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The Most Important Military Leaders In US History

Updated October 8, 2019 61.5k votes 5.6k voters 86.0k 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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  • George Washington1
    2,186
    521

    George Washington

    Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)
    George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the...  more
  • Ulysses S. Grant2
    1,901
    626

    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
  • Chester W. Nimitz3
    1,412
    457

    Chester W. Nimitz

    Dec. at 81 (1885-1966)
    Chester William Nimitz, Sr. (; February 24, 1885 – February 20, 1966) was a fleet admiral of...  more
  • George S. Patton4
    2,122
    749

    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
  • George Marshall5
    1,357
    476

    George Marshall

    Dec. at 79 (1880-1959)
    George Catlett Marshall Jr. (December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American soldier and...  more
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower6
    1,816
    662

    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
  • William Tecumseh Sherman7
    1,401
    558

    William Tecumseh Sherman

    Dec. at 71 (1820-1891)
    William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891) was an American soldier,...  more
  • John J. Pershing8
    1,113
    472

    John J. Pershing

    Dec. at 88 (1860-1948)
    General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing (September 13, 1860 – July 15, 1948)...  more
  • Omar Bradley9
    1,159
    545

    Omar Bradley

    Dec. at 88 (1893-1981)
    General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893 – April 8, 1981) was a senior...  more
  • William Halsey, Jr.10
    884
    401

    William Halsey, Jr.

    Dec. at 77 (1882-1959)
    Fleet Admiral William Frederick Halsey Jr., KBE (October 30, 1882 – August 16, 1959), known as...  more
  • Robert E. Lee11
    1,919
    943

    Robert E. Lee

    Dec. at 63 (1807-1870)
    Robert Edward Lee was an American soldier best known for commanding the Confederate Army of...  more
  • David Farragut12
    540
    270

    David Farragut

    Dec. at 69 (1801-1870)
    David Glasgow Farragut (also spelled Glascoe; July 5, 1801 – August 14, 1870) was a flag...  more
  • Raymond A. Spruance13
    591
    165

    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
  • Henry H. Arnold14
    634
    285

    Henry H. Arnold

    Dec. at 64 (1886-1950)
    Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold (June 25, 1886 – January 15, 1950) was an American general officer...  more
  • Nathanael Greene15
    880
    284

    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.
     
  • Chesty Puller16
    781
    247

    Chesty Puller

    Dec. at 73 (1898-1971)
    Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller (June 26, 1898 – October 11, 1971) was a United States Marine...  more
  • Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.17
    1,035
    609

    Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.

    Dec. at 78 (1934-2012)
    Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. (; August 22, 1934 – December 27, 2012) was a United States...  more
  • Andrew Jackson18
    961
    549

    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.
  • Douglas MacArthur19
    1,416
    861

    Douglas MacArthur

    Dec. at 84 (1880-1964)
    General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (January 26, 1880 – April 5, 1964) was an American...  more
  • Matthew Ridgway20
    531
    274

    Matthew Ridgway

    Dec. at 98 (1895-1993)
    General Matthew Bunker Ridgway (March 3, 1895 – July 26, 1993) was a senior officer in the...  more
  • John Paul Jones21
    864
    319

    John Paul Jones

    Dec. at 45 (1747-1792)
    Best-known naval leader for the U.S. in the Revolutionary War.
  • Philip Sheridan22
    569
    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
  • Stonewall Jackson23
    1,373
    578

    Stonewall Jackson

    Dec. at 39 (1824-1863)
    Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824 – May 10, 1863) served as a Confederate...  more
  • Winfield Scott24
    643
    430

    Winfield Scott

    Dec. at 80 (1786-1866)
    Winfield Scott (June 13, 1786 – May 29, 1866) was an American military commander and political...  more
  • Theodore Roosevelt25
    947
    642

    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.