Comparing Picketts Charge w/ Charge up Missionary Ridge and Longstreet at Chickamauga

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
In fact, Bragg first gained military prominence for his role as an artillerist during the Mexican War when General Zachary Taylor, famously requested Bragg during the battle of Buena Vista to give "a little more grape."
Down in Mexico, the army laughed when they saw the "a little more grape" story in the papers. The reason was simple. No one doubted that Taylor had said something to Bragg, and everyone knew what Bragg had done. Anyone who knew Taylor, though, knew that he had never said that.

Sometimes you'll see an explanation about technical words, that Taylor never would have used "grape" -- realistically, you wouldn't find actual grapeshot outside of a fortress. But that wasn't it.

It seems Taylor used very earthy language. Soldiers speculated about what he might have said. Maybe "a little <blank> grape". Maybe ... But nobody who knew Taylor believed he said "Give them a little more grape, Captain Bragg!"

There is a version that says the order was really "double-shot your guns and give 'em hell, Bragg!"
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Hood was always looking for that battle of annihilation, which explains much of his failure in 1864. When Hood fell wounded at Chickamauga, the Confederates seemed on the verge of destroying the Army of the Cumberland. That image, along with his other delusions based on the belief that one army could wipe out another, explains his aggressiveness outside of Atlanta, where he went after large chunks of the Union forces investing the city. Having failed to destroy Schofield at Spring Hill (where it might have actually been possible) he determined that crushing the 23rd Corps on the south side of the Harpeth River would be the next best thing. Ironically, his failure there not only cost him the flower of his army, but set him up for near-annihilation at the hands of the allegedly "slow" defensive Yankee, George H. Thomas (don't even get me started...). Once thing you can say about Hood, he was consistent in his mistakes.
I am assuming your post has something to do with the Battle of Chickamauga. If it is, I believe Bragg was in command of the AOT, not Hood, i.e., the concept of the battle and its execution was Bragg's.

As an aside though, Hood took command after Johnston had already given up all the good positions for making a fight for it, in the mtns of Northern Ga., the outskirts of Atlanta, was not a position that even a Lee could have emerged a winner. Johnston had been sent West to turn the war around and he failed and left Hood holding the bag. Constant retreats was not going to win any thing, and if he failed, Hood at least failed in the trying.
 

Joshism

2nd Lieutenant
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Apr 30, 2012
Location
Jupiter, FL
Johnston had been sent West to turn the war around and he failed and left Hood holding the bag. Constant retreats was not going to win any thing, and if he failed, Hood at least failed in the trying.

Bragg was overly difficult to work with.
Johnston was overly cautious.
Hood was overly aggressively.
Thus the AOT was defeated over and over again.
 

wausaubob

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Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
But the real difference was that at Gettysburg, the US army was settled and supplied. At Chattanooga, Bragg's Confederates were already defeated by the time the battle for Missionary Ridge occurred. Many divisions had been shifting positions and the line itself was improperly chosen. Further if Bragg did not have a large enough force to fortify and hold the gap in the ridge, his army was going to be flanked and defeated.
 

SgtDarby8OVI

Private
Joined
Jun 30, 2021
@OpnCoronet My reference to Chickamauga was only regarding Hood's tactical influence at the divisional (though Hood was commanding the corps this day, since Longstreet had the left wing), rather than army level. One of the criticisms leveled at both Bragg and Longstreet was that after the breakthrough, neither were in a position to coordinate what happened next, leaving Hood one of the highest ranking officers on the field who could see that the advancing brigades needed to pivot to the right to deal with the guns and troops rallying on the ridge. He is in the process of doing that when he is knocked out of the battle.

Cozzens writes "Hood's wounding was an incalculable loss to the Confederate effort at Chickamauga. His presence on the field at the height of the breakthrough, when total success depended on the rapid exploitation of the breach, was critical. No other field commander in Bragg's army had the sort of reckless, self-assured aggressiveness so appropriate to the moment. His absence threw the command structure on this part of the field into chaos." (412)

For all the criticism of Hood's tenure with the Army of Tennessee (most of it deserved), he did possess the kind of killer instinct while on the offensive that many other officers in that army, including those above him, lacked.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
@OpnCoronet My reference to Chickamauga was only regarding Hood's tactical influence at the divisional (though Hood was commanding the corps this day, since Longstreet had the left wing), rather than army level. One of the criticisms leveled at both Bragg and Longstreet was that after the breakthrough, neither were in a position to coordinate what happened next, leaving Hood one of the highest ranking officers on the field who could see that the advancing brigades needed to pivot to the right to deal with the guns and troops rallying on the ridge. He is in the process of doing that when he is knocked out of the battle.

