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Re: [civilwarwest] Re: CSA strategy(?) at Murfreesboro

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  • Daniel F. Giallombardo
    Dan, I am of two minds where Bragg is concerned. Certainly he was not the easiest of men to get along with. His health problems and marked lack of social
    Message 1 of 18 , Jan 5, 2003
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                                      Dan,
          I am of two minds where Bragg is concerned.
      Certainly he was not the easiest of men to get along with. His health problems and marked lack of social interaction skills made him, to be courteous about it, irascible.
      His staff didn't like him, and on occassion chose to disobey his orders, or simply ignore them; NOW, having said that, he was the General, he was the man who was expected - "rightly or wrongly" - to have, by virtue of experience and knowledge, solutions to the battlefield problems and situations which arose.
          Perhaps, Hardee would have been a better choice. That is one of the historical "what if's" that intrigue people, and will never be resolved.
                                          Dan
      Daniel Moran wrote:
      About Braxton Bragg I have to share this from another geographical
      location.  Since Major General John Schofield's XXIII Corps was now
      operating in Wilmington, North Carolina (February 1865) it will fit
      here.  A citizen of the city had said something like this about Bragg:

          "If the Yanks had wanted the city of Wilmington this badly, they
      should have just asked Bragg for it.  He'll gladly turn it over to them
      without argument."

      I have yet to see a campaign where he steps into view and disaster did
      not follow.

      William Hardee may have been the better choice for the Tennessee
      Invasion of November 1864, but for personal reasons Bragg endorsed J. B.
      Hood.  But...that's another story.

      Dan

      I guess I'm not expecting such Lee-like initiative from Bragg...

      Let me change sides and ask how Rosecrans was so surprised on the
      morning of the 31st by the assault of McCown and Cleburne? When
      Cheatham's weight was finally added, Rosecrans 41,000 were pushed
      back by 26,000 Confederates. In this case the en echelon worked as
      each USA division was flanked in turn.

      HankC
       
       

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    • Dave Smith <dmsmith001@yahoo.com>
      ... snips ... Sam, I m in agreement with the above with the exception, perhaps, of two points. First, the bait at McLemore s Cove was at best about a
      Message 2 of 18 , Jan 5, 2003
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        --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, SDE80@a... wrote:

        snips

        >
        > Re Bragg: Bragg, notwithstanding the fact that he was a failure,
        > took the initiative a number of times. In addition to
        > Murfreesboro, he also sought to counter the US seizure of Hoover's
        > Gap in June, 1863 with an attack from Shelbyville which Polk talked
        > him out of. His intended to destroy a large chunk of the AOC at
        > McLemore's Cove, and his whole plan at Chickamauga was aimed at no
        > less than the destruction of the AOC. And, strategically, his
        > move from Tupelo to Chattanooga and his advance into Kentucky
        > showed a great deal of initiative, although Kirby Smith made it go
        > awry somewhat.
        >
        Sam,

        I'm in agreement with the above with the exception, perhaps, of two
        points.

        First, the "bait" at McLemore's Cove was at best about a division and
        a half of Federal troops. Granted, they were unsupported, and easy
        prey, but I'd hardly call them a "large chunk." :-)

        And second, I'm not sure how you can link credit to Bragg with the
        rail movement as initiative, and suggest that Smith made it go awry.
        I'm probably playing semantics here, but Smith didn't make initiative
        go awry. The ill-fated command relationship, coupled with
        indecisiveness on the part of Bragg, as well as Smith's playing the
        game his way, ended a promising campaign, IMO.

        Wasn't Negley's Division the one at risk at McLEmore's Cove? Didn't
        he report to Thomas? What *could* George have been thinking? :-)

        Dave
      • SDE80@aol.com
        In a message dated 1/5/03 2:55:34 PM Eastern Standard Time, ... Dave, as far as a division and a half, that s a goodly chunk, in my book, to be destroyed.
        Message 3 of 18 , Jan 5, 2003
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          In a message dated 1/5/03 2:55:34 PM Eastern Standard Time, dmsmith001@... writes:


          And second, I'm not sure how you can link credit to Bragg with the
          rail movement as initiative, and suggest that Smith made it go awry. 
          I'm probably playing semantics here, but Smith didn't make initiative
          go awry.  The ill-fated command relationship, coupled with
          indecisiveness on the part of Bragg, as well as Smith's playing the
          game his way, ended a promising campaign, IMO.



