Skip to main content

tv   Confederate General Braxton Bragg  CSPAN  August 18, 2017 6:10am-7:16am EDT

6:10 am
work, and then sit down and write your book. he will speak to us today about a topic and i am pleased to see we are not going to hit crickets because the topic is braxton bragg, the but of all jokes. not of particularly humorous crew. -- fall back on the chief jokes accumulated and led to this really distorted
6:11 am
view of both men, but today, we will be talk about braxton bragg. written a fantastic biography of braxton bragg. i believe we have some copies of that volume. we come here because we want to come the case history. we do not want to put forth easy answers, and i think earl has done this on all of his work, he will get you to think long and hard. get you to think that bragg was the second coming of napoleon, but he will get you to ponder and to think about this very important confederate general. it is my pleasure to welcome earl hess. [applause] prof. hess: thank you for that generous introduction.
6:12 am
i was thinking about it this morning, what made me to this book? whenever you go to a civil war roundtable and mention the name braxton bragg, there is laughter coming up the audience because in some ways, it is almost a joke in some ways. in other ways, as pete says, a cheap joke. and also the question this morning as someone asked of holeck theragg or most divided person of the civil war? and never dawned on me to say the most hated men of the civil war, but maybe i should have said that? let me start out with a story, and i know many of you know this story. i overheard at least two people this morning telling this story to somebody else, but they did not know i was sitting next to
6:13 am
them. grant memoirs, ulysses as enlisted a story. even though grant himself admitted he did not know if it was true or not, but he said, it is kind of emblematic. the story is before the civil war, braxton bragg in the u.s. army commanded a company had a post on the frontier, but he also for a time acted as quartermaster and commissary at that post. grant says as commander of the company, he made a requisition upon the quartermaster himself for something he wanted, but as quartermaster, he declined to fill the requisition, and endorsed on the back of it, his reasons for doing so. as company commander, he responded to this, urging that his requisition call for nothing but what he was entitled to as quartermaster, he still persisted that he was right.
6:14 am
by now, bragg referred this paperwork to the post commander for his opinion. my god, mr. bragg, the command replied, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you're quarreling with yourself. [applause] [laughter] prof. hess: it is a good story. i like it. that is probably why many people accepted as grant even though ulysses s. grant did not. we have such a negative and one-dimensional image of this guy based mostly on the wave of negative opinion coming from his critics at the time, and from historians that we readily believe it is true. but honestly, after studying bragg and riding a book about a civil war career, i cannot believe the story. we need to strip away the assumptions that a too long substituted a deep analysis of braxton bragg, the person of the
6:15 am
general. my own view of bragg is that he was a very intelligent and very practical man. the notion that he would waste his time in senseless activity like this defies belief. he would never having gauge is something as foolish as writing letters to himself. even brad's most severe critics admitted -- even bragged's most severe critics said that he was a manager of the justice and no full or no buffoon. yet the public image of bragg colleagues is that of a thorough failure, both as a man and as a general. let me give you some biographical information, after that, i want to give you three or four major points about bragg that consist of public image and analyzing the details and reality and see how to those
6:16 am
things are. he was born in 1870, upper north carolina. he came from a middle-class family. his father was a very cap successful -- his father was a very successful contractor who owned slaves. . eight brothers and sisters. there is an interesting story that nobody has been able to prove that his mother was imprisoned when she was pregnant with him because a black man insulted her and she killed him. , one wrote arians pretty good biography from bragg's birth, argued this probably was true, and argued that it must've shaped his personality to be very sensitive on the point of honor and very prickly when he can to dealing with people. i am not sure we need to put too much emphasis on that. another interesting thing i found out he had a couple of brothers who were very successful, too. they both served in congress.
