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Braxton Bragg

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by W. Richardson, Oct 11, 2017.

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What was the biggest reason for Bragg's failure at command

Poll closed Oct 23, 2017.
  1. Leadership

    5 vote(s)
    13.5%
  2. Attitude/Personality

    23 vote(s)
    62.2%
  3. Political

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Tactics/Strategy

    1 vote(s)
    2.7%
  5. Communication skills

    5 vote(s)
    13.5%
  6. His failure was not his fault

    3 vote(s)
    8.1%
  1. W. Richardson

    W. Richardson Captain

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    Braxton Bragg is considered by many to be the worst general on either side. What led to his failure as a commander?


    Respectfully,
    William
     

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  3. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    1.Rosecrans, Thomas and Sherman are not McCellan, Pope and Burnside.
    2. Most likely the Union Army in the West had better logistics but this is offset somewhat by Confederate Partisan Cavalry and guerrillas. Which is also somewhat offset by Unionist guerrillas so
    thats a tough one.
    3. Many of Braggs men are close to
    home so if they desert they are less likely to be caught.
    4. More Unionists in Braggs area then Lee's.
    You might want to page our military experts. We also have quite a few Bragg threads and some new scholarship has been written about Bragg.
    Leftyhunter
     
  4. General Butterfield

    General Butterfield Sergeant

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    I lean towards saying failure was not his fault. I don't know of any available commander who could have done better than Bragg. Despite his ultimate failure he did do rather well at times. He had good tactical ability and launched one of the most devastating attacks of the war on Dec 31st at Stones River. As a strategist Bragg was aggressive always looking for opportunities to take the offensive. He in my opinion correctly saw that Joseph Johnston defensive strategy, while having some merits, could not win the war.

    My second choice would be attitude and personality, Bragg wasn't the nicest fellow. Though he did keep a following of supporters alot of people seem to have hated him. An amusing fable about a "Lion with Bad Breath" appears in Earl Hess' recent biography, that I think illustrates some soldiers views on Bragg's personality:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=NZb-CwAAQBAJ&pg=PP135&lpg=PP135&dq=braxton+bragg+bad+breath&source=bl&ots=OJEljFVOqV&sig=si4P0wPji0Ht5-gXC94Cgd78ffc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjul4iN6enWAhVLxYMKHWhNB7IQ6AEIJjAA#v=onepage&q=braxton bragg bad breath&f=false
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  5. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Ironically Lt. Thomas learned his craft from Captain Bragg during the Mexican American War. It could not of hurt the Union cause that Thomas was very familiar with Bragg.
    Leftyhunter
     
  6. NH Civil War Gal

    NH Civil War Gal Sergeant

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    Bragg was a smart guy but.... He would issue orders and then alter them over and over. By doing that as a fairly regular pattern of his, he demoralized his staff greatly. He was also pretty remote from his regular soldiers and did not have the common touch and combined with a lot of his soldiers being reluctant soldiers from Tennessee he had big problems with desertions. Which demoralized some of his staff.
     
  7. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Which leads to the next question.
    Many of the the Union Troops where also from Tennessee . Would this fact make a difference concerning the morale of Braggs men from Tennessee? Maybe @east tennessee roots would know.
    Leftyhunter
     
    W. Richardson likes this.
  8. Eleanor Rose

    Eleanor Rose Sergeant Major

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    Bragg was known to follow rules often to the point of absurdity. US Grant recalled in his memoirs a story about Bragg that implied Bragg's overwhelming need for proper procedure bordered on mental instability.
     
  9. General Butterfield

    General Butterfield Sergeant

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  10. rpkennedy

    rpkennedy Major

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    To me, it was a combination of factors. Bragg's attitude didn't help matters in that he rushed to judge people and held a grudge like a bulldog. Once he made up his mind that he didn't like someone, he never changed his mind.

    Bragg's subordinates simply did not help the matter. Polk was one of the worst generals that the war produced and Hardee was unenthusiastic even if he was capable. There were officers in his army who seemed to be undermining his command. And he was getting no help from Davis and the government. Unlike Lee who could dismiss or transfer officers nearly at will, Bragg had no such authority and had to made due with what he had.

    As a commander, Bragg was able and, strategically, was very competent. His weakness was that he could not adapt to changing situations. Some of that was that his cavalry commanders were not the best intelligence gatherers, some of it was his lackluster officers, and some of it was his own capabilities.

