Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy

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OpnCoronet

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I think Bragg extended the War in the West by at least a Year and that, in and by, itself should be remembered as his lasting legacy to the confederacy, i.e., Chattanooga could have been lost in 1862.
 

Yankeedave

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Don't give Bragg anything bigger than a corps. Polk has another, so long as he lives but thats true of anyone in the what if. Pick another for a 3rd corps, i am sure there plenty of ideas. Put it all under J. E. Johnston and direct him to attack the enemies army.
 
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novushomus

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I am not a student of Bragg, but I'm interested in the difference in skill set between corps and army commanders? In Bragg's case was this set dramatically lacking and how?
Bragg wasn't really a corps commander all that long. He commanded a corps at one battle, Shiloh, and did reasonably well (except for the tactical hiccup at the Hornet's Nest, but he managed to carry the position in the end). At the end of the day, he was the only Confederate commander who still had organized and combat ready brigades,Jackson's and Chalmers's. Every other Confederate formation had lost unit integrity, was too exhausted to press on, or was out of ammunition.

He did much better than Polk (who lost track of Cheatham's division) and didn't fumble like Hardee did in Hardee's egregious failure to forward intelligence about the arrival of Buell's army to army headquarters. He got into a squabble with Colonel Randal L. Gibson, a rather competent officer, about his attacking at the Hornet's Nest, a rather unfortunate controversy as Gibson was subsequently replaced as a brigade commander by Bragg and would not rise to this level of command again until after Chickamauga. But overall, he and Breckinridge were the two better performing of the Confederate corps commanders at Shiloh.
 

Yankeedave

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As a corps commander most of your command is visible, and one has the ability to almost personally direct it's movements. This can't be done at army commander level.
 

jackt62

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It is well known that Bragg's acerbic personality was a losing proposition when it came to leading men and commanding subordinate officers. Nevertheless, as previous posts have noted, he compiled a respectable record early in the war as a corps commander. His major problems seemed to surface after assuming army command. His poor managerial style combined with a sort of timidity in decision making led to his squandering what initially appeared to be confederate victories or near victories from Perryville to Stones River and the Chattanooga-Chickamauga campaign. But of course, on the other hand, what confederate army commander had any greater success in the western theater? Certainly not both Johnston's, or Pemberton, or Hood.
 
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Eagle eye

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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.
-----------------------------------
John… I came across an article in the Cincinnati Civil War Round Table written in March 1965 by William March titled 'Food & Rations in the Civil War. He suspects that most disliked man in the South was Gen. Lucius B Northrop, Commissary General of the CSA.
Here's a small exert :
"
crotchety doctor, some of whose acquaintances believed him insane, and who has been described as peevish, obstinate, condescending, and fault finding. This was the Confederate Commissary - General of Subsistence, Lucius B. Northrop.

Northrop's only previous service, other than being an 1831 graduate of the USMA, was as a lieutenant in the Indian Wars where he was wounded. Still, in 1861, he was appointed Colonel and Commissary General of the CSA. Possibly this man was the most disliked man in the whole South, although he did have one of the most unpleasant jobs. He may have had a bad job, but he did a worse one. He did nothing to inspire the confidence of anyone. Davis stuck by him, however, throughout the war, and he was not discharged until February 1865 when the Confederate house passed a bill DEMANDING his removal.

Go to www.cincinaticwrt.org For more details. It's also a nice source on Union & CSA official rations.
Hope this link works! If not try


http://www.cincinnaticwrt.org/index.html

You have to go to the research tab & scroll down to the bottom to the Round Table archives… click on that & go to presentations & scroll to 1966… click on 'Food & Rations in the CW' by William March. Sorry for the long trip but it's worth the effort. Their archives go back to the mid 1950's.
 
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Yankeedave

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As you go down the scale more and more of your command can be personally directed. What brought you to fame your ability to manuever troops. As you get promoted you can move away from this ability. This is when those under you need to be better and better.
 

dhh712

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Really looking forward to reading this (still haven't gotten around to an older biography of Bragg that I have, the McWhiney one). Will have to wait until I'm done with my Stanton bio however, since that's next on my list.

This should be a good read for me since my all-time favourite general of the civil war is D.H. Hill and as most are aware, him and Bragg did not get along well in the AoT. It's intriguing to me since both of them seemed to have had acerbic personalities and also dealt with chronic ailments (they seemed on surface descriptions to be similar in some ways). A few years ago, I started doing a lot of research on D.H. Hill--obtained copies of a great many of his personal documents and there were a few details about his interactions with Bragg in the AoT (mainly regarding his dismissal from his command in the AoT, I believe it was Oct 15th, or thereabouts. Wish my memory was better though, 'cause I forgot so much information! Looking forward to getting back into it however (at some point!).

