Military History's Best Loser



  • What’s your thoughts?


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Erich was a close top choice…

    But I think Bonaparte takes the cake.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Morning Worsham.
    Napoleon is a great choice Garg, but I believe Hannibal is the greatest military commander ever. And he lost his last: Zama.
    Like Napoleon(poisoned?), Hannibal’s enemies could not sleep safely until he was dead. And he died an old man!
    I think the result of Zama was probably inevitable, given the calibre of his troops and the lack of support now afforded him by his superiors compared to the iron discipline and efficiency the Roman machine had now become, but I am sure there were moments in the battle when his enemies feared he could still have won the day. I believe Rome had another army on standby, just in case.
    The Total War franchise are bringing out a Rome 2 and I am so excited. The Punic battles are a feature and despite my Italian heritage, I have a soft spot for the armies of Carthage. (I have a tendency to favour the loser in all wars in  which I have an interest!)



  • @wittmann:

    Morning Worsham.
    Napoleon is a great choice Garg, but I believe Hannibal is the greatest military commander ever. And he lost his last: Zama.
    Like Napoleon(poisoned?), Hannibal’s enemies could not sleep safely until he was dead. And he died an old man!
    I think the result of Zama was probably inevitable, given the calibre of his troops and the lack of support now afforded him by his superiors compared to the iron discipline and efficiency the Roman machine had now become, but I am sure there were moments in the battle when his enemies feared he could still have won the day. I believe Rome had another army on standby, just in case.
    The Total War franchise are bringing out a Rome 2 and I am so excited. The Punic battles are a feature and despite my Italian heritage, I have a soft spot for the armies of Carthage. (I have a tendency to favour the loser in all wars in  which I have an interest!)

    The battle of Cannae is the most studied battle in history. The Schlieffen Plan was created by General Count Alfred von Schlieffen in December 1905 and was results of intense study of Hannibal’s Cannae plan.


  • '10

    Bonaparte or R. Lee? Bonaparte had a legitimate chance. Not sure that Lee ever did. Maybe if McClellan had won the 64 election Lee might have gone out a winner.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017

    Interesting topic! Thanks, ABWorsham, for always coming up with a discussion item. Napoleon got my vote (not that it matters much to him, but anyway).

    @wittmann:

    but I believe Hannibal is the greatest military commander ever.

    According to classic sources, Hannibal himself didn’t think so. He seems to have given that credit to either Alexander the Great of Pyrrhus of Epirus.

    And speaking of Pyrrhus…… I think he doesn’t belong on the list. He won his battles!



  • @Herr:

    Interesting topic! Thanks, ABWorsham, for always coming up with a discussion item. Napoleon got my vote (not that it matters much to him, but anyway).

    @wittmann:

    but I believe Hannibal is the greatest military commander ever.

    According to classic sources, Hannibal himself didn’t think so. He seems to have given that credit to either Alexander the Great of Pyrrhus of Epirus.

    And speaking of Pyrrhus…… I think he doesn’t belong on the list. He won his battles!

    No problem, I love talking history.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Not sure if I remember properly, Herr KaLeun, but wasn’t Hannibal answering Scipio Africanus’ question on who was the greatest General ever? (Scipio had beaten Hannibal and expected him to say he was the greatest of the three.)
    Hannibal said Alexander, then himself second.
    When Scipio retorted that he, Scipio, had beaten Hannibal, Hannibal said: I know, otherwise I would have placed myself above Alexander!
    I have not studied Phyrrus. Was it a Greek writer who rated him above Hannibal?

    Worsham, you have certainly done it again with your thoughtful poll questions!
    Thank you for the time you spend on them(and us).


  • 2017 '16 '15

    gotta go with the short guy although manstein would be runner up


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017

    Good morning, Herr Wittmann!

    There are no contemporary accounts, and the only source seems to be Plutarch, who relates to Hannibal’s ranking twice - and contradicts himself in doing so.

    From Life of Flaminius:
    It is related that they met again in Ephesus, and that as they walked together Hannibal took the place of honour, while Africanus walked contentedly beside him. Their conversation turned upon great generals, and when Hannibal stated his opinion that the best of generals was Alexander, next to him Pyrrhus, and next himself, Scipio, with a quiet smile, asked him: “What would you have said, if I had not conquered you?” “In that case, Scipio,” answered Hannibal, “I should not have reckoned myself third but first of generals.”

    From Life of Pyrrhus:
    Hannibal, however, considered Pyrrhus to have been the first general that ever lived for skill and resource, placing Scipio next, and himself third, as is written in the Life of Scipio.

