Grant on Bragg

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
General Grant in his Personal Memoirs, Chapter XLIV
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The victory at Chattanooga was won against great odds, considering the advantage the enemy had of position, and was accomplished more easily than was expected by reason of Bragg’s making several grave mistakes: first, in sending away his ablest corps commander with over twenty thousand troops; second, in sending away a division of troops on the eve of battle; third, in placing so much of a force on the plain in front of his impregnable position.

It was known that Mr. Jefferson Davis had visited Bragg on Missionary Ridge a short time before my reaching Chattanooga. It was reported and believed that he had come out to reconcile a serious difference between Bragg and Longstreet, and finding this difficult to do, planned the campaign against Knoxville, to be conducted by the latter general. I had known both Bragg and Longstreet before the war, the latter very well. We had been three years at West Point together, and, after my graduation, for a time in the same regiment. Then we served together in the Mexican War. I had known Bragg in Mexico, and met him occasionally subsequently. I could well understand how there might be an irreconcilable difference between them.

Bragg was a remarkably intelligent and well-informed man, professionally and otherwise. He was also thoroughly upright. But he was possessed of an irascible temper, and was naturally disputatious. A man of the highest moral character and the most correct habits, yet in the old army he was in frequent trouble. As a subordinate he was always on the lookout to catch his commanding officer infringing his prerogatives; as a post commander he was equally vigilant to detect the slightest neglect, even of the most trivial order.

I have heard in the old army an anecdote very characteristic of Bragg. On one occasion, when stationed at a post of several companies commanded by a field officer, he was himself commanding one of the companies and at the same time acting as post quartermaster and commissary. He was first lieutenant at the time, but his captain was detached on other duty. As commander of the company he made a requisition upon the quartermaster—himself—for something he wanted. As quartermaster he declined to fill the requisition, and endorsed on the back of it his reasons for so doing. As company commander he responded to this, urging that his requisition called for nothing but what he was entitled to, and that it was the duty of the quartermaster to fill it. As quartermaster he still persisted that he was right. In this condition of affairs Bragg referred the whole matter to the commanding officer of the post. The latter, when he saw the nature of the matter referred, exclaimed: “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarrelled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarrelling with yourself!”
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Tim
 

rhp6033

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Everett, Washington
"... I could well understand that there might be irreconcilable differences between them (Bragg and Longstreet)...."

As a speaker once indicated, any index of a biography of Bragg would have mostly included "disputes with (____). There were few within the higher command of the AoT with whom Bragg did not quarrel. He went out of his way to issue petty orders which irked the men, including the prohibition against playing music in camp, which he said created homesickness and poor morale.
 
Joined
Apr 21, 2013
Location
Eastern NC
After the little research I have done I have little respect for Braxton Bragg. But yet Fort Bragg NC is named after him. Being a grad of West Point does not necessarily make one a great General.
 

tmh10

Major
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Mar 2, 2012
Location
Pipestem,WV
Grant's memoirs is one of my most treasured books. I have loaned out a few over the years and not got them back, but this one I have never loaned out, and will not.
 

Complicity

Banned
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Jul 8, 2013
According to Bragg biographer Samuel J. Martin, the story of Bragg being accused of arguing with himself originated with Grant's memoir and is obviously false. As Martin puts it, "But as Goebbels observed, if a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes the truth."
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
According to Bragg biographer Samuel J. Martin, the story of Bragg being accused of arguing with himself originated with Grant's memoir and is obviously false. As Martin puts it, "But as Goebbels observed, if a lie is repeated often enough, it becomes the truth."


I have no idea if Grant originated it or not. It is pretty clearly just a funny story that illustrates a characteristic of a person. Grant himself introduces it as "I have heard in the old army an anecdote very characteristic of Bragg".

Bragg had a life-long habit of arguing with people. It was possibly the most salient aspect of his personality. As a young artillery Lieutenant, he started a feud with the head of the Artillery branch. He also feuded with his immediate commanding officer -- and went out of his way to go to Congress and testify before Congress on what a bad job Winfield Scott was doing running the Army. In the 1850s, Captain Bragg had a long-running argument with Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War. When Davis appointed him a Major in the 2nd Cavalry, Bragg avoided accepting it (on extended leave, never showed up) until the regiment asked Washington if Major Bragg was ever going to show up (he never did; he resigned instead, which was how George Thomas got the slot).

This trait continued throughout the war. Polk, Hardee and the rest certainly were a recalcitrant, trouble-making bunch -- but Braxton Bragg gave everyone reasons to be frustrated and upset. D. H. Hill arrived in August 1863 eager to serve under his old commander (artillery in Mexico); by late September he was part of the anti-Bragg clique.

