National Army Museum logo

Enemy Commanders: Britain's Greatest FoesEnemy Commanders: Britain's Greatest Foes

18 comments

Javier Arroyo
2 March 2012, 4.12am

Completely understood the

Completely understood the concept of total war, politically and militarily, along with the creation of the citizen army, in the modern era. And, unlike the despotic Napoleon, trully breathed and lived by the tenets of democracy, the rule of law, and the rights of man. Gen. Washington was so intent in sending the redcoats back to their island kingdom that he fully embraced the last few words of the U.S. Declaration of Independence in support of the permanent indepenence: "...with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor." From the beggining there was no turning back; crushing the British forces was the only option.

p.s. I can't believe Nathaniel Greene did not make the list.

Robert de Vries
9 March 2012, 5.38pm

General George Washington's

General George Washington's campaigns resulting in the British surrender at Yorktown and the eventual loss of the American colonies was the greatest defeat of British arms. A large portion of the vast British Empire was lost forever.

George Barry
10 March 2012, 12.35am

Nothing succeeds like success

Nothing succeeds like success - and Washington was successful!

Colin Picker
10 March 2012, 5.14am

If one measures the greatest

If one measures the greatest foe by the ultimate loss to the UK, then clearly Washington is the victor. While he never won a serious battle against the British, his ability to keep the war going resulted in the loss of Britain's most important colonies, a loss never rivaled again through force of arms (the loss of India was perhaps a larger loss, but it was mostly done without bloodshed and outside the context of a war).

Clarke Harrison
10 March 2012, 8.31pm

I believe that the number of

I believe that the number of British troops surrendered at Yorktown was not exceeded until the surrender of the Singapore garrison to the Japanese in 1942.

George Barry
12 March 2012, 11.36pm

The remarks by Javier,

The remarks by Javier, Robert, Colin and Clarke sum up the essence of Washington's skill as a military commander. It was his skill as a general that made Washington the foremopst of America's founding fathers. Drafting the Declaration of Independence and Constitution would have only been symbolic gestures without the military might to back them up. Unlike the 'army' of Michael Collins (the current leader of the poll!) Washington's men met and defeated the British Army on the field of battle on a number of occasions - something which made transformed an independent United States from a dream to a reality. For all of these reasons Washington deserves to be in the final five. So, vote, vote, vote ....and then get your friends to vote, vote, vote!!!

Michael Lloyd
16 March 2012, 11.38am

Unlike many of the other

Unlike many of the other candidates (including Napoleon, surely one of the greatest generals in history) who were defeated in the end, Washington actually won. The others were a nuisance until they were defeated. Also, Washington cost Britain an empire: none of the others come close.

Frank T C
20 March 2012, 2.17am

The only true winner

The only true winner !!!!!!!!!

Gerry White
21 March 2012, 7.08pm

I agree 'Fabs' but how do you

I agree 'Fabs' but how do you translate yout comment into votes?

FRANK T C.
23 March 2012, 6.07pm

To Gerry White ;

To Gerry White ; democratically one vote at a time ?

Gerry White
27 March 2012, 4.23pm

Frank, ... I'm sorry of you

Frank, ... I'm sorry of you understood my post to be an exhortation to vote repeatedly! It is not, and in hindsight perhaps I should have used the 'vote' only once! What has occured in relation to what appears to have been a cyber attack in favour of Ataturk, is a disgrace. Additionally, the together with the large number of comments that display nationalistic sentiment as opposed to military analysis do not to just to the strategic or tactical flair of the individual leaders.I do however, feel that George Washington is most worthy of a place in the final five and should be represented by a suitable advocate on 14 April. Therefore, I may I urge those who sharme my views to vote for him ((democratically!)