    The text of Plutarch’s Life of Scipio has not survived.

    Pyrrhus was a formidable commander, who caused the Romans great trouble when he invaded Southern Italy. Today, he’s primarily remembered for his “pyrrhic victory”, but that was, after all, still a victory.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017

    @barney:

    gotta go with the short guy although manstein would be runner up

    The “short guy” (I’m assuming you’re referring to Napoleon here) may have been short for modern standards, but was of average height for the early 1800’s.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    Thanks Herr KaLeun.
    Life of Scipio eh!
    As a proud(arrogant) Italian I presume a fellow one ( ok Roman) would have no qualms about blowing his own trumpet. The Roman people loved a winner. Having saif that, Hannibal was probably just as vain, but I still like to think his assumed humility in the story is true and he gets my vote every time.
    Despite Old Bony’s fabulous military exploits, as an adopted Englishman, I just can’t consider him. I admit I have always avoided French victories and French exploits.
    Whenever I playNapoleonic  games, I have to play the other side.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017

    Vive la France!

    Anyway, it may please you to know that in earlier topic (not sure whether it was a poll) on who was the greatest general ever, my choice was Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington.


  • 2017 '16 '13 '12

    Napoleon had a record of putting larger armies on the rout, with an ancient version of the Blitzkrieg involving rapid troop movement, deception and coordinated use of the cavalry, artillery and infantry.

    Excellent tactics, but the grand strategy was not optimal (although all the monarchies of Europe wanted republican France contained anyway, not much he could do)


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    Groß Admiral Karl Dönitz for loosing the most men on one Battlefield then any other in any other Battlefield during WW II. Worldwide.

    And

    General Lord Cornwallis for loosing a whole Continent.


  • '12

    @aequitas:

    Groß Admiral Karl Dönitz for loosing the most men on one Battlefield then any other in any other Battlefield during WW II. Worldwide.

    I’m not sure how you came to this conclusion.  Donitz was only the ‘Grand Admiral’ from January 1943 on wards.  The German losses were 30, 000 dead in the battle of the Atlantic for the entire war.  Perhaps add another 10, 000 to cover the losses of other surface raiders and we have about 40, 000 dead over 6 years covering oceans.

    Compare that 6 year battle with a few other short battles.

    Battle of the Bulge, German casualties 100, 000

    Battle of Stalingrad, German casualties 800, 000

    But to be fair, if you lump all of the atlantic and 6 years into one battle, then compare that with the battle against Russia where 40, 000 died in a day a few times.  The battle at Kursk produced 170, 000 casualties and that was over in a day or two.

    Donitz got a bum rap!


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Moderator

    @Herr:

    Anyway, it may please you to know that in earlier topic (not sure whether it was a poll) on who was the greatest general ever, my choice was Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington.

    i have never studied any of his battles or campaigns. I would probably lean towards his being lucky to meet lesser opponents(the Peninsular) or Napoleon, when he was past his best.
    Am I too harsh?
    Nelson is another matter! He was in a league of his own


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    I don’t know most of the people listed in the poll well enough to pick one over the 15 others – but the answer would also depend on what “best” means in this contact.  Best war strategist?  Best battlefield tactician?  Best in terms of his personal character?  (Lee has been held in high esteem for his gentlemanliness, integrity and sense of honour, though he was also known for having a terrible temper which he struggled to control.  Rommel was no fan of Hitler, and seems to have been involved on the fringes of the anti-Nazi movement.  Yamamoto appears to have believed that it would be a mistake to go to war against the US, a country he knew well from personal experience.)  Best at handling the political elements of the war?  (This political question would apply differently to people like Charles XII and Napoleon Bonaparte, who were political leaders as well as generals, than it would to people like Lee and Yamamoto, who had to deal with high-level politicians without themselves holding political office.  There are some borderline cases too – such as Hinderburg and Ludendorff, who by the last years of the war were practically running Germany even though they were technically just military officers.)


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    @MrMalachiCrunch:

    Battle of the Bulge, German casualties 100, 000

    Battle of Stalingrad, German casualties 800, 000

    MrMalachiCrunch, I don´t know where you get your nbrs from, but I have to say they are totally off.


  • '12

    Casualties included wounded and missing in action not just dead.

