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11.11.2005

Ten Greatest Warriors

In composing the reading list at right, my thoughts were drawn again to the great captains of history, and how they might rank.

These sorts of lists are quite subjective, of course, but here is how I rank them today:

1. Alexander the Great - Has any commander ever shown the combination of leadership, tactics, strategy, statecraft, and logistical wizardry the Macedonian demonstrated? Simply the greatest conqueror the world has known.
2. Napoleon - Took a nation shattered by bloody revolution and forged the finest army of a generation. Moreover, his application of the principles of war led to a rennaissance in military doctrine which persists to this day.
3. Frederick the Great - Did much of what Napoleon did, but did it from a position of great weakness and built Prussia into the preeminent military power of its day.
4. Ghengis Khan - No single commander has conquered over so wide a territory as the great Khan, nor on the basis of so simple an innovation in technology and tactics.
5. Gustavus Adolphus - Completely changed warfare as the world knew it with his pikes.
6. Scipio Africanus - Greater than Hannibal, for he conquered Hannibal.
7. Julius Caesar - Had he not been assassinated, Caesar likely would have rivaled Alexander as a great conqueror/statesman. His Gallic campaign is a classic, still studied by military professionals today.
8. George Patton - Patton refined armored warfare, while simultaneously creating the American way of war---fast, lethal, and relentless pursuit of the enemy army.
9. Horatio Nelson - His victory at Trafalgar allowed the Royal Navy to dominate the high seas for the next two centuries.
10. Leonidas of Sparta - 300 Spartans. Thousands upon thousands of Persians. Day after day of bloody stalemate, broken only by betrayal, followed by honorable death. Leonidas and his Spartans showed us how men die for their country.

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