Thursday, March 6, 2008

Braxton Bragg

I thought it would be fitting that the first post on this blog should be about the man that led the Army of Tennessee for the longest and most successful part of its career. Sam Watkins wrote "We had followed General Bragg all through this long war. We had got sorter used to his ways, but he was never popular with his troops." However, WJ Worsham would write in his The Old Nineteenth Tennessee Regiment, CSA; "December the 2nd, 1863, Gen. Bragg issued his last order to the men he had commanded for the last eighteen months, and whom he had led in several hard fought battles. He was endeared to the men, by sharing with them the hardships and toils of army life, the long marches by day and by night, through rain and sunshine, heat and cold...With these associations crowding his memory it was a feeling of deep sadness he said fairwell. In departing he left with the army his blessings and the prayers of a grateful friend. The army was loath to give him up..."
Watkins and Worsham were both in Cheatham's Division, and they both wrote their comments in post war memoirs, so whom to believe? I would say that neither are, Bragg's popularity, like his leadership, was a mixed bag. Some soldiers and some officers did like, respect, and support him, and others did not. To address the high command, Bragg held support among a large portion of the army's brigade and division commanders, including Joe Wheeler, Edward Walthall, John K. Jackson, Patton Anderson, Arthur Manigault, Zach Deas, WHT Walker, States Rights Gist, Daniel Adams, Henry Clayton, William Bate, JJ Finley, George Maney, Otho Strahl, and Marcus Wright. So where did the notion of the he was hated by everyone come from? Mostly from post war writings of the anti Bragg faction of the army, who seemed to not be shy with their attacks, and the wartime press. It is interesting that so many historians have ignored the accounts of the Pro Bragg officers and men. I am currently researching the Pro Bragg forces of the army, and will periodically post more of what I find as my research continues. I will conclude with one more quote, this one from Captain C. Irvine Walker of Gen. Arthur Manigault's staff written on July 9th, 1864, "For our sakes I am glad that the country has so much confidence in our commanding General, people will not blame us for not fighting, but I can't help thinking that Genl. Bragg would have conducted the campaign very differently and perhaps with other results,, and I believe better results as we now can see."

1 comment:

Christopher Young said...

Well, since we are discussing Gen. Bragg, I though I would throw some quotes out there from some of my sources. On Friday, July 15, 1864,J.P. Cannon,M.D., a private in the 27th Alabama wrote, "General Bragg arrived from Richmond. I guess they are getting uneasy about Atlanta and have sent him to see if something can be done to check Sherman's invasion. It is getting to be a serious matter, but we have the utmost confidence in General Johnston and feel like he will devise some plan to hold the city, if we can't whip the Yanks in a fair fight." Although Cannon seemed to have the utmost confidence in "Uncle Joe," he perhaps believed Bragg could do some good by reviewing the situation in Georgia. This specific quote actually supports the last quote provided by Lee, with this actually coming from a man in the ranks.