George Washington declared Britain's most outstanding military opponent
Contest also lists Michael Collins, Napoleon Bonaparte
George Washington, hailed as the father of the United States, was voted
the winner in a short list of candidates as being Britain's most
outstanding military opponent. Washington was one of a shortlist of five
leaders who topped a public poll. Washington was selected as the
ultimate winner by an audience of around 70 guests at a special event at
the museum, in Chelsea, west London.
George Washington, hailed as the father of the United States, was voted the winner in a short list of candidates as being Britain's most outstanding military opponent.
In the contest, each contender had their case made by a historian giving a 40-minute presentation. The paying audience then voted in a secret ballot after all five presentations had been made.
"As British officers conceded, he was a worthy opponent," Dr. Stephen Brumwell, who had championed Washington, said. The initial list included 20 candidates, drawn up by the museum's curators.
Each commander had to come from the 17th century onwards, the period covered by the museum's collection and had to have led an army in the field against the British, thus excluding political enemies such as Adolf Hitler.
The contest was intended to not only identify Britain's most outstanding opponent, but also to draw attention to some lesser-known adversaries.
Most of the 20 fought in various colonial wars, such as Ntshingwayo kaMahole, the Zulu leader and victor of Isandlwana, one of the British army's greatest military defeats, and Tipu Sultan, known as the "Tiger of Mysore," who resisted British expansion in India.
Alongside Rommel, the only Second World War leader was Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Japanese commander who oversaw the fall of Singapore. The sole woman on the list was Rani of Jhansi, who fought British forces in nineteenth century India.
An online poll was launched in the middle of February, and around St. Patrick's Day. There was a surge in support for Michael Collins, although several people pointed out on the museum's Web site that, technically, the guerrilla leader never led an army on a battlefield.
The top five:
1. George Washington (1732-99), with 45 percent of the vote in the final round, guided the American rebels to victory over the British in the War of Independence. His leadership enabled him to hold together an army of secessionists from 13 different states and keep it in the field and ultimately prevail during the protracted struggle.
2. Michael Collins (1890-1922), with 21 percent, helped transform the Irish Republican Army into a powerful force which fought the British to a standstill in the Irish War of Independence, securing the separation of most of the island of Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.
3. Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), with 18 percent, emerged from the turmoil and terror of revolution to become France's greatest military commander, conquering much of Europe. His greatest victories were against other countries, but his final campaign, culminating in the Battle of Waterloo, tested the Duke of Wellington to the limit.
4. Erwin Rommel (1891-1944), with 10 percent, a decorated veteran of the First World War, he led the German "Blitzkrieg" of France in the Second World War before making his name battling British forces in North Africa, where he earned the nickname "Desert Fox."
5. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938),with 6 percent, fought a tenacious defensive campaign at Gallipoli in 1915 which forced the Allied invasion force to withdraw.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
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Keywords: Military opponents, England, George Washington, hisotry, opinion poll
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