          Dave, as far as a division and a half, that's a goodly chunk, in my book, to be destroyed.  <g>

          I agree the command relationship between BB and EKS was unwieldy, but it is my understanding that BB and EKS reached some sort of agreement relative to their level of cooperation, and EKS went much, much farther into KY than originally agreed.   It's been some time since I've read up on that aspect, though.

          Sam Elliott
        • genesispg <genesis@madbbs.com>
          Here would be a good subject for the Civil War Buffs. Instead of critizing Braxton Bragg(it is a very easy thing to do), why don t we come up with a different
          Message 4 of 18 , Jan 5, 2003
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            Here would be a good subject for the Civil War Buffs. Instead of
            critizing Braxton Bragg(it is a very easy thing to do), why don't we
            come up with a different attack plan against Rosecrans's Army of the
            Cumberland? This included moving units to the attack, maintaining a
            defensive line, setting up any artillery, using cavalry to raid enemy
            lines and/or gather information to be used by the commanding officers?

            This could be fun.




















            --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "hank9174 <clarkc@m...>"
            <clarkc@m...> wrote:
            >
            > Happy New Year!
            >
            > Being this time of year, I was reading up on the battle at Stones
            > River. Danged if I can figure out what Bragg was up to...
            >
            > Was he thinking Rosecrans was going to attack him before
            withdrawing
            > himself? or was that *Bragg's* plan (a la Lyon at Wilson's Creek)?
            To
            > hit and stun the enemy before making a good escape. But if this is
            his
            > intention, then where was he escaping to? The next best place was
            > Chattanooga, a pretty far place on wintry middle Tennessee roads.
            >
            > A second noted item is the command reorganization of Polk's corps
            the
            > night of 30 December. Is officer shuffling something Bragg felt
            > necessary before every attack? (in passing, the morning attack of
            31
            > December was an 'en echelon' from the left with no depth).
            >
            > Out of curiosity, the brunt of the fighting for the CSA at this 2-
            day
            > battle was borne by Hardee's corps and Breckenridge's division.
            > Of which officer cadres was Bragg the most leery? Hardee's and
            > Breckenridge's. Makes me wonder if Bragg didn't have a 'do or die'
            > attitude.
            >
            >
            > HankC
          • hank9174 <clarkc@missouri.edu>
            ... talked ... and ... initiative ... I agree that Bragg gets high marks for initiative. However, Boatner quotes Horn as saying Bragg s execution of his own
            Message 5 of 18 , Jan 5, 2003
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              --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Dave Smith <dmsmith001@y...>"
              <dmsmith001@y...> wrote:
              > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, SDE80@a... wrote:
              >
              > snips
              >
              > >
              > > Re Bragg: Bragg, notwithstanding the fact that he was a failure,
              > > took the initiative a number of times. In addition to
              > > Murfreesboro, he also sought to counter the US seizure of Hoover's
              > > Gap in June, 1863 with an attack from Shelbyville which Polk
              talked
              > > him out of. His intended to destroy a large chunk of the AOC at
              > > McLemore's Cove, and his whole plan at Chickamauga was aimed at no
              > > less than the destruction of the AOC. And, strategically, his
              > > move from Tupelo to Chattanooga and his advance into Kentucky
              > > showed a great deal of initiative, although Kirby Smith made it go
              > > awry somewhat.
              > >
              > Sam,
              >
              > I'm in agreement with the above with the exception, perhaps, of two
              > points.
              >
              > First, the "bait" at McLemore's Cove was at best about a division
              and
              > a half of Federal troops. Granted, they were unsupported, and easy
              > prey, but I'd hardly call them a "large chunk." :-)
              >
              > And second, I'm not sure how you can link credit to Bragg with the
              > rail movement as initiative, and suggest that Smith made it go awry.

              > I'm probably playing semantics here, but Smith didn't make
              initiative
              > go awry. The ill-fated command relationship, coupled with
              > indecisiveness on the part of Bragg, as well as Smith's playing the
              > game his way, ended a promising campaign, IMO.
              >
              > Wasn't Negley's Division the one at risk at McLEmore's Cove? Didn't
              > he report to Thomas? What *could* George have been thinking? :-)
              >
              > Dave

              I agree that Bragg gets high marks for initiative. However, Boatner
              quotes Horn as saying Bragg's execution of his own plans was "hampered
              by an innate vagueness of purpose". That calls it pretty well...he
              was good at achieving surprise and intial success, but then what?

