Author Topic: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?  (Read 9906 times)

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Offline Gringo

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #105 on: April 11, 2019, 02:50:58 pm »
Gustav II Adolf, Friedrich II, Washington, Kutuzov, Wellington, Grant, Rommel, Zhukov, Montgomery, MacArthur, de Gaulle, Kennedy, Che Guevara, Putin, Obama

Offline Rikkert

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #106 on: April 12, 2019, 02:19:14 am »
15th_YR_Cpt_Gi and 15th_YR_SjtMaj_Irish :)

Offline corentin_murat

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #107 on: April 14, 2019, 05:32:18 pm »
15th_YR_Cpt_Gi and 15th_YR_SjtMaj_Irish :)
Report you will be demote Rikkito  ;)

Offline sirkaide

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #108 on: April 30, 2019, 01:45:14 pm »
Being one of the few people in NW who studies military history alongside being in the British military I have a few remarks.

A lot of generals in the late 19th century and the early 20th century don't get enough credit. Many of them fought in dozens of battles and skirmishes but get downgraded because they didn't conquer an Empire. Generals in the modern era don't just fight on land. They command the seas, the land, the air, cyber space etc. It is rare you get leaders and generals that are uniquely credited with winning a battle. A leader has a variety of experts and fellow commanders who do just as much of the work. I won't be negative and say who is overrated (American WWII generals)...

Though I personally consider Alexander the Great, Napoleon the Great, Duke John Churchill and Admiral Lord (Horatio) Nelson my favourite military tacticians.

On to another note, I want to pay tribute to one of the most senior Officers to die in the modern era was British Officer H.Jones, Lt. Col of the Parachute Regiment who died in the Falklands Conflict, 1982. Without a doubt a very courageous man who charged an Argentinian machine gun position, knowing full well his death was highly likely. He was given the Victorian Cross for his deeds.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 01:51:36 pm by sirkaide »

Offline DrunkenSpartan

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #109 on: December 01, 2019, 06:36:48 pm »
IMO Ulysses S Grant, US Army. It’s a well known fact in history circles that while Robert E Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and the Confederacy’s top General, graduated near the top of his class at West Point and is still one of only two students in the school’s history to have received no demerits during his time there, Grant by contrast graduated at the bottom of his class and spent the rest of his military career struggling to rise through the ranks.

Grant was at one point such an incompetent alcoholic farmer that he had to pawn his pocket watch to buy Christmas presents for his family in 1858. On the other hand less than a year later Lee was being lauded as a war hero for suppressing John Brown’s  insurrection at Harper’s Ferry. Lee always took great care in battle and fought with a heavy heart early on knowing how devastating the Civil War would become. Grant by contrast was called “The Butcher” by his critics and even some of his soldiers because when he was leading, the only thing you could be truly sure of was that a lot of men were going to die. Grant’s presidency is considered mediocre at best and his bid for a third term was ruined by mounting scandals.

The American Civil War raged on for four years and cost the lives of over 620,000 Americans. Likely could have been won in two years without incompetent generals in the Union. McClellan, Meade, Grant, and so on.
It's the same old thing since 1916
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With their tanks and their bombs
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Offline Sgt.Winters

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #110 on: December 04, 2019, 03:12:42 am »
Without a doubt, Alexander the Great.

It still blows my mind that a vain, arrogant, egotistical drunk who had styled himself as a demigod is ranked so favorably amongst historians. He inherited an empire (built by his father), led a professional army (trained by his father), relied mostly on his advisors (who were friends of his father), and followed up on his predecessor’s plan to invade a poorly maintained fascist state (have I mentioned his fucking father before?). I mean seriously, how narcissistic do you have to be in order to name over 100 cities after yourself AND to think that cutting some rope in half made you the destined ruler of Asia? Granted, this was fairly common in that day and age, but there is reason to believe that Alexander took it up a notch to the point where even his gay lover thought him delusional. A zealous fool who rarely had a thought beyond his own ambition.

Had his army not forced him to turn back after the Hydapses campaign, the certainty of his destruction would have been sealed. Despite this, he still managed to act like big ol’ whiny bitch by having his army then march through an inhospitable wasteland that killed a good chunk of whatever was left of that sad excuse for an army. Besides following numerous incorrect geographical calculations, he already had his most experienced commander murdered due to his son’s implication in a conspiracy with no opportunity to defend himself. This essentially led to the rest of entourage to begin doubting him, which no doubt may have contributed to the theories of Alexander’s poisoning.  He also somehow managed to murder one of his best friends (who had SAVED him years before at the River Grannicus) with a fucking javelin during one of his many intoxicated tirades.