6:17 am
and thomas bragg, who was a lawyer, also served as jefferson davis's attorney general in 1861 -1862. bragg opted for a military career, west point graduate. it instilled in him a desire and a respect for a high level of personal discipline. he saw his first service after graduation in florida where he contracted a horrible case of malaria that bothered him for the rest of his life. . periodic bouts of the disease and impacted his ability to do well in the war. his most famous pre-civil war episode was the mexican war, where his regular army battery did very well at the contentious battle of one of the staff in buena vis- battle of
6:18 am
ta. this is also the famous incident were general zachary taylor supposedly set a little more great, captain bragg. bragg later admitted privately that it did not happen. that the wording of that command was kind of exaggerated by newspaper reported, but it made him a national hero after 1847. bragg resigned from the u.s. 1856 because of jefferson davis, who was secretary of war at the time. jefferson davis actually thought nearena vista, very bragg's battery. they were not personal friends
6:19 am
in the mexican war. the reason that bragg resigned from the army is because davis wasinstituted -- instituting a number of reforms, some of which affected the artillery branch. he was bitterly opposed to them, and he became better toward secretary davison resigned of january 1856 and held a grudge davis are many years until the latter part of the civil war. well, bragg put his life together. wise, that he found a wife from a wealthy plantation in mississippi. he married and used term money to purchase a sugar plantation in louisiana on the bayou. style, he called it the -- he had more than 100 slaves to work with and treated them like an army.
6:20 am
it was difficult to grow sugar inand demand it at high level of organization and smarts. there were several lean years, but bragg did very well as a sugar planter. the sugar planting business and the life he led in the louisiana as a sugar planter had a big rolling in shaping his personality and his attitude toward discipline. another thing i found interesting, sherman was a friend of braxton bragg in these days. you probably know that sherman was hired as the director of the institution that later evolved into louisiana state university. that was created in the late 1850's in alexandria, louisiana. bragg was on the board of directors and delighted that sherman was hired. previousrman from his -- from the time he was in the army. i get the impression that bragg thought his friendship was deeper with sherman then sherman
6:21 am
thought, because sherman's letter is a little cold. but there is a collection of half a dozen letters in the 1850's that pratt wrote to sherman, revealing his personal views of life. a is writing to sherman as close, personal friend. -- he says, the south needs discipline. he was upset over the young turks that did not take the possibility for working hard and wasted their family's fortune in idle living. i argue that this attitude of severe discipline will rule bragg's life and affect the way he deals with his subordinate generals in the civil war. also, another thing about bragg -- he was a deep supporter of southern causes in 1850's.
6:22 am
hebrags -- he brags to sherman on how much he made that year. bragg thought it was absolutely important to protect slavery. --thought that slavery would he thought the slavery was the only way to protect southern land. when abolitionists was almost killed by a an infamous incident, bragg wrote a letter y, that sumter got what he deserved, that is what all dogs like him should get. it is pretty chilling to read the letter, but that was his attitude. strongan extremely supporter of slavery in many, many ways. not surprisingly, he approved the secession of louisiana.
6:23 am
played a role captioning the u.s. arsenal and baton rouge, a key role in that. he also accepted jefferson davis's offer of a commission as general in 1851. for the first time, he begins to get an inkling that may be did this does not hate me like i assumed he did ever since 1856. and he begins to slowly warm himself toward the confederate president. the confederate president never hated bradd, but always respected him. he wound up commanding an important post at pensacola florida in late 1862, where he organized and well drilled army of the pensacola, then he was shifted -- shipped up to tennessee where he organized the confederate of the mississippi, the field army that would become the famous army of tennessee, fought at shiloh, which was the
6:24 am
biggest battle of his life so far. he had very interesting letters describing his personal experience at shiloh at the missouri history resume -- museum written to his wife, elise. -- those who know military history no one happens. he takes his army on a massive invasion of kentucky. in many ways, he did very well. marching rapidly with very little difficult support. adding mobility to civil war field armies that had never been done before. many union commanders were very impressed a bragg's invasion of kentucky, but he had to give up kentucky for many reasons. theefore, after evacuating state, was branded as a failure by the news media. jefferson davis continues to support him, however.
6:25 am
the next battle is stone's river, december 31, 1862 and january 2, 1863. --rgue that stone river stone's river was bragg's best day of the civil war. he doesn't the drop on the union army on december 31, attacked them when they were not expecting it, drove the right wing of the army three miles, and put out of action 10,000 union soldiers. on union supply lines and wagon trains by sending brigades of cavalry to raid them. magnificent day of fighting. tactical victory and excellence for the army of tennessee. it did not result in strategic victory because the union general refused to retreat and stubbornly held on and bragg byered a misguided attack one division of confederate troops and jerry second.
