- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008.
Here is my compilation. I left out Stonewall Jackson and Ulysses S. Grant because I can’t believe anyone thinks they have been neglected. Also, Smedley Butler, perhaps the most colorful Marine general ever, never commanded anything much as a general, so I didn’t even know where to put him on the list below, but feel free to vote for him if you like. It’s a free country, no thanks to former Confederate generals, who I have kept in the list below but with asterisks — yes, they were generals in U.S. history, but I don’t think they were American generals any more than Al Capone was an FBI agent.
So, who is the most underrated? My guess is that it will come down to O.P. Smith, Nathaniel Greene and George Thomas, with Thomas winning. You can post a comment or, if you are shy, send an e-mail to me at the address listed over to the right above my postage stamp photo. Pick one, ok?
Civil War (and Indian wars)
George S. Greene
Ranald S. MacKenzie
Patrick Cleburne (*Civil War, but Confederate-so probably not an American general)
Nathan Bedford Forrest (****mega-ditto)
James Longstreet (*)
Joseph Shelby (*)
World War I
World War II
Terry de la Mesa Allen
Holland M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith
Lucian K. Truscott
Elwood “Pete” Quesada
Now, which one of these nominees gets your vote for the most under-rated of them all? Please vote for just one.