His military strategies are held in high regard for some odd fucking reason, even though any decently trained army could have pulled off the shit they did. I would bet that nearly zero of the tactics would have worked if his force wasn’t OP as fuck during this era. The worst part however, is that Alexander knew all of this, and he still considered himself a genius beyond all doubt; the actual son of Zeus able to destroy all who dared to oppose him on even the smallest issues. His levels of temperament and stability, and is comparable to the likes of Stalin, Pol Pot, and Caligula. He drank to the accidental destruction of Persepolis (much like Nero playing the flute), and willfully turned his entire country against him by pursuing a self inflated ego the size of a star gone supernova.

Alexander never intended for a stable empire, or even to simply call it quits and consolidate what he had. If given the chance (and he had plans for this shit mind you), he would have went to all ends of the earth to conquer it, burn it down, and start the cycle all over again. This man flourished in violence, he loved the thrill of it, and would have had his people engage in a state of perpetual warfare had he be given the chance to, much like the US military-industrial hegemony we see today. IMO, celebrating Alexander, along with the figures related to him in ideology, should be considered a detriment to society. Instead, they should be openly taught and ridiculed as the shame of humanity. A man who no doubt had a hand in establishing the Western-centric view held widely today, and may even have contributed to the two biggest sources of suffering, inequality, greed, and regression in world history: Christianity and Islam.


Offline DrunkenSpartan

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #111 on: December 04, 2019, 05:11:46 pm »
This man flourished in violence, he loved the thrill of it, and would have had his people engage in a state of perpetual warfare had he be given the chance to

Sounds like a hell of a guy, what’s the problem?
It's the same old thing since 1916
In your head, in your head they're still fighting
With their tanks and their bombs
And air bombs and their guns
In your head, in your head they are dying...

Offline Sgt.Winters

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #112 on: December 04, 2019, 06:38:17 pm »
This man flourished in violence, he loved the thrill of it, and would have had his people engage in a state of perpetual warfare had he be given the chance to

Sounds like a hell of a guy, what’s the problem?
Because the Macedonians would have wussed out within half a decade, probably causing an even bigger civil war than the one Alexander the not-so-great left after his early demise. Even they weren't that bloodthirsty.

Offline DrunkenSpartan

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #113 on: December 04, 2019, 07:01:56 pm »
This man flourished in violence, he loved the thrill of it, and would have had his people engage in a state of perpetual warfare had he be given the chance to

Sounds like a hell of a guy, what’s the problem?
Because the Macedonians would have wussed out within half a decade, probably causing an even bigger civil war than the one Alexander the not-so-great left after his early demise. Even they weren't that bloodthirsty.

Where is this "wussed out" coming from? The Wars of the Diadochi spanned decades. With a few breaks the Macedonians could fight far longer than 5 years. Unless you are referring to Alexander's possible defeat upon invading Qin or Chu China?
« Last Edit: December 04, 2019, 07:03:48 pm by DrunkenSpartan »
It's the same old thing since 1916
In your head, in your head they're still fighting
With their tanks and their bombs
And air bombs and their guns
In your head, in your head they are dying...

Offline Sgt.Winters

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #114 on: December 04, 2019, 08:03:27 pm »
This man flourished in violence, he loved the thrill of it, and would have had his people engage in a state of perpetual warfare had he be given the chance to

Sounds like a hell of a guy, what’s the problem?
Because the Macedonians would have wussed out within half a decade, probably causing an even bigger civil war than the one Alexander the not-so-great left after his early demise. Even they weren't that bloodthirsty.

Where is this "wussed out" coming from? The Wars of the Diadochi spanned decades. With a few breaks the Macedonians could fight far longer than 5 years. Unless you are referring to Alexander's possible defeat upon invading Qin or Chu China?
I was referencing their unwillingness to go on invading other neighboring states (Carthage, Arabian Kingdoms, the Samnites, etc...), instead of fighting over what they already had. Given Alexander’s failure to plan ahead, the Diadochi conflict was inevitable. The remaining Macedonians were far more content with killing each other over what was already gained, rather than wage war against a a whole new host of enemies they had no idea how to fight.

If they had pushed on after conquering Porus, the Manda empire would have eventually intercepted and probably crushed them. On top of that, a sizable portion of Alexander’s army was filled with inexperienced Persian and Bactrian auxiliaries at this point, which few of the core phalangites, hypaspists, and companions were happy with. If they hadn’t revolted at the Beas River, inner turmoil and the nearby Indian kingdoms would have finished them off instead. It was a no-win scenario.

I fail to visualize, after 12 years of endless combat, a situation in which the Macedonians would be fully willing to go on campaign unless it was in defense of their own territory. These guys weren’t the fucking Mongols, they just wanted to go home.


