Bragg's Original Chickamauga Plan Works: Rosecrans Pushed Away From Chattanooga

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#1
Bragg's Original Chickamauga Plan Works: Rosecrans Pushed Away From Chattanooga

Looking through David Powell's massive work on the Chickamauga campaign, I found it interesting to compare Bragg's original plan for the battle and the actual results. Bragg originally intended to push the Union away from Chattanooga not towards it!

Bragg wanted a strong right wing attack to fold up the the Union left. The Rosecrans would pushed south-west across the Tennessee River into Northern Alabama. Bragg's forces would then move and recapture Chattanooga. In our battle of Chickamauga instead the main breakthrough came in the center and resulted in the Union being pushed north back on Chattanooga. This got Bragg locked in a siege he had little hope of winning.

So what if Bragg's original plan had of worked? The Confederacy regains Chattanooga after a bloody battle and Rosecrans is pushed across the Tennessee. What happens from this point forward? What could Bragg potentially do next? How would the Union react to the situation?
 

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If the AoT wins in this version of Chickamauga, there may be some problems for them.

I can see Bragg retaking Murfreesboro, but Nashville is the ultimate prize here. Even with Longstreet's reinforcements, I still think taking Nashville will be very difficult. The demoralized AotC will have plenty of difficulties, they can't use the railroad, they'll have to march from northern Alabama to central Tennessee, likely losing tons of men as stragglers and abandoning artillery and wagons. But once they get to Nashville, they just need to invest the fortifications, get supplies via the Cumberland, and wait Bragg out.
 
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Carronade

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In that scenario, the Union would in time restore the situation, largely through the redeployment of troops freed up by the victory at Vicksburg, not to mention that Grant fellow.

If the Confederates had been able to roll up the Union left, cutting them off from Chattanooga and their supply lines, they would have done better to concentrate on destroying Rosecrans' army. That was what they needed to turn their situation around, especially after losing one of their armies at Vicksburg.
 
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It would seem 1863 in the Western Theater is going to end almost exactly how it ended. I think it likely Bragg's subordinates will blame him for not showing enough aggression and not putting Nashville under siege. It would be interesting if Hardee gets command of the AoT (and he might actually want it, as he won't he inheriting a broken army).
 

Carronade

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If the AoT wins in this version of Chickamauga, there may be some problems for them.

I can see Bragg retaking Murfreesboro, but Nashville is the ultimate prize here. Even with Longstreet's reinforcements, I still think taking Nashville will be very difficult. The demoralized AotC will have plenty of difficulties, they can't use the railroad, they'll have to march from northern Alabama to central Tennessee, likely losing tons of men as stragglers and abandoning artillery and wagons. But once they get to Nashville, they just need to invest the fortifications, get supplies via the Cumberland, and wait Bragg out.
I don't want to harp on it too much, but I think the key question here is the fate of Rosecrans' army. As you say, they would have a difficult time even if Bragg left them alone and went off to pursue geographic objectives; but suppose instead he chose to pursue his beaten enemy? He'd be between them and their base of supply, with an equal or stronger army, still able to draw supplies himself. A Federal army trapped in northern Alabama would be the best opportunity the Confederates could hope for. In addition to the difficulties you mention, they would be encumbered by a long train of wounded, trying to move through unknown, hostile territory, with Confederate troops both regular and irregular harassing their movement and preventing them from foraging - while Bragg, Longstreet, and the gang closed in for the kill. It could be another Saratoga.
 

James N.

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... Bragg wanted a strong right wing attack to fold up the the Union left. Then Rosecrans would pushed south-west across the Tennessee River into Northern Alabama. Bragg's forces would then move and recapture Chattanooga. In our battle of Chickamauga instead the main breakthrough came in the center and resulted in the Union being pushed north back on Chattanooga. This got Bragg locked in a siege he had little hope of winning.

So what if Bragg's original plan had of worked? The Confederacy regains Chattanooga after a bloody battle and Rosecrans is pushed across the Tennessee. What happens from this point forward? What could Bragg potentially do next? How would the Union react to the situation?
I tend to HATE these "what if" things but would like to at least comment on this possibility. Bragg's desire only a few days earlier was to trap Negley's division in McLemore's Cove where it would hopefully go to pieces while trying to extricate itself in the rugged terrain. The answer to your question would likely depend on the extent of damage done to Rosecrans while he was attempting the same thing on a much larger scale with his entire army. If all that happened was to merely push it "across the Tennessee" then as Carronade suggests likely the only result would've been to change the location of the action for a time, resulting eventually in the same outcome somewhere else. On the other hand, if Bragg would somehow be able to coordinate a proper pursuit - something he failed utterly to do at McLemore's Cove - then he *might* be able to defeat and destroy Rosecrans in detail.
 
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#9
I tend to HATE these "what if" things but would like to at least comment on this possibility. Bragg's desire only a few days earlier was to trap Negley's division in McLemore's Cove where it would hopefully go to pieces while trying to extricate itself in the rugged terrain. The answer to your question would likely depend on the extent of damage done to Rosecrans while he was attempting the same thing on a much larger scale with his entire army. If all that happened was to merely push it "across the Tennessee" then as Carronade suggests likely the only result would've been to change the location of the action for a time, resulting eventually in the same outcome somewhere else. On the other hand, if Bragg would somehow be able to coordinate a proper pursuit - something he failed utterly to do at McLemore's Cove - then he *might* be able to defeat and destroy Rosecrans in detail.
I understand your feelings regarding counterfactual scenarios, but they can be very fun for a thought exercise. Right now I'm working on a timeline looking at the results of Frémont invading Kentucky before Polk.
 

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