As Hitler saw increasing danger from the western Allies, he relied more on Admiral Karl D[odie]nitz to hold them off by submarine warfare. When that effort was blunted in 1943, he both supported the building of new types of submarines and geared strategy on the northern portion of the Eastern Front to protection of the Baltic area, where new submarines and crews could be run in. Enormous resources were also allocated to new weapons designed to destroy London. It was Hitler’s hope that the Germans could drive any Allied troops who landed in the west into the sea and then move substantial forces east in the interval before any second invasion. When this plan failed, Hitler turned to holding all ports as long as possible, to hamper Allied supply lines and to prepare for a counterstroke that would defeat the western Allies. This counterstroke, the Battle of the Bulge , would then provide the opportunity to move forces east after all.
We combed through 3,000 years of history to identify “standout” military commanders whose battlefield prowess, impact on the conduct of war in their respective eras, or significant contributions to the development of warfare helped create the world we live in today. Some leaders are best known for a single significant battle; Leonidas at Thermopylae and Alexander Nevsky at Lake Peipus fall into this category. Others on the list such as Alexander the Great and Napoleon are famous for their consistent excellence in numerous encounters and campaigns. Many of the “top 100” experienced war at the “sharp end” – Chesty Puller and Hal Moore are prime examples – while men like Helmuth von Moltke and Dwight Eisenhower directed operations from staff headquarters located far away from the fighting lines. Yet regardless of where these men commanded – whether on land, sea or in the air – each proved to the world that he was an extraordinary leader.