DEFEATED: These are the 5 Worst U.S. Generals Who Ever Served

Michael Peck

Michael Peck

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DEFEATED: These are the 5 Worst U.S. Generals Who Ever Served

The American Civil War was a factory for producing bad generals such as Braxton Bragg and Ambrose Burnside.

It would be nice if all American generals were great. How might Vietnam or Iraq have turned out if a George Washington, a Ulysses Grant or a George Patton had been in command?

(This first appeared several years ago.) 

Alas, call it the laws of probability or just cosmic karma, but every nation produces bad generals as well as good ones—and America is no exception.

What is a bad general? Defining that is like defining a bad meal. Some would say that failure on the battlefield warrants censure. Others would say that it is not victory, but success in fulfilling a mission that counts.

But for whatever reason, some American commanders have lost the battle for history. Here are five of America's worst generals:

Horatio Gates:

Great generals have great talents, and usually egos and ambitions to match. Yet backstabbing your commander-in-chief in the middle of a war is taking ambition a little too far. A former British officer, Gates rose to fame as Continental Army commander during the momentous American defeat of a British army at Saratoga in 1777.

Many historians credit Benedict Arnold and others with being the real victors of Saratoga. Gates thought otherwise, and fancied himself a better commander than George Washington. It's not the first time that someone thought he was smarter than his boss. But Gates could have doomed the American Revolution.

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