Cozzens writes "Hood's wounding was an incalculable loss to the Confederate effort at Chickamauga. His presence on the field at the height of the breakthrough, when total success depended on the rapid exploitation of the breach, was critical. No other field commander in Bragg's army had the sort of reckless, self-assured aggressiveness so appropriate to the moment. His absence threw the command structure on this part of the field into chaos." (412)

For all the criticism of Hood's tenure with the Army of Tennessee (most of it deserved), he did possess the kind of killer instinct while on the offensive that many other officers in that army, including those above him, lacked.
Fair points, but regarding Cozzens' assessment, that wouldn't quite match Scott Patchan's evaluation of how Hood managed his part of Longstreet's attack on Day 2 at Second Bull Run.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
@OpnCoronet My reference to Chickamauga was only regarding Hood's tactical influence at the divisional (though Hood was commanding the corps this day, since Longstreet had the left wing), rather than army level. One of the criticisms leveled at both Bragg and Longstreet was that after the breakthrough, neither were in a position to coordinate what happened next, leaving Hood one of the highest ranking officers on the field who could see that the advancing brigades needed to pivot to the right to deal with the guns and troops rallying on the ridge. He is in the process of doing that when he is knocked out of the battle.

Cozzens writes "Hood's wounding was an incalculable loss to the Confederate effort at Chickamauga. His presence on the field at the height of the breakthrough, when total success depended on the rapid exploitation of the breach, was critical. No other field commander in Bragg's army had the sort of reckless, self-assured aggressiveness so appropriate to the moment. His absence threw the command structure on this part of the field into chaos." (412)

For all the criticism of Hood's tenure with the Army of Tennessee (most of it deserved), he did possess the kind of killer instinct while on the offensive that many other officers in that army, including those above him, lacked.
I agree, although like you I am or his not an unquestioning admirer of Hood or his generalship, but think Hood was not nearly as bad he is often portrayed by defenders of Lee and Longstreet.
 

OpnCoronet

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Feb 23, 2010
Bragg was overly difficult to work with.
Johnston was overly cautious.
Hood was overly aggressively.
Thus the AOT was defeated over and over again.
True enough I suppose, but, it is an interesting speculation I think, to see how Hood's over aggressiveness might have shown if he were in command in the more defensible mtns of Northern Ga., rather than the outskirts of Atlanta
 

