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Portraits - Military leaders

Military leaders have often been at the forefront of events throughout history. They have defined and defended borders since ancient times. An impressive early military commander shown in historical pictures was Alexander the Great, who conquered much of the Middle East, spreading Hellenistic culture from Macedonia to Egypt and as far east as India. He defeated the great Persian army of Darius II as well as other forces. Historical pictures of ancient Greek military heroes are succeeded by those of the Roman Empire military, notably Julius Caesar and the great Carthaginian general Hannibal, best known for crossing the Alps to make a surprise attack on the Roman army. Another military opponent of Rome, Pyrrhus, is remembered by the term "pyrrhic victory," stemming from his victory while incurring such heavy losses it ultimately meant the defeat of his cause.

After the decline of Rome, Europe was in a power vacuum with no central authority. In what is called the Norman Conquest, William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066, the last successful invasion of England to this day. Medieval military leaders included those who conducted the Crusades, such as Richard the Lionhearted and the Muslim leader Saladin. During the late Middle Ages, the great French heroine Joan of Arc drove the English out of Orleans during the Hundred Years' War. Later, most of Europe was conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte, during a succession of campaigns of the French army called the Napoleonic Wars. As historical pictures show, Marshal Ney had to lead the French retreat from Russia after a bitter winter struggle, thus ending the spread of the French Empire. The finale of the Napoleonic Wars was Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo by the Engllsh army under the Duke of Wellington in 1815.

In American military history, scenes of Revolutionary War generals feature George Washington, Henry Knox, Nathanael Greene, Anthony Wayne, Benjamin Lincoln, and the Swamp Fox, Frances Marion. European officers involved in the battles include America's French allies, the Marquis de Lafayette and the Count de Rochambeau, along with portraits of Polish heroes Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski, and the great Prussian drillmaster Baron Friedrich von Steuben. Notable British generals shown in historical pictures include Charles Cornwallis, William Howe, and Henry Clinton. The American traitor Benedict Arnold is among other famous participants in the American military effort, also including Molly Pitcher, Ethan Allen, Paul Revere, and Nathan Hale, shown in action as well as historical portraits.

As shown in historical pictures, US Civil War officers feature great generals from both sides. Confederate soldiers were led by Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, J.E.B. Stuart, John Bell Hood, and others. Leading Union forces were these generals: Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, George Meade, and George McClellan. Later 19th-century American military officers seen in historical pictures include Indian fighters George Armstrong Custer and George Crook.

Naval commanders prominent in historical pictures include Francis Drake, John Hawkins, John Paul Jones, Oliver Hazard Perry, Matthew Perry, David Glasgow Farragut, and many other notable captains. In maritime history, scenes of pirates are popular, especially Blackbeard, or Edward Teach. Other seafarers who were important include early navigators like Leif Ericsson, Vasco da Gama, Christopher Columbus, Ferdinand Magellan, Joao Rodriguez Cabrillo who discovered California by sea in 1542, and James Cook.

Spanish conquistadors such as Hernando Cortes, Francisco Pizarro, Juan Ponce de Leon, and Hernando de Soto were followed by the great French explorers, including Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, and the team of Marquette and Joliet. Some other great explorers during the Age of Discovery were Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Henry Hudson, and Amerigo Vespucci, shown in historical pictures. Special mention must be made of Arctic and Antarctic expedition leaders Vitus Bering, Sir John Franklin, Elisha Kent Kane, Carsten Borchgrevink, Roald Amundsen, and Robert Peary. American expedition leaders and western pathfinders of special note are Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery and General John C. Fremont. On a different continent, explorers of subsaharan Africa include the intrepid Sir Richard Burton, David Livingston, Henry Stanley, and John Hanning Speke.

Native American military leaders organized tribal alliances and rallied their people against European colonial incursions and American settlers. Particularly noteworthy are historical pictures of King Philip, Chief Pontiac, Chief Black Hawk, Tecumseh, Osceola, Chief Joseph, Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Geronimo, as well as the Inca leader Atahualpa and the Aztec emperor Cuauhtemoc.


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