Offline DrunkenSpartan

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #115 on: December 04, 2019, 10:33:04 pm »
This man flourished in violence, he loved the thrill of it, and would have had his people engage in a state of perpetual warfare had he be given the chance to

Sounds like a hell of a guy, what’s the problem?
Because the Macedonians would have wussed out within half a decade, probably causing an even bigger civil war than the one Alexander the not-so-great left after his early demise. Even they weren't that bloodthirsty.

Where is this "wussed out" coming from? The Wars of the Diadochi spanned decades. With a few breaks the Macedonians could fight far longer than 5 years. Unless you are referring to Alexander's possible defeat upon invading Qin or Chu China?
I was referencing their unwillingness to go on invading other neighboring states (Carthage, Arabian Kingdoms, the Samnites, etc...), instead of fighting over what they already had. Given Alexander’s failure to plan ahead, the Diadochi conflict was inevitable. The remaining Macedonians were far more content with killing each other over what was already gained, rather than wage war against a a whole new host of enemies they had no idea how to fight.

If they had pushed on after conquering Porus, the Manda empire would have eventually intercepted and probably crushed them. On top of that, a sizable portion of Alexander’s army was filled with inexperienced Persian and Bactrian auxiliaries at this point, which few of the core phalangites, hypaspists, and companions were happy with. If they hadn’t revolted at the Beas River, inner turmoil and the nearby Indian kingdoms would have finished them off instead. It was a no-win scenario.

I fail to visualize, after 12 years of endless combat, a situation in which the Macedonians would be fully willing to go on campaign unless it was in defense of their own territory. These guys weren’t the fucking Mongols, they just wanted to go home.


The premise that the Macedonians were more content to kill each other rather than conquer new territories only becomes relevant in the aftermath of Alexander's death. Had he survived, it is likely that campaigns would have resumed within two years of the army's mutiny at Beas. Alexander was in the process of planning the invasion of Arabia when he was stricken with fever. Arrian's Anabasis of Alexander mentions the plans thusly:


Therefore he thought himself quite worthy to be considered by the Arabs as a third god, since he had performed deeds by no means inferior to those of Dionysus. If then he could conquer the Arabs, he intended to grant them the privilege of conducting their government according to their own customs, as he had already done to the Indians. The fertility of the land was a secret inducement to him to invade it; because he heard that the people obtained cassia from the lakes, and myrrh and frankincense from the trees; that cinnamon was cut from the shrubs, and that the meadows produce spikenard without any cultivation.[2] As to the size of the country, he was informed that the seaboard of Arabia was not less in extent than that of India; that near it lie many islands; that in all parts of the country there were harbours [sufficiently] commodious to provide anchorage for his fleet, and that it supplied sites for founding cities, which would become flourishing.


Alexander knew that some Macedonians would be reluctant to resume campaigning and that is why he pursued without delay the advancement of careers of Persians in the ranks, conveying Macedonian titles upon them and integrating Persian units more fully into his army. Alexander went so far as to establish a mass-marrying ceremony between Macedonian and Persian families to unify the two cultures and worked tirelessly to close the gap between Hellenic and Persian identities.

Insofar as Alexander's alleged failure to plan ahead accordingly, Alexander with the aid of his generals was quite capable of planning for without logistical expertise there would be no empire for him to administer. Alexander was also not inept at administrative affairs, for he admired Cyrus not simply for his military prowess but also for his ability to conduct affairs of state. If you are referring to the lack of apparent successors upon his death aside from his mentally disabled half-brother Arrhidaeus, this is likely due to the relatively commonplace practice of killing rivals. In empires such as Alexanders one is presented with a quandary. Any who may lay claim upon the title successor or he who is so inclined in military matters to be considered second in command may also at leisure depose his commanding officer and assume his commander's title for himself. Ottoman princes killing each other for the title of Sultan comes to mind. In a looser and more NW-friendly example, the coup of Nappy in the 45e by capable leaders.

With regards to Alexander's possible defeat at the hands of the (I'm assuming you meant the Nanda Empire of Magadha?) I agree it is likely that without sufficient rest and regrouping Alexander's forces would have been crushed by the Indians. For Plutarch writes:


As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at-arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand war elephants.


Alexander's army, exhausted by more than a decade of campaigning, likely could not have succeeded against such formidable odds. That being said, the integration of Persian units into Alexander's army is a moot point. Although initially unhappy with the mixing of units, Alexander worked tirelessly to smooth relationships between the two groups and Alexander's Macedonian troops begged him for forgiveness, which he accepted with the hosting of a sizeable banquet. This was followed by the aforementioned mass-marriage ceremony.


