Commanders of the Kaurava and Pandava Armies
When the question of overall commander arose Yudhishthira asked for the opinions of his brothers. Bhima suggested the name of Shikhandi, Arjuna proposed Dhrishtadyumna, Nakula and Sahadeva proposed the names of Drupad and Virat respectively. In the end Yudhishthira looked at Shrikrishna who agreed with Arjuna’s suggestion and that is how Dhrishtadyuma was chosen as the overall commander of the Pandava army throughout the entire 18 days of war.
Duryodhana picked up Bhishma to lead his army. He led the Kaurava army for the first ten days of the war. After the fall of Bhishma, Karna joined the battle and he proposed the name of Dronacharya as the next commander. Drona led the Kaurava army for the next five days. Drona’s role as a commander was the most action packed with Abhimanyu dying inside the Chakravyuha followed by Arjuna taking the vow of killing Jayadratha. The night battle after the fall of Jayadratha where Karna had to use the Vasavi dart on Ghatotkacha. All these events took place under the commandership of Drona.
After Drona was killed by Dhrishtadyumna, Karna was chosen as the overall commander of the Kaurava army. Karna fought for two days before being killed by Arjuna on 17th day. After Karna’s fall Duryodhana appointed Shalya as the overall commander who fell on the 18th day.
After Shalya’s fall Bhima fatally injured Duryodhana. While Duryodhana was on his deathbed he was visited by the tree Kaurava survivors Ashwatthama, Kripacharya and Kritavarma. Duryodhana appointed Ashwtthama as commander, who then insisted that they attack Pandava camp at night and kill all the Pandava survivors. Kripa and Kritavarma protested this idea but eventually agreed.
In the end Ashwatthama entered the Pandava camp at night and slaughtered everyone in the camp including all the sons of Draupadi, Dhrishtadyumna, Shikhandi, Yudhamanyu, Uttamouja etc. Anyone who tried to escape was stopped at the gate by Kripacharya and Kritavarma and killed.