Second Choice: Noted Commanders Who Wanted to be Something Else
People often end up in careers quite different from those
which they had intended to pursue. Some find
their chosen profession too crowded, or perhaps paying less than they anticipated,
or even just much less interesting once they actually came to practice it, or
may be unable to secure the necessary training and education, And then, of course, war may interfere.
A surprising number of fairly notable commanders actually
started out wanting to be something other than warriors, such as the generals
and admirals noted here, a list that is hardly definitive.
|Italo Balbo (1896-1940)|| Italy|| Journalist|
|Henry Bohlen (1810-1862)|| US|| Liquor salesman|
|Lewis H. Brereton.(1890-1967)|| US|| Naval Officer|
|Guillaume Brune (1763-1815)|| France|| Attorney|
|Semyon Budyonny (1883-1973)|| USSR|| Farmer|
|Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658)|| England|| Gentleman Farmer|
|José Porfirio Díaz (1830-1915)|| Mexico|| Priest|
|Joseph Francois Dupleix (1697-1763)|| France|| Civil Servant|
|Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)|| US|| Naval Officer|
|Baldomero Espartero (1793-1879)|| Spain|| Priest|
|Jose Estigarribia (1888-1940)|| Paraguay|| Farmer|
|Francisco Franco (1892-1975)|| Spain|| Naval Officer|
|John D.P. French (1852-1925)|| Britain|| Naval Officer|
|Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882)|| Italy|| Sea Captain|
|Vo Nguyen Giap (1910-1981)|| Vietnam|| History Teacher |
|Nathanael Greene (1742-1786)|| US|| Blacksmith|
|Benjamin Grierson (1826-1911)|| US|| Music Teacher |
|Ernesto 'Che' Guevara (1928-1967)|| Cuba|| Physician|
|Antoine Henri Jomini (1779-1869)|| France|| Banker|
|Henry Knox (1750-1806)|| US|| Bookseller|
|Jean Lannes (1769-1809)|| France|| Dyer|
|M.E.P.M. MacMahon (1808-1893)|| France|| Priest|
|Mao Tse-tung (1893-76)|| China|| Librarian|
|Helmuth von Moltke (1800-1891)|| Prussia|| History Professor|
|Joachim Murat (1767-1815)|| France|| Priest|
|John J. Pershing (1860-1948)|| US|| Teacher|
|Israel Putnam (1718-1790)|| US|| Tavern Keeper |
|Gonzalo Queipo de Llano (1875-1951)|| Spain|| Priest|
|William R. Robertson (1860-1933)|| Britain|| Domestic Servant|
|Konstantin Rokossovskiy (1896-1968)|| USSR|| Stonemason|
|Nicolas Jean-de-Dieu Soult (1769-1851)|| France|| Attorney|
|Semyon K. Timoshenko (1895-1970)|| USSR|| Farmer|
|Heihachiro Togo (1849-1934)|| Japan|| Samurai|
|Henri de Turenne (1611-1675)|| France|| Priest |
|George Washington (1732-1799)|| US|| Surveyor|
|Henry Evelyn Wood (1838-1919)|| Br|| Naval Officer|
|Georgi K. Zhukov (1895-1970)|| USSR|| Furrier|
The "profession of choice" is that which the
person expressed an interest in or was already engaged in when called to arms,
a career which they subsequently found more congenial. Many of these men would probably have pursued
their original career choices but for the outbreak of major wars that led to
relative mass mobilization, such as Greene, Knox, Putnam, Murat, Dupleix, Timoshenko, and Zhukov. Note that Francisco Franco, John French, Dwight
Eisenhower, and Lewis Brererton have been included because, although their
preferred trade was within the profession of arms it was in a different branch
service than that in which they subsequently served, due usually to an inability
to enter a naval academy. In the case of
originally a samurai, circumstances led to him becoming a sailor.
Note, by the way, that the priesthood stands in the lead of
professions of choice, with six, followed closely by naval officer, at five.
"And Divvy Up the Loot Afterwards"
Until relatively recent times loot was major perq of
warriors. Many armies and navies – which
preferred to call loot "prize" – regularized the collection of booty
so that it could distributed equitably among those in the ranks. Initially custom was the primary guideline
for dividing up the loot, but during the Renaissance, as armies became more
formally organized, detailed regulations began to be introduced.
A French military treatise of 1592 provides one of the earliest
examples of written guidelines for the division of loot by a regiment.
The treatise first specified which personnel qualified for a
share in the booty. After all, a man
might assigned to the regiment, but not be present at the siege and capture of
a particular town or take part in a particular victory. After that, the
treatise explained how much each eligible soldier was to be awarded. First, the commanding officer was to be given
10-percent of the total booty. The
remaining loot was then divided into "shares" based on the specified
allocation for each rank.
|Captains || 6 shares |
|Lieutenants || 4 shares|
|Ensigns & gentleman volunteers || 3 shares|
|Sergeants || 2 shares|
|Common soldiers || 1 share|
In addition, the sergeant major of the command was to be
given a half share for each company under his charge during the action. This was because at the time regiments did
not have a fixed number of companies.
Guidelines for larger formations provided a major percentage
for the overall commander and other higher officers, including the sergeant
major of the army, and demoted regimental commanders to a set number of shares.
Depending upon the loot taken, awards could represent
considerable sums. Even common soldiers
occasionally came away with enough money to buy a farm or a shop, provided they
didn't spend it immediately on wine, women, and song.