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The Most Important Military Leaders In US History

Updated October 8, 2019 61.9k votes 5.4k voters 83.8k views61 items

List RulesAmerican 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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  • 1
    George Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    2,201
    518

    George Washington

    Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)
    George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the... more on Wikipedia
  • 2
    Ulysses S. Grant is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,902
    618

    Ulysses S. Grant

    Dec. at 63 (1822-1885)
    Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was an American... more on Wikipedia
  • 3
    Chester W. Nimitz is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,429
    448

    Chester W. Nimitz

    Dec. at 81 (1885-1966)
    Chester William Nimitz, Sr. (; February 24, 1885 – February 20, 1966) was a fleet admiral of... more on Wikipedia
  • 4
    George S. Patton is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    2,125
    758

    George S. Patton

    Dec. at 60 (1885-1945)
    George Smith Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a General of the United... more on Wikipedia
  • 5
    George Marshall is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,359
    476

    George Marshall

    Dec. at 79 (1880-1959)
    George Catlett Marshall Jr. (December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American soldier and... more on Wikipedia
  • 6
    Dwight D. Eisenhower is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,822
    677

    Dwight D. Eisenhower

    Dec. at 79 (1890-1969)
    Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower ( EYE-zən-how-ər; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an... more on Wikipedia
  • 7
    William Tecumseh Sherman is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,404
    562

    William Tecumseh Sherman

    Dec. at 71 (1820-1891)
    William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891) was an American soldier,... more on Wikipedia
  • 8
    John J. Pershing is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,115
    475

    John J. Pershing

    Dec. at 88 (1860-1948)
    General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing (September 13, 1860 – July 15, 1948)... more on Wikipedia
  • 9
    Omar Bradley is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,172
    550

    Omar Bradley

    Dec. at 88 (1893-1981)
    General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893 – April 8, 1981) was a senior... more on Wikipedia
  • 10
    William Halsey, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    892
    403

    William Halsey, Jr.

    Dec. at 77 (1882-1959)
    Fleet Admiral William Frederick Halsey Jr., KBE (October 30, 1882 – August 16, 1959), known as... more on Wikipedia
  • 11
    Robert E. Lee is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,927
    941

    Robert E. Lee

    Dec. at 63 (1807-1870)
    Robert Edward Lee was an American soldier best known for commanding the Confederate Army of... more on Wikipedia
  • 12
    Raymond A. Spruance is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    583
    158

    Raymond A. Spruance

    Dec. at 83 (1886-1969)
    Raymond Ames Spruance (July 3, 1886 – December 13, 1969) was a United States Navy admiral in... more on Wikipedia
  • 13
    David Farragut is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    543
    271

    David Farragut

    Dec. at 69 (1801-1870)
    David Glasgow Farragut (also spelled Glascoe; July 5, 1801 – August 14, 1870) was a flag... more on Wikipedia
  • 14
    Henry H. Arnold is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    645
    291

    Henry H. Arnold

    Dec. at 64 (1886-1950)
    Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold (June 25, 1886 – January 15, 1950) was an American general officer... more on Wikipedia
  • 15
    Chesty Puller is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    778
    246

    Chesty Puller

    Dec. at 73 (1898-1971)
    Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller (June 26, 1898 – October 11, 1971) was a United States Marine... more on Wikipedia
  • 16
    Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,047
    617

    Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.

    Dec. at 78 (1934-2012)
    Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. (; August 22, 1934 – December 27, 2012) was a United States... more on Wikipedia
  • 17
    Nathanael Greene is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    874
    293

    Nathanael Greene

    Dec. 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.
     
  • 18
    Matthew Ridgway is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    538
    273

    Matthew Ridgway

    Dec. at 98 (1895-1993)
    General Matthew Bunker Ridgway (March 3, 1895 – July 26, 1993) was a senior officer in the... more on Wikipedia
  • 19
    Douglas MacArthur is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,410
    883

    Douglas MacArthur

    Dec. at 84 (1880-1964)
    General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (January 26, 1880 – April 5, 1964) was an American... more on Wikipedia
  • 20
    Andrew Jackson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    961
    564

    Andrew Jackson

    Dec. at 78 (1767-1845)
    Led U.S. troops to victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.
  • 21
    Philip Sheridan is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    574
    325

    Philip Sheridan

    Dec. at 57 (1831-1888)
    Philip Henry Sheridan (March 6, 1831 – August 5, 1888) was a career United States Army officer... more on Wikipedia
  • 22
    John Paul Jones is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    871
    330

    John Paul Jones

    Dec. at 45 (1747-1792)
    Best-known naval leader for the U.S. in the Revolutionary War.
  • 23
    Stonewall Jackson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    1,362
    586

    Stonewall Jackson

    Dec. at 39 (1824-1863)
    Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824 – May 10, 1863) served as a Confederate... more on Wikipedia
  • 24
    Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    976
    644

    Theodore Roosevelt

    Dec. 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.
  • 25
    Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de  is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
    465
    174
    Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (French: [maʁki də la... more on Wikipedia
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