6:26 am
2.troops on january defeat after tactical victory seems to be a lot of bragg's life as a civil war commander. after stone's river, everything went downhill for him. his generals rebuild. they openly said -- his generals rebelled. they openly said he should be replaced. resigning, he instead dug in his heels. he called on jefferson president jefferson davis -- he called on president jefferson davis as support -- davis for support and jefferson said stay. another confederate commander was sent by davis to look into the situation and what should be done, and johnston said, it would be a mistake to release
6:27 am
bragg. he infected so much damage comparative -- comparatively with few resources, it would be desirable to sacrifice him. so, bragg knew by this time that the president was his supporter, and he knew that joseph johnson was his supporter. many people believe that davis supported bragg because they were personal friends, as stephen which worth pointed out and is very evident. they do not have a personal friendship at this time. jefferson davis, more than once, clearly said in a letter why i support bragg? i admire his administrative talents. even though he may not be the best general on the battlefield, i don't know who else is better. until somebody better comes along, he should stay where he is. that is the truth of the matter in terms of the davis/bragg relationship. as i said it went downhill from
6:28 am
there. bragg stock worsened. his ability to personally deal with the tractors in his command were sent also. bragg was losing it. , bragg's personality, he held himself to high standards. he was a perfectionist. anal, andy he was that is probably true. people with that personality type tend to burn out quickly, and he was burning out as a field commander in 1863. it was not helped by the fact that he had a rating feud with one of his commanders. they detested each other. one of the points i bring out in my book is that you have to understand the effect on bragg's attitude of his commander's attitude toward him. what commander can be successful if he knows his subordinates
6:29 am
don't like him or won't obey his orders? well, you can see examples of this in the following campaigns. and in the companion of july, 1863, when a union army sent out to murphy's bloom, bragg put together some good plans for foiled.hich was the battle in september of 1863, there are two incidents were bragg put together plans to attack isolated parts of the invading union army and its subordinate commanders who did not have faith in those plans and refused to obey orders. his army won a significant victory in tennessee. but afterward, came the question, what should we do to follow up? the defeated union army retreated to chattanooga and
6:30 am
doug and there securely -- and dug in there securely. invade kentucky and bragg said, yes, theoretically that is right, but the army is exhausted and don't -- and doesn't have land transportation. mountains live on the when you go to the appalachian because are no farms. problems,nothing but but his subordinates on nothing but progress. the result was bragg won the inolt against his generals october 1863 and mounted a major effort to get him ousted, and he survived that. he had very few vocal supporters. he was exhausted physically. healthwise, he was almost a rack. the result was he lost control
6:31 am
of a strategic position and badly lost about channing tatum nouvelle -- and badly lost the battle of chattanooga. in december of 1862, he is out. davis appointed him to what many people considered a higher position in the confederate army -- military advisor to the president in richmond. and as military advisor, bragg served davis 100% faithfully. so much so that he basically stabbed joseph johnson in the back and help to get joseph johnson released as commander as his own army, the army of tennessee, in the middle of the atlantic campaign anything 64. 1864.paign in near the end he did in the civil war, davis and bragg in their letters to each other signed "dear, friend."
6:32 am
well, i have someone thinks to say about bragg after the civil war, too. i don't plan on going too long because i would like to have your questions and viewpoints. issuesook at a couple of relating to bragg's public issues during the civil war and whether or not they are true or not. double us insight into bragg's problems. for one, brand developed the image in the confederacy of a man-killer. in general whose obsession with discipline led to the execution of his own men, sometime for trivial reasons, and sometimes without due process without military law. is this true? all of this stemmed from an incident when the confederate -- evacuated, the commander issued an order for nobody to fire a shot.
