Braxton Bragg (1817-1876)

Braxton Bragg (March 22, 1817 - September 27, 1876) was a career U.S. Army officer and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

Bragg was born in Warrenton, North Carolina, the brother of future Confederate Attorney General Thomas Bragg and the future brother-in-law of Union general Don Carlos Buell. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1837 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the 3rd U.S. Artillery.

Bragg served in the Second Seminole War in Florida and took part in the occupation of Texas. He won promotions for bravery and distinguished conduct in the Mexican War, including a brevet promotion to major for the Battle of Monterrey and to lieutenant colonel for the Battle of Buena Vista.

Bragg had a reputation for being a strict disciplinarian and one who adhered to regulations literally. There is a famous story about him as a lieutenant commanding a frontier post where he also served as quartermaster. He submitted a requisition for supplies, then as quartermaster declined to fill it. As company commander, he resubmitted the requisition, giving additional reasons for his requirements, but as the quartermaster he denied the request again. Realizing that he was at a personal impasse, he referred the matter to the post commandant, who exclaimed "My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself!" It is alleged that some of his troops attempted to assassinate him on two occasions in August and September 1847, but he was not injured either time. In the more serious of the two incidents, one of his soldiers exploded a 12-pound artillery shell underneath his cot. Although the cot was destroyed, somehow Bragg himself emerged without a scratch.

In 1856, Bragg resigned from the U.S. Army to become a sugar planter in Thibodeaux, Louisiana. He also served as Commissioner of Public Works for the state.

Before the start of the Civil War, Bragg was a colonel in the Louisiana Militia and was promoted to major general of the militia on February 20, 1861. He commanded the forces around New Orleans, Louisiana, until April 16, but his commission was transferred to be a brigadier general of the Confederate States Army on March 7, 1861. He commanded forces in Pensacola, Florida, and the Department of West Florida and was promoted to major general on September 12, 1861. His command was extended to Alabama, and then to the Army of Pensacola in October 1861.

Bragg marched his forces to Corinth, Mississippi, where he participated in the siege of Corinth and the Battle of Shiloh. After the Confederate commander, General Albert Sidney Johnston, was killed at Shiloh, General P.G.T. Beauregard assumed command. On that day, April 6, 1862, Bragg was promoted to full general, one of only eight in the history of the Confederacy, and assigned to command the Army of the Mississippi. Beauregard soon departed on account of illness and Bragg was appointed his successor as commander of the Army of Tennessee in June 1862.

In August 1862, Bragg invaded Kentucky, hoping that he could arouse supporters of the Confederate cause in the border states and drive the Union forces under his brother-in-law, Don Carlos Buell, beyond the Ohio River. He marched his army to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and moved out to the north from there, in cooperation with Lt. Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, who was commanding a separate force. He captured over 4,000 Union soldiers at Munfordville, and then moved his army to Bardstown. On October 4, 1862, he participated in the inauguration of Richard Hawes as the provisional Confederate governor of Kentucky. Bragg met Buell's army at Perryville on October 8 and won a tactical victory against him, but he withdrew his army back to Knoxville, representing a strategic failure for his invasion of Kentucky.

Bragg next prepared a campaign into central Tennessee. At the Battle of Stones River, he fought Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans to a draw, but withdrew his army from the field to Tullahoma, Tennessee, so that the Union had some justification for declaring a victory. Jefferson Davis empowered Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, commander of all Confederate forces in the Western Theater, to relieve Bragg of command, but Johnston visited Bragg and decided to retain him. Bragg was then driven from Tullahoma to Chattanooga and into Georgia during Rosecrans's Tullahoma and Chickamauga campaigns.

On September 1920, 1863, Bragg turned on the pursuing Rosecrans in northeastern Georgia and defeated him at the Battle of Chickamauga, the greatest Confederate victory in the Western Theater during the war. After the battle, Rosecrans's Army of the Cumberland retreated to Chattanooga, Tennessee, where Bragg laid siege to the city.

Despite nearly succeeding, the siege ultimately failed, when Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant relieved Rosecrans. In November, Grant and William T. Sherman decisively defeated Bragg at the Battle of Chattanooga and lifted the siege. Things came to a boil in the Confederate high command. Bragg's subordinate generals, Leonidas Polk, James Longstreet, and William J. Hardee all expressed their lack of confidence in Bragg's abilities to Jefferson Davis. Despite the close personal relationship that the Confederate president had with Bragg, Davis relieved him of his command and replaced him with Joseph E. Johnston, who would command the army in the Atlanta Campaign against Sherman.

In February 1864, Bragg was sent to Richmond, Virginia; his official orders read that he was "Charged with the conduct of military operations of the Confederate States", but he was essentially Davis's military advisor without a direct command, a post once held by Robert E. Lee. Later in 1864, having proved ineffective at that position, he commanded in turn the defenses of Wilmington, North Carolina, the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia, the defenses of Augusta, Georgia, the defenses of Savannah, Georgia, the defenses of Charleston, South Carolina, and in January, 1865, the defenses again of Wilmington. His disappointing performance in the Second Battle of Fort Fisher caused the loss of the latter city. Near the end of the war he served as a corps commander (although his command was less than a division in size) in the Army of Tennessee under Joseph E. Johnston in the Carolinas Campaign against Sherman and fought at the Battle of Bentonville. After Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, Bragg accompanied Jefferson Davis as he fled through South Carolina and into Georgia.

After the war Bragg served as the superintendent of the New Orleans waterworks and later became the chief engineer for Alabama, supervising harbor improvements at Mobile. He moved to Texas and became a railroad inspector.

Bragg was walking down a street with a friend in Galveston, Texas, when he suddenly fell over dead. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery,Mobile, Alabama.

Fort Bragg, a U.S. Army base in North Carolina, is named in his honor.