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150th Anniversary of the formation of the Army of Tennessee

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  • 150th Anniversary of the formation of the Army of Tennessee

    150 years ago this week, a major structural change was underway with two of the Confederate western armies in the aftermath of the failure of the Kentucky invasion. Specifically measures were under way to resolve what was perceived as the partial cause for the failure of the invasion, the lack of cooperation between Bragg's Army of the Mississippi and Kirby Smith's Army of Kentucky.

    Bragg was restored to command of Department No. 2 and the Army of the Mississippi. His departmental limits were set to middle Tennessee, and almost three days after the last Confederate units had marched over the Kentucky border in retreat he launched an offensive into of Middle Tennessee with the object of threatening Nashville. Bragg changed the name of the Army of the Mississippi to better reflect it's new base of operations, which he first officially reported in description of Forrest's Skirmishes:

    Reports of General Braxton Bragg, C. S. Army, commanding Army of Tennessee.

    KNOXVILLE, TENN., November 9, 1862.

    We had a brisk skirmish with the enemy near Nashville on the 5th, killing and wounding about 100. Our loss very slight. Destroyed a large number of cars, engines, water-tanks and bridges on Nashville and Louisville road. Brigadier-General Forrest was in command. Enemy is re-enforcing. Our forces are moving up. I leave to-morrow for the front.

    BRAXTON BRAGG.
    On November 20th, Kirby Smith, commanding the Army of Kentucky and the Department of East Tennessee, was ordered to report from Knoxville to Bragg's HQ with two divisions. Kirby Smith's command was officially folded into the newly named army as a corps.

    Thus the Army of Tennessee was created:

    General Braxton Bragg commanding:

    First or Polk's Corps:
    Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk (Divisions of Cheatham and Withers)

    Second or Hardee's Corps:
    Lieutenant General William J. Hardee (Divisions of Cleburne {formally Buckner} and Breckinridge)

    Third or Smith's Corps:
    Lieutenant General Edmund Kirby Smith (Divisions of McCown and Stevenson)

    Four Cavalry Brigades with Wheeler as commander.



    Bragg
    "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

  • #2
    I'm very partial to the Army of Tennessee. To hold together in the face of so much adversity was amazing.
    I do not wish to have the slave emancipated because I love him, but because I hate his master."
    --Salmon P. Chase

    Comment


    • #3
      The Confederates were doomed when Jefferson Davis gave command to Braxton Bragg. Never mind that he had a complete idiot (for not wanting to use stronger language) in Leonidas Polk as a commander of one of his corps.

      Braxton Bragg was inept and incompetent, and was hated by his corps commanders. The story of his insufferably arrogant behaviour would start another thread in the form. The only general worse was Earl van Dorn. You are right, Savez, somehow the army held together in spite of the difficulties.
      When looking for the reason why things go wrong, never rule out stupidity, Murphy's Law N 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

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
        The Confederates were doomed when Jefferson Davis gave command to Braxton Bragg. Never mind that he had a complete idiot (for not wanting to use stronger language) in Leonidas Polk as a commander of one of his corps.

        Braxton Bragg was inept and incompetent, and was hated by his corps commanders. The story of his insufferably arrogant behaviour would start another thread in the form. The only general worse was Earl van Dorn. You are right, Savez, somehow the army held together in spite of the difficulties.
        I have to disagree. Bragg wasn't a complete incompetent. He had the same aggressive streak that Lee possessed and had some talent for strategy and discipline and organization. Bragg's biggest problem was that his prickly personality (triggered by poor health) and quarrelsome nature which antagonized most of his senior subordinates and degraded the integrity of his army's command structure. He also held poor opinions of non-professional officers, or officers he did initially start the war with in Florida. And it reflects in the officers who supported or opposed Bragg.

        Pro Bragg Camp -
        Joseph Wheeler
        J.P. Anderson
        Jones M. Withers
        William Bate

        All officers who had initially served with Bragg in Florida. One major exception is William Bate, but Bate was patronized by Bragg.

        And look at the anti Bragg camp:

        Leonidas Polk
        William Hardee
        Patrick Cleburne
        John C. Breckinridge
        Simon Buckner
        William Preston
        James Longstreet
        Thomas Hindman
        Daniel H. Hill
        Benjamin Cheatham
        Archibald Gracie
        Randall Gibson
        Nathan B. Forrest

        This camp, with notable exceptions (Longstreet, Hill, Hardee), were largely not professional soldiers by trade. Bragg held a notable disdain for such officers. In his first report on his corps at Shiloh, Bragg wrote:

        Our organization had been most hasty, with great deficiency in commanders, and was therefore very imperfect.
        Bragg often lamented in private letters a want for professional officers, or at least talented men. He also had no problem blaming these officers when plans miscarried. He accused Cheatham of drunkenness at Stones River when the first attacks from Polk's Corps failed to carry the day. He accused Polk (with some justification) of mishandling the maneuver leading to Perryville. He and Hindman fell out over the McLemore's Cove incident. He accused Breckinridge of drunkenness at Missionary Ridge. Richard Anderson, who would rise to Corps command under Lee, nearly had his career ended when Bragg accused him of being unfit for command after Santa Rosa Island. Bragg did kill George Crittenden's career at Corinth with a drunkenness charge.