6:33 am
we want this to be a quiet retreat. well, during the middle of the retreat, a man arrested a soldier from alabama battery and brought him to bragg, who was resting under a tree, told him, i witness this guy shooting at a pig because he was hungry. the man said he was sorry and he did not understand. i did not know about the order, however, bragg went to make an example of him -- rag wanted to wanted example --brag to make an example out of him so told the soldier to take them out into the field into him. he says he was stunned when he heard bragg give that order. and he went to bragg and interceded, and to say this
6:34 am
would be the uprooting of christianity. and it did not take much argument for cook to change bragg's mind. bragg understood his perspective and a merely sent orders to the guard cannot do it, and make sure that this offender is given into the military justice system. the irony is, bragg did not shoot anybody without due process of law. but that did not matter because wild rumors rep of the confederacy that he had done it. -- the stories change. pig,say the soldier shot a but the bullet hit a black boy, but none of it was true. none of it was true. admittedly, bragg was wrong to tell the guard to shoot this guy. he had no business doing that. but it is important to understand that when it was brought to his attention, he was
6:35 am
ready to be >> yet this image of bragg is a man killer spread rapidly. widespread that by september of 1862 the confederate senate tried to mount an official inquiry as to whether bragg was killing soldiers without due process. yet enemies in the senate. he also had supporters. when the committee on military affairs recommended congress fromthat resolution investigating bragg, the ordered a special committee to investigate bragg. after heated debate the senate devoted -- they voted to do so. davis killed the effort by shoving the committee resolution and never acting on it. there was a point there at which the senate, can you imagine the senate getting involved in
6:36 am
investigating something like this? rumors through the confederacy, mary chestnut, that famous woman who was a diarist then living in richmond, who was shocked by these rumors, one of their acquaintances and mandy mr. green, was equally stunned. a confederate soldier for a chicken? you can imagine the damage to a person's reputation. sometime civilians could even joke about the incident. there was a woman from kentucky named lizzie who was a refugee in chattanooga. she wanted to go back to kentucky and hoped -- they wanted to talk to bragg and get permission to go with them when they invaded kentucky. she said bragg was very kind and considerate and a nice guy. one of her friends joked with lizzie later on and said,
6:37 am
"weren't you afraid that when he got you into the parlor he would say that you would take a chicken and then execute military law on you? " and bragg the joke are coexisting side-by-side in the public image. there is another incident that contributed to his image as a man killer in december 1862 just before stones river. a soldier deserted to attend to family problems. he did return to duty. that happened a lot in the civil war. his court-martial sentenced him refused tod bragg resend the sentence. he wanted it to go through to serve as an example despite impassioned appeals from many kentucky generals and officers to reverse the decision. understandably when lewis was executed it created a great deal of bitterness and resentment toward bragg.
6:38 am
his attitude towards discipline is so strong in unbending. you may think this is coldhearted but i would remind you that generals do not sentence men to death. court-martial's hand down that sentence. it is up to the general to review the case and decide whether to approve or reject. if you compare the number of men whose executions rag approved, with a number approved by other , it is about the same. he does not kill his own men at a higher rate than others. there is some suggesting that robert e. lee killed more of his own men then bragg did. to november of62 1863 bragg reviewed 41 death sentences and he saved 13 of those guys. he approved the death sentence for 28. he killedout one man for every 20 days that he commanded the army.
6:39 am
joseph e johnston, the commander of the army of tennessee, approved one death sentence every 17 days. organized the largest mass execution of confederate soldiers in the civil war. or tina fey soldiers were executed on one day, may 4, 1864. something bragg never did and would never dream of doing. job -- people love johnston and not bragg. it was publicity. an enemy very readily of almost all newspaper reporters. it is like sherman. newspaper reporters hated sherman and sherman hated them. it is the same situation with bragg. he detested reporters. the irony is bragg had one friend who was a newspaper man who owned an edited the mobile register, who was a staunch supporter.
