Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy

rickvox79

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#1
I just happened to be searching Amazon for some new Civil War books since I was almost done with my current book and ran across this book by Earl Hess coming out in September:


51o9m5DgurL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


I thought about posting it on the Book forum but figured this may be a better place for like minded forum posters interested in the Western Theater. I've enjoyed Earl Hess' work so I'll be interested to pick this up. I'm not looking for a fair shake for Bragg because he had plenty of faults and well deserved criticism, but interested to learn more about the man.

A posted this here a few years back but a picture I took from his grave site at the Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama.

1-jpg.jpg
 

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rickvox79

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#5
Surely "a fair shake" would address both his strenghts and weaknesses, and would praise or criticise him only where it was due.
You're right, I worded that incorrectly. I definitely would like to see him get a fair shake, I just meant I'm not going pretend that I expect a biography to absolve Bragg of all his faults because he definitely had them. Bragg usually gets the lion's share of the blame for the failures of the AoT but blame can definitely be spread around. But it always goes back to the man in charge in the end. You get the credit for the wins and the blame for the losses. It didn't help that by all accounts he was not a likable man. I think I'm just interested to learn more about the man in general, perhaps more background on his life etc.
 

bdtex

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Funny story. The current President of the Houston Civil War Roundtable has a framed picture of Gen. Bragg. For years he has donated it for the annual silent auction fundraiser. So far,there have been no bidders and he ends up taking it back home with him each time. :D
 
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#11
Funny story. The current President of the Houston Civil War Roundtable has a framed picture of Gen. Bragg. For years he has donated it for the annual silent auction fundraiser. So far,there have been no bidders and he ends up taking it back home with him each time. :D
I'll bid two cents but I will not pay for shipping.
 

CSA Today

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#12
I like Earl Hess' writing so I will get this one.Poor Bragg gets blamed for everything.he had a good mind for strategy but lord knows no one would listen to him.maybe if he shaved his eyebrows he would have gotten along better with people.
Unfortunately, there were some that did. :frown:
 
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#16
I like Earl Hess' writing so I will get this one.Poor Bragg gets blamed for everything.he had a good mind for strategy but lord knows no one would listen to him.maybe if he shaved his eyebrows he would have gotten along better with people.
I doubt ditching the unibrow would be enough. Maybe getting more fiber in his diet would have helped?
 

diane

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#17
That cake's great! :laugh: There would be so many generals fighting over cutting it and serving it... :x3: Bragg is such a hard guy to figure out. Sometimes it seems like if he had been left at a lower rank, with a firm but supporting hand, he would have had a different place in history. He might even have done better in a different theater. But I do believe his real calling was the same as Halleck's - great clerk. The Union would have been losing every day if Halleck had come to be commander!
 

rickvox79

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#18
Ironically enough I'm reading Kenneth Noe's book on the Battle of Perryville and he goes into a good bit of psychoanalysis on Bragg's mental state.

In Bragg’s case, the metaphorical book cover seems to suggest a deeper story. Civil War historians over the years have referred routinely to Braxton Bragg’s negative personality, and many have suggested some sort of mental instability. Yet, despite its obvious relevance in understanding his actions during the Civil War, most have been content to dismiss him as a bad leader and an obnoxious personality who eventually began to act “insane.” As a group, historians largely avoid psychoanalyzing historic figures, while modern psychiatrists and psychologists routinely disagree over the symptoms, causes, and cures of mental illness, even in regard to living patients able to offer information and feedback. Reading modern psychology into the mute pages of the past threatens a host of wider pitfalls, especially when undertaken by nonspecialists, and threatens at worst to descend into spurious diagnosis and psychobabble. Still, considering its impact on his career and indeed the war, one cannot help but wonder if Braxton Bragg’s behavior suggests symptoms of a deeper and specific problem, and if so, what problem? Biographer Judith Lee Hallock, for example, suggested that his sour personality might have derived from his chronic ailments, and worsened with self-medicated doses of mercury-based calomel and perhaps opiates as well. Heavy use of such drugs would have left Bragg both confused and paranoid. 32 Another hypothesis involves manic-depression, sometimes called bipolar affective disorder.

The negative and well-chronicled manifestations of Bragg’s health and personality already apparent by the spring of 1862— digestive problems, hypochondria, irritability, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior coupled with delusions of grandeur (as a young officer lecturing Winfield Scott on how to run the army, for example)— comprise a catalogue of the lesser known early symptoms of manic-depression. Most often characterized by violent mood springs between mania— exemplified by frenetic overactivity, exultation, overconfidence, increased cognition, irritability, and paranoia— and the corresponding hopelessness and inactivity of depression, bipolar disorders of varying degree affect many. Insofar as Bragg is concerned, there is little evidence that he veered noticeably from mania to depression before 1862. Yet that would not be uncommon, for manic-depression can appear full-blown after age forty, although onset usually occurs in one’s mid-twenties. Critically, Bragg exhibited dramatic mood swings in Kentucky later in 1862. The causes of bipolar disorders remain debated, with psychologists and psychiatrists alternately suggesting environmental, biological, or genetic factors. One would love to know, for example, more about Bragg’s mother and what behaviors landed her in jail on the eve of childbirth. 33 A more likely possibility, one that would lead to similar symptoms, is what psychologists term narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic individuals typically grow up in households where parents place great demands on children to live up to their grand, predetermined expectations, as Bragg’s ambitious father did.

