I think you can make a strong case for Patton, who would certainly be my No. 3. Audacious, daring, an Olympic pentathlete, the Army’s Master of the Sword, Patton cut his teeth on Pershing’s pursuit of Pancho Villa, then fought in World War I before finding eternal glory in World War II. But Patton was never the army’s top commander, and was subordinate to Ike, who was general of the Army and supreme allied commander.I agree completely.
All Eisenhower did was save the world, so let’s put him at No. 2.
Which leaves Ulysses S. Grant. Please spare me the southern pride in Lee, who may have been a tactical genius but as a strategist was a loser. Lee lost to Meade at Gettysburg, the only time he tried to take the fight to the North. Lee’s reputation in part rests on his personal honor and his gallant-loser status.
Which leaves us with Grant.
Forget the world; Grant saved the Union by crushing Lee and the rebels through force of will and scorched-earth tactics. Like all great commanders, Grant understood that real victory came only when the opponent’s will to fight was destroyed; after he got finished with the Confederacy, “the South shall rise again” could never be more than a resentful slogan. Adopting the outlines of Scott’s strategy, Grant executed brilliantly, defeating the South along the Mississippi, then turning Sherman and Sheridan loose in the interior, making Appomattox inevitable. With Grant, there was no exit strategy, no accommodation, no negotiation, and no bipartisanship. Just total victory and unconditional surrender.
As president, too, he applied the same tactics to the defeated South, enforcing civil rights for blacks and crushing the Klan, aka the terrorist wing of the Democratic party.
In the midst of our own Cold Civil War, America could use a man like Grant again.
Monday, May 28, 2012
Michael Walsh, over at NRO's The Corner comments on a poll asking for America's best general.