#1
Regarding the thread "Greatest Military Leader". I thought I'd have a bash at the trickier "Worst Military Leader". The great problem is that most of the worst got their asses kicked in such short order that their names are lost to History. So I've picked the caveat - on the winning side. Xerxes who gained a Pyrrhic victory at Thermopylae, Field Marshall Haig, Napoleon who won his wars through dint of chucking way more men at the problem, the Russian commanders of WWI. Just some ideas for you. I'm going for General Mark Clark who threw away a great victory by letting his ego get the better of him and marching through the streets of Rome rather than trapping the German 10th Army. In your own time... go on.
 

Command_doh

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
Well if we have a United States of Lakota, Arapaho and Cheyenne - or just the United States of Native Americans - nobody told me.

Custer was held in quite high regard up to that point though, despite being an egotistical and stubborn fool.
 
#6
Ooh! Ooh! Me, Miss! I know this one.

King Pyrrhus of Epirus. He made such a fist of defeating the Romans in 279 and 280BC that, as we all know, Plutarch said of him, 'The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war'.

Hence the phrase Pyrrhic Victory.
 

Bouillabaisse

LE
Book Reviewer
#7
Field Marshall Haig was a good general and a good army commander, working with the material and situation he had to deal with.

More generally, if you're looking for the poor leaders amongst the winning side you need to look at the start of wars, when the peacetime generals are tested and found wanting. Try George B McClennan, commander of the Army of the Potomac. Despite overwhealming materiel superiority he failed to crush the Confederate Army and was replaced
 

Travelgall

MIA
Kit Reviewer
#8
I thought of another WWII one Wavel in Singapore. The enemy will only attack from the sea, the jungle is inpenetrable. Etc. Top be fair Wavel inherrited a disasterous position from his predicessors.
 
#9
General Percival 1942, WORST BRITISH GENERAL EVER, we almost didn't deserve to win WW2 putting young men under the command of such useless non-entities, of course a 'nice chap', very wegimental and socially acceptable in the peacetime army but lacking the resolution and toughness required of a wartime general, we may not have had all the newest kit or 'best & brightest' officers in that theatre, but we could and should have done better then what we did- the men who were betrayed into Jap PoW camps were still barely half-trained recruits 3 YEARS into a global war...worst failure of higher command in british military history...
 
#11
Field Marshall Haig was a good general and a good army commander, working with the material and situation he had to deal with.
True, Haig was not just good, he was arguably the second greatest British general ever (behind Wellington, on a par or better then Marlborough?) , the greatest general of any nation in the First World War and one if the great captains of history IMHO, turning a mass of volunteers leavened with a few regulars and TA into the greatest battle-winning force of the war that invented modern combined arms tactics and integrated dozens of brand new technologies in the space of a few years, in the process defeating a professional-conscript German national army that had had 40 years to prepare...
 
#12
Général Philippe Morillon and General Bertrand Janvier, both UN Commanders in Bosnia when the Serbs killed 7,000 in Srebrenica both take some beating.

And they should be given a beating too.
 
#13
General William H Winder. Lost against the British at stony creek even though he had three times as many troops. We caught him then released him when we realised what an idiot he was. The colonials didn't think the same so let him defend Washington DC. Not their proudest moment as we took it with the minimal of scuffles and then torched it. Worst general on the winning side.
 
#14
General William H Winder. Lost against the British at stony creek even though he had three times as many troops. We caught him then released him when we realised what an idiot he was. The colonials didn't think the same so let him defend Washington DC. Not their proudest moment as we took it with the minimal of scuffles and then torched it. Worst general on the winning side.
I wouldnt say the americans won the war of 1812
 
#17
I wouldnt say the americans won the war of 1812
Oops, mixing my wars up.

How about Ambrose Burnside (think that's his name)

Lost every battle he fought and Abe Lincoln said something along the lines of "he managed to wring one last defeat from the jaws of victory" after he got his troops slaughtered at Petersburg.

Edited to add - beaten to it by BM
 
#18
I thought of another WWII one Wavel in Singapore. The enemy will only attack from the sea, the jungle is inpenetrable. Etc. Top be fair Wavel inherrited a disasterous position from his predicessors.
I think you are being a bit harsh...Wavell's challenge was command of the entire Far East Command. Wavell only visited Singapore and Malaya four days before the end and there are no orders or instructions concerning the fight for Malaya and Singapore issued by Wavell. (Apart from a "last man type" thing which he issued on his way back to India and his "day job".) The defence of Singapore and its failure falls pretty squarely on the shoulders of Percival but I suppose one could argue a case that Wavell should have taken Percival out of there before the end? Oh and addressed air defences.
 
#19
How about Sir Hew Dalrymple?

In 1808 he led an expedition to Portugal which was under threat from the French. The French Army were heavily defeated at the Battle of Vimeiro. Lacking either confidence or intelligence, or both, Dalrymple entered into a truce with the French which allowed them to repatriate all their arms, equipment and goods stolen from the Portuguese back to France. This truce, known as the Convention of Sintra, was denounced both in London and in Portugal. A Board of Inquiry was held following which Dalrymple did not hold high command again.
 
#20
Haig has been given such a duff press by the anti-war, classist historians. The description most people get in the British education system of Haig is usually 180 degrees wrong! He was not some dyed in the wool, hide-bound old imperial dug-out. He was university educated. He was in his early to mid fifties and at his prime during the Great War. He had operational experience from the Sudan and South Africa in COS type roles. He received accelerated and belated promotion to 2-star rank and then fulfilled the role of DMT whilst also advising Haldane's seminal reforms.

So not just some cavalry regimental soldier and also a keen exponent of technology - air, artillery, chemical weapons, tanks all got a heavy nudge in their favour from Douglas Haig. His toothache also led directly to the formation of the RADC! Not just a butcher and indeed he inspired loyalty from the frontline Tommy up to the highest level of command - when Lloyd George tried to unstick Haig not one of his Army commanders was prepared to take the job. Haig meanwhile got on with it. At his funeral it is estimated that hundreds of thousands attended..."Great crowds lined the streets ... come to do honour to the chief who had sent thousands to the last sacrifice when duty called for it, but whom his war-worn soldiers loved as their truest advocate and friend."
 

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