Someone went and rewrote military history like Moneyball. The greatest generals in history were studied using sabermetric techniques used for baseball. It begins by contrasting the number of victories achieved by that general with a replacement general under identical conditions.
The list is unambiguous, but the math is challenging. There are only a few restrictions.
First, where is the source of all this information? Wikipedia was used by Arsht to assemble information on 3,580 wars and 6,619 generals, despite its shortcomings. He then created lists of key commanders, overall forces, and the result. The generals’ forces were divided into categories, and his tactical skill was weighted to determine if he had a numerical advantage or deficit. Ranking the general’s Wins Above Replacement score, or WAR score has a significant influence.
The general is given a weighted WAR score for each combat, with a lower value denoting a defeat. For instance, the French slightly outnumbered the Russians at the Battle of Borodino, which matched Napoleon against Russian General Mikhail Kutuzov. Therefore, Bonaparte received a WAR score of.49 according to the Arsht model, a different general would have had a 50% probability of succeeding in the conflict. Kutuzov receives a score of -.49 for Borodino, indicating that a replacement had a 51 percent probability of losing regardless.
Khalid Ibn al-Walid
During Al-siege, Anbar’s Khalid ibn al-Walid. Commons at Wikimedia
Khalid was a close friend of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and one of the most competent military commanders in the Islamic Empire. He helped spread Islam over the larger Middle East by being unbeaten in 14 engagements against the Sassanid Persians and the Byzantine Empire. His record outperforms even Frederick the Great when compared to others who engaged in comparable amounts of engagements.
Yes, as you could have realized by now, l’Empereur holds the top rank. Napoleon is not even close to being on par with the typical distribution curve generated by the data for these 6,000+ generals. He dominates the competition with a WAR score of more than 16 after 43 encounters. Napoleon is without a doubt the best tactical general of all time, and the math supports this.
Compared to Shingen or the Duke of Wellington, Caesar didn’t command as many battles, but his WAR score belies the degree of risk and cunning in his strategy on the field. Caesar, however, was unable to surpass Alexander’s per-battle WAR average.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
Being the one who decisively defeated the man dubbed “Master of Europe.” is a significant accomplishment. The Duke of Wellington, a former foe of Napoleon, oversaw 18 fights as well, although his WAR rating is far better than that of Takeda Shingen, his closest rival.
In feudal Japan, having one of the top military wits was a significant deal since it felt like everyone had one and being better than someone else may result in a duel challenge. The Tiger of Kai eventually won all 18 fights and ruled Japan.