politics & history The Most Important Military Leaders In US History  

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List Rules American military leaders only. Vote based on their military leadership only, not other political achievements.

America's legendary military history is dotted with some of the greatest generals and admirals to ever put on a uniform. While there have been thousands of high-ranking U.S. Army generals and and military leaders in American history, only a few have truly changed the world with their bravery, intelligence, strategic planning ability, and the way they look wearing a uniform full of medals. Some of the best American generals are also the top military leaders in history. 


The army leaders and generals in the US Army on this list all either held the most important positions in the US military or were immortalized in the history books for their actions in war. To be a great US Army officer takes great courage and leadership. Who has had the most impact and led his men and women to historic triumphs? Leading the ranks of the army is no easy feat, but throughout army history, many great men have made a name for themselves.

Vote for who you think are the most important leaders from the United States Army, armed forces, and other military branches on this list, and vote down the ones you think might be a little overrated. And feel free to add generals and admirals who you feel were unfairly forgotten.

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George Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
George Washington Died at 67 (1732-1799) - George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United ...more

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+ - 377 125
George S. Patton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
George S. Patton Died at 60 (1885-1945) - George Smith Patton, Jr. was a United States Army general, who commanded the Seventh United States Army in the Mediterranean and European Theaters of World War II, but is best known for his leadership ...more

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+ - 341 123
Dwight D. Eisenhower is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dwight D. Eisenhower Died at 79 (1890-1969) - Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army during World War II and served as Supreme ...more

4
+ - 358 98
Robert E. Lee is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Robert E. Lee Died at 63 (1807-1870) - Robert Edward Lee was an American soldier best known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865. The son of Revolutionary ...more

5
+ - 328 98
Ulysses S. Grant is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Ulysses S. Grant Died at 63 (1822-1885) - Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States. As Commanding General, Grant worked closely with President Abraham Lincoln to lead the Union Army to victory over the Confederacy in the ...more

6
+ - 226 85
Chester W. Nimitz is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Chester W. Nimitz Died at 81 (1885-1966) - Chester William Nimitz was a fleet admiral of the United States Navy. He played a major role in the naval history of World War II as Commander in Chief, United States Pacific Fleet, for U.S. naval ...more

7
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George Marshall is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
George Marshall Died at 79 (1880-1959) - George Catlett Marshall, Jr. was an American soldier and statesman famous for his leadership roles during World War II and the Cold War. He was Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Secretary of ...more

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John J. Pershing is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
John J. Pershing Died at 88 (1860-1948) - John J. Pershing appeared in the 1942 film For Me and My Gal.

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+ - 223 85
William Tecumseh Sherman is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
William Tecumseh Sherman Died at 71 (1820-1891) - William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War, for which he received recognition for his ...more

10
+ - 249 106
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Theodore Roosevelt Died at 61 (1858-1919) - Led American troops, the Roughriders, up San Juan Hill for decisive victory. Was eventually awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, in 2001, for his actions.

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Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. Died at 78 (1934-2012) - H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. was a United States Army general. While serving as Commander-in-Chief, United States Central Command, he led all coalition forces in the Persian Gulf War. Born in Trenton, ...more

12
+ - 173 77
Andrew Jackson is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Andrew Jackson Died at 78 (1767-1845) - Led U.S. troops to victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.

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Stonewall Jackson is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Stonewall Jackson Died at 39 (1824-1863) - Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson was a Confederate general during the American Civil War, and the best-known Confederate commander after General Robert E. Lee. His military career ...more

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William Halsey, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
William Halsey, Jr. Died at 77 (1882-1959) - Fleet Admiral William Frederick Halsey Jr., GBE —known as Bill Halsey or "Bull" Halsey—was an American fleet admiral in the United States Navy. At the start of the War in the Pacific Halsey ...more

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John Paul Jones is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
John Paul Jones Died at 45 (1747-1792) - Best-known naval leader for the U.S. in the Revolutionary War.

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+ - 262 189
Douglas MacArthur is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Douglas MacArthur Died at 84 (1880-1964) - Douglas MacArthur was an American five-star general and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. He was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the ...more

17
+ - 139 53
Nathanael Greene is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Nathanael Greene Died at 44 (1742-1786) - Sent by Washington to replace Gates in the South and drive Cornwallis out of South Carolina.  He was called the Fighting Quaker and had been Washinton's Quartermaster. 

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+ - 110 67
Winfield Scott is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Winfield Scott Died at 80 (1786-1866) - Winfield Scott was a United States Army general, and unsuccessful presidential candidate of the Whig Party in 1852. Known as "Old Fuss and Feathers" and the "Grand Old Man of the ...more

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Omar Bradley is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Omar Bradley Died at 88 (1893-1981) - Omar Nelson "Brad" Bradley was a United States Army field commander in North Africa and Europe during World War II, and a General of the Army. From the Normandy landings through the end of ...more

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Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben Died at 64 (1730-1794) - Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand Steuben, also referred to as the Baron von Steuben, was a Prussian-born American military officer. He served as inspector general and Major General of the ...more

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Philip Sheridan is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Philip Sheridan Died at 57 (1831-1888) - Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with ...more

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+ - 109 56
Henry H. Arnold is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Henry H. Arnold Died at 64 (1886-1950) - Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold was an American general officer holding the grades of General of the Army and General of the Air Force. Arnold was an aviation pioneer, Chief of the Air Corps, ...more

23
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David Farragut is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
David Farragut Died at 69 (1801-1870) - David Glasgow Farragut was a flag officer of the United States Navy during the American Civil War. He was the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and admiral in the United States Navy. He is remembered ...more

24
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George Dewey is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
George Dewey Died at 80 (1837-1917) - George Dewey was Admiral of the Navy, the only person in U.S. history to have attained the rank. Admiral Dewey is best known for his victory at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish–American ...more

