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History, Reference, Research, and GrogTalk => Military (and other) History => Topic started by: Keunert on August 26, 2012, 08:01:15 AM

Title: History's greatest bad ass commanders
Post by: Keunert on August 26, 2012, 08:01:15 AM
After reading an unbelievable story of a famous general i never even heard about i think it would be great to start a thread on commanders that stood out for being incredible brave and stubborn. it doesn't matter if they are criminals, mass murderes or caring and good men, it's an outstanding bio that makes them worth to be posted here.
Title: Re: History's greatest bad ass commanders
Post by: Keunert on August 26, 2012, 08:10:53 AM
i will start with a modern one:


Konstantin Rokossovsky

Rokossovsky held senior commands until 1937, when he became caught up in Joseph Stalin's Great Purge and accused of being a Polish spy. His association with the cutting edge methods of Marshal Tukhachevsky may have been the real cause of his conflict with more traditional officers such as Semyon Budenny, who still favoured cavalry tactics, and whose policy disagreements with Tukhachevsky triggered the Great Purge of the Red Army, which resulted in the execution of the latter and many others.[7] Rokossovsky, however, survived.

It is reported that he escaped the fate of so many other officers caught up in the purge by proving to the court that the officer whom his accusers claimed had denounced him had been killed in 1920 during the civil war.[8] During interrogation under torture he lost nine teeth, had three ribs cracked, had his toes smashed with a hammer and all of his fingernails pulled out with pliers.[9] According to Alexander Solzhenitsyn he endured two mock shooting ceremonies where people were shot dead around him.[8]

In his famous "secret speech" of 1956, Nikita Khrushchev, when speaking on the subject of the purges, mentioned Rokossovsky, saying, "suffice it to say that those of them who managed to survive, despite severe tortures to which they were subjected in the prisons, have from the first war days shown themselves real patriots and heroically fought for the glory of the Fatherland.".[10]

^and after going through this he get's back into command again. and being a capable and successfully commander he was in charge of Operation Bagration and had to meet Stalin, the guy that took out his teeth, his fingernails...:

In a famous incident during the planning in 1944 of Operation Bagration, Rokossovsky disagreed with Stalin, who demanded in accordance with Soviet war practice a single break-through of the German frontline. Rokossovsky held firm in his argument for two points of break-through. Stalin ordered Rokossovsky to "go and think it over" three times, but every time he returned and gave the same answer "Two break-throughs, Comrade Stalin, two break-throughs." After the third time Stalin remained silent, but walked over to Rokossovsky and put a hand on his shoulder. A tense moment followed as the whole room waited for Stalin to rip the epaulette from Rokossovsky's shoulder; instead, Stalin said "Your confidence speaks for your sound judgement," and ordered the attack to go forward according to Rokossovsky's plan.[13] The battle was successful and Rokossovsky's reputation was assured. After crushing German Army Group Centre in Belarus, Rokossovsky's armies reached the east bank of the Vistula opposite Warsaw by mid-1944. For these victories he gained the rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union. Stalin once said: "I have no Suvorov, but Rokossovsky is my Bagration."

Wow! the guy had balls. in all the biographies i read from german generals, they were more or less just whining about Hitler. i do not remember one to stand up and convince the man... but the teethless Rokossovsky, fully knowing what Stalin could do stood up and did not give in.

another example:

