The 10 Greatest Generals in History

What makes a great general? Napoleon, who knew a thing or two about generalship, said he would rather have a lucky general than a good one. Yet he didn't mean a commander who blithely staked the fortunes of war on a roll of the dice, as if combat were a spin at the Vegas roulette wheel. A lucky general was one with a cool head who could take advantage of opportunities.

Some qualities seem universal: perseverance, shrewdness and keeping cool during a crisis. Others are debatable: Some would say a professional military education from institutions such as West Point is a necessity, while Vo Nguyen Giap, the schoolteacher who became the general that defeated professional French and American commanders, might disagree.

Either way, in its nearly 250-year history, America has produced some very good and very bad generals. Each was great in his own way, in the circumstances of his time and in the qualities that America needed.

But greatness they earned, and here are 10 the greatest generals in history. You should know, the greatest generals in history were able to reach this status mostly by fighting in a time when conquering land and expanding one’s territory was common practice. In this sense, some of them benefited greatly from belonging to the 10 greatest empires in history. And to know how much they have in common, you should really check out both of the articles.

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