edfranksphd

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Joined
Aug 30, 2019
Those examples tend to prove my point. Bragg was not a blundering incompetent, but simply often ineffective because of poor leadership skills and indecision or hesitation in conceiving and executing battle plans. At the outset of Chickamauga, Bragg was unable to assert his authority over Hill and Polk who botched and neglected to carry out Bragg's well thought orders to fall upon isolated segments of the AotC. The breakthrough at Chickamauga was indeed a lucky break (or fluke if you will), that resulted from the unintentional gap in Rosecrans' line and that was exploited by Longstreet. The Kentucky "Heartland" offensive could have gone differently but for Bragg's misunderstanding and undue attention to the political situation in that state, a lack of coordination with Kirby Smith, and a failure to make the most of the tactical advantage gained at Perryville. Similarly, Bragg's initial thrust at Murfreesboro, while successful at first, fizzled out and ended in withdrawal and further dissension with his subordinates. Overall, Bragg's deployment of the AoT resulted in a long, lengthy retreat through Kentucky and Tennessee and was shown to be particularly ineffectual by being outmaneuvered by Rosecrans' at Tullahoma and ousted from what should have been a strong position around Chattanooga. Davis' reliance on Bragg as chief advisor had more to do with Davis's extreme loyalty to his friends than anything else; in any case, the most notable aspect of Bragg in that role resulted in the loss of Ft. Fisher and the last major Confederate port at Wilmington.
It's hard to "assert authority" over mean who were blatantly ignoring direct orders from Bragg, as was the case for both Hill and Polk. Polk death from the cannon shot was the greatest victory for the South during the entire duration of Shermans advance on Atlanta. Every slow or difficult general in Lee's army was sent to Bragg or Pemberton and it showed. After Vicks fell, those paroled soldiers ended up in Bragg's army at Chattanooga, along with their commanders, adding to Bragg's command and control woes. Davis spent 2 wks with Bragg and listened to many generals during his investigation of the alleged problems and still decided to stick with Bragg. Was Davis simply an idiot, or did he realize that Bragg was stuck with a number of idiots and doing the best he could under bad conditions? Seems the latter was Davis' conclusion. Bragg' attempt to take Knoxville during the Chat investment was a brilliant plan, and his only viable plan, but sadly Longstreet was either not up to the task, or was determined to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, and force the plan to fail by virtue of delaying the investment of Knoxville by at least 3 wks past what Bragg had intended. Bragg's exchanges w/Long during this period is a study in patience, as Bragg was forced to repeatedly explain to Long in detail why Long's performance was incomprehensible to Bragg or anyone else familiar with the situation. L was seemingly delaying intentionally, apparently simply to ensure Bragg defeat and then resignation, perhaps hoping to take Bragg's position? L's behavior/recalcitrance/insubordination is otherwise inexplicable, IMHO.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
It's hard to "assert authority" over mean who were blatantly ignoring direct orders from Bragg, as was the case for both Hill and Polk. Polk death from the cannon shot was the greatest victory for the South during the entire duration of Shermans advance on Atlanta. Every slow or difficult general in Lee's army was sent to Bragg or Pemberton and it showed. After Vicks fell, those paroled soldiers ended up in Bragg's army at Chattanooga, along with their commanders, adding to Bragg's command and control woes. Davis spent 2 wks with Bragg and listened to many generals during his investigation of the alleged problems and still decided to stick with Bragg. Was Davis simply an idiot, or did he realize that Bragg was stuck with a number of idiots and doing the best he could under bad conditions? Seems the latter was Davis' conclusion. Bragg' attempt to take Knoxville during the Chat investment was a brilliant plan, and his only viable plan, but sadly Longstreet was either not up to the task, or was determined to create a self-fulfilling prophecy, and force the plan to fail by virtue of delaying the investment of Knoxville by at least 3 wks past what Bragg had intended. Bragg's exchanges w/Long during this period is a study in patience, as Bragg was forced to repeatedly explain to Long in detail why Long's performance was incomprehensible to Bragg or anyone else familiar with the situation. L was seemingly delaying intentionally, apparently simply to ensure Bragg defeat and then resignation, perhaps hoping to take Bragg's position? L's behavior/recalcitrance/insubordination is otherwise inexplicable, IMHO.
Whenever the topic is the A of T and its dysfunctional command issues, there's always a "chicken-egg" question. There's little doubt that Bragg lacked certain helpful CEO personality attributes but there's also little doubt that his subordinates were a three-ring circus of guys with their own lack of "team player" traits.
 

edfranksphd

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Aug 30, 2019
I would respond that for years I've applauded Bragg as the single greatest factor in the Confederate defeat.

His invasion of Ky????? As soon as Union forces assembled he ran back to Tenn. as fast as his little legs could carry him.

Murfreesboro??? His attack at unattended campfires at the extreme end of the Union western flank, instead of the actual flank resulted in unrecoverable lost time which eventually turned guaranteed victory into partial victory and eventual defeat.

Instead of following up his initial successes by maneuvering past his opponent and cutting his supply line and instead ordered inexcusable frontal assaults against artillery lined up quite literally wheel to wheel with concomitant losses. In doing so he ignored the one critical Confederate advantage--that they could operate without a secure supply line, while their opponents were inextricably tied to theirs. A Union army severed from the supply line was literally a fish of water.

Furthermore do you think the Union would have paid Brag to repeat his assaults another day or two or three at Murfreesboro. He could have died the richest man in America if not the entire world.

One other event you fail to mention about Bragg's career was his actions during Shiloh. He could have single-handedly won the battle on day one had he granted the request for artillery to break the Union line at the Sunken Lane. Instead of granting the request and deploying the necessary artillery which could have easily broken the Union defense at the Lane, he insulted the commander and ordered him to make a "real assault" on the Union defenders. Instead he allowed Grant to consolidate his forces, make an organized defense of the landing and give the Union Army a place to land reinforcement from the other side to reinforce the Union defenders into a significantly greater defender than the attacking Confederates.

Finally as to your initial question about Chickamauga being a fluke. Well YEAH!!!!!!!!! And before you bring up the issue of his fractious and incompetent sub commanders, and I am the first to agree that they were indeed that, then it was his duty and responsibility to relieve them of command. If they appealed to Richmond, then it was his duty to give Davis a choice--them or me. His ultimate victory there rested less in his military prowess than in Rosecrans incopempetence.
I find your assault on my defense of Bragg's to be incomprehensible, to put it politely. And ur most definitely the very first person I've ever heard blame Bragg for the defeat at Shiloh. I'll have to add that one to Bragg's bag of rocks his legacy must unjustly drag around. Ur well wedded to ur view, and I to mine, so I'll not waste any more of our time trying to change your view.
 
