The Great Captain-Generals of our Period

A section devoted to questions and answers for this period.
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The Great Captain-Generals of our Period

Post by Captain of Dragoons » Tue Jul 08, 2014 2:52 am

Gents,

I have been reading up on some of the great Captain-Generals of our period; La Grande Conde, Turenne, Luxembourg, Marlborough, Eugene, Villars and Charles XII of Sweden.

There is a case to be made that perhaps Eugene and Turenne were in the first rank for the period.

How I would rank them:

1. Eugene and Turenne

2. Marlborough, Conde, Luxembourg

3. Villars and Charles XII of Sweden

Honourable Mention: Berwick and Montecuccoli

cheers
Edward
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Adam Hayes
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Re: The Great Captain-Generals of our Period

Post by Adam Hayes » Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:06 pm

Seconds out.....


(I'd rate Duke of Berwick higher than his more famous relative.)
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Re: The Great Captain-Generals of our Period

Post by barr7430 » Fri Jul 11, 2014 10:34 am

This one has the potential to grow legs...............
Edward you are turning into a TMP style Agent-Provocateur :lol:

I should abstain from even commenting on Marlborough.... no but really I don't have anything against the chap only against the legions baying for beatification of John the Blessed.

I think we need to refine the question based on some criteria:

Is a great captain simply judged on his battlefield performance or are additional factors such as:

1. Campaign success
2. Political adroitness
3. Strategic thinking

to be taken into account? If so, the pecking order MAY change...

over to you
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Re: The Great Captain-Generals of our Period

Post by Captain of Dragoons » Sat Jul 12, 2014 12:20 am

To be considered a great Captain-General in my view is how did they apply/advance the art of war.

Speaking of the TMP i recall a thread in which posters were comparing Conde and Turenne. One interesting comment from a poster was, and i am paraphrasing: "If I want a battle won I would pick Conde, if I want a campaign won I would pick Turenne".

I have a book on my ereader by Theodore Ayrault Dodge (later 19th Century Writer) titled 'GUSTAVUS ADOLPHUS: A History of the Art of War from its Revival After the Middle Ages to the End of the Spanish Succession War, with a Detailed Account of the Campaigns of the Great Swede, and of the Most Famous Campaigns of Turenne, Conde, Eugene and Marlborough.'

Dodge considers Eugene greater then Marlborough. However he considers Eugene, Marlborough, Conde and Turenne in the second rank behind Adolphus, Frederick the Great and Napoleon.

But for our period, from reading the book, believe Dodge would rank them like this: Eugene, Marlborough, Turenne, Conde, and Luxembourg. There are also chapters on Charles XII, Montecuculi, and Catinat.

A very interesting book.

I would say our period (1660ish to 1721ish) was more evolutionary then revolutionary. The destruction of the Thirty Years War promoted wars of manoeuvre and sieges vice big battles however Conde and Turenne did fight battles during the Fronde and Dutch War scoring victories but conditions/tactics/army organization/etc did not lead to the pursuit of a defeated foe. Armies grew so large during the League of Augsburg War that William and Luxembourg were unable bring total force to bear in battle, sieges being prefered after Neerwinden. Marlborough and Eugene activity sought battle and were able to bring maximum force to battle. Blenheim was decisive in that it saved Austria and Ramillies in that the whole of the Spanish Netherlands fell but neither won the war. Oudenarde, a good example of a meeting engagement and Malplaquet was how to lose a battle but keep an army in being to stalemate the enemy. Charles XII was a bold commander but overextended himself leading to defeat at Poltava.

cheers,
Edward
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Re: The Great Captain-Generals of our Period

Post by Tacitus » Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:09 am

Captain of Dragoons wrote:Charles XII was a bold commander but overextended himself leading to defeat at Poltava.
In all fairness, Charles XII was forced to fight a war with the odds so heavily stacked against him that he could not possibly win it. He had no choice but to be a bold commander and "overextend" his resources because that was the only small hope he had of saving Sweden from being dismantled.

The chocking thing about the GNW is that during the years of 1706-08 it actually looked (from a casual observer's point of view) like Charles XII was going to do the impossible and win the war, thanks to a string of battlefield victories against armies which were at least twice as large as the Swedish army. However, his opponents knew very well how limited Sweden's resources were and they were thus not that impressed by the Swedish military might. Both Denmark and Saxony were plotting to reenter the war from day one after signing their first peace treaties. Both wanted however to wait until the Swedish army got bogged down in Russia so that the Russians would carry the greater burden this time around.

The Swedish defeat at Poltava was actually bad news for Russia's allies since they had to rush into the war earlier than planned (without the Russian subsidies that they had spent years negotiating for) and again carry the heavy burden of being the focus of the restored Swedish main army.

The paradox of Charles XII is that he was such a great commander that he has suffered the fate of being constantly criticised for losing a war which he reasonably should never have come close of winning.
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Re: The Great Captain-Generals of our Period

Post by Motorway » Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:01 pm

I know he is not popular, but when using Barry's criteria above, I would rank William III rather high, especially given his remarkable skill on both a tactical and strategic level in 1672 and 1673, his diplomatic skills of making sure that in the end of the 1679 war France basically stood alone and his forming, later of the Grande Alliance and making the base for Marlborough's success.

Also he did rather well at Seneffe in 1674 and St Denis 1679, ( alot better than the French will ever admit) but here were other minor and lesser known engagements.
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Re: The Great Captain-Generals of our Period

Post by obriendavid » Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:11 pm

I notice Peter the Great doesn't get a mention, considering what he managed to achieve the his newly formed and untrained army, even with overwhelming numbers, I feel he should at least get a mention.
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Dave
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Re: The Great Captain-Generals of our Period

Post by Friedrich August I. » Mon Jul 14, 2014 8:53 am

obriendavid wrote:I notice Peter the Great doesn't get a mention, considering what he managed to achieve the his newly formed and untrained army, even with overwhelming numbers, I feel he should at least get a mention.
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Dave
For that we should open our own Thread, Dave!
Something called Rulers that lead their Soldiers from the front!

Charles XII, Peter the Great,...

August the Strong, who stood up against the Swedes over 6 long bloody Years to fight the Swedes and buy time for the Russians to rebuilt their Army.
Cheers,
Günter
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"Sort your filth out by yourself!" The King of Saxony Friedrich August III., at his abdication 1918, referred to the quarrels in the parliament and the squabbling within the provisional government.
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