Matt
6 April 2012, 5.24pm

I am very impressed with the

I am very impressed with the historical and well thought out discussion see in these posts. And not only because I am an American and cheering for our main founding father. (I didn't get to vote as I discovered this poll after the fact) It was a very interesting read. :) That fact that most of the posts in regards to Ataturk are nearly all in incomprehensible broken English or display outright Turkish nationalism leaves me to believe there was much outside "influence" in these polls. :/

Fabio Paolo Barbieri
20 April 2012, 5.06pm

Washington had one extra

Washington had one extra virtue that I don't see mentioned here. He knew when to give way, and could tell when someone else's plan was better than his own. Some of the greatest generals in history, such as Rommel and Bedford Forrest, suffered from an inability to collaborate; not Washington. That is in effect what led to victory. When the sudden appearance of De Grasse's French fleet off the American coast gave the allies an unexpected and probably unrepeatable strategic advantage, Washington proposed to use the limited and precious resource of Rochambeau's 5000 French soldiers to take New York City. Rochambeau argued that it made more sense to attack and destroy's Cornwallis' force at Yorktown, thus terminating the British ability to operate on the American mainland. Washington saw the sense in it, followed Rochambeau's plan - and the world was turned upside down, as the defeated British regulars were to sing.

GREGG S. SOTACK
14 May 2012, 6.11pm

I'm a descendant of Czech &

I'm a descendant of Czech & Slovak emigrants in the 1890s, & I agree that George W the 1st is the absolute correct choice, based on his ability to recognize & execute the 'strategic retreat' when appropriate (a lesson that, some 80-odd years later, Gen. Rob't E. Lee & his subordinates, Gens. James Longstreet & George Pickett apparently missed while at the Academy), and his character and general lack of concern for his own reputation. Let us not forget, tho' that in some ways, the British commitment to honor (as well as using outdated tactics) helped Dubya I.

I'm curious, tho' : why is William Wallace not on the list of nominees? (Oh, and please forgive any ignorance of British [or perhaps English], history that my question might reveal).

Paul Moore
26 June 2012, 5.35am

No doubt Washington's

No doubt Washington's leadership during the Revolutionary war led to a huge defeat for the British Empire and later had a major impact throughout Europe. It is remarkable that he kept the war alive for all those years until Yorktown only winning a couple of battles namely Trenton. He was a master of the retreat. I believe he was a better president than a general so that is saying something about his leadership. However in terms of just military abilities......... Washington over Napoleon... really.......

Roger
21 December 2012, 5.26pm

As an American its

As an American its interesting to see the NAMs take on Washy's leadership. He was not a soldier's soldier, and he made several important mistakes early on which if Howe had pressed his advantage in the battles around New York likely would have ended the war. This is particularly true of Long island. If Howe had pressed the attack there after his initial success the American works would have been carried. the memory of Bunker Hill saved the American cause. I think if Clinton or Cornwallis had been in charge in 1776 Washy would have been washed up! Still, he held our cause together and refused becoming a supreme autocrat which was his for the taking so he was the perfect Democrat in that sense.

Steve King
28 March 2013, 3.13pm

Washington spent much of the

Washington spent much of the war retreating or hiding from the British army but when he saw everything come together (the trapping of Cornwallis, the availability of the French fleet) that gave him his chance to win at Yorktown, he took it.
Britain might have saved itself a whole lot of trouble if only it had given Washington that regular army commission during the Seven Years War. What he considered to be that slur on his honor appears to have stayed with him.

Hans Dieter Ulrich
13 April 2014, 8.28pm

Washington won, against all

Washington won, against all odds and with the usual wartime mixture of effort, discipline, knowledge, luck and opportunity. His victory not only cost Great Britain an empire, but fundamentally shaped for the future how the British thought about themselves and their own role in the world - a revolution in the body politic that led to Britain's outlawing of slavery, the de-volution of colonial control that eventually led to the independence of those colonies and the emergence of a stronger and greater empire of intellectual leadership, commerce and an even greater military power which saved the world not once but twice. Washington also saw the need in making the peace to reconcile with your enemies and forge the greatest alliance between free peoples that the world has ever known. A great leader, soldier, president and even, in time, friend of England.

Add your comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

(By ticking this box you agree for your name and email address to be added to the National Army Museum's mailing list. You also accept the terms of the National Army Museum's Privacy Policy)

Please note: By submitting a comment you are agreeing to the terms laid out in the National Army Museum's Rules for User Comments. Any views expressed in user comments do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of the National Army Museum or its staff.