Hand-in-hand with his argumentativeness, Bragg held grudges. So even if you tried to make things better, it wouldn't work. Early in the war, I think Bragg tried to overcome that trait. By late in the war, he seemed very intent on repaying old injuries.

Tim
 

Complicity

Banned
Joined
Jul 8, 2013
I have no idea if Grant originated it or not. It is pretty clearly just a funny story that illustrates a characteristic of a person. Grant himself introduces it as "I have heard in the old army an anecdote very characteristic of Bragg".
Martin's point is that he could not find the "anecdote" recorded anywhere prior to Grant's mentioning it in his memories.

That's not a nice innuendo to manufacture about a deceased person who is unable to respond.
 

rhp6033

Sergeant Major
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Everett, Washington
I recall that when Bragg was a junior officer, his men tried to kill him by rolling a fuse under his cot. It exploded, but for some reason it didn't kill him.

An officer who's men attempts to frag him has become very unpopular.
 

Delhi Rangers

First Sergeant
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Nov 1, 2011
Location
Alabama
I think that my signature sums it up pretty well. Not a big fan of "Uncle Joe" but I think he nailed it. Also IMO, I think Grant knew what he was talking about when he referenced the subject of Bragg.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
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Location
Near Kankakee
There are lots of stories that cannot be corroborated.

I have heard in the old army an anecdote very characteristic of Bragg"
Trice called it right -- Grant didn't say it was true, he just said it was an anecdote. Quite possibly the same can be said of the fragging incident.

And it was "very characteristic of Bragg." Bragg may have been a superior strategist and tactician but he lacked a couple of qualities of a superior general: a) He didn't comply with the requirement of keeping peace among his subordinate commanders and, b) he was unable to change his plans when things didn't work out as expected. I can't but think why the Western Confederate ineptitude can't be squarely laid at the feet of J. Davis. Polk, Pillow. Floyd. Seems that micromanagement has its drawbacks.
 

tmh10

Major
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Mar 2, 2012
Location
Pipestem,WV
Of the eight men who reached the rank of full general in the Confederate army Braxton Bragg was the most controversial. The North Carolinian West Pointer (1837) had earned a prewar reputation for strict discipline as well as a literal adherence to regulations. At one time, the story goes, he actually had a written dispute with himself while serving in the dual capacity of company commander and post quartermaster.

His pre-Civil War career was highly distinguished. After seeing action against the Seminoles, he went on to win three brevets in the Mexican War, in which his battery of "flying artillery" revolutionized, in many respects, the battlefield use of that arm. In 1856 he resigned his captaincy-he was a lieutenant colonel by brevet-in the 3rd Artillery and became a Louisiana planter.

His Confederate assignments included: colonel, Louisiana Militia (early 186 1); major general, Louisiana Militia (early 186 1); commanding Department of Louisiana (February 22 - March 1861); brigadier general, CSA (March 7, 1861); commanding Pensacola, Florida (March 11 -October 29, 1861); major general, CSA (September 12, 1861); commanding Department of Alabama and West Florida (October 14, 1861 February 28, 1862); also commanding Army of Pensacola (October 29 - December 22, 1861); commanding Army of the Mississippi (March 6-17, May 7 - July 5, August 15 - September 28 and November 7 - 20, 1862); commanding 2nd Corps, Army of the Mississippi (March 29 - June 30, 1862); general, CSA (April 12, 1862, to rank from the 6th); commanding Department June 17 - October 24, 1862 and November 3, 1862 July 25, 1863); commanding Army of Tennessee (November 20, 1862 -December 2, 1863); also commanding Department of Tennessee (August 6 - December 2, 1863, except briefly in August); commanding Department of North Carolina (November 27, 1864 -April 9, 1865, but under Joseph E. Johnston from March 6, 1865); and supervising Hoke's Division, Hardee's Corps, Army of Tennessee (April 9 - 26, 1865).

Initially commanding in Louisiana, he was later in charge of the operations against Fort Pickens in Pensacola Harbor. Ordered to northern Mississippi in early 1862, he briefly commanded the forces gathering there for the attack on Grant at Shiloh. During the battle itself he directed a corps and was later rewarded with promotion to full general. As such he relieved Beauregard when he went on sick leave and was then given permanent command in the West.
Having served during the Corinth siege, he led the army into Kentucky and commanded at Perryville, where he employed only a portion of his force. On the last day of 1862 he launched a vicious attack on the Union left at Murfreesboro but failed to carry through his success on the following days. Withdrawing from the area, he was driven into Georgia during Rosecrans' Tullahoma Campaign and subsequent operations.

