The first president of the United States crossed a frozen river – on Christmas Eve – to bring war to the Hessian forces stationed in Trenton, NJ. The sneak attack was a blazing success. He not only killed a bunch of British oppressors, he stole the survivor's food and blankets. It was a much needed shot in the arm for the beleaguered (and freezing) troops.
George S. Patton
His big personality, hard-charging attitude and vulgarity-peppered public statements made him something of a superstar in the US during WW2 – and even the German High Command had enormous respect for him. He participated in campaigns all over Europe during the war.. He died from complications of a car accident on December 21, 1945.
John Joseph Pershing
General Pershing made his name as the commander of the American Expeditionary Force on the Western Front in WW1. He believed that all of Germany had to be occupied led to some decisions that others questioned, like sending 600,000 men into battle for 47 days straight. But in the end, he was part of the victory in WW1. He was the only general in his own lifetime promoted to the General of the Armies rank – the highest possible rank in the United States army.
Dwight D Eisenhower
During World War One, Eisenhower trained troops for the tank corps and the brigade he was training was under the command of General George S Patton. The two became good friends, possibly because they were exact opposites. Where Patton was loud and brash, Eisenhower kept his own council. And while Patton was an amazing general, Eisenhower was probably a more strategic and intellectual general. Five days after Pearl Harbor was bombed, he was back in the midst war. Within three years he was Supreme Allied Commander. His battlefield successes alone would have made him a legend – but he went on to become President, cementing his legacy in American history.
In 1991, "Stormin' Norman" drove Saddam Hussain's forces from Kuwait in a lightening-quick operation known as Operation Desert Storm. Deploying troops behind enemy lines and then rounding them into the welcome arms of Americans earned him – and the US – a good victory. "Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy."