Forrest's Opinion about Chickamauga

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rickvox79

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View attachment 63560
Weekly Constitution, May 5, 1874 -- page 2
I wouldn't mind seeing Bragg's rebuttal that the writer mentions at the end of the article. Forrest definitely isn't blameless for some of the overall factors that caused Chickamauga to not be the complete victory it could have been for the Confederates. The information he provided Bragg wasn't always accurate or timely. At the same time Forrest can probably be excused for trying to quickly learn the ropes as a new corp commander, it just wasn't the best time to be learning on the job when you have the Battle of Chickamauga looming.

I also think it was expecting a lot to think Bragg could have quickly followed up the victory after taking the enormous casualties that he did. No, I would rather look to Longstreet and ask why he attempted multiple uncoordinated, piecemeal attacks on Snodgrass Hill or maybe ask Hindmen and Buckner why they let an almost trapped Federal division escape McLemore's Cove. Bragg definitely had his faults and was a difficult man to serve under but to borrow Eric Wittenberg's book title there is "plenty of blame to go around" for the failures at Chickamauga.
 
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BillO

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IMO Bragg was overall commander and if the battle had been a spectacular success he, no doubt, would have been the hero so he has to take the fault.
 
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Tin cup

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I find his statements on Bragg very polite in light of his personal run ins with Bragg not the least of which when Bragg put forrest temporarily under Wheelers command. Forrest didnt take anything laying down and never shrank from calling anyone out.
What "personal run ins with Bragg" are you referring to?

Kevin Dally
 

rebracer

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The specific and most explosive incident I mention concerning Wheeler occurred during the fighting for Chattanooga (September of 1863) when Bragg ordered Forrest's entire command with the exception of one single regiment and battery to be transferred to Wheeler's command (Forrest was in east TN at the time directly engaging Bunside). When Forrest received the order he was infuriated and rode immediately to Bragg's headquarters entered Bragg's tent and refused his outstretched hand and began to state his case angrily.

For the benefit of those who are not familiar with this incident I will include an account of what was said according to Forrest's chief surgeon Dr. J. B. Cowan who was there with Forrest. These words initially appeared in John Wyeth’s 1899 book Life of General Nathan Bedford Forrest , but have been included in other publications and accounts with some of the specific words varying.

“I am not here to pass civilities or compliments with you, but on other business. You commenced your cowardly and contemptible persecution of me as soon after the battle of Shiloh and you have kept it up since. You did it because I reported to Richmond facts, while you reported ****ed lies...I have stood your meanness as long as I intend to….You have played the part of a ****ed scoundrel, and are a coward, and if you were any part of a man I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it. You may as well not issue any more orders to me, for I will not obey them, and I will hold you personally responsible for any further indignities you endeavor to inflict upon me….If you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path it will be at the peril of your life.”

Now, the fallout from this is not clear and I am not aware of any punishment from this and to the contrary it appears that after pleading his case to Davis, Gen. Forrest received a new command in western TN away from Bragg. I will acknowledge that there has been debate as to how and what was exactly said in recent years, but it is most generally accepted that the two had words over this order and Forrest was beyond angry about it. It is curious that "insubordination" of this level was allowed to stand, but I think we can agree that the level of contentiousness in the AOT command under Bragg was in excess of most other armies.

 

diane

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The article, just by weird coincidence, is printed exactly 30 years to the day two steamers on the Mississippi collided - the Forrest and the Pulaski - killing 60 people and injuring scores. I don't know which one Forrest was aboard, but he was aboard one of them and tried to dissuade the captain from racing - common on the river. The drunk captain snarled, "No man tells me what to do aboard my ship! I will win this race or blow her to hell trying!" Whereupon Forrest went to the stern, as far away from the boilers as he could get...and awaited the inevitable.

Sorry for the diversion - couldn't help it!

Forrest didn't say much if anything about his commanders after the war, only what he said in the Jordan and Pryor book which was published in 1868. Johnston came to admire Forrest and appreciate his unique abilities more than anybody else - and this admiration was returned. Johnston is well known by his nickname of Retreatin' Joe but Forrest was one of the minority who understood the value of a retro-maneuver and that it was not a retreat. His trouble with Bragg was that general saddling him with West Pointers who hadn't learned much in school - Forrest always said he usually had 'them West Point fellers' whipped before they got started. His main bone of contention was Bragg's habit of depriving him of the men he had trained and needed, keeping his forces low in numbers - not Bragg himself. Forrest once told Morton, his prized artillery captain, "John, if they would give you enough guns and me enough men, we would whip old Sherman within two months!" ("They" referred to Bragg.)

Sure would be nice to see Bragg's rebuttal! Why did I lose Chickamauga after I won it? Here's why!
 
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uaskme

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I’ve studied Chickamauga quite a bit. Don’t know it all. Not saying I do.

My recollection, Forrest refused to serve under Wheeler. Probably a smart move. So, Bragg keeps them separated, from killing each other. Forrest is on the North, Wheeler on the South. Except during the period when the Federals were found on Lookout Mtn, South of Chattanooga, Bragg has ask Wheeler for intel, Wheeler repeatedly refused to do his job, so Bragg calls for Forrest.

Biggest kick that Forrest gets, is on the morning of the 19th. Bragg orders Forrest to probe the enemy and report. Bragg wants intel. Tells Forrest if he needs infantry, he can ask for it. Forrest engages Croxton, at Jay's Mill. Ector ask for help on his right flank, then on his left. Forrest tells him he has his flank. But he has only about 750 effective up against Croxton's 2400. Cleburne comes up, says that is the first time he has seen dead Calvary. If Forrest had of back out, reported to Bragg, instead of getting into a sustained fight, Bragg would of had a option. What he would of done, is a what if. However, Bragg has a force of 25K Confederates ready to attack what was the Union Left at Lee and Gordon Mills. Thomas marched overnight and place his Corps 3 miles North from Lee and Gordon Mill. Croxton is part of that force. However, Bragg could have continued his plan, to turn the Federals at Lee and Gordon's Mill, he would of turned the other 2 Corps south, away from Chattanooga, and stranded Thomas. Instead what happened, Confederates are fed by Brigade mostly, to the South all day, to counter the Federals. Then on Sunday, they turn the Federals Right flank North, which puts them into Chattanooga.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga has to be the biggest blunder of the War for the Confederates. There are so many why this and that, it has filled up many books. It was a failed opportunity, which was their last best chance to turn the thing around. If they had of acted a couple of weeks earlier and changed Bragg, something big could of happened. In September 63, it wasn't too late. Every day past Chickamauga, is in the direction of, too late.
 

uaskme

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Why I enjoy studying Chickamauga, Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge. There is so much Myth to it.

"Genl We are in a mile of Rossville. Have been on the point of Missionary Ridge can see Chattanooga and everything around. The Enemy's trains are leaving going around the Point of Lookout Mountain.
"The prisoners captured report two pontoons thrown across for the purpose of retreating. I think they are evacuating as hard as they can go. They are cutting timber down to obstruct our passage. I think we ought to push forward as rapidly as possible.
Respectfully etc N.B. Forrest Brig Gen
"Lt Gen L Polk
please forward to Gen Bragg.

The result of this dispatch was to send Bragg slowly against Chattanooga instead of quickly around it. Perhaps Bragg was justified in believing that Rosecrans was evacuating the town, as Forrest suggested. But even as Forrest was dictating he could hear Thomas' axes, the powerful arms which had given security to Rosecrans' left wing along the Chickamauga, ringing on the noonday air as his men felled trees to fortify their position at Rossville gap. That line in Forrest's message telling how the Federals were cutting timber might have caused Bragg to question whether Rosecrans meant to abandon the gap or the town, the focal point of this campaign, without another battle.

In latter years Longstreet pointed to the high significance of Forrest's letter to Polk, saying: "It was that despatch which fixed the fate of the Confederacy. General Bragg had decided to march around Rosecrans, leaving him in Chattanooga, when the despatch was received which caused Bragg to think that the place would be abandoned on the night of the 22nd."

When he received it he decided to march through and not around Chattanooga.

PP382-382 Chickamauga by Glenn Tucker

Again, Bragg gets false Information. AOC has reformed overnight at Rossville Gap. Rosecrans isn't retreating, he is getting rid of non essential personnel. It is Forrest's observations, just not accurate. Rosecrans started reforming about 5pm on the 20th.

Longstreet got to the battlefield at about 11pm on the 19th. Axes were going on the night of the 19th, before Longstreets assault on the 20th. Bragg gets murdered around Kelly Field and Poe Road, where the Federals have used axes to build fortifications overnight. Longstreet was fortunate enough to line up, where there were few Federals. Could Bragg had of done something else, yes. But his best opportunities had already escaped him.

Bragg relieves Forrest of his Calvary, and gives them to Wheeler. A Huge mistake. He should of done the Opposite. Took the West Pointer and apologist over Forrest. Goes DOWNHILL from here.
 
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