    Just my .02.

    Ryan
     
  11. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    I'm hung up between 'attitude/personality,' and 'communication skills.' In Bragg they're pretty much the same thing.
     
  12. Borderruffian

    Borderruffian 1st Lieutenant

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    Bragg, as is said ....."Could snack defeat from the jaws of victory". Good martinet administrater, really bad combat commander. I think his personaity had alot to do with it.
     
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  13. 7th Mississippi Infantry

    7th Mississippi Infantry Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    I'm starting to think . . . love him or hate him, Bragg might need his own apartment in the Biographies Forum.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
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  14. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Ironically Davis twice conducted an investigation on Bragg including visiting Bragg's command. Eventually of course Bragg was kicked upstairs to Richmond as some sort of advisor and chief if memory serves.
    Davis replaces Bragg with Johnston but arguably its to little to late.
    Should Davis of replaced Bragg sooner? If so with whom and would it of made a difference? Of course we will never know.
    Arguably part of Braggs failings are also his commander and chiefs faillings.
    Leftyhunter
     
  15. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Lt. Colonel

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    Let's take a brief look at Braggs greatest success which is his victory at Chicamungua which turns in to a debacle at Missionary Ridge.
    Bragg reinforced by Longstreet's Corps outnumbers and defeats Rosecrans and sends the majority of the AoC fleeing to Chattanooga.
    However General Thomas and General Granger form a very effective rearguard and inflict a lot of casualties.
    The AoC is now trapped and in danger of being starved out.
    General Hooker with twenty five thousand men breaks through Braggs lines.
    Union logistics are superior to Confederate logistics.
    Ample food , ammo and men can arrive by train to Bridgeport , Alabama.
    Somehow Confederate guerrillas and Partisan Rangers such has Forrest can't stop the crucial Union Rail supply.
    From Bridgeport the supplies make their way throught the mountains.
    The Union has better rail roads even in enemy territory. Yes there are Confederate guerrillas in Alabama but their are also Unionist guerrillas and they do a good enough job along with Union counterinsurgency troops to get supplies where they need to go.
    Is the evenual Union victory at Missionary Ridge Braggs fault ? Or is it just a matter of loosing to a larger better equipped and supplied foe?
    Leftyhunter
     
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  16. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain Forum Host

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    Well, nobody else wants to be "roomies" with him -- that's for sure. rsz_1rsz_brow.jpg
     
  17. Barnesville_Blues

    Barnesville_Blues Sergeant

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    Bragg's biggest problem was his ability to get along with his subordinates and the fact that he was dispised by most of his subordinates. Bragg also had the tendancyto blame everyone but himself for a failure.
     
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  18. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel

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    It is very hard to pick one as it was a combination of all of the above.I feel his biggest problem stemmed from his indecisiveness mainly from a lack of sound information.then his subordinates were not the best at following orders.
     
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  19. Jamieva

    Jamieva 1st Lieutenant

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    he often had a very difficult time getting his subordinates to do what he had ordered to do. For a great example of this, read Dave Powell's Chickamauga books. He repeatedly had subordinates just not follow the orders he had given them.
     
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  20. nitrofd

    nitrofd Colonel

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    Go back before Chickamauga and the problem started with the Kentucky Campaign and follow on to Stones River and a
    Further down the line.
     
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  21. István.AT

    István.AT Private

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    Bragg had his share of drawbacks (leadership and communication skills from your list would be the first to name), but I tend to agree with General Butterfield. Lots of his (and AoT's) problems had their root clause above his pay-grade.
    He wasn't (obviously) satisfied with his subordinates and proposed to make some changes in AoT high command right after Kentucky. To remove some high-ranking dead weight (you know, whom I'm implying to) and promote talented junior officers. But Jeff Davis stubbornly refused and forced Bragg to remain with mostly the same command structure until the very end of his tenure.
    This "conservation" of ranks and positions was a major problem in the AoT. Lincoln didn't hesitate to remove generals who didn't live up to his expectations, Davis showed much less will to act in this direction.

    UPD: checked in the books. As Stephen Woodworth in "Jefferson Davis and his generals" writes, this proposal that I'm referring to wasn't made after Kentucky, but right at the outset of the campaign, even before reaching Chattanooga.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2017

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