History’s Most Influential American Military Leaders
1. George Washington (1732-1799) – A farmer, adventurer, and Commander in Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, Washington was the first President of the United States and the only one to win unanimously. The Washington Monument is one of the most recognizable memorials of American History, beside the one dollar bill.
2. George Catlett Marshall (1880-1959) – From the halls of a military academy bloomed this American Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, and Chairmen of the Red Cross. Marshall was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “The Marshall Plan,” which helped rebuild Europe after WWII. A bronze bust of Marshall stands in a floral plaza in Uniontown, PA.
3. Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) - Ike was Chief of Staff during the Pearl Harbor attack and President during the Civil Rights Movement. Having federal troops protect black high school students at a previously all-white school earned him praise and protest. A bronze monument to Eisenhower looks over Washington’s National Statuary Hall Collection.
4. Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) - The youngest Divisional Commander in the field at WWI’s end, MacArthur would become the American Army’s Chief of Staff and Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in the Pacific during WWII. His tomb rests in the MacArthur Memorial Museum.
5. Winfield Scott Hancock (1786-1866) – Serving during the Mexican American War and the Civil War, Hancock was instrumental in the Union’s victory at Gettysburg. He was said to be the best corps leader of the time, and was narrowly defeated for the Presidency by James Garfield. The massive Hancock Equestrian Memorial is located in Cumberland PA.
6. Ulysses Simpson Grant (1822-1885) – Earning respect during the Mexican American War, Ulysses commanded volunteer troops during the Civil War and quickly rose to General-in-Chief. He would become a controversial President, never as comfortable in the Oval office as the field of battle. His memorial is an impressive bronze bust of horses, cannons, and brave soldiers.
7. Alfred Thayer Mahan (1840-1914) – This writer, historian, and Maritime Admiral gave 40 years of service to the Navy. He was President of the Naval War College in RI and the American History Association. His books on Military and commercial sea power would change the course of WWII. Various oil paintings of Mahan leave us vivid memorials of his life.
8. John Joseph Pershing (1860-1948) – As a Jr. Officer, Pershing fought in the last skirmishes with the Apache and Sioux. He maneuvered into Mexico to defeat Poncho Villa and was responsible for organizing an ill-prepared American Army into two-million-strong war machine during WWI. A classic statue of Pershing stands in Pershing Park, Washington DC.
9. Chester William Nimitz (1885-1966) – A Fleet Admiral in the US Navy, Nimitz commanded countless warships and was Lieutenant Commander of several submarines. He would later become Commander in Chief, U.S. Fleet. The Admiral Nimitz Foundation was established to support the Admiral Nimitz Center, a museum honoring Nimitz, and others who fought during the Pacific War.
10. Henry Harley Arnold (1886-1950) – “Hap,” was originally taught to fly by the Wright Brothers, and would forever be an American Aviator. He was a five star rank General of the Army and Air Force, the first and only officer ever to do so. His headstone is small, but appropriately nestled among those of his comrades.
11. David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870) – A naval Man, Farragut was said to have commanded his first vessel at twelve years old. He fought valiantly for the Union during the Civil War as Vice Admiral of several war ships. His memorial is one of the many artful renderings in Madison Square Park, NY.
12. George Dewey (1837-1917) – Dewey’s brilliant naval career took him from Midshipmen to Admiral of the American Navy, the only man to ever hold this position. He earned many commendations for distinguished conduct in combat. A modest memorial to Dewey stands in Manhattan’s Battery Conservancy.
13. George S. Patton (1885-1945) – Patton served with the US Tank Corps in WWI, an Army General with particular success in tank warfare. His standards of strict discipline and self-sacrifice earned him much devotion amongst his troops, who called him “Old Blood and Guts.” A stoic statue of Patton stands before the George Patton Museum in Riverside CA.
14. Robert E Lee (1807-1870) - Lee was a Captain in the US Army during the Mexican American War, and Colonel of the first US Calvary. When offered the command of troops heading into Virginia during the succession, he refused, electing to support his state in their endeavor. His memorial at Gettysburg is a glorious rendering of Lee, his steed, and a collection of brave soldiers.
15. Thomas Jonathan (Stonewall) Jackson (1851-1861) – Jackson was a professor of natural and experimental philosophy and an instructor of artillery tactics at the Virginia Military Institute. He served the US Army during the Mexican American War but, like Robert E Lee, took up arms to defend the choices of his fellow Virginians during the Civil War. An impressive monument to Jackson stands in Fredericksburg, VA.
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