Apropos your earlier post, however, specifically:

Despite this, he still managed to act like big ol’ whiny bitch by having his army then march through an inhospitable wasteland that killed a good chunk of whatever was left of that sad excuse for an army.

If you are referring to the opinion that Alexander's march through the desert was motivated by revenge, as popularized by the historian Peter Green in his 1970 book Alexander the Great, his exact intentions are hotly debated by historians today. Many argue that Alexander's motivations were logical and not out of malice aforethought. His march south along the Indus allowed supplies to be conveyed to his troops more easily and allowed him to establish a defensible border; the downside of course being that upon the termination of this route his army was forced to march through desert. In this Alexander knew he needed water, and he and his advisers designed a cunning plan whereby the navy, operating on the assumption winds and rains would be in their favor due to Indian reports in the region, would supply the troops from the shore and the infantry would make advances into the desert to dig wells for water. His fleet, however, delayed by inclement weather, was unable to fulfill their side of the plan, and Alexander's army soon began to succumb to thirst. Even without the navy at his disposal, however, Alexander's plans did not go completely astray- the wells did indeed fill with spring rains, however by fall the wells were dry and Alexander's men were again thirsty. Yet even in these situations Alexander was not without water. When his men camped in a dry riverbed, the river unexpectedly flooded, tragically and ironically leading to the drowning of many men in a place so parched. The soldiers, according to Strabo, "plunged into the water in their armour, and continued drinking until they were drowned; when swollen after death they floated, and corrupted the shallow water of the cisterns." Alexander lost perhaps one third of his army in the desert of Gadrosia, but even with this series of setbacks he managed to get the rest home.

Moreover, your later statement:

IMO, celebrating Alexander, along with the figures related to him in ideology, should be considered a detriment to society.

Intrigues me. Should it be considered a detriment to society that Hellenistic culture spread throughout the earth as a result of Alexander's admittedly brutal reign? That an entirely new perspective emerged and blossomed, in the wake of Alexander's death, in the fields of art, architecture, theatre, literature, exploration, mathematics, and the sciences? That Euclidian Geometry and even the works of Archimedes were heavily influenced by the actions of a thirty-two year old from Macedon? If so, then let it be a detriment, but let it be one that I find most fascinating and mentally stimulating. Indeed, it can be no better stated than in the eulogy of the man whose actions changed the history of the western world more than any before him:


Whoever therefore reproaches Alexander as a bad man, let him do so; but let him first not only bring before his mind all his actions deserving reproach, but also gather into one view all his deeds of every kind. Then, indeed, let him reflect who he is himself, and what kind of fortune he has experienced; and then consider who that man was whom he reproaches as bad, and to what a height of human success he attained, becoming without any dispute king of both continents, and reaching every place by his fame; while he himself who reproaches him is of smaller account, spending his labour on petty objects, which, however, he does not succeed in effecting, petty as they are. For my own part, I think there was at that time no race of men, no city, nor even a single individual to whom Alexander's name and fame had not penetrated.
It's the same old thing since 1916
In your head, in your head they're still fighting
With their tanks and their bombs
And air bombs and their guns
In your head, in your head they are dying...

Offline Sgt.Winters

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #116 on: December 05, 2019, 02:16:58 am »
I will preemptively admit that I had underestimated Alexander's abilities, and that he wasn't exactly a complete mess, but I'll still try to argue some points.

Quote
The premise that the Macedonians were more content to kill each other rather than conquer new territories only becomes relevant in the aftermath of Alexander's death. Had he survived, it is likely that campaigns would have resumed within two years of the army's mutiny at Beas. Alexander was in the process of planning the invasion of Arabia when he was stricken with fever. Arrian's Anabasis of Alexander mentions the plans thusly:


Therefore he thought himself quite worthy to be considered by the Arabs as a third god, since he had performed deeds by no means inferior to those of Dionysus. If then he could conquer the Arabs, he intended to grant them the privilege of conducting their government according to their own customs, as he had already done to the Indians. The fertility of the land was a secret inducement to him to invade it; because he heard that the people obtained cassia from the lakes, and myrrh and frankincense from the trees; that cinnamon was cut from the shrubs, and that the meadows produce spikenard without any cultivation.[2] As to the size of the country, he was informed that the seaboard of Arabia was not less in extent than that of India; that near it lie many islands; that in all parts of the country there were harbours [sufficiently] commodious to provide anchorage for his fleet, and that it supplied sites for founding cities, which would become flourishing.