6:40 am
even in the pages of that newspaper there regularly appeared articles which condemned bragg's leadership. hired reporters who detested bragg and they snuck in their articles when forsyth wasn't looking. bragg was thatf he was a general who was confused and inept on the battlefield. historians criticized him for directing uncoordinated frontal attacks at shiloh. they downplay the impressive tactical victory he won over the army at stones river and argued that he did not know what to do after the immense victory that day. to a degree that is true. bragg's mind was not as flexible as it should have been. these understand, this book is not a whitewash of braxton bragg. his image among historians is too low. it needs to be balanced. my attitude was when i started this that if you look at bragg fairly it is inevitable that his
6:41 am
stature will rise because he is starting from zero anyway. as far as most people are concerned. [laughter] -- they can be seen as a rehabilitative biography of bragg. at the same time, as i was talking earlier, you cannot afford to let the pendulum go all the way to the other side import trade bragg as the second robert e. lee or anything. he was not that. somewhere in the middle. nathan bedford forrest is the opposite situation. so much that any balanced biography would inevitably bring him down a few pegs. anyone who wrote a book like that would have to have state police escort when they drove across tennessee. i don't think i'll be doing that. [laughter] bragg i don't mind. i don't need to do that. well, one thing i arguing here, in terms of bragg's inability to
6:42 am
win battles and campaigns, my gosh. how many other confederate generals can you say that about. it is not just bragg's problem. think of robert e. lee who won so many battles. and yet, didn't win the civil war for the confederacy, right? got more resources than the army of tennessee did for sure. lee's army protected richmond, jefferson davis made sure he got the majority of available troops and other resources. the army of tennessee in the west was a second cousin. dominated the strategic context in the western theater more than in virginia. bragg, joseph johnston, our johnston, richard taylor, name them all none of them did better than bragg in commanding these forces in the western theater. the problems went way beyond personality or individual ability of any individual.
6:43 am
i put it this way. it is true bragg's army, i call it that. he commanded it 20 months. much longer than anyone else did. whatever level of quality there was in that field army mostly comes from bragg's training. his stamp of approval. that army won only one battle, chickamauga. let's not look at battles. let's look at battlefield days. were there any days in the civil war that the army of tennessee did well? yes. ofre were at least four days brilliant tactical victories on the battlefield that the army of tennessee achieved. bragg was responsible for three of them. three of the four. the army of tennessee suffered dismal tactical defeat on 14 days of the civil war. bragg was responsible for only four of them. while commanding the army of tennessee for 20 months bragg was responsible for 75% of the tactical success days but only
6:44 am
20% of the tactical defeat days. in contrast, john bell hood led the army for six months and was responsible for 57% of the defeat days. that is not to say that bragg was a thoroughly good general but it is to say that he was better than most people thought. especially in contrast to the other people that shared command of that important field army which was the most important of the confederacy in the west with him. that army was bragg's army more than any other commander. certainly was a negative side to bragg's personality. everyone recognizes that. i don't think i would want to spend a day with him. if i could go back in a time machine. [laughter] maybe it would like to stand around and watch him, but if i had to talk with him of not sure that i would. i don't agree with his politics. he tended to be a prickly personality. many of the people who were open
6:45 am
to giving him the benefit of the doubt criticized him for being too focused on selecting friends who sucked up to him. to readily dismissing people who didn't agree with him as enemies. things too much and he divided everyone into this category or that category. he didn't have subtle thinking. especially when it came to interpersonal relationships. many historians argue he was friendless. that he had no supporters. that was not sure. is not true. his staff members loved him. he had supporters among subordinate generals. he had enemies of course also. among his supporters would be ranked -- people like james patton anderson, a brigade and division commander. john k jackson, one of his
6:46 am
commanders. william bates, one of his division commanders. joseph wheeler and a lot of rank-and-file men. look at bragg's personal papers, it is filled with letters written to him after he left the army of tennessee by rank-and-file soldiers saying, "we miss you. when are you coming back? " he gets letters like that for six months after he left the army. a lot of people liked him and trust him. it -- and trusted him. they were afraid to say so publicly. they were not people who wrote to the newspapers. they were afraid to say this. the naysayers in the army of tennessee were high-ranking men and were very vocal and had the years of important people in the confederate government. bragg had that friends but those friends did not do much to help him. his enemies had ample opportunity to make the most of what they had to say about him.