In September 1941 Stalin personally appointed Rokossovsky to the command of 16th Army, which was the first Soviet army group composed entirely of soldiers serving in shtrafbats (Soviet penal battalions); Stalin reportedly viewed Rokossovsky, the former disgraced Gulag inmate who had barely escaped his imprisonment alive, as the perfect candidate to lead the brutal penal units, even going so far as to bemusedly comment on Rokossovsky's missing fingernails (pulled out by the NKVD torturers during his imprisonment) at the meeting where he was assigned his command. Rokossovsky's army was ordered to defend the approaches to Moscow, and was now under the direct command of General Georgy Zhukov, his former subordinate. The 16th Army (later renamed the 11th Guards Army) played a key role in the Battle of Moscow when it was deployed along the main axis of the German advance along the Volokolamsk Highway that was a central junction of the bitter fighting during the German winter offensive of 1941 (Operation Typhoon), as well as the subsequent Russian counter-attack of 1941 - 42. On November 18, during the desperate last-ditch efforts of the Wehrmacht to encircle Moscow in 1941, General Rokossovsky, his soldiers under heavy pressure from Hoepner's 4th Panzer Group, asked his immediate superior, Zhukov, if he could withdraw the 16th Army to more advantageous positions. Zhukov categorically refused. Rokossovsky went over Zhukov's head, and spoke directly to Marshal Boris Shaposhnikov, now Chief of the General Staff in Zhukov's place; reviewing the situation Shaposhnikov immediately ordered a withdrawal. Zhukov reacted at once. He revoked the order of the superior officer, and ordered Rokossovsky to hold the position. In the immediate aftermath, Rokossovsky's army was pushed aside and the 3rd and 4th Panzer Groups were able to gain strategically important positions north of Moscow, but this marked the high point of the German advance upon Moscow. Throughout Operation Typhoon, Rokossovsky's 16th army had taken the brunt of the German effort to capture Moscow.

All things Wiki
Title: Re: History's greatest bad ass commanders
Post by: besilarius on August 26, 2012, 07:11:36 PM
Cannot verify that this is all true, but had a professor of ancient history who told the story of Stilicho's lieutenant, Saros.
Both were germans who loyally fought for Rome in the late western empire.
The invading Ostrogoths were ravaging much of Italy, but Stilicho arranged a parley between himself and the Ostrogothic king.  Each could bring one aide, and Stilicho brought his subordinate, Saros.
They rode up to the parley site and found the entire Ostrogothic army waiting for them.  They couldn't flee, because there were too many of the enemy and they were too close.  Coolly, they dismounted and strode through the lines of the shocked, barbarian warriors.  Shocked at the demeanor of the two generals, the barbarians just sat shocked.
The Ostrogthic king was sitting on his horse, behind three lines of warriors, chuckling at the trick he had pulled, when he almost choked to see these two stride up and walk through the lines.
Immediately, Stilicho started to chide him for breaking his agreement, confounded by the cosmopolitan generals, the barbarian just sat in shock.
Doing the good cop/bad cop, Saros then said that for breaking his oath, the king should be hanged, Stilicho replied that he was sure it was just a misunderstanding. 
Finishing his chiding of the king, Stilicho then said he could leave in peace and stared the goth down, who thoroughly chastened turned his horse, and lead his army away!
Later, Saros was at Ravenna, sorrowfully drinking over the death of his brother.  The Ostrogoth king had treacherously had him slain, and Saros was seriously drinking himself into a stupor.
Then he heard the guards on the wall alert that gothic outriders were scouting the gate.
Well, Saros got angry.  The king had killed his brother.  Now he was raiding the city.  Why, Saros would kill the king.
He got on his horse, and rode out alone to find the king.
Seeing the scouts he yelled at them that he was coming to kill their king.
Well, the scouts went back and reported to their commander that Saros was coming fast to kill the king.
The officer went back to his general reporting that Saros was leading Romans to kill the king.
The general went back to the king and reported that the Roman army, under Saros, was approaching to destroy the goths.
The king decided his troops were too dispersed and ordered a retreat.
(Saros nearly killed his horse trying to catch up to the fleeing Goths.)

This was too much for the king.  Saros had shamed him too often, so he set a trap.
A spy reported that SAros and his unit of two hundred cavalry would patrol near a major road.  The king lined up his warriors in three lines and waited.
Saros and his unit came through and found the Ostrogoths in formation, hidden by a fold in the ground.
Knowing his men and horses couldn't outrun the lightly equipped barbs, Saros quickly harangued his men.
If they ran, they would all be rundown by the lighter enemy.  Their only hope was to kill the Ostrogothic king.
He then charged into the center of the goths.  His men hesitated, and then charge with him.
Once again, the king was chuckling at his success when Saros's men broke through the first line.
Then they broke through the second line.  The king stopped laughing.
Then a small number broke through the third line.   The king looked around for a quick escape route.
Saros and a handufl of followers got into the king's personal bodyguard before being cut down within yards of the king.

After all these years, I've probably got some details wrong, but he was a great paladin under Stilicho.