Weird History

The Most Important Military Leaders In US History 

Mike Rothschild
Originally by
Updated October 8, 2019 53.9k votes 5.2k voters 82.1k views 61 items

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.
list ordered by
1
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 67 (1732-1799) from Virginia, United States of America
George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the ...more
2
George S. Patton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 60 (1885-1945) from San Gabriel, California
George Smith Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a General of the United States Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean theater of World War II, and the ...more
3
Ulysses S. Grant is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 63 (1822-1885) from Point Pleasant, Ohio, United States of America
Ulysses S. Grant (born Hiram Ulysses Grant; April 27, 1822 – July 23, 1885) was an American soldier, politician, and international statesman who served as the 18th president of the United States ...more
4
Dwight D. Eisenhower is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 79 (1890-1969) from Denison, Texas, United States of America
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower ( EYE-zən-how-ər; October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) was an American army general and statesman who served as the 34th president of the United States from ...more
5
Chester W. Nimitz is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Chester W. Nimitz Dec. at 81 (1885-1966) from Fredericksburg, Texas, United States of America
Chester William Nimitz, Sr. (; February 24, 1885 – February 20, 1966) 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 ...more
6
George Marshall is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 79 (1880-1959) from Uniontown, Pennsylvania, United States of America
George Catlett Marshall Jr. (December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American soldier and statesman. He rose through the United States Army to become Chief of Staff under presidents ...more
7
William Tecumseh Sherman... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 71 (1820-1891) from Lancaster, Ohio
William Tecumseh Sherman (February 8, 1820 – February 14, 1891) was an American soldier, businessman, educator, and author. He served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War ...more
8
Robert E. Lee is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
slaft added Dec. at 63 (1807-1870) from Stratford Hall, Virginia
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 ...more
9
John J. Pershing is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 88 (1860-1948) from Laclede, Missouri
General of the Armies John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing (September 13, 1860 – July 15, 1948) was a senior United States Army officer. His most famous post was when he served as the ...more
10
Omar Bradley is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Omar Bradley Dec. at 88 (1893-1981) from Clark, Missouri, United States of America
General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893 – April 8, 1981) was a senior officer of the United States Army during and after World War II. Bradley was the first Chairman of the ...more
11
William Halsey, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 77 (1882-1959) from Elizabeth, New Jersey
Fleet Admiral William Frederick Halsey Jr., KBE (October 30, 1882 – August 16, 1959), known as Bill Halsey or "Bull" Halsey, was an American admiral in the United States Navy during ...more
12
Douglas MacArthur is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 84 (1880-1964) from Little Rock, Arkansas, United States of America
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (January 26, 1880 – April 5, 1964) was an American five-star general and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. He was Chief of Staff of the United States ...more
13
Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr. ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 78 (1934-2012) from Trenton, New Jersey, United States of America
Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Jr. (; August 22, 1934 – December 27, 2012) was a United States Army General. While serving as the commander of United States Central Command, he led all coalition ...more
14
Andrew Jackson is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
RobLein added Dec. at 78 (1767-1845) from Waxhaws
Led U.S. troops to victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812.
15
Theodore Roosevelt is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
RobLein added Dec. at 61 (1858-1919) from Manhattan, New York City, New York, United States of America
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.
16
Henry H. Arnold is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 64 (1886-1950) from Gladwyne, Pennsylvania
Henry Harley "Hap" Arnold (June 25, 1886 – January 15, 1950) was an American general officer holding the ranks of General of the Army and General of the Air Force. Arnold was an ...more
17
David Farragut is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 69 (1801-1870) from Farragut, Tennessee
David Glasgow Farragut (also spelled Glascoe; July 5, 1801 – August 14, 1870) was a flag officer of the United States Navy during the American Civil War. He was the first rear admiral, vice ...more
18
Stonewall Jackson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
icoachfb added Dec. at 39 (1824-1863) from Clarksburg, West Virginia
Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (January 21, 1824 – May 10, 1863) served as a Confederate general (1861–1863) during the American Civil War, and became one of the best-known ...more
19
Nathanael Greene is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
grady-edward-loy added Dec. at 44 (1742-1786) from Potowomut, Rhode Island
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.
 
20
Winfield Scott is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 80 (1786-1866) from Virginia, United States of America
Winfield Scott (June 13, 1786 – May 29, 1866) was an American military commander and political candidate. He served as a general in the United States Army from 1814 to 1861, taking part in the ...more
21
John Paul Jones is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
RobLein added John Paul Jones Dec. at 45 (1747-1792) from Kirkcudbrightshire, United Kingdom
Best-known naval leader for the U.S. in the Revolutionary War.
22
Philip Sheridan is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 57 (1831-1888) from Albany, New York
Philip Henry Sheridan (March 6, 1831 – August 5, 1888) 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 ...more
23
Matthew Ridgway is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 98 (1895-1993) from Fort Monroe, Hampton, Virginia
General Matthew Bunker Ridgway (March 3, 1895 – July 26, 1993) was a senior officer in the United States Army, who served as Supreme Allied Commander Europe (1952–1953) and the 19th Chief of ...more
24
Chesty Puller is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Nathan Simcox added Dec. at 73 (1898-1971) from West Point, Virginia
Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller (June 26, 1898 – October 11, 1971) was a United States Marine Corps officer. Beginning his career fighting guerillas in Haiti and Nicaragua as part of the ...more
25
Curtis LeMay is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Important Military Leaders In US History
Dec. at 84 (1906-1990) from Columbus, Ohio, United States of America
Curtis Emerson LeMay (November 15, 1906 – October 1, 1990)is credited with designing and implementing an effective, but also controversial, systematic strategic bombing campaign in the Pacific ...more