I strongly disagree with the notion that the army could have continued within 2 years of the mutiny. The Macedonian's last campaign was against a group of Malli inhabiting the Punjab region in 326. The army wouldn't arrive at its return destination of Susa till 324. Alexander deciding to go on campaign shortly thereafter would have ended in disaster. It would have been a logistical pipe dream for him to have devised an strategic plan, mustered a strong force, and established a sufficient supply route in such a short period after his march through the Gedrosia. If I were to be optimistic, Nearchus may have been able to establish naval routes before the spring of 322, with the land force following not long after. After this, Alexander would have been able to take Arabia near the decade's end.


Quote
Alexander knew that some Macedonians would be reluctant to resume campaigning and that is why he pursued without delay the advancement of careers of Persians in the ranks, conveying Macedonian titles upon them and integrating Persian units more fully into his army. Alexander went so far as to establish a mass-marrying ceremony between Macedonian and Persian families to unify the two cultures and worked tirelessly to close the gap between Hellenic and Persian identities.

There is evidence to suggest that Alexander's attempts were in vain here. Most of the arranged marriages are believed to have not even lasted beyond a year, and rumors were abound that the army was displeased with their king's embracement of a foreign culture. If anything, both sides did it out of respect for Alexander himself. Many Persians viewed him as their savior and god, while all (except perhaps Antipater) of the major Macedonian figureheads loved him to death. Of course they were going to do as he said, as he had put to death most of the others that hadn't already fallen in line.


An analogy in more modern lenses would be person X who is able to mend the familial issues between two sides consisting of multiple members that have longstanding issues with each other (Y and Z). The unfortunate problem here is that Y and Z are only acting of our their mutual respect and love for the aforementioned X. In other terms, the sole thing working here is the influence of X in order to maintain some peaceful interaction amongst the family. Add in the possibility of X's untimely death, and whose to say that Y and Z will be able to continue this sort of agreement without the single thing keeping it together in the first place?

Quote
Insofar as Alexander's alleged failure to plan ahead accordingly, Alexander with the aid of his generals was quite capable of planning for without logistical expertise there would be no empire for him to administer. Alexander was also not inept at administrative affairs, for he admired Cyrus not simply for his military prowess but also for his ability to conduct affairs of state. If you are referring to the lack of apparent successors upon his death aside from his mentally disabled half-brother Arrhidaeus, this is likely due to the relatively commonplace practice of killing rivals. In empires such as Alexanders one is presented with a quandary. Any who may lay claim upon the title successor or he who is so inclined in military matters to be considered second in command may also at leisure depose his commanding officer and assume his commander's title for himself. Ottoman princes killing each other for the title of Sultan comes to mind. In a looser and more NW-friendly example, the coup of Nappy in the 45e by capable leaders.

I will concede the point regarding his administrative capacities. The events of his succession as you lay them out however, seem to be somewhat inaccurate upon closer inspection.


Initially, the generals were in wide agreement with Perdiccas (who had been appointed azarapateis after Hephaestion's death) that they should wait on declaring a successor should Alexander's unborn child turn out be male. In the meantime Perdiccas ruled as regent while Philip III was propped up as a puppet with no actual administrative authority. The regency would turn out be a disaster and Perdicass would be murdered by the Argyraspides not long after failing to cross the Nile in 321, allowing Antipater to assume power and harbor Alexander IV in his early years. Following Antipater's death and Polyperchon's ascension to regency, Cassander gathered the strongest Diadochi and waged war. Polyperchon managed to retain control of Macedonia with the help of Alexander's mother Olympias, which was quickly followed up by the murders of Philip III and his wife Eurydice, leaving Alexander IV the only real heir to the throne.


The celebration would be short-lived, as Cassander would return to conquer Macedonia in 316, having Olympias executed and Alexander IV, along with his mother, put under effective house arrest. Initially, Alexander IV's rights were guaranteed under the treaty that concluded the Third Diadoch War, but they were not honored by Cassander, who would have the young prince murdered in 309.

Quote
With regards to Alexander's possible defeat at the hands of the (I'm assuming you meant the Nanda Empire of Magadha?) I agree it is likely that without sufficient rest and regrouping Alexander's forces would have been crushed by the Indians. For Plutarch writes:


As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at-arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand war elephants.


Alexander's army, exhausted by more than a decade of campaigning, likely could not have succeeded against such formidable odds. That being said, the integration of Persian units into Alexander's army is a moot point. Although initially unhappy with the mixing of units, Alexander worked tirelessly to smooth relationships between the two groups and Alexander's Macedonian troops begged him for forgiveness, which he accepted with the hosting of a sizeable banquet. This was followed by the aforementioned mass-marriage ceremony.

I was indeed referring to the Nanda Empire, a spelling mistake on my end.