        The shame of it all is that Bragg did have talented officers who were not proffesional by nature but whom he failed to recognize, or treated poorly. Cheatham was a bold officer and a competent division commander. Breckinridge was talented. Bragg did at least recognize Cleburne.

        If you look at writings about Bragg, especially by enlisted personnel, there seem to be two Braggs. The first Bragg is the Bragg in charge of the Gulf Districts and Florida. He is caring, visits wounded men in hospitals, and even hires comedians to entertain the troops. He is intelligent, a good organizer, and rated as brave under fire. The Second Bragg is the commander of the Army of the Mississippi/Army of Tennessee. He is cruel, a tyrant, cowardly, inept, incompetent, a schemer and a sycophant.

        There is a reason for this. Bragg was very unlucky to take command of the western army when he did and in the circumstances he did. Bragg replaced Beauregard. Beauregard was popular, flamboyant, and was a hero to the troops and people. Bragg is the almost the opposite personality wise. Bragg also takes command when conscription laws are passed. When Bragg enforces them, many of the enlisted blame Bragg or use Bragg a figurehead for the unpopular laws. Bragg's harsh and martinet personality also does little to endear him to his men. When the Kentucky Campaign fails, Bragg also alienates the Tennessee and Kentucky troops in his army by blaming them for the failure of their fellow citizens to enlist in droves.

        Now there are enlisted who support Bragg, but these are largely troops who seem to have served with Bragg in Florida. Thus creates an environment where it became easy to blame Bragg. Now it comes to the part where Bragg can and should be blamed. As a battlefield commander, Bragg was often aloof to changing circumstances and seemed rather indecisive when something in his plan went wrong. He was generally a horrible tactician. All of Bragg's battle plans (except for the first day of Chickamauga which was supposed to be a flanking attack) featured a frontal assault en-echelon style. The Battle of Chickamauga, Bragg's only major victory, is won largely by the initiative of Longstreet and a lucky mishap in the Union line. It reflects after the battle when many of the Army of Tennessee credited Longstreet (perhaps rightly so), rather than Bragg, for the victory.


        While Bragg deserves some blame, I don't think he deserves the majority of the blame for the Confederate failure in the west. In terms of full blown Confederate army commanders, only Lee saw more battlefield success than Bragg did. And despite his personality and vitriolic subordinates, Bragg molded an army that rated as superior in drill and discipline to the Army of Northern Virginia.
        Last edited by semperpietas; 19 Nov 12, 15:13.
        "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


        • #5
          Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
          I have to disagree. Bragg wasn't a complete incompetent. He had the same aggressive streak that Lee possessed and had some talent for strategy and discipline and organization. Bragg's biggest problem was that his prickly personality (triggered by poor health) and quarrelsome nature which antagonized most of his senior subordinates and degraded the integrity of his army's command structure. He also held poor opinions of non-professional officers, or officers he did initially start the war with in Florida. And it reflects in the officers who supported or opposed Bragg.

          Pro Bragg Camp -
          Joseph Wheeler
          J.P. Anderson
          Jones M. Withers
          William Bate

          All officers who had initially served with Bragg in Florida. One major exception is William Bate, but Bate was patronized by Bragg.

          And look at the anti Bragg camp:

          Leonidas Polk
          William Hardee
          Patrick Cleburne
          John C. Breckinridge
          Simon Buckner
          William Preston
          James Longstreet
          Thomas Hindman
          Daniel H. Hill
          Benjamin Cheatham
          Archibald Gracie
          Randall Gibson
          Nathan B. Forrest

          This camp, with notable exceptions (Longstreet, Hill, Hardee), were largely not professional soldiers by trade. Bragg held a notable disdain for such officers. In his first report on his corps at Shiloh, Bragg wrote:



          Bragg often lamented in private letters a want for professional officers, or at least talented men. He also had no problem blaming these officers when plans miscarried. He accused Cheatham of drunkenness at Stones River when the first attacks from Polk's Corps failed to carry the day. He accused Polk (with some justification) of mishandling the maneuver leading to Perryville. He and Hindman fell out over the McLemore's Cove incident. He accused Breckinridge of drunkenness at Missionary Ridge. Richard Anderson, who would rise to Corps command under Lee, nearly had his career ended when Bragg accused him of being unfit for command after Santa Rosa Island. Bragg did kill George Crittenden's career at Corinth with a drunkenness charge.