6:47 am
let me talk a bit about bragg after the civil war and then i will end with a quote. two things i want to say. i think this is important. i was interested in doing the research to find that bragg was usually well praised by his federal opponents. he got more praise from his enemies than from his friends. most were impressed by his performance. invaded kentucky he moved the army of the mississippi very rapidly. out marks the defending union army -- he out marched the defending union army. , you heard about him, i have a good view of him. he wrote that the history of military campaigns affords no
6:48 am
parallels to bragg's example as an army throwing aside his transportation, pay no regard to its supplies but cutting loose from its base and marching 200 miles in the face of the enemy and victorious over an army double its size. praise sherman wrote in of the kentucky campaign under bragg. with his vast wagon train, bragg moves rapidly. living on the country. no military mind could endure this long. we are forced in self-defense to imitate his example." bragg's handling of the battle at stones riverdded a lot of rays from federal troops. put out of 31 he action 10,000 union troops, destroyed 300 union wagons, captured over 2100 horses and mules, and captured 25 tons of union provisions, forcing the
6:49 am
union soldiers for several days from killedtakes artillery horses and roast them over campfires to survive until the campaign ended. soldier ofs, a union illinois, wrote to his family after the war, "when you hear folks say that the rebels won't fight, tell them to come and try them. hey fight like tigers." ascribed this to bragg's discipline and training of the confederate army of tennessee. ,nion general thomas crichton praised rag -- raised bragg and his plans that secured the vigor -- that secured the victory at chickamauga. bragg never got praise like that from his subordinates or his colleagues in the south. it is certainly time we see bragg for the cartoon character.
6:50 am
he was a smart man who value discipline in himself and others. he was detail oriented and intense and unrelenting. of course, he had severe character flaws. let me read you a couple of quotes. we will open things up. the first quote is written by someone who admittedly has an ax to grind. , served as a staff polk. afterleonidas the war gale married hoax polk's daughter. bragg was cruel, obstinate, without firmness. he was crafty, yet without strategy. , jealous, vain.
6:51 am
he was a dunghill and disaster. in command of a better army than hannibal and skip io had to conquer rome or carthage." pretty bad. the other quote written by a civilian named john c spence who lived in murfreesboro who witnessed the battle of stones river cap the kenai on events. he kept a nice diary. said," bragg was underrated. bragg does not get the credit he is entitled to. he is sometimes charged by some for the want of tact in the management of his affairs. this may be by those who know the least of what his designs are. trait, he cane make a hard fight and it pushed close he can get out of the way and not be caught. his men respect them but they
6:52 am
are not disposed to worship him. my own view, closer --" if you read the book this will become clear. bragg after the civil war and then i will open it up. he was deeply conscious of history. he was deeply anxious for what heto correct thought was the wrong done him during the civil war but he refused to write his memoirs. he said in a letter, "if i do that anything i publish with my name on it will dredge up all sorts of muck from the underworld as it did back in the civil war days." no one will pay attention. each ride to find other historians to write his story for him. he tried to find other historians to write his story for him. but flirted with the idea shied away from it. they saw bragg as a threat.
6:53 am
bragg offered his archives but -- he couldn't deal with it. there was another officer, et sykes, who wanted to write about his campaign. he, bragg, was excited. sykes refuse also. series of neutral paper about bragg. it was in critical but it wasn't a championing. bragg did not get his story told in the end how he wanted it before he died in september, 1876, while walking across a street one morning in galveston, texas. he keeled over from heart disease and died minutes later. listening and i would much rather hear you guys then to go on talking about this. please, what do you want to say about bragg?
6:54 am
what you want to know? i am open to anything. thank you. [applause] guest: hello. i am from ohio. in studying chickamauga ,pecifically, it seemed to me part of bragg's issues in getting people to do what they were supposed to do, was his command style as opposed to -- it was the way he was telling them. is that fair? >> that is fair. this is something i have discussed before. was rag giving clear orders about what to do or unclear orders?
6:55 am
is, his orders were clear. realizedoint when he that we are talking about -- we are talking about the macklemore's cold incident. , the union army was crossing the mountains and beginning to enter the territory that bragg was poised to defend with his army of tennessee. sending forth one division ahead of the others down the last mountain into --klemore's cold macklemore's cold. cove. he sent to pounce on the other division. heineman, the commander, who had the most responsibility to do what he was told to do -- he also had to send another division to support heineman.