In reponse to the cultural and ethnic turbulence amongst the army, I object to it in a previous point made above.


Quote
Apropos your earlier post, however, specifically:

Despite this, he still managed to act like big ol’ whiny bitch by having his army then march through an inhospitable wasteland that killed a good chunk of whatever was left of that sad excuse for an army.

If you are referring to the opinion that Alexander's march through the desert was motivated by revenge, as popularized by the historian Peter Green in his 1970 book Alexander the Great, his exact intentions are hotly debated by historians today. Many argue that Alexander's motivations were logical and not out of malice aforethought. His march south along the Indus allowed supplies to be conveyed to his troops more easily and allowed him to establish a defensible border; the downside of course being that upon the termination of this route his army was forced to march through desert. In this Alexander knew he needed water, and he and his advisers designed a cunning plan whereby the navy, operating on the assumption winds and rains would be in their favor due to Indian reports in the region, would supply the troops from the shore and the infantry would make advances into the desert to dig wells for water. His fleet, however, delayed by inclement weather, was unable to fulfill their side of the plan, and Alexander's army soon began to succumb to thirst. Even without the navy at his disposal, however, Alexander's plans did not go completely astray- the wells did indeed fill with spring rains, however by fall the wells were dry and Alexander's men were again thirsty. Yet even in these situations Alexander was not without water. When his men camped in a dry riverbed, the river unexpectedly flooded, tragically and ironically leading to the drowning of many men in a place so parched. The soldiers, according to Strabo, "plunged into the water in their armour, and continued drinking until they were drowned; when swollen after death they floated, and corrupted the shallow water of the cisterns." Alexander lost perhaps one third of his army in the desert of Gadrosia, but even with this series of setbacks he managed to get the rest home.

The debate on whether Alexander performed the march out of logistics or malevolence is a good reason to reject solid consensus, but I will point towards his previous actions as possible evidence to support the latter conclusion. It is stated in Arrian's Anabasis the following:


On arriving at Opis,note Alexander called together the Macedonians and declared that he was discharging from the campaign and sending back to their country those who were unfit for service because of age or wounds suffered. The presents he would give would make them an object of even greater envy at home and would encourage the other Macedonians to take part in the same dangers and hardships. Alexander spoke these words with the clear intention of pleasing the Macedonians, but they felt Alexander now despised them and regarded them as completely unfit for service. It was not unreasonable for them to take exception to Alexander's words, and they had had many grievances throughout the expedition. There was the recurring annoyance of Alexander's Persian dress which pointed in the same direction, and the training of the barbarian "Successors" in the Macedonian style of warfare,note and the introduction of foreign cavalry into the squadrons of the Companions. They could not keep quiet any longer, but all shouted to Alexander to discharge them from service and take his father on the expedition (by this insult they meant Ammon).


When Alexander heard this - he was now rather more quick-tempered and eastern flattery had made him become arrogant towards the Macedonians - he leaped from the platform with the leaders around him and ordered the arrest of the most conspicuous troublemakers, indicating to the hypaspists the men for arrest, thirteen in all. He ordered them to be led off for execution, and when a terrified silence had fallen on the others he ascended the platform again and spoke as follows,


"Macedonians, my speech will not be aimed at stopping your urge to return home; as far as I am concerned you may go where you like. But I want you to realize on departing what I have done for you, and what you have done for me. Let me begin, as is right, with my father Philip. He found you wandering about without resources, many of you clothed in sheepskins and pasturing small flocks in the mountains, defending them with difficulty against the Illyrians, Triballians and neighboring Thracians. He gave you cloaks to wear instead of sheepskins, brought you down from the mountains to the plains, and made you a match in war for the neighboring barbarians, owing your safety to your own bravery and no longer to reliance on your mountain strongholds. He made you city dwellers and civilized you with good laws and customs. Those barbarians who used to harrass you and plunder your property, he made you their leaders instead of their slaves and subjects. He annexed much of Thrace to Macedonia, seized the most favorable coastal towns and opened up the country to commerce, and enabled you to exploit your mines undisturbed. He made you governors of the Thessalians, before whom you used to die of fright, humbled the Phocians and so opened a broad and easy path into Greece in place of a narrow and difficult one. The Athenians and Thebans, who were permanently poised to attack Macedonia, he so humbled (and I was now helping him in this task) that instead of you paying tribute to the Athenians and being under the sway of the Thebans, they now in turn had to seek their safety from us. He marched into the Peloponnese and settled matters there too. He was appointed commander-in-chief of all Greece for the campaign against the Persians, but preferred to assign the credit to all the Macedonians rather than just to himself. Such were the achievements of my father on your behalf; as you can see for yourselves, they are great, and yet small in comparison with my own. I inherited from my father a few gold and silver cups, and less than 60 talents in the treasury; Philip had debts amounting to 500 talents, and I raised a loan of a further 800. I started from a country that could barely sustain you and immediately opened up the Hellespont for you, although the Persians then held the mastery of the sea. I defeated in a cavalry engagement the satraps of Darius and annexed to your rule the whole of Ionia and Aeolis, both Phrygias and Lydia, and took Miletus by storm. All the rest came over to our side spontaneously, and I made them yours for you to enjoy. All the wealth of Egypt and Cyrene, which I won without a fight, are now yours, Coele Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia are your possession, Babylonia and Bactria and Elam belong to you, you own the wealth of Lydia, the treasures of Persia, the riches of India, and the outer ocean. You are satraps, you are generals, you are captains. As for me, what do I have left from all these labors? Merely this purple cloak and a diadem."


