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 Post subject: Bragg....incompetent?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:39 pm 
Hey ya'll,

I have been reading some books on the Chattanooga campaign. These are not exhaustive but have been quite interesting. In reading these three books I've seen two opinions posed relating to Bragg's performance. One opinion has Bragg a victim of a poor support staff another has Bragg as an incompetent. Wherein lies the truth? In the middle? It seems there's evidence that would support either view. I am curious what those here would say?

Maj.Gen. Mike Smith
3/3ANV
[url="http://convolutedmuse.blogspot.com//"]Convoluted Muse[/url]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:43 pm 
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Location: USA
I've not read deeply into any of his campaigns, but my gut feeling is that he was indeed incompetant, but only at a very certain (but vital) place.

He was incompetant at working with other people. While he wasn't the only disfunctional one in the AoT HQ, he did tend to "set the atmosphere". His plans were good enough (though he had issues with finishing off wins), but if you can't work with others, you aren't going to go far in life or war

Col. Gary McClellan
1st Division, XXIII Corps
AoO,USA


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 5:03 pm 
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Bragg made good plans, and was a desent general on stratagy, but win it came time to fight the battle he was rotten.

LT. GEN. Tony Malone
III Corps AoA
Crimson Tide
"Do your duty in all things, You can never do more, You should never wish to do less".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 5:55 pm 
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Bragg had his good points, but I can't think of any at the moment. On the other hand, I would rather Bragg over Hood, and either Johnston (Albert and Joe) over both.

If you want to know what the men said about Bragg, Read Sam Watkins' book: "Co. Aych."

It's interesting to note that most of the men still loved Hood, even after his fatal flaws. I doubt many would have stopped over a thirty Bragg to give him water.

Rich


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 3:30 am 
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INMHO Bragg was decent general at the tactical level, he won his share of victories for sure. The biggest problem was everytime he won he retreated and essentially gave the fruits of the AOT's efforts back. This made him extremly unpopular with the troops. He also tended to come up with excellent plans but then suddenly become obsessively cautious during the execution of those plans. In fact Nathan Bedford Forest became so frustrated with Bragg he stated he would never serve under hima again and would probably kill him if they ever afterwards crossed paths.

I have read some psychologial analysis of Gen. Bragg and not surprisingly modern psychologists say he exhibted classic symptoms of depression and being bipolar. If lithium and prozac were availble during those times who knows maybe the Civil War in the west may have turned out quite differently.I feel somewhat sorry for the guy.



Lt. Gen. Ed Blackburn
VIth Corp/AoS
"Where We Lead the Army Follows"


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 5:07 am 
It seems, from what I've read, that Bragg had his share of issues. He especially exhibited a gruffness toward people and had trouble communicating. On the other side of the coin he seems to have been plagued by poor support from his subordinates including Forrest whose performance while Rosecrans manuevered was abysmal. Add the atrocious performance of Liddell, and others and you have a recipe for disaster. I can't help but wonder if Bragg had a set of subordinates like Lee whether his fortunes would have been better? His plans versus Rosecrans were top notch and yet his generals seemed to be so full of themselves they wouldn't carry them out. I can cite at least three of his senior staff who should have been court martialed out of the service for their blatant disobedience of orders.

Maj.Gen. Mike Smith
3/3ANV
[url="http://convolutedmuse.blogspot.com//"]Convoluted Muse[/url]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 2:36 pm 
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I don't think having Lee's subordinates would have helped him. He had Longstreet and Longstreet was a ring leader in the group trying to remove him. All of which lead to one his more stupid decissions. When Longstreet came up with the half baked plan to take Knoxville and then return to Chattanooga before Grant concentrated, he agreed to it to be rid of Longstreet.

Col. Kennon Whitehead
Chatham Grays
III Corps, AoM (CSA)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 2:58 pm 
Letting Longstreet go was indeed a boneheaded move....then again since "ole Pete" came west with the sole intent of taking over rather than doing "his part" having him away may have been a blessing.