              Connely writes that just prior to the battle Stones River, Wheeler
              rode around Rosecrans army in 24 hours. This would certainly lead *me*
              to believe that Rosecrans main body was fairly small.

              Despite the seeming ineptness of the high commands, the mud, freezing
              weather, rain and sleet of the week before, the fighting at Stones
              River lead to appalling casualties: 13,000 for the USA, 12,000 for the
              CSA, all but about 3,000 occuring on the 31st.


              HankC
            • josepharose <josepharose@yahoo.com>
              In response to the request for an alternative attack plan for Bragg, I would advance the following as a start: Use the same basic plan as Bragg s, but keep the
              Message 6 of 18 , Jan 5, 2003
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                In response to the request for an alternative attack plan for Bragg,
                I would advance the following as a start:

                Use the same basic plan as Bragg's, but keep the left flank pumped
                up, like the original German plan against France in 1914.

                Instead of Breckinridge's 8000-strong division staying on the
                Murfreesboro side of the river, split them up--and give them plenty
                of artillery for defense. To cover that side, extend the line from
                the small hill near the river, which has W. Murfree's residence on
                top, to the higher prominence one half mile to the east-northeast;
                Pegram's cavalry can cover the ground on the far side of the little
                creek further to the northeast.

                Similarly, cover the turnpike and bridges approaching the town on
                the other bank near the Widow James house; artillery covering the
                open ground in front of much of this part of the line would make it
                dangerous for the Federals to advance. Have them dig entrenchments
                on both sides of Stones River, but still let the troops show
                themselves to the Federals, with a good line of skirmishers out
                front.

                This should free up the rest of the army for an early morning attack
                on McCook. The additional men (much of Withers' and Cheatham's
                divisions) would allow a more complete flanking of the Union right,
                and it would provide a larger reserve to take advantage of local
                successes and to replace tired units in the first wave. Instead of
                Bragg's echelon attack, which called for advances against prepared
                positions all along the line, keep the CSA troops moving in a large
                wheel to the right. After McCook, no other Federal force would be
                attacked in its original position.

                With Wharton's cavalry on the extreme left, the mass of Confederates
                would have a better chance of pushing the Federals against the river
                and cutting off their line of communications.

                Joseph
              • josepharose <josepharose@yahoo.com>
                ... wrote: [snip] ... Didn t ... Mr. Smith: Pap Thomas was apparently thinking that it was a mistake to go further towards Lafayette, and he
                Message 7 of 18 , Jan 5, 2003
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                  --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Dave Smith <dmsmith001@y...>"
                  <dmsmith001@y...> wrote:

                  [snip]

                  > Wasn't Negley's Division the one at risk at McLEmore's Cove?
                  Didn't
                  > he report to Thomas? What *could* George have been thinking? :-)
                  >
                  > Dave

                  Mr. Smith:

                  Pap Thomas was apparently thinking that it was a mistake to go
                  further towards Lafayette, and he provided support for Negley.
                  Thomas was quite smart in that respect. He might also be
                  called "slow" and even insubordinate for this failure to push
                  forward without delay, but it was militarily proper.

                  If you give any credit to Van Horne, he wrote concerning the events
                  around September 9th: "Thus before General Thomas was invited to
                  consult with General Rosecrans it had been decided to pursue the
                  enemy, and he was invited to consult only in reference to the
                  pursuit. But when the two generals met, Thomas opposed the pursuit
                  altogether and presented military considerations of palpable weight
                  against the measure," and "In view of the manifest practicability of
                  the concentration of the army at Chattanooga, Thomas urged Rosecrans
                  to abandon his scheme of pursuit and establish his army at that
                  point and perfect communications with Bridgeport and Nashville.
                  After this had been done, the offensive could have been taken from
                  Chattanooga as a base. General Thomas did not know how far Bragg
                  intended to retreat, but independently of the enemy's plans he was
                  urgent that what had been gained should be made secure. He was
                  opposed to a movement that might bring on a battle when the army
                  having nearly exhausted its supplies, transported from Bridgeport,
                  could not follow up a victory, in the event of winning one; and
                  where, if defeat should be the issue, the problem of supplies would
                  be difficult of solution."

