Grand generals of History
Throughout history, tens of generals have reached fame. Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, George Washington... however, today I´m going to show you the success of some generals that most of the people don´t know about...
Flavius Aetius, “the last of the Romans”
|Flavius Aetius depicted in marble|
Probably you don´t know him, however Aetius is one of the most important general not only of the Roman Empire, but of history. He defended the Western Roman Empire against different barbaric tribes such as the Huns, the Burgundians or the Visigoths.
But he will be always remembered because of his victory against Attila, the king of the Huns, in the battle of the Catalaunian Plains.
Also, he fought in Spain and Italy (especially in this last one, where he defeated the Huns once and for all).
|The troops of Aetius described in a medieval book|
He was known because of the order he followed during battles. The vanguard was formed by relatively weak troops (usually recruited among the barbaric tribes) and the rearguard was formed by the true Roman army, which used to finish off the enemy after the offensive of the vanguard.
Flavius Aetius died in 454 when the Western Roman Emperor, Valentinian III, assassinated him thinking that Aetius wanted to reclaim the Roman throne.
|Belisarius depicted in a mosaic|
Belisarius was a Byzantine general whose success is almost forgotten by our society. But despite his situation in our books, he is recognised by the historians as one of the greatest generals ever.
He defeated the Vandals in North Africa, the Ostrogoths in Italy and the Sassanid Empire in today´s Iraq. And thanks to his actions the Byzantine Empire was able to invade southern Spain and Armenia.
The victories of Belisarius were always heroic because normally he had fewer resources than his enemies, especially in his campaign of Italy, where the almost complete absence of imperial support forced him to adopt defensive strategies against the Ostrogoths.
|A Byzantine picture depicting the troops of Belisarius|
The tactics of Belisarius were very modern for his time. He started to use advanced cavalry, which gradually would became the nucleus of the Byzantine army, and was almost obsessed with the idea of an agile army.
Belisarius died in 565 after defending Constantinople against the Bulgars in 559 and having restored the glory of the Roman Empire. Unfortunately, the territories which Belisarius conquered wouldn´t last so much time.
Gustav II Adolf of Sweden, “the lion of the north”
|Gustav II Adolf|
Gustav II Adolf is considered as one of the greatest kings of Swedish history. He led Sweden to the supremacy in northern Europe by defeating Poland and the Holy Roman Empire (a confederation of kingdoms in modern day Germany).
At first, he defeated Poland because he wanted Sweden to dominate the entire Baltic Sea. Poland didn´t offer so much resistance because of the superiority of the Swedish troops, which won even after the arrival of German troops.
|Gustav II Adolf and his army landing in Germany|
After that, Gustav II Adolf had a walk through Germany. Despite the efforts of the Holy Roman Empire and its powerful allies (such as Austria or Spain), the Swedish army won most of the battles and occupied large areas of modern day Germany.
The armies of Gustav II Adolf were successful because of the moral of the troops. In the army of Gustav there wasn´t any privileges for anyone. The cavalry, the infantry and the artillery were in the same conditions, not like in other countries (like Spain) where the cavalry used to be the elite.
Gustav II Adolf died in 1632 during the battle of Lützen. He charged against the enemy but was surrounded by them; he died fighting in the first line. During that same battle, when the Swedish troops knew that their king was dead, they charged furiously against the imperial troops, winning the last battle of Gustav II Adolf.
Erwin Rommel, “the desert Fox”
|Erwin Rommel in his personal tank|
And we end with the general who is considered as the best field marshal of the Second World War. Rommel is known because of his African campaign, leading the Afrika Korps, but Erwin Rommel did much more than this.
He fought in the First World War, where he used to execute risky but successful movements against the enemy trenches. Rommel fought in France, Romania and Italy during that conflict.
Before the Second World War, Rommel was appointed as the commander of the Hitler´s personal guard. The Nazi leader, following the desires of Rommel, created a Panzer division for Erwin and sent it to France in 1940, where Rommel´s division achieved a number of very important victories against the Allies by using the famous Blitzkrieg strategy.
|The Afrika Korps advancing in Libya|
In 1941, Rommel was sent to Libya to organise the weak Italian troops. Knowing that these troops wouldn´t defeat the British, Germany went into action and Rommel received an army to defeat the British dominions. He almost conquered North Africa, but the lack of supplies from Europe forced Rommel to retreat and finally capitulate..
His last battle was in Normandy, where he couldn´t stop the Allie offensive because Hitler refused to move the French divisions.
Rommel was famous not only because of the agility of his army, but also because he refused to kill innocent people. Rommel didn´t believe in the anti-Semitic convictions of the Nazi party, something palpable in his own army, where there was not only German soldiers but also soldiers from North Africa, India or Italy. The moral of his troops was also high because Rommel used to be in the first line observing the battlefield by himself, and talking to his soldiers to know the situation of the troops.