They would begin their march west soon after, but one must ponder for a minute the ramifications of the ringleader's actions here. Alexander clearly had made clear to his troops what he had done for them, and obviously felt betrayed when they decided to mutiny. Under these circumstances and the perceived consequences, would it not be reasonable to assume Alexander acted more out of spite towards his men by marching across the Gedrosia, and leaned less on the idea of a sound logistical plan?

Quote
Moreover, your later statement:

IMO, celebrating Alexander, along with the figures related to him in ideology, should be considered a detriment to society.

Intrigues me. Should it be considered a detriment to society that Hellenistic culture spread throughout the earth as a result of Alexander's admittedly brutal reign? That an entirely new perspective emerged and blossomed, in the wake of Alexander's death, in the fields of art, architecture, theatre, literature, exploration, mathematics, and the sciences? That Euclidian Geometry and even the works of Archimedes were heavily influenced by the actions of a thirty-two year old from Macedon? If so, then let it be a detriment, but let it be one that I find most fascinating and mentally stimulating. Indeed, it can be no better stated than in the eulogy of the man whose actions changed the history of the western world more than any before him:


Whoever therefore reproaches Alexander as a bad man, let him do so; but let him first not only bring before his mind all his actions deserving reproach, but also gather into one view all his deeds of every kind. Then, indeed, let him reflect who he is himself, and what kind of fortune he has experienced; and then consider who that man was whom he reproaches as bad, and to what a height of human success he attained, becoming without any dispute king of both continents, and reaching every place by his fame; while he himself who reproaches him is of smaller account, spending his labour on petty objects, which, however, he does not succeed in effecting, petty as they are. For my own part, I think there was at that time no race of men, no city, nor even a single individual to whom Alexander's name and fame had not penetrated.

I did not make this clear initially, but the primary issue I have with Alexander is not that of his large influence, but rather the glorification of him as an individual. He is deserving of the praise from his overall success as a commander, but IMO not so much for ingenuity. I hold similar opinions of Mehmed, Lee, Patton, and Rommel. In terms of tactics and overall single effectiveness, they are vastly overrated on many variables. The army Alexander led was easily the most disciplined forced to walk the planet at that time, and we would not see such professionalism till the Marian reforms over 200 years later. In addition, they fought a rather lacking king leading a mediocre army that made for difficulties solely due to its enormous size. In essence, more credit is given to the man's achievements during his lifetime, rather than what he enabled centuries after.

If I were to argue it from a purely utilitarian perspective, the Hellenic failure to prevent destabilization of the Middle East was arguably the beginning of the region's descent into chaos. The Seleucid's inability to quell the Maccabee revolt, coupled with invasions from the Sassanids and Romans, probably contributed to the eventual mainstream rise of the Abrahamic religions, whose influence can be argued at a later time.

Offline DrunkenSpartan

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Re: Who is the most overrated general/leader in history?
« Reply #117 on: December 06, 2019, 05:02:29 am »
The debate on whether Alexander performed the march out of logistics or malevolence is a good reason to reject solid consensus, but I will point towards his previous actions as possible evidence to support the latter conclusion. It is stated in Arrian's Anabasis the following:


On arriving at Opis,note Alexander called together the Macedonians and declared that he was discharging from the campaign and sending back to their country those who were unfit for service because of age or wounds suffered. The presents he would give would make them an object of even greater envy at home and would encourage the other Macedonians to take part in the same dangers and hardships. Alexander spoke these words with the clear intention of pleasing the Macedonians, but they felt Alexander now despised them and regarded them as completely unfit for service. It was not unreasonable for them to take exception to Alexander's words, and they had had many grievances throughout the expedition. There was the recurring annoyance of Alexander's Persian dress which pointed in the same direction, and the training of the barbarian "Successors" in the Macedonian style of warfare,note and the introduction of foreign cavalry into the squadrons of the Companions. They could not keep quiet any longer, but all shouted to Alexander to discharge them from service and take his father on the expedition (by this insult they meant Ammon).