          The shame of it all is that Bragg did have talented officers who were not proffesional by nature but whom he failed to recognize, or treated poorly. Cheatham was a bold officer and a competent division commander. Breckinridge was talented. Bragg did at least recognize Cleburne.

          If you look at writings about Bragg, especially by enlisted personnel, there seem to be two Braggs. The first Bragg is the Bragg in charge of the Gulf Districts and Florida. He is caring, visits wounded men in hospitals, and even hires comedians to entertain the troops. He is intelligent, a good organizer, and rated as brave under fire. The Second Bragg is the commander of the Army of the Mississippi/Army of Tennessee. He is cruel, a tyrant, cowardly, inept, incompetent, a schemer and a sycophant.

          There is a reason for this. Bragg was very unlucky to take command of the western army when he did and in the circumstances he did. Bragg replaced Beauregard. Beauregard was popular, flamboyant, and was a hero to the troops and people. Bragg is the almost the opposite personality wise. Bragg also takes command when conscription laws are passed. When Bragg enforces them, many of the enlisted blame Bragg or use Bragg a figurehead for the unpopular laws. Bragg's harsh and martinet personality also does little to endear him to his men. When the Kentucky Campaign fails, Bragg also alienates the Tennessee and Kentucky troops in his army by blaming them for the failure of their fellow citizens to enlist in droves.

          Now there are enlisted who support Bragg, but these are largely troops who seem to have served with Bragg in Florida. Thus creates an environment where it became easy to blame Bragg. Now it comes to the part where Bragg can and should be blamed. As a battlefield commander, Bragg was often aloof to changing circumstances and seemed rather indecisive when something in his plan went wrong. He was generally a horrible tactician. All of Bragg's battle plans (except for the first day of Chickamauga which was supposed to be a flanking attack) featured a frontal assault en-echelon style. The Battle of Chickamauga, Bragg's only major victory, is won largely by the initiative of Longstreet and a lucky mishap in the Union line. It reflects after the battle when many of the Army of Tennessee credited Longstreet (perhaps rightly so), rather than Bragg, for the victory.


          While Bragg deserves some blame, I don't think he deserves the majority of the blame for the Confederate failure in the west. In terms of full blown Confederate army commanders, only Lee saw more battlefield success than Bragg did. And despite his personality and vitriolic subordinates, Bragg molded an army that rated as superior in drill and discipline to the Army of Northern Virginia.
          This is really nice stuff, I could take aim at those against Braxton Bragg, like Polk for example (I do not see Earl van Dorn however ) but the list of the opponents of Bragg, including Longstreet, Forrest, D.H. Hill among others makes you wonder how this guy could actually command an army in battle. Egos reigned in warfare and sadly did so in the US Civil War.
          When looking for the reason why things go wrong, never rule out stupidity, Murphy's Law N 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

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
            This is really nice stuff, I could take aim at those against Braxton Bragg, like Polk for example (I do not see Earl van Dorn however ) but the list of the opponents of Bragg, including Longstreet, Forrest, D.H. Hill among others makes you wonder how this guy could actually command an army in battle. Egos reigned in warfare and sadly did so in the US Civil War.
            We can talk about the Bragg camp and the anti-Bragg camp but what is telling to me is what the soldiers said. I have come across very few nice words for Bragg from the common soldier in my research . Sure there were those who liked Bragg but they seem to be few and far between. To me that is what makes Bragg a failure.
            I do not wish to have the slave emancipated because I love him, but because I hate his master."
            --Salmon P. Chase

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
              This is really nice stuff, I could take aim at those against Braxton Bragg, like Polk for example (I do not see Earl van Dorn however ) but the list of the opponents of Bragg, including Longstreet, Forrest, D.H. Hill among others makes you wonder how this guy could actually command an army in battle. Egos reigned in warfare and sadly did so in the US Civil War.
              Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you view it), Van Dorn spent very little time under Bragg. The first instance Van Dorn was relieved from Army command by Bragg after the siege of Corinth for bungling Beauregard's counterattacks. Van Dorn would later lead a cavalry corps in Middle Tennessee, before his murder. Bragg had a very low opinion of Van Dorn. I am sure Van Dorn would have reciprocated.
              "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


              • #8
                While not a Bragg fan so I am probably biased but; I remember reading a book on the Mexican-American War where Bragg was noted to be a martinet. One would have thought his experience in the war would give him a much better understanding of volunteers, but apparently it did not sink in.
                Eagles may fly; but weasels aren't sucked into jet engines!

