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Braxton Bragg's Speech to the Army of the Mississippi

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  • Braxton Bragg's Speech to the Army of the Mississippi


    We are doing the 3rd part of the "Making sense of the Civil War" series tonight (which is centered around Shiloh), & this speech is part of it. From a Historic perspective, what is your opinion of Bragg's speech to the army after the defeat at Shiloh?
    The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

  • #2
    It is mostly a propaganda piece to boost morale after the defeat at Shiloh and the investment of Corinth. Beauregard made a similar effort in speech as well as Van Dorn after Pea Ridge. Conscription laws were about to take effect and Beauregard would soon be replaced by Bragg. It is evident that Bragg supported an offensive into the north, but several items here seem suspect. Given his actions as new commander of the army, it would seem he was not so eager for an offensive.

    1. The mention of Missouri as a possible target is possibly to placate Price and his Missouri Guard, which make up about half of Van Dorn's Army.

    2. Use of the word mercenary which was common in political speeches given throughout the south at the beginning of the war.

    3. Van Dorn's Army of the West had never won a battle (or would win one). Price was far from invincible, as his failed Missouri campaign demonstrated the autumn before.
    Last edited by semperpietas; 02 Oct 12, 12:56.
    "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

    Pyrrhus Travels West:
    Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

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    • #3
      Even though we are in the Airmchair General Forum, this plan by Braxton Bragg is typical of of a military instructor who pays no attention to the reality on the field. The Kentuckians should have been left alone. They did not want to get involved in the Civil War. Kentucky refused to join either one of the two sides. (Bruce Catton)

      Bragg's attack swung them to the Union side and the rest is history as they say. That said, any military operation where Earl van Dorn was in charge was a disaster waiting to happen.
      Last edited by Nickuru; 09 Oct 12, 23:50. Reason: concepts
      When looking for the reason why things go wrong, never rule out stupidity, Murphy's Law Nș 8
      Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. George Santayana
      "Ach du schwein" a German parrot captured at Bukoba GEA the only prisoner taken

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
        Even though we are in the Airmchair General Forum, this plan by Braxton Bragg is typical of of a military instructor who pays no attention to the reality on the field. The Kentuckians should have been left alone. They did not want to get involved in the Civil War. Kentucky refused to join either one of the two sides. (Bruce Catton)

        Bragg's attack swung them to the Union side and the rest is history as they say. That said, any military operation where Earl van Dorn was in charge was a disaster waiting to happen.
        I disagree. Since Polk had already pushed Kentucky in the Union camp in 1861, an invasion of Kentucky did have some merit. A victory on Northern soil might have even off set the defeat at Antietam. That said, without the cooperation of the other Confederate officers (or even of his own army under Polk), Bragg's efforts were doomed to fail.

        Bragg did regain much of Tennessee which Albert S. Johnston had lost.
        "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

        Pyrrhus Travels West:
        Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

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        • #5
          Nickru:

          The Kentuckians weren't any more pissed at Bragg invading than they were when Polk occupied Columbus. Like Lee, Bragg had hopes (much higher than Lee) of recruiting some border state citizens to the colors but it was hardly the sole reason for invasion. Bragg wanted to advance the front and take back the initiative in the west and for a couple months did just that. His biggest mistake was leaving Polk (who did what he wanted, when he wanted, regardless of orders or instructions) in charge of the army while he was away at Frankfort.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AboveAverage484 View Post
            Nickru:

            The Kentuckians weren't any more pissed at Bragg invading than they were when Polk occupied Columbus. Like Lee, Bragg had hopes (much higher than Lee) of recruiting some border state citizens to the colors but it was hardly the sole reason for invasion. Bragg wanted to advance the front and take back the initiative in the west and for a couple months did just that. His biggest mistake was leaving Polk (who did what he wanted, when he wanted, regardless of orders or instructions) in charge of the army while he was away at Frankfort.
            Of course, Bragg and Polk aren't the only culprits here. Kirby Smith refused to cooperate with Bragg after ushering Bragg to invade Kentucky in the first place. Van Dorn also played a role by stripping Bragg of his third column under Price. The root of the problem however was Davis who set limits on Bragg's command and made Van Dorn and Kirby Smith essentially independent commanders.
            "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

            Pyrrhus Travels West:
            Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

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            • #7
              Forgot about Kirby Smith. Bragg even outranked him by two whole grades yet held no authority over him.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by AboveAverage484 View Post
                Forgot about Kirby Smith. Bragg even outranked him by two whole grades yet held no authority over him.
                Bragg outranked Kirby Smith by one grade. At that time, the authorized general ranks in the Confederate service were brigadier general, major general, and general. I believe that the rank of lieutenant general was authorized in November, 1862.

                Wasn't part of the Confederate problem in the 1862 Kentucky Campaign the divided command wherein Bragg and Kirby Smith were in different departments, such that Bragg had no authority of Kirby Smith?
                Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by guthrieba View Post
                  Bragg outranked Kirby Smith by one grade. At that time, the authorized general ranks in the Confederate service were brigadier general, major general, and general. I believe that the rank of lieutenant general was authorized in November, 1862.

                  Wasn't part of the Confederate problem in the 1862 Kentucky Campaign the divided command wherein Bragg and Kirby Smith were in different departments, such that Bragg had no authority of Kirby Smith?
                  Believe it happened after Bragg queried his departmental limits. Kirby Smith was affirmed an independent command, as well as Van Dorn and the Trans-Mississippi region.
                  "Hit hard when you start, but don't start until you have everything ready." - Lt. Gen. James Longstreet

                  Pyrrhus Travels West:
                  Hanno the Infamous, General of Carthage, Rb Mhnt of Sicily

                  Comment

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