Category Ancient World\’s Commanders

Why is Carl von Clausewitz known as a philosopher of war?

           Carl Von Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war. He entered the Prussian army in 1792. Clausewitz became one of the leaders of Prussian army reform, but later resigned from the Prussian army and entered Russian service.

            Clausewitz distinguished himself as a Russian staff officer. After several successful campaigns, he returned to Prussian service, and served as chief of staff of an army corps during the Waterloo campaign. In 1818, he became a general and was appointed administrative head of the War College.

             During the next 12 years, Clausewitz used much of the leisure that this position provided in writing his historical studies and his major work on strategy, ‘On War’. It is on this that his fame rests. He left his imprint on German military thought, and became known as a ‘philosopher of war’.  

Why were Napoleon Bonaparte’s military achievements remarkable?

             Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the world’s greatest military leaders, and Emperor of France. He was a complex man, who at the start of his career was constructive, and took France to new heights of power, but by the end, had brought her years of war and destruction.

             In 1796, Napoleon was made commander of the French army in Italy, where he forced Austria and its allies to come to the negotiating table. Two years later, he conquered Ottoman-ruled Egypt. In1799, Napoleon became first Consul when the existing government in France was overthrown. In 1803, Britain resumed war with France, later joined by Russia and Austria. Britain inflicted a naval defeat on the French, so Napoleon abandoned plans to invade England. However, he continued his conquests that gave him control of Europe.


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Why is Horatio Nelson a national hero in Britain?

               Horatio Nelson was a British naval commander and national hero, famous for his naval victories against the French during the Napoleonic Wars. When Britain entered the French Revolutionary Wars in 1793, Nelson was given command of the Agamemnon. He served in the Mediterranean, helped capture Corsica, and saw battle at Calvi, where he lost the sight in his right eye. He would later lose his right arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.

               Nelson led his fleet to many victories against the Spanish off Cape Vincent in 1797. At the Battle of Copenhagen, four years later, he ignored orders to cease action by putting his telescope to his blind eye and claiming he couldn’t see the signal to withdraw! Nelson’s most famous engagement was at Cape Trafalgar, where he saved Britain from the threat of invasion by Napoleon. He was killed by a French sniper a few hours later, while leading the attack. Is it any wonder that he is considered one of the world’s greatest naval leaders? 

Why Benedict Arnold is considered both a hero and a traitor?

            Benedict Arnold was a military hero for both sides in the same war between Britain and the Americans. He began his career as an American Patriot in May 1775, and led the brigade that captured Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. Arnold’s heroics continued in September, when he led an expedition of 1,150 riflemen against Quebec, the capital of British Canada. Even though the effort ended in disaster, he fought bravely and honourably. For the next five years, Arnold served the Patriots side with distinction in one battle after another. No general was more imaginative than Arnold, no field officer more daring, no soldier more courageous.

             Yet Arnold has gone down in history not as a hero, but as a military traitor who, as commander of the American fort at West Point, New York, in 1780, schemed to hand it over to the British. Why did he do this? It is said that after so many sacrifices, he became disillusioned with the war’s progress. Perhaps even more important, he grew deeply mistrustful of the cause’s civilian leaders and, ultimately, Arnold himself felt betrayed. He began to feel that British rule would perhaps be best for his country but the fact is that he will be remembered as both a hero and a traitor to his country!


Why was Simon Bolivar known as ‘The Liberator’?

             Simon Bolivar was a patriot, statesman and liberator of five South American republics. His life was dedicated to the independence of the then Spanish colonies, and the dream of Latin American unity.

             In 1810, he fought against the Spanish during a revolt in Venezuela and was forced to flee the country. Bolivar again invaded Venezuela again in 1817. He established a revolutionary government at Angostura, and he was elected president of Venezuela. In 1819, Bolivar’s army defeated the Spanish at Boyaca. Several months later, he became president of the newly formed republic of Colombia, consisting of Venezuela and New Granada.

            In 1824, Bolivar led the revolutionary forces of Peru in their fight for independence. He was elected president of Peru in 1825, and later organized in Southern Peru a new republic, which was named Bolivia in his honour. Today he is known as ‘The Liberator’ His integrity, high morals, and perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds have made him a role model for many. 

Why is George Washington a national hero in the United States of America?