6:56 am
hener was a critic of bragg, told him it was a mistake. heineman lost his nerve and hesitated. when bragg found out about the hesitation he was angry. the result was that a few hours later he probably sent in order to heineman giving him discretion. you can do it or not as you think right. that is the source of what you are referring to, about an unclear set of directions. ,efore that discretionary order bragg was clear, but once he reaches that point he gives him the option of backing out if he wanted to. i agree with you that he should not have done that. on the other hand, i point out in the book, if you are a commander and it is a risky endeavor and your local commander on the scene is hesitant about doing it and you
6:57 am
force him to do it and disaster is in thet, your butt fire. not his. the rightmand or have to force a reluctant subordinate into a risky situation when he is a few miles away in the subordinate is in the fight? that is my point. i don't think the discretionary order was right but i do believe you can practice an area where you can understand why he did it. guest: thank you. host: sure. i am interested in picking that thread up. regarding braxton bragg's health issues. and what role that played in his command decisions and in his inability to get along with others. host: that's a good point. let me bring up two other historians who have written about this. , the graduate
6:58 am
student of grady mcwhiney. well-knownney was a historian who passed away many years ago. from histakes bragg birth to the battle of stones river. student judith hallock picked up the book where grady mcwhiney left off. bragg was ans if opium eater, to get relief from his physical effects of having malaria. she can prove it but she does suggest it as a possibility. the other person i want to mention is kenneth. he is here at cwi this year. he is talking on a different topic at another building right now so he is not in the audience
6:59 am
that in his book on perryville, he suggests not a health problem but a psychological problem. , let me see here, a psychosomatic illness called narcissistic personality disorder. i have to look at it because i do not remember these terms. he believed that bragg exhibited the symptoms of this disorder at times which he says resulted from excessive parental expectations and an inability to meet them. bragg presented a competent and idealized false self to the world but quietly doubted his ability to fulfill that role and that led to dramatic mood swings and a tendency to find
7:00 am
scapegoats when things went wrong." decidep to you to whether the opium route or the narcissistic route is good for you. i think they are both provocative. i like suggestions like that. i am not convinced of either of them. bragg'sis that personality and his inability to get along with people can be explained by more monday and things which i see in people that i meet on a regular basis. [laughter] you know what i mean. i'm not sure we need to dig too deep in freudian analysis in order to understand why someone acts like an sop. ob. there is no doubt that he suffered at the end of his life from the effects of malaria poisoning. guest: i read that robert e. lee a type of malaria
7:01 am
pre-civil war that would revisit lee particular during the end, he did not campaign -- it disabled him. >> that is interesting. i know nothing about it. what you're describing, a type of malaria that is serious enough to recover on a regular basis and cause fevers and those kinds of things and incapacitate you, seems to be clearly what bragg had. guest: thank you very much. he talks about carbuncles appearing on his hand. big blister. that came from treatments he took for malaria which had mercury in it. yes it. guest: i'm andy o'donnell from indianapolis. why did the military name a fort for this confederate general? a great question. i don't know. i didn't look at it. if you look across the southern
7:02 am
states a lot of world war ii era and post-world war ii era military bases are named after southern generals like fort hood. etc.. i don't think it necessarily had anything to do with whether they were perceived as a good or bad general. if you can name a fort after her then why not after bragg? [laughter] hood had a worse -- oh well forget it. yes. guest: bragg's poor relationship with the media. reminds mepermen, it of the power of the press. newspapermen that wielded soluence, they were responsible for the distortions that the public had of generals, particularly when it came to expectations. heralds your work and , remindin harold's work
7:03 am
us that these decisions they made were important. if we want to try to understand military operations there is a dysfunctional element and that -- thatctional element this functional element is a democracy that cannot come to grips with the realistic nature of warfare. these generals -- they have command decisions and manage their army -- it is beyond their control. it impacts operations and then the press, which seem to be a pernicious influence the matter where you turn. >> good point. i'm glad you brought it up. it is a fascinating aspect of doing this book. i looked at newspaper editorials in the reporting situation. diary kept bya one newspaper correspondent for south carolina newspapers who, his name was read -- his name
7:04 am
ed. he wanted permission to ride with bragg and bragg denied him. he said in his diary that he spent several hours that night cutting down bragg. many problems the that far too many correspondents of the 1860's had no sense of professionalism or dignity or fairness. toy used their position exact personal revenge on people who they didn't like. we hope the problem is less today. i pray that it is. especially how influential media is today. i was stunned by some of the things i read by these newspaper correspondents who acted like little children instead of a black servants. -- instead of public servants. many, even if they were
7:05 am
honest about it, they didn't know much about it. they weren't experts. who are they to criticize a general for not doing something when they are not privy to all the information the general is about the decision-making process? there is no doubt at all that bragg's press was thoroughly negative. for most of the civil war. 1862 a little bit into 1863 can find some newspapers like the one in memphis who try to be balanced. by 1864 he was the bad guy and the ogre. there is no doubt that it had an impact on his effectiveness. ofating a negative review his ability. jefferson davis talked about that in his letters commiserating with bragg. he said that he had the same problem. brad -- bragg wrote to davis, saying i know. your problem is worse than mine.
