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Old 01-03-2014, 08:09 PM
 
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Alexander defeated the declining Persians and Caesar defeated the backward Gauls. Other commanders had the benefit of material resources and manpower. However, Hannibal and Napoleon come most to mind in defeating the best. Hannibal defeated the Romans. Napoleon defeated the Great Powers. Both were usually being outnumbered and outgunned. Who else comes to mind?

Last edited by jobseeker2013; 01-03-2014 at 08:29 PM..
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Old 01-03-2014, 08:11 PM
 
Location: On the Chesapeake
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Red Cloud in Red Cloud's War.
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Old 01-03-2014, 10:33 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Originally Posted by jobseeker2013 View Post
Alexander defeated the declining Persians and Caesar defeated the backward Gauls. Other commanders had the benefit of material resources and manpower. However, Hannibal and Napoleon come most to mind in defeating the best. Hannibal defeated the Romans. Napoleon defeated the Great Powers. Both were usually being outnumbered and outgunned. Who else comes to mind?
The Gauls were hardly pushovers, Caesar was at all times vastly outnumbered, he began the whole project with just four legions, about 22,000 men. While overcoming the Gaul tribes, he simultaneously had to fend off incursions by Germans from the east. The Battle of Alesia, the concluding combat, Caesar simultaneously besieged the united Gauls under Vercingetorix, and fought off the relief army to his rear.

Further, bringing the first phase of the Civil War to a close, Caesar, outnumbered once more, defeated Pompey the Great at Pharsalus. Pompey was a legendary general, the recipient of three triumphs for his victories. That was Caesar up against the varsity.

My nominee in this category would be General Grant who forced the surrender of General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia which had established a well earned reputation as a superb fighting force.
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Old 01-04-2014, 02:33 AM
 
Location: Bronx
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I would say Grant and Sherman during the Civil War defeating the confederate army that was well trained but most importantly well desicplined. Another nod can go to Red Army general Zhukov who deafeated the Nazis during World War 2. Another nod can also go to Phyrric of Eburius , he defeated the Romans on a few occasions but Rome still managed to conquer Greece.
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Old 01-04-2014, 06:07 AM
 
Location: NW Indiana
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Originally Posted by Grandstander View Post
The Gauls were hardly pushovers, Caesar was at all times vastly outnumbered, he began the whole project with just four legions, about 22,000 men. While overcoming the Gaul tribes, he simultaneously had to fend off incursions by Germans from the east. The Battle of Alesia, the concluding combat, Caesar simultaneously besieged the united Gauls under Vercingetorix, and fought off the relief army to his rear.

Further, bringing the first phase of the Civil War to a close, Caesar, outnumbered once more, defeated Pompey the Great at Pharsalus. Pompey was a legendary general, the recipient of three triumphs for his victories. That was Caesar up against the varsity.

My nominee in this category would be General Grant who forced the surrender of General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia which had established a well earned reputation as a superb fighting force.
I think the battle at Pharsalus is a great example of what this thread is asking. Pompey was an established general with a veteran army that is thought to have outnumbered Ceasars forces. Ceasar should have lost that battle but was able to win.

Grant defeating Lee is not as good an example in my opinion. Grant had a massive advantage in resources and manpower and won more by attrition and a willingness to suffer massive casualties than any great strategy.

Napoleon did win some amazing battles, but also suffered massive defeats in Egypt, Russia and finally in central Europe.
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Old 01-04-2014, 07:20 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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Originally Posted by MyTarge13 View Post

Grant defeating Lee is not as good an example in my opinion. Grant had a massive advantage in resources and manpower and won more by attrition and a willingness to suffer massive casualties than any great strategy.

.
Those same advantages were enjoyed by Generals McClellan, Pope, Burnside and Hooker, and none of them were able to overcome Lee, none of them had the stomach for the attrition style campaign which was needed to defeat the Army of Northern Virginia. Grant did. I also note that while Grant vs Lee gets talked about in terms of the advantages that the Union enjoyed, it is far less frequent that the advantages which the Confederates enjoyed are discussed. They were on their own turf (Lee never won a battle outside of Virginia), the invasion corridor was a narrow one between the ocean and the mountains, severely limiting flanking movements, and all of the rivers ran East-West, serving as defensive barriers, unlike the west where they were North-South invasion avenues.

What makes a great general is figuring out how to win with what you have
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Old 01-04-2014, 07:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Bronxguyanese View Post
I would say Grant and Sherman during the Civil War defeating the confederate army that was well trained but most importantly well desicplined. Another nod can go to Red Army general Zhukov who deafeated the Nazis during World War 2. Another nod can also go to Phyrric of Eburius , he defeated the Romans on a few occasions but Rome still managed to conquer Greece.
I have never been a fan of Zhukov. A great commander but he did not care for his soldiers. His was willing to kill of his men to obtain victory.
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:34 AM
 
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No list would be complete without Scipio.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:36 AM
 
Location: Metro Detroit, Michigan
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I was always impressed by Hannibal's path through Spain, through the alps, all the way around to the front door of Rome. While the war was a loss for Carthage, his personal effort was quite impressive, and he did score some impressive victories.

Frederick the Great faced overwhelming opposition (France, Russia, Austria, and other co-belligerents) but helped maintain the empire during the seven years war. One has to wonder how accurately the history books represented his actions, like the idea that he had 6 horses shot from under him. At any rate, maintaining the integrity of his borders was nothing less than an extraordinary feat, given the size of his opposition.

I'm not sure who most deserved credit for the invasion of France in 1940. Regardless, the speed and thorough nature of the invasion was nothing short of impressive. The Maginot line was a pretty solid and well prepared defensive line. To see it fall so quick... Bet the allies couldn't believe it was possible.
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Old 01-04-2014, 04:03 PM
 
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I always felt Hannibal was the best. The best trained army in the world with superior training, manpower and a home field advantage could not defeat him in open battle until Scipio. Cannae wiped out 70,000 men. The Romans afterward decided instead to use their superior resources to go after Spain, leaving Hannibal powerless to do anything about it.
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