Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy

Saruman

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#21
I am currently reading Sam Watkin's diary and he has absolutely nothing good to say about Braxton Bragg. He says that he was universally despised by all of his men.
"On the night that they learned Bragg was being dismissed [after Chattanooga], a group of men gathered outside his headquarters to serenade him. Later, the troops led by Finley and Bate pooled their meagre resources to buy him an elegant sword. It was inscribed, '[In] high appreciation of his military services, and a compliment to his personal gallantry, as witnessed on the day of the Battle of Missionary Ridge.' And Walthall's unit, both the officers and the ranks, dug into their pockets to raise the funds needed to purchase a magnificent horse for Bragg, which they named 'Chickamauga'."
- Samuel J. Martin

"We had got sorter used to his ways... Many a word was spoken in his behalf, after he had been relieved of the command."
- Sam Watkins

"There was no manifestation of gratification at Bragg's relief."
- William MacKall
 

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Northern Light

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#22
Judging by the number of people who named their children for him, someone must have liked him. Here are three I found without even trying whilst looking for a photo of him!
Johnson-Wedding.jpg

Mrs. Braxton Bragg Dawson Rascoe, Jr
.
46716838_127533498875.jpg

Dr Braxton Bragg Bell

BBComer12345.jpg

Braxton Bragg Comer
 
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#23
Mercury poisoning and his use of opiates I can see as being destructive on his brain.it is a plausible theory ax to his behavior.it does open up some thought though.I am not a fan of Bragg but over the years I have learned to appreciate him more then the majority of people.
 
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#25
There had been assassination attempts against Bragg I think in Mexico. My favourite story about Bragg was the one where as a pre civil war clerk, he wrote himself up officially for getting some paperwork wrong. I've heard that story a couple of times and I wonder if that was really true. Any idea where it originated?
 

Northern Light

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#26
There had been assassination attempts against Bragg I think in Mexico. My favourite story about Bragg was the one where as a pre civil war clerk, he wrote himself up officially for getting some paperwork wrong. I've heard that story a couple of times and I wonder if that was really true. Any idea where it originated?
Grant wrote this story in his memoirs, but it probably apocryphal.
 
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#28
In the eyes of many Southerners, Braxton Bragg was not one of North Carolina's greatest
gifts to the Southern cause. I remember Nathan Forrest telling him that if he ever saw him
again, it would be at peril of his life. Longstreet had enough of him during the time they spent
together in Tennessee in 1863, so much so that he requested his own independent command
and took his corps to Knoxville on a fruitless campaign. Braxton had a brother with ties in the
Confederate government and Jefferson Davis liked him so I guess those are two good reasons
he hung around as long as he did despite the fact he could not get along with anyone, including
himself.

I don't think he was the worst strategist and tactician the South had. With a little more cooperation
with his subordinates and a little more concern for the welfare of his men, he may have done better
at Stone's River and Chickamauga which were not the worst fought battles as the head of an army.
General Grant in his memoirs praised General Bragg calling him "intelligent and well informed".
 

Greg Taylor

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#29
"On the night that they learned Bragg was being dismissed [after Chattanooga], a group of men gathered outside his headquarters to serenade him. Later, the troops led by Finley and Bate pooled their meagre resources to buy him an elegant sword. It was inscribed, '[In] high appreciation of his military services, and a compliment to his personal gallantry, as witnessed on the day of the Battle of Missionary Ridge.' And Walthall's unit, both the officers and the ranks, dug into their pockets to raise the funds needed to purchase a magnificent horse for Bragg, which they named 'Chickamauga'."
- Samuel J. Martin

"We had got sorter used to his ways... Many a word was spoken in his behalf, after he had been relieved of the command."
- Sam Watkins

"There was no manifestation of gratification at Bragg's relief."
- William MacKall
"Bragg was the great autocrat in the mind of the soldier. His word was law. He loved to crush the spirit of his men. The more hang-dog look they had about them the better General Bragg was pleased. Not a single soldier in the whole army ever loved or respected him."
-Sam R. Wadkins
 

Georgia Sixth

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#30
Grant wrote this story in his memoirs, but it probably apocryphal.
I have a very deep suspicion that the accepted portrait of Bragg is to a great extent myth or mis-remembered. But it's stuff that has been put in print in countless volumes and has become accepted as consensus or truth. I would love to see William Marvel investigate this.
 

Georgia Sixth

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#31
I don't think he was the worst strategist and tactician the South had. With a little more cooperation
with his subordinates and a little more concern for the welfare of his men, he may have done better
at Stone's River and Chickamauga which were not the worst fought battles as the head of an army.
General Grant in his memoirs praised General Bragg calling him "intelligent and well informed".
Very true. If Hindman and Polk had promptly obeyed their orders in the days before Chickamauga, the confederates would likely have pulled off their greatest victory of the entire war in northern Georgia.
 

ErnieMac

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#32
“General Bragg is going to Wilmington. Goodbye Wilmington!” - Richmond Enquirer of October 26, 1864.

IMO Bragg seems to have had a good tactical and strategic sense about him, but also seems to have been at a loss when a battle did not pan out as he had planned. It did not matter whether the battle was a victory (Chickamauga) or defeat (Perryville or Stone's River) Bragg seems to have unable to decide on a course of action in the immediate aftermath of a battle.

I also think Jefferson Davis bears a lot of the responsibility for the command situation in the Army of Tennessee. On one hand he maintained Bragg in command despite knowing the opposition to him. On the other hand he would not replace Polk, Hardee or other anti-Bragg generals with commanders who could work with Bragg.
 