George Washington was the first President of the United States of America. He served as President from April 30th, 1789, until March 4th, 1797. As a young man, Washington joined the Virginia militia. After many heroic battles, Washington became a colonel, and the leader of Virginia’s militia. In the American Revolutionary War between Britain and her colonies in America, Washington was unanimously named Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army. He led them to significant victories, such as the capture of Boston along with major defeats, including the loss of New York City. However, Washington’s moral strength kept the American army in a fighting mood, despite many trials and setbacks.

On July 4th, 1776 the United States government published the Declaration of Independence, but the war continued. However, by 1781, the United States had won several big battles. In October, the English army surrendered to George Washington. That was the end of the Revolutionary War, and Washington, who was immensely popular as a war hero, was an obvious choice as the first President of the United States of America. 

Why does Robert Clive occupy an important position in both Indian and British history?

           The young Robert Clive was an uncontrollable teenager who terrorized the people of his hometown in Britain. Finally, Clive’s long-suffering father could stand no more, and the young man was packed off to India, at the age of 17, as a clerk in the East India Company in Madras. In 1746, Madras was captured by the French, and Clive and several others escaped to Fort St. George, 20 miles away. Here he joined the East India Company’s private army, and found his role in life-that of soldier, imperial statesman and politician.

           Clive quickly began to build a reputation for courage and skill in battle in the wars against the French. With a force of just 200 Europeans and 300 native soldiers, backed up with a handful of guns, Clive took the central fort of Argot, and proceeded to hold it against all the odds. His exploits won him the name Sabut Jung, or ‘the daring in war’.

            Later, Clive became Lieutenant Colonel and Deputy Governor of Fort St. David. He was involved in several key battles. One was the battle of Calcutta in February 1757.This inspired a series of victories that led to the decisive win at the Battle of Plassey-a battle that strengthened British control of India. Thus, Robert Clive had almost single-handedly secured the beginning of the British Empire, and brought about the unique mix between British and Indian cultures. 

Why is Jean Baptiste de Gribeauval credited with revolutionizing the French artillery?

            Jean Baptiste de Gribeauval was a French military officer and engineer, whose developments of French artillery contributed to the brilliant military successes of Napoleon in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He joined the French army in 1732, and was promoted to the rank of officer within three years. During the Seven Years’ War, which lasted from 1756 until 1763, Gribeauval was attached to the Austrian army as a general of artillery. Returning to France as a lieutenant general, he attempted to use the knowledge he had gained in Austria to improve his country’s obsolete artillery system.

             In 1776, Gribeauval was assigned to the position of general of artillery. He trained younger officers, including Napoleon Bonaparte, and was able to implement his artillery reforms on a broad scale. He also introduced many reforms that made the French army a leader in the use of artillery. 

How did Peter the Great make Russia a major European power?

Peter the Great was a very capable Russian emperor, who possessed exceptional abilities as a statesman, organizer, and reformer. He engineered a series of reforms that put Russia among the major European powers. Peter opened Russia to the west. He invited the best European engineers, shipbuilders, architects, craftsmen and merchants to come to Russia. Hundreds of Russians were sent to Europe to get the best education, and learn different arts and crafts.

One of Peter’s main goals was to regain access to the Baltic Sea and Baltic trade. In 1700, he started the Northern War with Sweden, which lasted for 21 years. In the course of the war, St. Petersburg was founded. In this war, Russia was victorious, and conquered the vast lands on the Baltic Coast. Russia gained access to European trade. St Petersburg became her major sea port, and Peter made it his capital.

Peter was an experienced army officer, navy admiral, and a skilful shipbuilder. It has to be said that Peter was also very cruel. Several coup attempts against him ended with mass executions. Nevertheless, Peter’s personality and massive reforms have inspired generations of historians, writers, and ordinary people.

Why was Maurice of Nassau a respected military figure?

            Maurice of Nassau was a Dutch general and statesman. In 1585, he was made the chief executive of the northern provinces of the Netherlands. Maurice consolidated the power of the provinces against Spain, and made them trade and shipping centres. Under his guidance, the power and wealth of the republic rapidly increased, and the Dutch East India Company was formed.

            Maurice used military planning and siege warfare to defeat Spanish forces. He made the Dutch army the most modern in Europe. He created a system of proper military training for officers, particularly in the technical branches. On the death of his elder brother Philip William, in 1618, Maurice became the Prince of Orange. He was now supreme in the state, and effectively the King of the Netherlands.