Maj.Gen. Mike Smith
3/3ANV
[url="http://convolutedmuse.blogspot.com//"]Convoluted Muse[/url]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 4:39 am 
I have to agree with you Bill except to say I would put Cleburne right there with him. Bragg was good wit assesing a situation and developing a sound plan.....thats where he started to have issues. Hardee and Polk should have been clearly booted to the curb or simply given command of a supply train for their roles in the Murphressboro campaign. Longstreet, once everything was in place, and his vainglorious ego satiated, brought his all to the fight and was as determined a fighter as any but had he gained control of the AoT would have destroyed it as surely as Hood did.

Maj.Gen. Mike Smith
3/3ANV
[url="http://convolutedmuse.blogspot.com//"]Convoluted Muse[/url]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 7:35 am 
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I agree about Polk, he was not a good commander, but Hardee was a fine Corps commander, and most likely would have been a better army commander than Bragg by far. As for Pat Cleburne, we was the best the west had next to Forrest.

LT. GEN. Tony Malone
III Corps AoA
Crimson Tide
"Do your duty in all things, You can never do more, You should never wish to do less".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 2:08 pm 
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Kenneth Noe in his book "Perryville" allots almost 2 pages to a discussion of Braxton Bragg's personality. He points out that historians avoid pyschoanalyis of their subject for the simple fact that nothing can really be proven. One needs to make inferences. His conclusion was that Bragg could not be classified as incompetent (see Leonidas Polk) as much as his actions appear to mirror very much the cycle of a manic/depressive disorder. Extreme bursts of energy followed by ennui and confusion (my words, not his). He feels that Bragg most likely suffered from a varied form of this disorder (narcissistic behavior) which was the by-product of parents who demanded absolute perfection. Bragg also self-medicated for various ailments using, at times, treatments containing mercury and other chemicals which would affect judgment.

BG Robert Frost
Army of Cumberland


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2005 2:51 pm 
Yes, one of the books I am reading labels him as Bipolar....probably a good guess. Btw, I mispoke earlier that should have been Tullahoma Campaign not Murphreesboro

Maj.Gen. Mike Smith
3/3ANV
[url="http://convolutedmuse.blogspot.com//"]Convoluted Muse[/url]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 9:14 am 
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Regarding Mike's reference to Longstreet - he was ambitious to be sure, and seemed to have a typical Virginian's disdain for the military competencies of Bragg and everyone else in the theater. Still, I'm not sure on what basis you would compare his abilities as an independent commander in a light similarly unfavorable to Hood. The latter was almost one-dimensionally aggressive, with a serious drug habit resulting from the pain of his medication. The combination was disastrous. Longstreet, on the other hand, preferred the tactical defensive, was better than most at keeping his forces organized, and was nothing if not sober.

On what basis do you suppose Longstreet would have met with disaster as commander of the AoT?

Lt. Gen. Matt Perrenod
<i>The Blue Ghost</i>
VIII Corps, Army of the Shenandoah


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 10:32 am 
Well, his performance as a Corps commander was solid overall....as long as he agreed with his orders that is.

His performance when given his own command, albeit briefly, was anything but stellar. It really highlighted his weaknesses. Ole Pete was a very good Division commander and better than average Corps commander but a piss porr Army commander. He worked behind the scenes for months trying to get command of either the ANV with Lee going west to save Bragg or of the AoT with him as the savior of Bragg. When he got his orders he was furious to be placed under Bragg and when he arrived acted as much like a spoiled little child as one can at his age which is why he was sent off on his own campaign.....to get rid of him.

Had he been given command of Bragg's army I honestly feel he would have had the same result as Hood......bitter failure with him blaming everyone but himself.

Maj.Gen. Mike Smith
3/3ANV
[url="http://convolutedmuse.blogspot.com//"]Convoluted Muse[/url]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2005 11:49 am 
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Location: Massachusetts, USA
And you have his stellar performance at Wilmington, NC as a good example of his prowess as a commander.

I am sure the defenders of Fort Fisher thought highly of him.

<b><font color="gold">Ernie Sands
LtGen, CO XXIII Corps, AoO
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President, Colonial Campaigns Club
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