Bragg seemed to be Hill's arch-enemy (or at least one of them), so he was always an intriguing character to me (I know at least he's the one person in the war that Hill never seemed to be able to forgive. There was one letter, I believe he was writing to Bradley Johnson, and he stated something along the lines of how he didn't want him quoting anything negative about any war officer that had died, except for Bragg. I totally butchered the wording, but the effect was something like you can't say anything bad about anyone except for Bragg!)
 

James N.

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@dhh712 , welcome to the forums from the host of the Stonewall Jackson Forum! (And of course, Jackson was DHH's brother-in-law.)
 
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Saruman

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I have the Bragg biography written by Samuel Martin and was thinking of getting this one by Hess but some of the reviews on Amazon have left me disappointed so probably won't bother now (see below). Has anyone on this forum read it yet?

"...much of the coverage relating to John Bell Hood, as well as many aspects of the Chickamauga campaign, seems to rely upon outdated studies and not the latest books or the rich available source materials recently unearthed." - Theodore P. Savas

"Earl Hess admirably resolves to present Bragg in a more nuanced manner than he is often portrayed. This is appropriate, for Bragg was a highly intelligent, complex man who cannot be reduced to caricature. However, unfortunately the author fails to accord the same consideration to Bragg's peers; like another lone historian who defends Bragg, he can only do so at the unjust expense of certain others. In particular, during the section dealing with the Tullahoma Campaign (pp. 146-9), Hess seems to have taken dictation from Steven Woodworth, and in fact the latter appears to be the sole secondary source throughout these pages. Again we are presented with a "cardboard figure" not of Bragg, but of General Polk who is presented as a worried whiner, complainer, and underminer attacking a helpless, hapless Bragg. The fact that Hess would accept Woodworth's caricatures of Polk and Hardee without question or examination, detracts from this work and his own stated purpose.

In fact, there are many problems of fact, interpretation and tone in Woodworth's portrayal of Bragg's self-created enemies (who unfortunately fought on his side). For example, the thoroughly-debunked "Polk breakfast myth" of Chickamauga he presents as uncontroverted fact! At least Hess abstains from that extreme, but adopts the sly technique of Cozzens who, while admitting the story could not have happened, asserts that it nevertheless "created a truth." (How can a lie create a truth?) In a similar vein, Hess opines that it was "unfortunate" that the story had been made up, "but the truth was bad enough." (p. 164) This kind of coloration allows an author to present an admitted falsehood while nevertheless influencing the reader's impression." - Amanda Warren
 

nitrofd

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I received the book last week and since I am a fan of Earl Hess I was really looking foward to it.Hess does not really solely on past accounts by Horn and Connelly who both were very anti Bragg but digs deep into early first hand accounts from journals,diaries,newspapers and letters from that era..we all know Bragg had problems which is discussed but his good points are also shown.Bragg was known as a stern discipline general but when his division left Pensacola to go to Shiloh they were the best trained and organized.his frontal attacks at the Hornet's Nest was the norm of the day,it was not until later in the war that the generals began to realize that was not the way to go.
The book is very much worth reading as it looks at Bragg as a total person not just on the problems and faults that he had.it is worth a 5star reccommendation.
 

Will Carry

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I too am reading this book. I haven't gotten far yet. I have always felt that if Bragg's orders to attack the Union left flank at Stones River, late on January 2nd, had been followed explicitly, that he would have won a great victory. The Union army would have woken up on January 3rd staring down the barrels of Confederate artillery. Instead of seizing the hill and fighting off a single counter attack, they proceeded down the other side of the hill where they were cut down by union batteries. Had they rushed the hill, laid low on the defilade side of the hill, brought up their guns and repulsed the counter attack, it would have been dark. Giving the Confederate artillery all night to dig in.
 
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Yankeedave

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You feel that this attack below, looking from out back of the visitor center, should not have happened.
stones-river-700x358.jpg

The union right is being attacked from the right by a confederate column with skirmishers out front. The confederate skirmishers are firing into a row of knapsacks and such left by the yanks. In the tall grass they couldn't tell. I guess the rounds from the union arty hasn't hit yet as the column doesnt looked raked over.
In the back ground the left of the union right is smoking and under attack.
285x150_defendingnashville.jpg

Illustrated by google etc.
 
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