Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The most underrated general in American history: You be the judge

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 ...

nps.gov
nps.gov
nps.gov

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?

And now, here are the academy's nominees:

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?

And now, here are the academy’s nominees:

Revolutionary War
Nathaniel Greene

Mexican War
Winfield Scott

Civil War (and Indian wars)
George Crook
Abner Doubleday
George S. Greene
Ben Grierson
Henry Halleck
Daniel McCallum
Ranald S. MacKenzie
John Reynolds
George Thomas

Patrick Cleburne (*Civil War, but Confederate-so probably not an American general)
Nathan Bedford Forrest (****mega-ditto)
James Longstreet (*)
Joseph Shelby (*)

Spanish-American War
Henry Lawton

World War I
Fox Conner

World War II
Frank Andrews
Terry de la Mesa Allen
Frederick Castle
Bruce Clarke
Benjamin Davis
Robert Eichelberger
Robert Frederick
Roy Geiger
George Kenney
George Marshall
Maurice Rose
William Simpson
Holland M. “Howlin’ Mad” Smith
Lucian K. Truscott
Elwood “Pete” Quesada
Alexander Vandegrift

Korean War
Matthew Ridgway
O.P. Smith

Vietnam War
William DePuy
Elizabeth Hoisington

Post-Vietnam rebuilding
Donn Starry

Gulf War
Fred Franks
Gordon Sullivan

Iraq/Afghanistan Wars
(No nominees)

Now, which one of these nominees gets your vote for the most under-rated of them all? Please vote for just one.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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