                "I'm not expendable; I'm not stupid and I'm not going." - Kerr Avon, Blake's 7

                What didn't kill us; didn't make us smarter.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by semperpietas View Post
                  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you view it), Van Dorn spent very little time under Bragg. The first instance Van Dorn was relieved from Army command by Bragg after the siege of Corinth for bungling Beauregard's counterattacks. Van Dorn would later lead a cavalry corps in Middle Tennessee, before his murder. Bragg had a very low opinion of Van Dorn. I am sure Van Dorn would have reciprocated.
                  Friction among generals has doomed many a battleplan, let alone a war. Why was Pierre Gustaf Teuton Beauregard relieved of command? Political personalities interfering with military operations has sunk many a battlecruiser. On other wars; Winston Churchill in WWI, Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands war in 1982. But Earl van Dorn has to have been the worst in the Confederate army. Not one positive comment about him that I can see so far.
                  When looking for the reason why things go wrong, never rule out stupidity, Murphy's Law N 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

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
                    Friction among generals has doomed many a battleplan, let alone a war. Why was Pierre Gustaf Teuton Beauregard relieved of command? Political personalities interfering with military operations has sunk many a battlecruiser. On other wars; Winston Churchill in WWI, Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands war in 1982. But Earl van Dorn has to have been the worst in the Confederate army. Not one positive comment about him that I can see so far.
                    I'd still rank him above Gideon Pillow & John Floyd.
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nickuru View Post
                      Friction among generals has doomed many a battleplan, let alone a war. Why was Pierre Gustaf Teuton Beauregard relieved of command? Political personalities interfering with military operations has sunk many a battlecruiser. On other wars; Winston Churchill in WWI, Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands war in 1982. But Earl van Dorn has to have been the worst in the Confederate army. Not one positive comment about him that I can see so far.
                      Van Dorn actually proved a skilled raider. His raid at Holly Springs turned back Grant's first attempt to take Vicksburg.

                      That said, there is little else positive that can be said about Van Dorn. Losing NW Arkansas and SW Missouri in a less than thought out scheme, bungling Beauregard's counterattacks at Corinth, Bungling the counteroffensive at Corinth and robbing Bragg of sorely needed troops, and sending the Confederacy's only Mississippi River ironclad left on a suicide run to Baton Rouge, all on one resume.

                      That said, I must concur with Hellboy. Gideon Pillow, John Floyd, and Leonidas Polk rate as worse in my book.

                      BTW, Gustave T. Beauregard (Didn't use his first name of Pierre, see photo) was officially relieved of command for being absent from his post without notifying Davis. Beauregard had been suffering from a throat infection that severely weakened him to the point where he couldn't ride a horse and had gone home to seek medical treatment. However, there were more political motives to his relief. He had been critical of Davis after Bull Run, and Jeff Davis didn't tolerate criticism. Beauregard had also retreated from Corinth to Tupelo without notifying Richmond, presumably to avoid being preemptively ordered to remain in the city to avoid losing his army in a siege. Thus Davis jumped at the chance to remove a political enemy from command of his western armies.

                      "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


                      • #12
                        Good posting Longstreet had the opportunity to be it's commander after the corp commanders revolt but refused. Too bad for him and for the AofT. I wonder how much better the Aoft would have performed under Longstreet. For all the bad things said about Bragg one person who only saw him through rose colored glasses was Eliza Brooks Ellis, his wife. And maybe Jeff Davis.
                        "I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers." William Tecumseh Sherman

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Jack Torrance View Post
                          Good posting Longstreet had the opportunity to be it's commander after the corp commanders revolt but refused. Too bad for him and for the AofT. I wonder how much better the Aoft would have performed under Longstreet. For all the bad things said about Bragg one person who only saw him through rose colored glasses was Eliza Brooks Ellis, his wife. And maybe Jeff Davis.
                          Davis also saw Polk through rose colored glasses, and since Bragg and Polk did not get along, Davis should have let Polk go--that would have made a big, maybe not big enough, difference.

                          On the other hand, Bragg managed to antagonize subordinates for no valid reason--e.g. Blaming Breckinridge for the failure of the Kentucky invasion.
                          How many of us would respect a boss like that?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Army of the Tennessee Monument in Metairie Cemetery LA


                            vaincre sans pril, on triomphe sans gloire (triumph without peril brings no glory) P. Corneille

                            Le probleme avec les cons, c'est qu'il ne se fatiguent jamais
                            (The problem with Pr.cks, is that they never get tired ) Michel Audiard

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by grognard View Post
                              Davis also saw Polk through rose colored glasses, and since Bragg and Polk did not get along, Davis should have let Polk go--that would have made a big, maybe not big enough, difference.

                              On the other hand, Bragg managed to antagonize subordinates for no valid reason--e.g. Blaming Breckinridge for the failure of the Kentucky invasion.
                              How many of us would respect a boss like that?
                              I certainly wouldn't. Just might have taken the same approach NBF did (except that I wouldn't have actually carried it through unlike Forrest, who would have).
                              "I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers." William Tecumseh Sherman

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