Was Braxton Bragg the Worst CSA General?

Is Braxton Bragg the worst CSA general?


  • Total voters
    19

EmperorTigerstar

Ad Honorem
Jun 2013
6,398
USA
Often Braxton Bragg was ridiculed by both his contemporaries and our modern historians as a horrible general with many faults and foolish tendencies. But is he the worst general the Confederacy had? Is there one worse? Is he actually a good general who got a bad rap?
 

nuclearguy165

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
4,822
Ohio, USA
He wasn't good, though his main issues tended to be more of a lack of leadership skills as opposed to lack of tactical and strategic skills, of which he certainly wasn't entirely without (as evidenced by initially out-maneuvering Buell into Kentucky, forcing a larger Union force to a draw while attacking at Stones River, and winning at Chickamauga). His defenders go too far, imo, in projecting the blame for his failures to his subordinates. It is true that the likes of Hardee and Polk were quarrelsome, borderline insubordinate, and lacked strategic abilities, but they were also invaluable battlefield leaders.

The likes of Fremont, Halleck, and Buell were worse among the Union generals, at the very least, as were the likes of van Dorn, Pillow, Holmes, and possibly even A.S. Johnston (in spite of the mystifyingly overblown reputation he receives from the LC) among the Confederates.
 
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Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,109
VA
Bragg's toxic personality was a real liability that made a smoothly functioning army command nearly impossible, but he didn't entirely lack military skills in the field, and in administrative/advisory roles he had his uses. His win-loss record isn't by any means the worst among Confederate generals in that theater; in addition to the names nuclear mentioned, I would add Sterling Price and John B. Floyd as well as Henry Sibley.
 

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
4,522
Japan
I’ve ofyen read that he was bad. But I don’t know enough to say if he was the worst.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,621
Dispargum
We should remember Hood's success as a brigade and divisional commander, but as an army commander he was 0-5. Bragg at least won at Chickamauga.
 

nuclearguy165

Ad Honorem
Nov 2011
4,822
Ohio, USA
Bragg's toxic personality was a real liability that made a smoothly functioning army command nearly impossible, but he didn't entirely lack military skills in the field, and in administrative/advisory roles he had his uses. His win-loss record isn't by any means the worst among Confederate generals in that theater; in addition to the names nuclear mentioned, I would add Sterling Price and John B. Floyd as well as Henry Sibley.
Sterling Price is probably the one Confederate commander who, along with Longstreet, I find to be somewhat overly-maligned. I don't mean to compare them in any other way, Longstreet was much better (and even Bragg is a bit better too), but while I don't really think Price was a good general, he wasn't incompetent either, and not as bad as the ones I mentioned. He did reasonably well in 1861, unfortunate to be saddled with van Dorn in 1862, Holmes in 1863, and his Missouri invasion/raid in 1864 was a literal lost cause before it even started. He was ultimately out-numbered significantly here and had to make-do with a riff-raff force.

Agreed though on Floyd and Sibley. The main issue, it seems, with Holmes was his physical unfitness for command by the time the Civil War broke out, given his deafness. He never should have been in any field command by this point in the first place.
 
Last edited:
Oct 2015
367
Belfast
A short passage from The Illustrated Directory of Uniforms, Weapons and Equipment of the Civil War. Edited by David Miller. A Salamander book by Greenwich Editions. Published 2005 ISBN 0-86288-734-8. Page 214.

"One of his subordinate generals threatened to slap his face and force him to fight. Others plotted against him, and there were even stories that in the war with Mexico one of his men tried to assassinate him. Needless to say, Braxton Bragg was not a popular man".

Two other things - President Jefferson Davis was Bragg's only friend. And as unpopular as he was, A fort was named after him.
 

Viperlord

Ad Honorem
Aug 2010
8,109
VA
Davis and Bragg being friends is a myth. As army officer and Secretary of War before the war, they actually clashed. Davis wasn't totally unwilling to replace Bragg but there wasn't really anyone he trusted to do so.
 
Oct 2016
1,174
Merryland
We should remember Hood's success as a brigade and divisional commander, but as an army commander he was 0-5. Bragg at least won at Chickamauga.
+1. IIRC he lost a whole army to Sherman. has a good reputation as an attacking general but sometimes attacking is a mistake.
 
Jul 2018
537
Hong Kong
He's not a bad general considering his military command and tactics, but not remarkably good either. He showed some tactical skills in Stone River and Chickamauga.