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Zachary Taylor is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Zachary Taylor Died at 66 (1784-1850) - Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States, serving from March 1849 until his death in July 1850. Before his presidency, Taylor was a career officer in the United States Army, rising ...more

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Matthew Ridgway is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Matthew Ridgway Died at 98 (1895-1993) - Matthew Bunker Ridgway was a United States Army general. He held several major commands and was most famous for resurrecting the United Nations war effort during the Korean War. Several historians ...more

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Oliver Hazard Perry is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Oliver Hazard Perry Died at 34 (1785-1819) - United States Navy Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry was an American naval commander, born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. He was the son of USN Captain Christopher Raymond Perry and Sarah Wallace ...more

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Winfield Scott Hancock is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Winfield Scott Hancock Died at 62 (1824-1886) - Winfield Scott Hancock was a career U.S. Army officer and the Democratic nominee for President of the United States in 1880. He served with distinction in the Army for four decades, including service ...more

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Curtis LeMay is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Curtis LeMay Died at 84 (1906-1990) - Curtis Emerson LeMay was a general in the United States Air Force and the vice presidential running mate of American Independent Party presidential candidate George Wallace in 1968. Curtis LeMay is ...more

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+ - 80 78
Horatio Gates is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Horatio Gates Died at 79 (1727-1806) - Horatio Lloyd Gates was a retired British soldier who served as an American general during the Revolutionary War. He took credit for the American victory in the Battles of Saratoga — a matter of ...more

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+ - 57 58
Carl Andrew Spaatz is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Carl Andrew Spaatz Died at 83 (1891-1974) - Carl Andrew "Tooey" Spaatz was an American World War II general and the first Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force.

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William Henry Harrison is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
William Henry Harrison Died at 68 (1773-1841) - William Henry Harrison was the ninth President of the United States, an American military officer and politician, and the last President born as a British subject. He was also the first president to ...more

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+ - 67 55
Joseph Stilwell is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Joseph Stilwell Died at 63 (1883-1946) - General Joseph Warren Stilwell was a United States Army four-star general known for service in the China Burma India Theater during World War II. His caustic personality was reflected in the nickname ...more

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+ - 98 125
Colin Powell is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Colin Powell age 80 - Colin Luther Powell is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving under U.S. President George W. Bush ...more

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+ - 63 72
Mark W. Clark is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Mark W. Clark Died at 88 (1896-1984) - Mark Wayne Clark (May 1, 1896 – April 17, 1984) was an American general during World War II and the Korean War and was the youngest lieutenant general (three-star general) in the U.S. Army.

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+ - 41 47
William Westmoreland is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
William Westmoreland Died at 91 (1914-2005) - William Childs Westmoreland was a United States Army four-star general. General Westmoreland was in command of all US military operations in the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1968, including during the ...more

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+ - 61 55
Ernest King is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Ernest King Died at 78 (1878-1956) - Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King was Commander in Chief, United States Fleet and Chief of Naval Operations during World War II. As COMINCH-CNO, he directed the United States Navy's operations, ...more

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+ - 59 53
Alexander Vandegrift is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Alexander Vandegrift Died at 86 (1887-1973) - General Alexander Archer Vandegrift, USMC was a General in the United States Marine Corps. He commanded the 1st Marine Division to victory in its first ground offensive of World War II, the Battle of ...more

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+ - 63 58
Creighton Abrams is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Creighton Abrams Died at 60 (1914-1974) - Creighton Williams Abrams, Jr. was a United States Army general who commanded military operations in the Vietnam War from 1968–72. He served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army from 1972 until ...more

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+ - 16 6
Chesty Puller is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Chesty Puller Died at 73 (1898-1971) - Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller was a United States Marine Corps lieutenant general and one of the most decorated members of the Marine Corps. Puller is one of two servicemen to ever be ...more

41
+ - 1 0
Free Gift Card Codes Here →htt... is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
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+ - 42 57
John William Vessey, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
John William Vessey, Jr. age 93 - John William Vessey, Jr. is a retired United States Army general. He served as the tenth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from June 18, 1982 to September 30, 1985. When he retired in 1985 at the ...more

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+ - 39 55
Courtney Hodges is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Courtney Hodges Died at 79 (1887-1966) - General Courtney Hicks Hodges was an American military officer, most prominent for his role in World War II, in which he commanded the First United States Army in Northwest Europe. In his career ...more

44
+ - 47 66
Maxwell D. Taylor is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Maxwell D. Taylor Died at 86 (1901-1987) - General Maxwell Davenport "Max" Taylor was a United States Army four star general and diplomat of the mid-20th century, who served as the fifth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff after ...more

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+ - 36 70
George Custer is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History

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+ - 32 51
William Campbell is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
William Campbell d. at 36 (1745 - 1781) Virginia Militia colonel greatly relied on by Governor Thomas Jefferson, victorious or effective in Point Pleasant, summer campaign i in the n NC 1780, Cherokee campaigns, King's Mountain, Guilford Courthouse.

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+ - 49 74
Charles Lee is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Charles Lee Died at 57 (1758-1815) - Charles Lee was an American lawyer from Virginia. He served as United States Attorney General from 1795 until 1801 and Secretary of State ad interim from May 13, 1800 to June 5, 1800. Charles was born ...more

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J. Lawton Collins is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
J. Lawton Collins Died at 91 (1896-1987) - Joseph "Lightning Joe" Lawton Collins was Army Chief of Staff during the Korean War. During World War II, he was an Army general, serving in both the Pacific and European Theaters of ...more

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Wesley Clark is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Wesley Clark age 72 - Wesley Kanne Clark, Sr. is a retired General of the United States Army. He graduated as valedictorian of the class of 1966 at West Point and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to the University of ...more