Joined
Jun 27, 2017
I find your assault on my defense of Bragg's to be incomprehensible, to put it politely. And ur most definitely the very first person I've ever heard blame Bragg for the defeat at Shiloh. I'll have to add that one to Bragg's bag of rocks his legacy must unjustly drag around. Ur well wedded to ur view, and I to mine, so I'll not waste any more of our time trying to change your view.
The Confederate assault on the Sunken road was a critical turning point in the attack. The local commander specifically asked Bragg for artillery support. He denied it as being unnecessary. Had he granted the artillery support when requested, the entire battle could have been sped up. Grant's entire position could have been eliminated. His army could have been forced into submission. There very well could have been no second day and a total victory for the Confederate battle.
 
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Jun 27, 2017
Hood wasn't part of the July 3 charge. He went down early on Longstreet's July 2 attack, having been shot badly in the arm.

Hood's attack at Franklin was also an act of desperation. If he didn't destroy Schofield there then Schofield reaches Nashville and his campaign was doomed.
So instead of attempting to cross the river and denying Schofield a route to retreat on, he instead makes a murderous frontal assault on an entrenched opponent and instead destroys his own army. Even if he annihilates the enemy opposing him, he still has to face Thomas with an army significantly reduced. Either way he destroys his own army.

The only reason he sits there waiting for Thomas to attack him is that if he leaves and returns to Ga, he admits how much he has destroyed his own army. He has to know that given his disasterous losses he has no chance of repelling the inevitable Union attack.
 

SgtDarby8OVI

Private
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Jun 30, 2021
One could also argue that Hood's decision to attack at Franklin was driven by his frustration at not destroying Schofield at Spring Hill. When you combine this with his belief that the army was still timid about attacking (see the quote in my post on the Battles for Atlanta) and that his subordinates had failed him the day prior, we can sense his desire to redeem his reputation--and by default, the rest of the army's--by crushing Schofield before he got away. Remember Hood's ANV mentors, Lee and Jackson, were famous for quick decisions and bold action. However, whereas Lee and Jackson approached taking aggressive steps with cold precision, the crippled, egotistical, love-sick, resentful Hood made this decision based on anger, frustration, and hubris--a sure recipe for the disaster that followed.
 

jackt62

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New York City
Davis spent 2 wks with Bragg and listened to many generals during his investigation of the alleged problems and still decided to stick with Bragg. Was Davis simply an idiot, or did he realize that Bragg was stuck with a number of idiots and doing the best he could under bad conditions? Seems the latter was Davis' conclusion.
Davis was not an "idiot" but he was hobbled by his extreme loyalty to those he considered his friends or allies. That loyalty, while a desirable trait if done in moderation, set the stage for Davis' dealings with those he favored (e.g., Bragg, Pemberton, Polk), and those he disfavored (e.g., Beauregard, Johnston) regardless of their specific military strengths and weaknesses. There is certainly blame to go around for subordinates who had their own agendas, and whose attempts to undermine Bragg may have bordered on being mutinous. It should be noted that the Union armies were not entirely free of command conflict and dissension as was the case with Burnside and Hooker particularly. But the leadership flaw in the AoT was especially unique and extreme, and for that Bragg must be accountable for a good portion of it.
 

speedylee

Corporal
Joined
Aug 15, 2017
The differences between the fighting at Horseshoe Ridge and Little Round Top are numerous but the comparison is still interesting. At Chickamauga, the federal army pulled a division out of its defensive line and moved it to, ironically, the area around Horseshoe Ridge. That left a gaping hole in the Union line that was not filled before the Confederate attack. There were no gaping holes in the Union line at Gettysburg, but thanks to Dan Sickles, there nearly was on the second day at G'burg. Meade did a better job of managing his emergency than Rosecrans did of managing his. At Chickamauga, Bragg had a division held in reserve and Longstreet eventually used it to break the federal defense at the Ridge. At Gettysburg, Lee (and therefore Longstreet) did not have a reserve in its attack on LRT. I've walked both. LRT is rocky and difficult terrain to attack. Horseshoe Ridge is steeper. I'd rather be the defender in either location.
 
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