7:06 am
i think there is a dissertation there. or a book waiting to be written. we need an up-to-date examination of the media in 1860's vis-a-vis public service, military operations. i am currently doing research on the chickasaw bayou campaign. sherman,lliant to see gosh, sherman's battles with the newspapers in the chickasaw bayou campaign were very interesting. guest: shawna pennsylvania. of pennsylvania. polk puteonidas together an army in tennessee? >> i am happy to answer that. [laughter] my own personal
7:07 am
interpretation, he was a horrible guy. he was unfit to command a core. he didn't have the ability and worse than that he did not support his commander. he had a strong tendency to play this game. we talk about a friendship between a president and a general it is davis and polk from west point. guest: i think they were roommates. host: i think you are right. davis kept him in command longer than he should have. there is no justification for it. the interesting thing is, as i as hened, bragg, as soon took the army of pensacola up to tennessee to help form the army of the mississippi and meets polk, he dislikes him from day one.
7:08 am
he was shallow and superficial. he lived a lavish lifestyle and was not professional. from the very beginning the two men did not get along with each other. positivel, plok had a positive public image. everyone liked him and respected him. he was a bishop. guest: the fighting bishop. host: something like that. i forget the exact title in the up this couple church. guest: i think he was a bishop. the early biographies, he was the fighting bishop. host: he played that role very well. he was a good holy man. people in the south liked that. you can read so many diaries and letters where people were bowled over by him. they ignore the fact that he did not know what he was doing when it came to military command. he viciously undercut bragg over time, he wrote secure letters to
7:09 am
jefferson davis about him. what effect can this have on bragg's ability to command? when he knows this is going on? the irony is that jefferson davis kept them both in command when the two men couldn't get along with each other and davis hoped beyond hope that someday they will reconcile. and they will work as a team. it never happened. bragg was unable to deal with this. offinally relieved polk command after chickamauga. davis let him down easily and gave him another command. polk for creating this poisonous atmosphere that permeated the army of tennessee. criticismrves some for not responding to it in a positive way it and making it
7:10 am
worse yes, but bragg and not initiated, polk did. yes. christian keller, u.s. army war college. bragg is given a little more credit in strategic circles because he proposed early on a viable confederate strategy in 1861 to president davis. would you comment on your opinion of bragg the strategist versus bragg the army commander? >> good point. bragg was in favor of withdrawing in the spring of 1862 when the fall of donelson propelled this crisis in the western confederacy. he was a proponent of getting away from the idea of holding all territory equally well and evacuating coastlines and concentrating on key points. that strategy was followed
7:11 am
whether bragg was able to convince people to do it. i'm not sure. people had the same idea. also i would argue -- in the has, that if robert e. lee the correct strategy for the confederates, what i mean by that is ripping the pants off every union invasion and knocking them back, creating heavy casualties, and reducing northern willpower to continue fighting -- i think that is one way to understand lee's strategy in virginia. i would argue that bragg at least in the stones river campaign tried to do the same thing. to defend after the kentucky campaign, bragg decided on positioning the army of tennessee 30 miles away from nashville. exposed, vulnerable position. he thought that was important to do that nevertheless in order to
7:12 am
shove it into the face of the federals and then when rosecrans came, bragg attacked him viciously. onwon that tactical victory december 31. that stunned the union soldiers and generals alike. that sounds like robert e. lee. obviously bragg was not able to follow through with that and win the campaign likely could. could he is not lee. but he is likely. thank you for bringing that up. thank you very much. [applause]
7:13 am
7:14 am
7:15 am
>> thank you, ashley. it is my pleasure to introduce for our final afternoon talk barton myers. barton is an associate professor of history at washington and lee


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on