Which commanders have been most loved/hated by their men?

Judging history’s generals purely by how popular they were with their men, who would we rank in the top and bottom ten? I know what you’re thinking - anyone known as a great general is on the top, the bunglers on the bottom but that doesn’t seem quite so. Martinets hated by their men can still be great leaders and those too soft and popular could lead to disaster on the battlefield.

So who are the most notable Real Life examples of A Father To His Men and who are the General Failures/We Have Reserves?

In the Civil War Robert E. Lee seems to have been almost universally admired, even by his enemies. World War 2 has a lot of examples - Omar Bradley had a reputation as a solid ‘soldier’s general’ who would get the job done with maximum use of American tech and minimum loss of GIs; a trait definitely shared with Eisenhower. Montgomery, despite his spectacular failures in Holland and across the Rhine also had the admiration of his men as despite his ego he did his best not to get them killed.

On the other side of it…I think any officers who had a whiff of ‘Custer Syndrome’ about them; after the glory no matter the cost would be none too popular. The World War II Marshall Zhukov was one of the best generals in the war, but his men were terrified by him and with good reason.

What other examples are there of generals notable for their popularity with the enlisted men, or lack thereof?

Captain Bligh.

Admiral Hyman Rickover.

Oh, and one who was pretty much universally loved by his fellow Marines: LTG Lewis “Chesty” Puller, probably the most decorated Marine in the history of the Corps.

General George Patton.

Charles Vere Ferrers Townshend was beloved by his men before and during the Mesopotamian Campaign of WWI in 1916. After the campaign failed and his men discovered what a lying incompetent sleaze he was, they hated him.

The most obvious incident was after the army was captured, Townsend was taken to a Turkish island where he had his own villa and yacht and had receptions in his honor at the Turkish court. Meanwhile, his men were kept in Turkish prisons that made the one in Midnight Express seem like a resort.

Here’s what Wikipedia says about the surrender:

You didn’t specify but I’ve heard Patton was greatly disliked if not hated by the soldiers who served under him. He was a martinet over petty rules - the scene in the movie where he chewed out a doctor for not being in uniform is factual.

And more importantly there was his propensity for the attack. While these attacks often succeeded, they produced casualties. Many of his soldiers felt they were being thrown into unnecessary attacks so that Patton could make the headlines. They would have been happier with less flashy tactics that might have taken a little longer but would have produced fewer casualties.

FWIW, My father was a WW2 infantryman in the Pacific Theater, so he didn’t serve under Patton. He did however pretty much spit whenever Patton’s name was mentioned. Felt that Patton caused unnecessary casualties and made wounded unfit men go into combat.

The Duke of Wellington said Napoleon’s presence on the battlefield was worth 40,000 soldiers.

It’s never good when you’re trying to rally your troops in the midst of debacle and call out “Here is your general!”, only to have them yell back “Here is your mule!”.

Which is what happened to Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg at Missionary Ridge.*

*He was also the target of the cry “Bully for Bragg, he’s hell on retreat”.

Loved or hated?

It is no wonder that his best-known nickname was “Old Blood and Guts”. Even though many of the third army soldiers did mourn his passing and many felt proud of serving under him, many of his soldiers used to say at that nickname: “Yeah. His guts. Our blood”

Marshal Ney.

I suspect Patton didn’t gain the admiration of his men for Task Force Baum, a raid into Germany for the purpose of rescuing his son in law, a spectacular failure.


(http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_S._Patton#Quotes_about_Patton) probably sums him up best;
“I always admired Patton. Oh, sure, the stupid bastard was crazy. He was insane. He thought he was living in the Dark Ages. Soldiers were peasants to him. I didn’t like that attitude, but I certainly respected his theories and the techniques he used to get his men out of their foxholes.” - Bill Mauldin, in The Brass Ring (1971)

That said he was one of the Allies best generals, in that he wasn’t paralysed by concern about his flanks. Even Stalin (!) admired his push across France. Although Patton’s statements about the Russians also call into question whether he was altogether sane (as was asking his Chief Chaplain for ‘good prayers for weather’).

My last Battalion Commander once said something about volunteering us to go in first for any mission that came up.

Yup, I knew if we went to war with that dumbshit I was gonna die.

Fortunately, it didn’t come to that.

Weren’t Admirals Halsey and Mitscher beloved by their sailors? I love the ‘ice cream line’ story about Halsey.

It’s worth noting that of the five divisions that took highest number of casualties in Europe in World War II - the 4th, the 29th, the 90th, the 30th, and the 80th (in order) - all except the 30th were under Patton’s command.

Bernard Montgomery certainly felt that his men loved him. He said, “my hat is worth three divisions. The men see it in the distance. They say, ‘There’s Monty’, and then they will fight anybody.” I’m not sure how true that was, though.

I’ll inject a minor hijack to note that I found this article very interesting:

The article mentions some earlier, better generals including Omar Bradley.

He was probably the most arrogant commander in that entire conflict, stirring up considerable bad blood with American commanders, believing that he had mastered the art of war and they were, at best, enthusiastic amateurs. After he outrageously overplayed British, or rather his own, contribution to the Battle of the Bulge Churchill had to smooth things over.

Eisenhower showed considerable restraint not telling him to shape up or shit out. After the war Eisenhower privately opined that Monty was a “psychopath” incapable of admitting fault. Monty said of Eisenhower “Nice chap. No soldier.” That said he was the best the British had as well as hailed as a national hero.

On a similar note, Frederick ‘Boy’ Browning was apparently none too liked as many thought the purpose of Market Garden was to get him a KBE (which he did get), he screwed over the Poles and famously coined the incredibly stupid term “bridge too far” - even though the operation could only succeed if all bridges were captured. Otherwise men had died for a pointless strip of road that led nowhere, which is what happened.

FFS, the man was able to (anecdotally) turn the troops who were sent out to capture him during the 100 Days to his side. He was a goddamn force of nature. :eek:

Not quite sure on whom we can pin certain Soviet tactics in WWII–human wave attacks, the infamous blocking units who would shoot retreating troops, and penal battalions, but they’re basically “We Have Reserves” illustrated. (And, indeed the Soviets did.)