GENERAL BRAXTON BRAGG
Commander Army of Tennessee
General Braxton Bragg's tactical battle command decisions and disputes with subordinates made him the most controversial of the eight full generals in the Confederate Army. He was in command at the Battle of Chickamauga, but he did not attack the retreating Union Army to gain a crushing victory. This most significant Confederate victory in the West should be properly credited to the action of Lieutenant General James Longstreet. General Bragg lead an invasion of Kentucky, but he was defeated at the Battle of Perryville. He actually lost fewer men in the battle, but he withdrew from the field. His army then retreated to Tennessee and gave up all of the ground it had gained. At the Battle of Stones River, he initially launched a successful attack against the Union Army, but he failed to follow it up. He was soundly defeated at the Battle of Chattanooga where he held a superior position on a ridge overlooking the city. After this defeat, he was relieved of command even though he had a very close relationship with President Jefferson Davis. They had been fellow officers during the Mexican War. General Bragg was next made President Jefferson Davis' military advisor. Due to General Bragg's advice, General Joseph E. Johnston was replaced by General John Bell Hood just before the Battle of Atlanta. General Hood did not stop the Union Army, and they marched almost unopposed to the sea at Savannah. General Hood's inclination to attack regardless of the situation led to the ultimate destruction of the Army of Tennessee which was the only substantial Confederate army in the West.
Braxton Bragg was born in Warrenton, North Carolina on March 22, 1817. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1837. He fought in the Seminole Wars (1837-1841). During the Mexican War, he distinguished himself several times. At the Battle of Buena Vista, he was credited with saving the U.S. Army from defeat by repulsing a frontal attack and then holding off an attack on General Taylor's flank. At Monterey, he was involved in bitter street fighting and an attack on the cathedral and main plaza. He won three brevet promotions to lieutenant colonel. In 1856, he resigned from the army and became a Louisiana planter. When the Civil War was about to begin, he was made a Brigadier General in the Confederate Army. After the Civil War, he worked as an engineer. He died in Galveston, Texas on September 27, 1876.
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