Open Debate Comparing the marshal skill of Braxton Bragg versus Joseph E. Johnston

Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
As it stands, with all the samples available to judge their prowess of leading an army, who was the better General? I think their resume's are comparable, what are your thoughts?

Discuss.
 

Luke Freet

First Sergeant
Joined
Nov 8, 2018
Bragg was terrible when it came to people skills. He was a decent strategist (excellent by confederate standards in the theater), had a good sense for training and discipline, and a mediocre tactician.
At the very least, he was more aggressive than Joe Johnston, and some of his plans, particularly in the Chickamauga Campaign, could have resulted in decisive victories if it weren't for the command breakdowns and personal rivalries the Army of Tennessee is famous for.
Johnston kept the army intact, but did nothing but retreat and retreat. There's only a handful of instances I can recall when he was willing to take aggressive action: Seven Pines; Cassville, Stewart's Flank Attack at Reseca, and Kolb's Farm.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
I'd go with Johnston. At least he was guided by a specific strategic thought process, that is something resembling a "Fabian" defense in which the defender hopes to attrit an adversary by giving up ground and maneuvering into positions in which an effective attack can be made. I'm not sure if Bragg had any particular strategy in mind; his sometimes confused actions in battle situations or their aftermath (Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga) did not inspire confidence in his leadership abilities. Furthermore, Johnston was beloved by the soldiers of his command, one of the most important traits in a military leader, unlike Bragg who mostly inspired fear and loathing, not only among the rank and file, but among his subordinate officers.
 

Ole Miss

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Location
North Mississippi
Bragg was the perfect commander of an army. His organizational and logistical skills coupled with his sound military strategy enabled him to be the outstanding military leader of the Army of Tennessee! Yet his inability to get along with ANYONE, including himself, hindered his leadership! If only he could had been the puppet master and Uncle Joe the puppet!!
Regards
David
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
Johnson was wounded at Seven Pines. Never had a field command until Dalton, winter of 63-64. It was a little late to turn things around by the spring of 64. Especially when the President thought you were disloyal and his personal advisor, Bragg, had every intention of undermining you. Longstreet favored Johnson’s military philosophy of fighting on the Defensive. Using offensive movements when you had an advantage. That would of probably worked in 62 and 63.

Bragg’s organizational skills and discipline didn’t create military success. Wasn’t all his fault. Davis protected him because he was loyal. Also protected Polk because he was loyal. Tickles me because Bragg retreated from KY, lost a military advantage at Stones River and retreated, got maneuvered out of Tullahoma and ultimately left Chattanooga in fear of being Sieged. Bragg did a lot of Backing Up.

By this time his subordinates weren’t obeying him. Had no confidence in him. Bragg’s plans failed for many reasons in the run up to Chickamauga. He lost his side of the Battle at Chickamauga. The Right portion of the AOT got whooped. Charged continuous into fortified positions on the 20th. Longstreet ignored Bragg’s orders, and with some luck, occasionally winners get lucky, turned the Federal right flank.

Then the finality of Bragg’s field command. Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge. After his only military Victory. He demoralized his Army. Split his Army during a crucial time. Had a huge geographic advantage, which he wasted. Sat for months and didn’t fortify positions. Never thought he would be attacked. Debacle at Missionary Ridge was like no other.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Johnson was wounded at Seven Pines. Never had a field command until Dalton, winter of 63-64. It was a little late to turn things around by the spring of 64. Especially when the President thought you were disloyal and his personal advisor, Bragg, had every intention of undermining you. Longstreet favored Johnson’s military philosophy of fighting on the Defensive. Using offensive movements when you had an advantage. That would of probably worked in 62 and 63.

Bragg’s organizational skills and discipline didn’t create military success. Wasn’t all his fault. Davis protected him because he was loyal. Also protected Polk because he was loyal. Tickles me because Bragg retreated from KY, lost a military advantage at Stones River and retreated, got maneuvered out of Tullahoma and ultimately left Chattanooga in fear of being Sieged. Bragg did a lot of Backing Up.

By this time his subordinates weren’t obeying him. Had no confidence in him. Bragg’s plans failed for many reasons in the run up to Chickamauga. He lost his side of the Battle at Chickamauga. The Right portion of the AOT got whooped. Charged continuous into fortified positions on the 20th. Longstreet ignored Bragg’s orders, and with some luck, occasionally winners get lucky, turned the Federal right flank.

Then the finality of Bragg’s field command. Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge. After his only military Victory. He demoralized his Army. Split his Army during a crucial time. Had a huge geographic advantage, which he wasted. Sat for months and didn’t fortify positions. Never thought he would be attacked. Debacle at Missionary Ridge was like no other.
It's interesting, a strategic retreat sounds like something JJ would do. Did Bragg mess up in Kentucky?
 

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
It's interesting, a strategic retreat sounds like something JJ would do. Did Bragg mess up in Kentucky?

If you ask Hardee, he did. Hardee had no faith in Bragg after KY.

Bragg blames the Kentuckians for his failure, so Breckinridge and Buckner become adversaries.

At Stones River he has his infamous War Council and ask for his vote of confidence. The Last War Council he has. He don’t have one at Chickamauga. Bragg doesn’t get a vote of Confidence.
 

Irishtom29

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Comancheria
Interesting, I always thought JJ was the superior general, but maybe not.

Neither was any great prize but Bragg accomplished more, which perhaps isn't saying all that much. For one thing he handed the western Yankees their only major defeat and gave them their toughest fights.

Maybe Bragg should have shot Hardee, Polk, Hindman and Hill--pour encourager les autres. The notion that it was Bragg's duty to be amiable rather than it was the duty of his subordinates to obey is one I don't cotton to.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Interesting that both Johnston and Bragg were well known to have certain flaws in their personalities. Bragg, more famously, was irritable and difficult to get along with, whereas Johnston had an over rated sense of ego. In Bragg's case, Davis was one of the few people who didn't mind that aspect of Bragg's character; but Johnston rubbed Davis the wrong way early on with his petulant whining about his lower ranking among the original full generals.
 

jackt62

Captain
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
Maybe Bragg should have shot Hardee, Polk, Hindman and Hill--pour encourager les autres
He didn't quite get the opportunity to execute his officer corps, but Bragg was known to have shot rank and file deserters; something that probably had the opposite effect among the men at large.
 

Ole Miss

Captain
Forum Host
Silver Patron
Regtl. Staff Shiloh 2020
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Location
North Mississippi
Evidently the Confederates found it more difficult to fight for a man they hated more than the enemy! Bragg did not have to make his men hate him as it was his gift.
The Confederate soldiers in the Western Theater deserved better leaders but then so did the Army of the Potomac till they found Meade.
Regards
David
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Interesting that both Johnston and Bragg were well known to have certain flaws in their personalities. Bragg, more famously, was irritable and difficult to get along with, whereas Johnston had an over rated sense of ego. In Bragg's case, Davis was one of the few people who didn't mind that aspect of Bragg's character; but Johnston rubbed Davis the wrong way early on with his petulant whining about his lower ranking among the original full generals.
"Interesting that both Johnston and Bragg were well known to have certain flaws in their personalities. Bragg, more famously, was irritable and difficult to get along with, whereas Johnston had an over rated sense of ego."

That why I was saying they have comparable resume's.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2019
Location
Texas
Marshal skill at controlling an army would involve much more than attack or defend. It means logistical supply, troop movement, ability to coordinate those movements, whether they be lateral, forward or reverse. Johnston had more control I believe, by far.
Lubliner.
That's a good point man.
 
Top