    For Stalingrad:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Stalingrad#Casualties

    For the Bulge

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Bulge#Aftermath

    I look forward to reviewing your citations that differ widely  😉

    My point being that somebody in command of an entire theater of battle for a partial period of time that saw 30, 000 dead ought not to be in the same league as commanders of geographically small areas in which larger numbers of dead occurred in mere days for a losing battle or campaign.


  • '12

    but the answer would also depend on what “best” means in this

    Good point, I initially read this as meaning the best tactician or battlefield commander who lost.  Now I am thinking most gracious loser?  That opens up the door to a whole different selection.  General Lee perhaps?  Most French generals?    😛


  • 2019 2018 2017 '16

    „Die U-Boote wurden „Eiserne Särge“ genannt. Was man damals als „Blutzoll“ bezeichnete, _**die Verlustquote also, war bei den U-Boot-Männern so hoch wie bei keiner anderen Waffe. Von den 40.000 U-Boot-Männern sind 30.000 im Atlantik geblieben. Viele von ihnen waren noch nicht einmal Männer – in Wirklichkeit waren es halbe Kinder: Der gesamte U-Boot-Orlog war ein riesiger Kinderkreuzzug. Wir hatten 16jährige an Bord, gegen Kriegsende gab es 19jährige Leitende Ingenieure und 20jährige Kommandanten, in einer Art Schnellbrütverfahren frontreif gemacht, um auf eine der fürchterlichsten Weisen vom Leben zum Tode befördert zu werden. Ich habe mich immer dagegen gewehrt, daß es in Todesnachrichten von U-Boot-Fahrern hieß, sie seien gefallen. Sie sind abgesoffen, ersäuft wie überzählige Katzen im Sack.“

    – Lothar-Günther Buchheim

    RED Highlighted Meaning: the total numbers of lost men on a “SINGLE WEAPON” was higher then on any other WEAPON.
    I chosed the word Battlefield , since the Ocean`s had been their place they fought.

    According to Stalingrad the numbers are probably way more higher but Historicans still fighting over it.
    Anyway, since the Majority died because of the cold and starvation and not by Enemy fire , I would not consider it as a military history best loser.

    Battle of the Bulge Casualties:
    Die Verluste auf beiden Seiten waren enorm:
    ( German side) Die deutschen Verluste der Ardennenoffensive betrafen über 68.000 Mann. Die 5. PzArmee, 6. PzArmee, 7. Armee erlitten insgesamt 10.749 Tote (K.I.A.), 22.388 Vermisste**(M.I.A.),** 35.169 Verwundete (Wounded).
    (Allied side) Demgegenüber betrugen die alliierten Verluste über 77.000 Mann. Die 1. US Armee verzeichnete 4.629 Tote**(K.I.A.),** 12.176 Vermisste (M.I.A), 23.152 Verwundete ( Wounded), die 3. US Armee 3.778 Tote (K.I.A.), 8.729 Vermisste (M.I.A.), 23.017 Verwundete (Wounded)und das im Norden tangierte XXX. Brit. Korps 200 Tote(K.I.A.), 239 Vermisste (M.I.A.), 969 Verwundete (Wounded).

    I accept your opinion MrMalachiCrunch and we agree to disagree.**_


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017

    @wittmann:

    @Herr:

    Anyway, it may please you to know that in earlier topic (not sure whether it was a poll) on who was the greatest general ever, my choice was Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington.

    i have never studied any of his battles or campaigns. I would probably lean towards his being lucky to meet lesser opponents(the Peninsular) or Napoleon, when he was past his best.
    Am I too harsh?
    Nelson is another matter! He was in a league of his own

    I have to concede that I’m not much of an expert myself. But Wellington’s overall battle record is very good, and well, “lesser opponents”, I don’t know…. it’s rare for truly great generals to meet in battle anyway.

    I’ve since been searching the web for a bit, and maybe I have to revise my opinion. Perhaps Khalid ibn al-Walid was the greatest, or perhaps Tran Hung Dao. But it’s extremely difficult, and probably not particularly useful, to try and make such comparisons anyway.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    @aequitas:

    Groß Admiral Karl Dönitz for loosing the most men on one Battlefield then any other in any other Battlefield during WW II. Worldwide.

    And

    General Lord Cornwallis for loosing a whole Continent.

    You’re wrong on 2 counts Aequitas.

    Canada exists today.  It’s more than HALF of the North American Continent, that Cornwallis ‘didn’t’ lose.


  • 2017 '16 '15 Organizer '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    yea but it’s the wrong half. The half where its’ always cold, few resources, French, and full of complainers…

    So Cornwallis did lose.


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