View single post by booklover
 Posted: Wed Mar 19th, 2008 03:15 pm
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Joined: Sat Jun 23rd, 2007
Posts: 222

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I had hoped my comment didn't seem too flippant. I think it falls in the same lines as what makes a good president. Most of us (myself deeply included) have no military background other than what we read. Even those who have served in the military might find that what they feel makes a good leader today had little to do with what did then. While secondary sources certainly can make our opinion more informed (and in the long run, even the "professionals" view is simply better-informed opinion) to argue what makes a general great requires (I feel) a bit more research. By the way, with the availability of the Official Records on DVD-ROM and other primary sources that have since been printed, a person doesn't have to limit themselves to just secondary sources.

With that said, I feel hard-pressed to actually determine what makes a general truly great. Winning is an easy answer, but I think one has to determine if greatness will be determined by the strategic (overall) vision of the leader or by the tactical (in the heat of battle) actions. Grant certainly had strong strategic vision as well as tactical smarts, but even he realized that Cold Harbor was a horrible mistake. A general who might be strong with strategic vision may not be as strong a tactician.

Albert, I respectfully disagree with your comment on McClellan. Lee could have been the biggest bumbler around and if McClellan held true to form, he wouldn't have taken advantage of it. He lacked the strategic vision. However, I do agree in principle with your point that if a general can exploit the mistakes of his enemy, that points to greatness.


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