Braxton Bragg

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Bragg, Braxton (1817–1876), Confederate general.Bragg was born in North Carolina and graduated from West Point in 1837. He fought in the Seminole Wars and the Mexican War and was a Louisiana sugar planter from 1856 until 1861. Appointed a Confederate brigadier during the Civil War by his friend Jefferson Davis in March 1861, Bragg trained volunteers at Pensacola and became a major general in September. Sent to aid A. S. Johnston's army in February 1862, Bragg fought well at the Battle of Shiloh.

A full general commanding the western department in April 1862, Bragg invaded Kentucky but gained little. He fought the indecisive Battle of Perryville, 8 October 1862, then retreated to Tennessee. On 31 December, he fought Gen. W. S. Rosecrans at Murfreesboro, with initial success. Persistent Union resistance drained Bragg's confidence, and on 2 January 1863 he retreated to Tullahoma. Rosecrans flanked him from Chattanooga on 9 September 1863.

Doubting subordinates foiled Bragg's plans to attack below Chattanooga, but on 19 and 20 September—reinforced by Gen. James Longstreet's corps from the Army of Northern Virginia—he attacked successfully at the Battle of Chickamauga and besieged the beaten Federals in Chattanooga.

Bragg quarreled with his subordinates while Gen. Ulysses S. Grant replaced Rosecrans. Grant routed Bragg's Army of the Tennessee from Missionary Ridge on 23–25 November.

Davis accepted Bragg's resignation, but in February 1864 called him to Richmond as military adviser—a job he performed well because of administrative skills. Bragg, though, used malign influence to get Joseph E. Johnston removed from command of the army at Atlanta—with dire results.

In October 1864, Bragg's command indecision lost the Confederacy's last blockade‐running port, Wilmington, North Carolina. He served under Joseph Johnston at the end of the war, was captured on 9 May 1865, paroled, and died in Galveston, Texas.

Probably the most controversial Confederate general, his abilities thwarted by a thorny personality and odd moments of dereliction, Bragg did much to defeat his cause.
[See also Civil War: Military and Diplomatic Course.]


Grady McWhiney , Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat, Vol. 1, 1969; repr. 1991.
Steven E. Woodworth , Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West, 1990.
Judith Lee Hallock , Braxton Bragg and Confederate Defeat, Vol. 2, 1991.

Frank E. Vandiver

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Braxton Bragg, 1817–76, Confederate general in the U.S. Civil War, b. Warrenton, N.C. A graduate of West Point, he fought the Seminole and in the Mexican War was promoted to lieutenant colonel for distinguished service at Buena Vista. He resigned from the army in 1856 and lived on his Louisiana plantation until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he was appointed a Confederate brigadier general and assigned to command the coast from Pensacola, Fla., to Mobile, Ala. Shortly after being promoted to major general (Jan., 1862), he assumed command of Gen. A. S. Johnston's 2d Corps, leading it in the battle of Shiloh (April). With Johnston's death, Bragg was made a general, and he succeeded (June) General Beauregard in command of the Army of Tennessee. His invasion of Kentucky (Aug.–Oct., 1862) was unsuccessful, ending in retreat to Tennessee after Gen. D. C. Buell caught up with him at Perryville. A reorganized Union army under Gen. W. S. Rosecrans was then sent against him and at Murfreesboro (Dec. 31, 1862–Jan. 2, 1863) forced him to withdraw again. In the Chattanooga campaign, Bragg, victorious in the battle of Chickamauga, laid siege to the Union army in Chattanooga, but in Nov., 1863, Gen. U. S. Grant thoroughly defeated him and forced him to retire into Georgia. Gen. J. E. Johnston took over his command (December) and Bragg went to Richmond, where he became military adviser to Jefferson Davis, with nominal rank as commander in chief of Confederate armies. After the war he was chief engineer of Alabama and later lived in Texas, where he died.

See biography by D. C. Seitz (1924, repr. 1971); study by G. McWhiney (2 vol., 1969–91).