Denied the chance to be himself, shamed or humiliated as a child for any self-expression that runs counter to his parents’ demands and needs, the adult narcissist usually projects a competent and idealized “false self to the world but secretly doubts himself, worried that others will find out his perceived secret failings. In terms of behavior, the narcissist, much like the manic-depressive, swerves from active periods of real achievement, characterized by competence, pride, perfectionism, a desire for power and greatness, and a lack of concern for others, to deep depressions notable for feelings of shame and self-doubt, psychosomatic illnesses, anxiety, panic, inertia, and isolation. Unable to accept their real selves, dependent on others’ perceptions for validation and self-worth, narcissists routinely blame others when things go wrong. 34 More than a century after his death, it is impossible to determine which disorder, if any, truly affected Braxton Bragg. One at least can say, however, that he exhibited the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. More importantly, those behaviors would come to play a crucial role in the army he now joined and soon would lead.

Noe, Kenneth W. (2009-10-01). Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle (Kindle Locations 727-748). The University Press of Kentucky. Kindle Edition.
 

Northern Light

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#19
Ironically enough I'm reading Kenneth Noe's book on the Battle of Perryville and he goes into a good bit of psychoanalysis on Bragg's mental state.

In Bragg’s case, the metaphorical book cover seems to suggest a deeper story. Civil War historians over the years have referred routinely to Braxton Bragg’s negative personality, and many have suggested some sort of mental instability. Yet, despite its obvious relevance in understanding his actions during the Civil War, most have been content to dismiss him as a bad leader and an obnoxious personality who eventually began to act “insane.” As a group, historians largely avoid psychoanalyzing historic figures, while modern psychiatrists and psychologists routinely disagree over the symptoms, causes, and cures of mental illness, even in regard to living patients able to offer information and feedback. Reading modern psychology into the mute pages of the past threatens a host of wider pitfalls, especially when undertaken by nonspecialists, and threatens at worst to descend into spurious diagnosis and psychobabble. Still, considering its impact on his career and indeed the war, one cannot help but wonder if Braxton Bragg’s behavior suggests symptoms of a deeper and specific problem, and if so, what problem? Biographer Judith Lee Hallock, for example, suggested that his sour personality might have derived from his chronic ailments, and worsened with self-medicated doses of mercury-based calomel and perhaps opiates as well. Heavy use of such drugs would have left Bragg both confused and paranoid. 32 Another hypothesis involves manic-depression, sometimes called bipolar affective disorder.

The negative and well-chronicled manifestations of Bragg’s health and personality already apparent by the spring of 1862— digestive problems, hypochondria, irritability, anxiety, and self-destructive behavior coupled with delusions of grandeur (as a young officer lecturing Winfield Scott on how to run the army, for example)— comprise a catalogue of the lesser known early symptoms of manic-depression. Most often characterized by violent mood springs between mania— exemplified by frenetic overactivity, exultation, overconfidence, increased cognition, irritability, and paranoia— and the corresponding hopelessness and inactivity of depression, bipolar disorders of varying degree affect many. Insofar as Bragg is concerned, there is little evidence that he veered noticeably from mania to depression before 1862. Yet that would not be uncommon, for manic-depression can appear full-blown after age forty, although onset usually occurs in one’s mid-twenties. Critically, Bragg exhibited dramatic mood swings in Kentucky later in 1862. The causes of bipolar disorders remain debated, with psychologists and psychiatrists alternately suggesting environmental, biological, or genetic factors. One would love to know, for example, more about Bragg’s mother and what behaviors landed her in jail on the eve of childbirth. 33 A more likely possibility, one that would lead to similar symptoms, is what psychologists term narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissistic individuals typically grow up in households where parents place great demands on children to live up to their grand, predetermined expectations, as Bragg’s ambitious father did.

Denied the chance to be himself, shamed or humiliated as a child for any self-expression that runs counter to his parents’ demands and needs, the adult narcissist usually projects a competent and idealized “false self to the world but secretly doubts himself, worried that others will find out his perceived secret failings. In terms of behavior, the narcissist, much like the manic-depressive, swerves from active periods of real achievement, characterized by competence, pride, perfectionism, a desire for power and greatness, and a lack of concern for others, to deep depressions notable for feelings of shame and self-doubt, psychosomatic illnesses, anxiety, panic, inertia, and isolation. Unable to accept their real selves, dependent on others’ perceptions for validation and self-worth, narcissists routinely blame others when things go wrong. 34 More than a century after his death, it is impossible to determine which disorder, if any, truly affected Braxton Bragg. One at least can say, however, that he exhibited the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. More importantly, those behaviors would come to play a crucial role in the army he now joined and soon would lead.

Noe, Kenneth W. (2009-10-01). Perryville: This Grand Havoc of Battle (Kindle Locations 727-748). The University Press of Kentucky. Kindle Edition.
Wait a minute, I thought we were talking about Bragg, not McClellan!:giggle:
 

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