                  But there are also ORs which indicate Thomas' unwillingness to go
                  charging into the cove and beyond, as Rosecrans wanted him to do
                  (9/9/63: "A vigorous pursuit has been ordered by the whole army.")

                  Negley noted to Baird that there were: "indications of a superior
                  force of the enemy being in position near Dug Gap. Another column,
                  estimated as a division, with twelve pieces of artillery, near
                  Morgan's Mill, 3 miles to my left in the direction of Catlett's Gap.
                  Also a cavalry force, under Forrest, at Culp's Mill, near the road
                  from Pond Spring to Cooper's Gap, there with the intention (as
                  citizens and deserters report) of attacking our rear in the morning.
                  My scouts all report the appearance of an offensive movement in this
                  direction, and they confirm the reports I received this morning of a
                  considerable force of the enemy being in the vicinity of La Fayette
                  and Dug Gap. My position is somewhat advanced and exposed to a flank
                  approach by two roads leading from Catlett's Gap; but it is a
                  favorable one to fight the enemy, providing your division is within
                  supporting distance, which I understood from General Thomas would be
                  the case, and that your division would move up to Chickamauga Creek
                  to-night."

                  This wasn't going to be much of a surprise, and Thomas was operating
                  without cavalry, as well. Instead of getting credit for his proper
                  circumspection in these circumstances, Thomas was criticized for not
                  having reached Lafayette--which would have opened his corps up for a
                  total defeat. Headquarters seemed to dismiss reports of a threat
                  from Bragg ("There have been several rumors within the last two days
                  that General Bragg had moved out with the design to fight us between
                  this and La Fayette. These rumors, and particularly the story of the
                  contraband, are hardly worthy of a moment's consideration.").

                  Maybe there is some *other* area where Thomas could be justly
                  criticized.

                  Joseph
                • hank9174 <clarkc@missouri.edu>
                  ... enemy ... officers? ... I m not much into the what-if game...it s too much like science fiction...first you add a division here, than you improve the
                  Message 8 of 18 , Jan 6, 2003
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                    --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "genesispg <genesis@m...>"
                    <genesis@m...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Here would be a good subject for the Civil War Buffs. Instead of
                    > critizing Braxton Bragg(it is a very easy thing to do), why don't we
                    > come up with a different attack plan against Rosecrans's Army of the
                    > Cumberland? This included moving units to the attack, maintaining a
                    > defensive line, setting up any artillery, using cavalry to raid
                    enemy
                    > lines and/or gather information to be used by the commanding
                    officers?
                    >
                    > This could be fun.
                    >

                    I'm not much into the 'what-if' game...it's too much like science
                    fiction...first you add a division here, than you improve the roads,
                    then un-burn a bridge over there and finally return some missing
                    cavalry...voila, victory...
                  • Dave Smith <dmsmith001@yahoo.com>
                    Or, as often seems to happen (and was reflected just yesterday in a post), we assume that Braxton Bragg knows everything we know about logistics, terrain,
                    Message 9 of 18 , Jan 6, 2003
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                      Or, as often seems to happen (and was reflected just yesterday in a
                      post), we assume that Braxton Bragg knows everything we know about
                      logistics, terrain, strengths, and weaknesses - like we're playing a
                      board game - and decide what he *should* have done given all that
                      information.

                      In other words, an exercise for a board game, but not serious history
                      discussion ... :-)

                      Dave

                      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "hank9174 <clarkc@m...>"
                      <clarkc@m...> wrote:
                      > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "genesispg <genesis@m...>"
                      > <genesis@m...> wrote:
                      > >
                      > > Here would be a good subject for the Civil War Buffs. Instead of
                      > > critizing Braxton Bragg(it is a very easy thing to do), why don't
                      we
                      > > come up with a different attack plan against Rosecrans's Army of
                      the
                      > > Cumberland? This included moving units to the attack,
                      maintaining a
                      > > defensive line, setting up any artillery, using cavalry to raid
                      > enemy
                      > > lines and/or gather information to be used by the commanding
                      > officers?
                      > >
                      > > This could be fun.
                      > >
                      >
                      > I'm not much into the 'what-if' game...it's too much like science
                      > fiction...first you add a division here, than you improve the
                      roads,
                      > then un-burn a bridge over there and finally return some missing
                      > cavalry...voila, victory...
                    • Aurelie1999@aol.com
                      In a message dated 1/6/2003 10:42:06 AM Central Standard Time, ... Great description and I agree. Change one component and the domino effect takes over and all
                      Message 10 of 18 , Jan 6, 2003
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                        In a message dated 1/6/2003 10:42:06 AM Central Standard Time, clarkc@... writes:

                        I'm not much into the 'what-if' game...it's too much like science
                        fiction...first you add a division here, than you improve the roads,
                        then un-burn a bridge over there and finally return some missing
                        cavalry...voila, victory...


                        Great description and I agree. Change one component and the domino effect takes over and all is changed. Speculation goes on forever. 

                        Connie
                      • hank9174 <clarkc@missouri.edu>
                        Connelly s description of 31 December says that McCown on the far left lead off the attack and immediately went astray. Neither Bragg nor any other general
                        Message 11 of 18 , Jan 6, 2003
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                          Connelly's description of 31 December says that McCown on the far left
                          lead off the attack and immediately went astray.

                          Neither Bragg nor any other general staff officer was on hand
                          providing direction. McCown attacked west but failed to properly wheel
                          right (north).

                          This makes it dicey for Cleburne to properly align *his* axis of
                          attack.

                          Sounds identical to what happened 9 months later at Chickamauga. The
                          initial atack of the en echelon attack goes off course and no one is
                          there to provide direction and assert control.

                          One problem with CSA field staffs was that their members were
                          low-ranked: colonels and majors. This gave them little standing when
                          'helping' direct brigadier and major generals. One thing Grant
                          insisted upon was that his staff include a number of BGs and their
                          word carry authority.


                          HankC


                          --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Dave Smith <dmsmith001@y...>"
                          <dmsmith001@y...> wrote:
                          > Or, as often seems to happen (and was reflected just yesterday in a
                          > post), we assume that Braxton Bragg knows everything we know about
                          > logistics, terrain, strengths, and weaknesses - like we're playing a
                          > board game - and decide what he *should* have done given all that
                          > information.
                          >
                          > In other words, an exercise for a board game, but not serious
                          history
                          > discussion ... :-)
                          >
                          > Dave
                          >
                          > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "hank9174 <clarkc@m...>"
                          > <clarkc@m...> wrote:
                          > > --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "genesispg <genesis@m...>"
                          > > <genesis@m...> wrote:
                          > > >
                          > > > Here would be a good subject for the Civil War Buffs. Instead
                          of
                          > > > critizing Braxton Bragg(it is a very easy thing to do), why
                          don't
                          > we
                          > > > come up with a different attack plan against Rosecrans's Army of
                          > the
                          > > > Cumberland? This included moving units to the attack,
                          > maintaining a
                          > > > defensive line, setting up any artillery, using cavalry to raid
                          > > enemy
                          > > > lines and/or gather information to be used by the commanding
                          > > officers?
                          > > >
                          > > > This could be fun.
                          > > >
                          > >
                          > > I'm not much into the 'what-if' game...it's too much like science
                          > > fiction...first you add a division here, than you improve the
                          > roads,
                          > > then un-burn a bridge over there and finally return some missing
                          > > cavalry...voila, victory...
                        • SDE80@aol.com
                          In a message dated 1/6/2003 3:09:11 PM Eastern Standard Time, ... Happened at Chickamauga when Moxley Sorrel tried to give an order to A. P. Stewart. Sam
                          Message 12 of 18 , Jan 6, 2003
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                            In a message dated 1/6/2003 3:09:11 PM Eastern Standard Time, clarkc@... writes:

                            Sounds identical to what happened 9 months later at Chickamauga. The
                            initial atack of the en echelon attack goes off course and no one is
                            there to provide direction and assert control.

                            One problem with CSA field staffs was that their members were
                            low-ranked: colonels and majors. This gave them little standing when
                            'helping' direct brigadier and major generals. One thing Grant
                            insisted upon was that his staff include a number of BGs and their
                            word carry authority.


                            Happened at Chickamauga when Moxley Sorrel tried to give an order to A. P. Stewart.

                            Sam Elliott
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