Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gen. William Bate: Bragg Supporter.

One of the more vocal Pro Bragg men in the Army of Tennessee was General William Bate. After Bragg's resignation from the Army after the debacle at Missionary Ridge, Bate would travel with Bragg as he departed the Army. Earlier in 1863, after the infamous questionnaire and Joe Johnston had been sent to check on the Army and assume command if necessary, Bate would write to Confederate Senator Landon C. Haynes on March 24th, 1863;
"It is thoroughly understood in the Army of Tennessee in the last few days that General Bragg has been relieved from the command of the Army of Tennessee. Can it be possible that is or will be so? The moment it is done our army here will gradually begin to degenerate into an armed mob, and six months will not pass until it is virtually disintegrated.
Except for an official interview, I do not personally know General Bragg, and cannot be influenced by any other than patriotic motives. While on my crutches I have, as you are aware, bee in rear of his army in command of the District of North Alabama and at Chattanooga, which afforded me a fine opportunity to witness the effect of his force of character and discipline. Recently I have been in the field under him, and my convictions as to the necessity of his presence in this army has strengthened daily.
General Bragg exacts military duty from officers as well as men, and hence many of the former, as well as the latter, have become his critiques ppar excellence. I understand from high sources that his standing with his officers and men has been made a cause of complaint to the Government. My opinion is that the very men who make the complaints will rue it in three months from to-day should he be removed. The truth is, Senator, the captious wishes of officers who are ambitious should not be yielded to merely for their gratification. It is a dangerous precident in an army to gratify the malcontents.
I am for proper discipline and drill, and there is no man in our entire army who is the equal of General Bragg in organizing, disciplining, and keeping together a large command. General Joseph E. Johnston is his superior in many respects I do not doubt, but together we have a happy combination. Keep it so. Those of us who wish the sucess of our cause above all personal considerations have a right to speak to those who are upon the watch tower of our liberties and give them the benefit of our personal and official observation, and hence I write you, as one of our guardians who I hope has to the proper extent the ear of the President, and will not hesitate to make known to him the honest and patriotic opinion of one of his officers who feels that the necessity for retaining General Bragg in his present command is urgent. Suppose this army has to fall back south of the Tennessee and General Bragg is disconnected with it-the terror and awe of his name to deserters lost-what will become of it? It will becone a skeleton from desertion-the shadow of its now substantial parts..."

1 comment:

Daryl Black said...

The last bit is particularly interesting to me. The "terror" of deserters? So the army was being held together largely by fear in the spring of 1863? Seems to hint at weak Confederate sentiment to me. I guess the big question is "How Confederate were the soldiers of the Army of Tennessee?"