In September he won the one major Confederate victory in the West, at Chickamauga, but failed to follow up his success. Instead he laid siege to the Union army in Chattanooga and merely waited for Grant to break through his lines. In the meantime he had been engaged in a series of disputes with his subordinates especially Leonidas Polk, James Longstreet, and William J. Hardee that severely injured the effectiveness of the Army of Tennessee. Several top officers left the army for other fields, and Longstreet and Simon B. Buckner were dispatched into East Tennessee. With the army thus weakened, Bragg was routed at Chattanooga and was shortly removed from command. Almost immediately he was appointed as an advisor to Jefferson Davis, his staunch supporter, and maintained an office in Richmond.

Ineffective in the position of quasi- commander in chief, he was dispatched to North Carolina in the waning days of the war. The forces under his command remained inactive during the second attack on Fort Fisher, allowing it to fall. When Joseph E. Johnston assumed command of all forces in North Carolina on March 6, 1865, Bragg was soon relegated to supervision of Hoke's division from his old department. In that capacity he surrendered near Durham Station. For a time after the war he served as Alabama's chief engineer and then settled in Galveston, Texas where he died September 27, 1876, while walking down the street with a friend. He is buried in Mobile, Alabama. He was the brother of Confederate Attorney General Thomas Bragg. (McWhiney, Grady C., Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat)

Source: "Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
I recall that when Bragg was a junior officer, his men tried to kill him by rolling a fuse under his cot. It exploded, but for some reason it didn't kill him.

An officer who's men attempts to frag him has become very unpopular.


You can find an account of the fragging stories (it happened twice) in Samuel Martin's Braxton Bragg, C. S. A., pages 59-60. Said Bragg after the first one: "I had no clue about the perpetrator and can suggest no reason for the act. I was not aware that I had an enemy in the world."

A 12-pound shell had been set outside his tent, about 2 feet or so from where Bragg was lying, and the fuse lit. The tent was riddled but Bragg was somehow untouched in the first incident. The second was similar, with Bragg again escaping injury. Amazing luck.

Tim
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Ineffective in the position of quasi- commander in chief, he was dispatched to North Carolina in the waning days of the war. The forces under his command remained inactive during the second attack on Fort Fisher, allowing it to fall. When Joseph E. Johnston assumed command of all forces in North Carolina on March 6, 1865, Bragg was soon relegated to supervision of Hoke's division from his old department. In that capacity he surrendered near Durham Station. For a time after the war he served as Alabama's chief engineer and then settled in Galveston, Texas where he died September 27, 1876, while walking down the street with a friend. He is buried in Mobile, Alabama. He was the brother of Confederate Attorney General Thomas Bragg. (McWhiney, Grady C., Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat)

Source: "Who Was Who In The Civil War" by Stewart Sifakis

J. E. Johnston was furious at Bragg for his part in the Battle of Bentonville. Bragg might have been able to complete the victory by attacking with McLaws division, just arriving. Instead, Bragg sent McLaws to safeguard his own flank and let the opportunity pass.

Tim
 

trice

Colonel
Joined
May 2, 2006
Martin's point is that he could not find the "anecdote" recorded anywhere prior to Grant's mentioning it in his memories.

That's not a nice innuendo to manufacture about a deceased person who is unable to respond.


Anecdotes like that are generally inside jokes, uttered in private between members of an "old boys club" or a close-knit group. They aren't written down or published very often. The "Old Army" was very much that type of place, where almost everybody in the officer corps knew everybody else, or at least someone who knew them.

Such things were common. There were undoubtedly a few running around about Grant. McClellan seems to have thought of Grant as a drunk from an incident in California where McClellan didn't actually meet Grant.

Tim
 

Complicity

Banned
Joined
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Grant didn't say [Bragg's arguing with himself] was true, he just said it was an anecdote. Quite possibly the same can be said of the fragging incident.

Not so much. Martin tells of the fragging incident. He identifies the likely perpetrator as a horse thief who admitted his crime just prior to execution in California.
And [the alleged Bragg arguing with himself incident] was "very characteristic of Bragg".

Perhaps, but anecdotes about Grant's alcoholism in the army before the war were also rife. They were also "characteristic" of Grant at the time. Some of them must have been hurtful to him and did not typically originate in written form from sources after Grant's death. All the more reason why Grant's putting innuendo about Bragg into the written record of a deceased victim is shameful.
 

ole

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Retired Moderator
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Location
Near Kankakee
Not so much. Martin tells of the fragging incident. He identifies the likely perpetrator as a horse thief who admitted his crime just prior to execution in California.

Perhaps, but anecdotes about Grant's alcoholism in the army before the war were also rife. They were also "characteristic" of Grant at the time. Some of them must have been hurtful to him and did not typically originate in written form from sources after Grant's death. All the more reason why Grant's putting innuendo about Bragg into the written record of a deceased victim is shameful.
You're making a watermelon out of turnip seed.
 
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