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#34
I don't know about "most" hated but he was definitely heavy on the discipline and the use of capital punishment. Personally, I think he'd have been replaced by most governments if not for the mysterious support of Davis which is for me a mystery as I don't see how Bragg's record supports him.
 

diane

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#35
I don't know about "most" hated but he was definitely heavy on the discipline and the use of capital punishment. Personally, I think he'd have been replaced by most governments if not for the mysterious support of Davis which is for me a mystery as I don't see how Bragg's record supports him.
I think Davis' support of Bragg might come from the Mexican War. At Buena Vista, Davis' Mississippians distinguished themselves and it was always a point of pride with him. But they would have had to retreat like everyone else had if Bragg had not come up with his troops. Bragg showed considerable courage as an artilleryman. He was a great captain and...well, that's probably where he should have stayed! But Davis was incredibly loyal. Once he thought you were great, he could not be persuaded otherwise.
 

Saruman

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#36
I don't know about "most" hated but he was definitely heavy on the discipline and the use of capital punishment. Personally, I think he'd have been replaced by most governments if not for the mysterious support of Davis which is for me a mystery as I don't see how Bragg's record supports him.
Sam Watkins claimed that Joe Johnston "had ten times as many shot as Bragg had."
 

CSA Today

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#37
In the eyes of many Southerners, Braxton Bragg was not one of North Carolina's greatest
gifts to the Southern cause. I remember Nathan Forrest telling him that if he ever saw him
again, it would be at peril of his life. Longstreet had enough of him during the time they spent
together in Tennessee in 1863, so much so that he requested his own independent command
and took his corps to Knoxville on a fruitless campaign. Braxton had a brother with ties in the
Confederate government and Jefferson Davis liked him so I guess those are two good reasons
he hung around as long as he did despite the fact he could not get along with anyone, including
himself.

I don't think he was the worst strategist and tactician the South had. With a little more cooperation
with his subordinates and a little more concern for the welfare of his men, he may have done better
at Stone's River and Chickamauga which were not the worst fought battles as the head of an army.
General Grant in his memoirs praised General Bragg calling him "intelligent and well informed".
Unfortunately, the longer war lasted the worse Braxton Bragg became – Ft. Fisher and Bentonville comes to mind.

Braxton's brother Thomas wasn't a soldier, but did serve his state and country as the 34th Governor of North Carolina (1855-1859), as a United States Senator (1859-1861), and as the second Attorney General for the Confederate States of America.

http://northcarolinahistory.org/encyclopedia/thomas-bragg-1810-1872/
 

AUG

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#38
Sam Watkins claimed that Joe Johnston "had ten times as many shot as Bragg had."
But when you take the whole paragraph into account....

"Well, old Joe was a yerker. He took all the tricks. He was a commander. He kept everything up and well in hand. His lines of battle were invulnerable. The larger his command the easier he could handle it. When his army moved, it was a picture of battle, everything in its place, as laid down by scientific military rules. When a man was to be shot, he was shot for the crimes he had done, and not to intimidate and cow the living, and he had ten times as many shot as Bragg had. He had seventeen shot at Tunnel Hill, and a whole company at Rocky face Ridge, and two spies hung at Ringgold Gap, but they were executed for their crimes. No one knew of it except those who had to take part as executioners of the law. Instead of the whipping post, he instituted the pillory and barrel shirt."
 

Saruman

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#39
But when you take the whole paragraph into account....

"Well, old Joe was a yerker. He took all the tricks. He was a commander. He kept everything up and well in hand. His lines of battle were invulnerable. The larger his command the easier he could handle it. When his army moved, it was a picture of battle, everything in its place, as laid down by scientific military rules. When a man was to be shot, he was shot for the crimes he had done, and not to intimidate and cow the living, and he had ten times as many shot as Bragg had. He had seventeen shot at Tunnel Hill, and a whole company at Rocky face Ridge, and two spies hung at Ringgold Gap, but they were executed for their crimes. No one knew of it except those who had to take part as executioners of the law. Instead of the whipping post, he instituted the pillory and barrel shirt."
I'm trying to debunk the myths that Bragg was hated by all his men and had a proclivity to execute them.

Someone posted that he was "universally despised by all of his men" but my posts above show that this was not the case.

Someone else posted that he was "definitely heavy on the discipline and the use of capital punishment" but my post above indicates that Johnston executed many more.

Bragg was a complicated figure. It will be interesting to read Hess's new biography of him. :D
 

AUG

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#40
I'm trying to debunk the myths that Bragg was hated by all his men and had a proclivity to execute them.

Someone posted that he was "universally despised by all of his men" but my posts above show that this was not the case.

Someone else posted that he was "definitely heavy on the discipline and the use of capital punishment" but my post above indicates that Johnston executed many more.

Bragg was a complicated figure. It will be interesting to read Hess's new biography of him. :D
Yes, I agree that Bragg was certainly not despised by all his men, though still by many. He was definitely a complicated figure. I don't mean to disagree with that, but just to show that there was more to Sam Watkins' statement than that single excerpt. When you take the whole thing into account Watkins was saying that though Johnston executed more men than Bragg, he did so for actual punishment of crimes rather than for intimidation of the living. But of course that's only Watkins' claim, and as many here know, Watkins' memoir should always be taken with a grain of salt. I'm not certain but I would assume that Watkins probably over exaggerates the executions ordered by either general. It will be interesting to see what Hess says about this.
 

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