When Alexander heard this - he was now rather more quick-tempered and eastern flattery had made him become arrogant towards the Macedonians - he leaped from the platform with the leaders around him and ordered the arrest of the most conspicuous troublemakers, indicating to the hypaspists the men for arrest, thirteen in all. He ordered them to be led off for execution, and when a terrified silence had fallen on the others he ascended the platform again and spoke as follows,


"Macedonians, my speech will not be aimed at stopping your urge to return home; as far as I am concerned you may go where you like. But I want you to realize on departing what I have done for you, and what you have done for me. Let me begin, as is right, with my father Philip. He found you wandering about without resources, many of you clothed in sheepskins and pasturing small flocks in the mountains, defending them with difficulty against the Illyrians, Triballians and neighboring Thracians. He gave you cloaks to wear instead of sheepskins, brought you down from the mountains to the plains, and made you a match in war for the neighboring barbarians, owing your safety to your own bravery and no longer to reliance on your mountain strongholds. He made you city dwellers and civilized you with good laws and customs. Those barbarians who used to harrass you and plunder your property, he made you their leaders instead of their slaves and subjects. He annexed much of Thrace to Macedonia, seized the most favorable coastal towns and opened up the country to commerce, and enabled you to exploit your mines undisturbed. He made you governors of the Thessalians, before whom you used to die of fright, humbled the Phocians and so opened a broad and easy path into Greece in place of a narrow and difficult one. The Athenians and Thebans, who were permanently poised to attack Macedonia, he so humbled (and I was now helping him in this task) that instead of you paying tribute to the Athenians and being under the sway of the Thebans, they now in turn had to seek their safety from us. He marched into the Peloponnese and settled matters there too. He was appointed commander-in-chief of all Greece for the campaign against the Persians, but preferred to assign the credit to all the Macedonians rather than just to himself. Such were the achievements of my father on your behalf; as you can see for yourselves, they are great, and yet small in comparison with my own. I inherited from my father a few gold and silver cups, and less than 60 talents in the treasury; Philip had debts amounting to 500 talents, and I raised a loan of a further 800. I started from a country that could barely sustain you and immediately opened up the Hellespont for you, although the Persians then held the mastery of the sea. I defeated in a cavalry engagement the satraps of Darius and annexed to your rule the whole of Ionia and Aeolis, both Phrygias and Lydia, and took Miletus by storm. All the rest came over to our side spontaneously, and I made them yours for you to enjoy. All the wealth of Egypt and Cyrene, which I won without a fight, are now yours, Coele Syria, Palestine and Mesopotamia are your possession, Babylonia and Bactria and Elam belong to you, you own the wealth of Lydia, the treasures of Persia, the riches of India, and the outer ocean. You are satraps, you are generals, you are captains. As for me, what do I have left from all these labors? Merely this purple cloak and a diadem."


They would begin their march west soon after, but one must ponder for a minute the ramifications of the ringleader's actions here. Alexander clearly had made clear to his troops what he had done for them, and obviously felt betrayed when they decided to mutiny. Under these circumstances and the perceived consequences, would it not be reasonable to assume Alexander acted more out of spite towards his men by marching across the Gedrosia, and leaned less on the idea of a sound logistical plan?


Anabasis could go either way on motivations, one of the reasons the debate is so hot. Arrian writes that during their march through the desert:


When Alexander reached a certain place in Gadrosia, where corn was more abundant, he seized it and placed it upon the beasts of burden; and marking it with his own seal, he ordered it to be conveyed down to the sea. But while he was marching to the halting stage nearest to the sea, the soldiers paying little regard to the seal, the guards made use of the corn themselves, and gave a share. of it to those who were especially pinched with hunger. To such a degree were they overcome by their misery that after mature deliberation' they resolved to take account of the visible and already impending destruction rather than the danger of incurring the king's wrath, which was not before their eyes and still remote. When Alexander ascertained the necessity which constrained them so to act, he pardoned those who had done the deed.


Pardoning men who stole grain from you shortly after mutinying sounds unlike a man motivated out of revenge.


The rest of your rebuttal I'm fine with. On a completely unrelated note this is one of the better scientific lecture's I've watched in a long time, hope you enjoy it

Spoiler
[close]
It's the same old thing since 1916
In your head, in your head they're still fighting
With their tanks and their bombs
And air bombs and their guns
In your head, in your head they are dying...