The greatest pair of generals who faced each other in battle?

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LordTempest

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A blemish on an otherwise stellar record?
Was it so stellar? What were the great Tokugawa victories, and perhaps more to the point, how does one define or quantify good generalship?

Take the Battle of Sekigahara, Tokugawa's most obvious candidate for great battlefield victory. Where at Sekigahara did Tokugawa display the sorts of skills one typically associates with great generalship? Where on the Battlefield did he outfox and outmaneuver Mitsunari? He didn't, on the contrary he marched his troops straight into an enemy trap. Where on the battlefield did he display an innovative grasp of tactics or use of weaponry? Not at Sekigahara. If Ieyasu ever did such a thing it would have been at Nagashino, where he was under the command of Nobunaga.

The answer of course is nowhere, because Sekigahara was a battle won off the field through political skill rather than on it through battlefield acumen. Mitsunari outfoxed himself in alienating Toyotomi generals like Kobayakawa Hideaki long before the conflict and then granting them considerable commissions at Sekigahara; Ieyasu skilfully exploited this animosity and coaxed them into defecting. Mitsunari sowed distrust in powerful Toyotomi retainers like the Mouri; Ieyasu exploited this discord again in convincing Mouri to stay put and wait the battle out. Had he not done so, or if either man had changed their mind at the last minute, the trap Mitsunari had set for the Tokugawa forces would have closed and Tokugawa would have likely lost the battle decisively. These are not displays of great generalship; they are displays of great diplomacy and politics, and those were the arenas in which Tokugawa excelled.
 

DarthJF

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Was it so stellar? What were the great Tokugawa victories, and perhaps more to the point, how does one define or quantify good generalship?
I'd say his career was pretty stellar. It's true Tokugawa suffered defeats against Takeda, but Takeda always had clear superiority in those encounters. Though all evidence does point to Shingen being the better tactician.

Where I rank Tokugawa highly is in his campaigning skill. In the Komaki campaign he scored several tactical victories against Hideyoshi's much larger force and managed to manoeuvre him into a stalemate. Given that Hideyoshi roflstomped pretty much everyone else he went up against, that was no mean feat.

If you compare Tokugawa and Takeda, Takeda was almost certainly the better battlefield commander who could win brilliant victories, but he never really achieved much in his campaigns. So it comes down to what you want to emphasise with generalship.
 
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LordTempest

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Where I rank Tokugawa highly is in his campaigning skill. In the Komaki campaign he scored several tactical victories against Hideyoshi's much larger force and managed to manoeuvre him into a stalemate. Given that Hideyoshi roflstomped pretty much everyone else he went up against, that was no mean feat.
Perhaps, but Ieyasu had the advantage of siting out Yamazaki and Shizugatake whereas Hideyoshi obviously did not. I think it's important to bear in mind that Hideyoshi had been fighting consecutive campaigns since Nobunaga's death against his various successors for about two years now and this obviously was an enormous factor in Hideyoshi's desire to settle. I also don't think it's right to ignore Oda Nobukatsu's role here: the Komaki-Nagakute Campaign was ostensibly about Ieyasu backing his claim to succession after all, and once he made peace with Hideyoshi Ieyasu had little reason to continue the war.

And all this is avoiding the fact that Ieyasu received an incredible stroke of luck at Nagakute with Mori Nagayoshi dying so early in the battle, even if he only had himself to blame for that.
 
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demanvanwezel

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I'd say bayezid vs tamerlane at ankara was a battle between 2 leaders who'd shown their prowess earlier
 
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Kilrain

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Robert E. Lee and...dammit... :mad:
 

bz249

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Guderian and Rommel... they fought really hard with each other over resources. Alternatively if naval leaders are allowed Raeder and Donitz. Or Raeder and Goring about whom the Naval Air Arm should belong.
 
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Le Jones

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Given that we're near the 18th of June, Wellington v Napoleon...
 

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Sir George Pearce and Bazza king of the emus. The great Australian emu war.
 

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William Tecumseh Sherman and Joseph E. Johnson.

Johnson maybe was not a great general but the bromance these two shared to their last days made me admire him. The greatness of a man is not always defined by his heroic deeds.
 
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demanvanwezel

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Napoleon and Wellington comes to mind first.
I really think the world would be better off without waterloo, I think it'd make the british a bit less insuferable
the british like to make a good show out of the napoleonic wars with them absolutely trashing napoleon in spain while the truth is more "the spanish throwed the french out of spain while we and the portugese threw them out of portugal but then the french came back and we had to hopelessly forcemarch our way out (moore's march out spain is like napoleon's march out of russia but one is seen as a miserable defeat and the other as a miraculous win snatched from the jaws of defeat) but we aided the spanish in halting them in andalusia but then the french threw us back to lisbon and then we and the spanish threw them back to madrid after napoleon withdrew a heap of men for his russian campaign but then they threw us back to the portugese border but then we managed to defeat the french and actually enter france proper"
"napoleon surrendered no doubt awed at our armies ability to defeat tens of thousand of men"
and in the meanwhile in germany they're fighting battles with half a million men

edit: after thinking about it that's not even the worst of the bunch
the people that treat waterloo as some sort of final battle irk me the most, if napoleon had won at waterloo then the british and the dutch would've lost their army, in the meantime blucher could link up with the rest of the prussian army, and the austrians and the russians and all of the other germans to beat napoleon, in the meanwhile the piemontais and austrians are sightseeing lyon and the spanish and portugese are re-invigorating the bourdeaux economy via tourism
also to certain indivuals out there: there was no rotschild messenger informing the king of a defeat at waterloo, furthermore a defeat at waterloo wouldn't mean the end of the british colonial empire and as such wouldn't cause the kingdom to put all the gold under the rotschilds which somehow will put all the american gold reserves under the rotschilds
I'm a bit pushing on this point because those were the main points of a popular youtube video at the time, but then again they won't believe me since I'm a reptilian, duh!
 
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LatinKaiser

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InvisibleBison

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Given that people have been waging war for about three times as long as they've been writing things down, I think it's quite probable that the greatest two generals to face each other in battle will never be known.
 

Geriander

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Given that people have been waging war for about three times as long as they've been writing things down, I think it's quite probable that the greatest two generals to face each other in battle will never be known.
I doub’t it. Generals, like any professionals, stand on the shoulders of giants. The experience of others is always going to be greater than what you can gain by yourself and writing is by far superior to word of mouth in transfering that experience.
 
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loup99

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Given that people have been waging war for about three times as long as they've been writing things down, I think it's quite probable that the greatest two generals to face each other in battle will never be known.
Depends on how you define war, or more precisely "battle". If you have two organised armies facing each other in a battle, each defending a specific side with military hierarchy, then wouldn't that situate things around the period of the first signs of writing that have been found? Three times seems like an excessive proportion. If a minor skirmish, an individual robbery or the pillaging of a house is a "war" or a "battle", then you might have a point. In that case we don't have the generals however.
 

LordTempest

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I really think the world would be better off without waterloo, I think it'd make the british a bit less insuferable
Nah, our real mistake was signing up to the Treaty of London.
 

Avernite

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Nah, our real mistake was signing up to the Treaty of London.
Shouldn't that be the treaty of the eighteen articles as the real mistake?
 

LordTempest

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Shouldn't that be the treaty of the eighteen articles as the real mistake?
I don't believe we ever signed it. We were however party to the ToL, unfortunately.