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[civilwarwest] Western High water mark???

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  • sdwakefield@prodigy.net
    THE HIGH WATER MARK OF THE CONFEDERACY As we all know, popular present day history tells us that the South attempt to achieve independence reached its military
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 27, 1999
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      As we all know, popular present day history tells us that the South
      attempt to achieve independence reached its military high water mark on
      Cemetary Ridge at Gettysburg PA.Of course, being more than tourist
      historians we as a group recognize that this is a fiction created for
      the benefit of sixth grade history classes.Yet there remains much
      debate as to the true historical military high water mark of the war
      for Southern independence. Since this forum is dedicated to the the
      study, analysis deemed discussion of the American Civil War in the last
      on would propose that the true high-water mark of the Confederacy
      occurred in the Western Theatre.

      I would propose in fact the southern military forces in the Western
      Theatre reached their high point on or about September 17,1862--
      immediately following the capture of the union garrison at
      Munfordville,Ky. The Confederate forces under Braxton Bragg had just
      completed their long march of invasion, which had begun almost a month
      earlier in Chattanooga TN. Led by Chalmers Mississippi Brigade, Bragg's
      forces had descended into Central Kentucky and surrounded the 5000 man
      Union garrison at Munfordville on the banks of the Green River.The
      union commander,Col. John Wilder ultimately was talked into surrender
      by Simon Buckner and the actual surrender ceremonies occurring on
      September 17,1862. To celebrate his first victory as commander of
      Department Two, Bragg declared Sept. 18, 1862 a day of rest and
      thanksgiving. Of course, you will recognize that on this same day of
      rest and thanksgiving in Kentucky,Robert E. Lee was leading his forces
      across the Potomac River following their bloody conflict at
      Sharpsburg.Meanwhile, the Union Army under Carlos Buell preparing to
      leave Bowling Green Ky.,some 40 miles south west of Munfordville.A
      quick look at the mapdiscloses that this precise moment in time Bragg's
      forces war squarely between Buell's Army in the union base of
      Louisville KY. Clearly, Bragg had won the race and had placed his army
      astride Buell's land line of communications. Although Buell still had
      many roads to Louisville available, Bragg was thoroughly entrenched on
      his most direct route to Louisville.
      It was at this point that Braxton Bragg first displayed his fatal
      weakness as an army field commander. Having maneuvered for almost a
      month to gain this precise strategic advantage, Bragg now refused to
      take full advantage of the initiative which was his.At this point Bragg
      could clearly have dictated to his opposite number, Buell exactly how
      the next two weeks of the war would be fought.Bragg could have ordered
      his forces south towards deals army and contested the blue forces
      movement towards their base of Louisville. Bragg could have remained
      in the Munfordville area--forcing Buell to either attack the southern
      forces in prepared defensive positions or move the Union forces to the
      west and attempt to side-step the gray forces and thereby offer to the
      Confederate commander the union Army's strategic flank as Buell
      attempted to regain direct communication with their base of Louisville
      KY. Lastly, Bragg could have turned his forces northward and attempted
      to take the home guard defended Louisville base himself.
      Incredibly, Bragg took none of these actions. Instead, following his
      day of inactivity on Sept. 18th, 1862 Bragg ordered his gray legions to
      march North East towards Bardstown KY.Bragg explained this movement
      away from Buell's endangered forces as the necessary prelude to a link
      up with Kirby Smith's command then operating in the central Kentucky
      area. Apparently, Bragg believed that such a link up was a necessary
      predicate to an attempt to capture the material rich warehouses and
      politically significant prize of Louisville.Unfortunately for the South
      this assault was never attempted.Once the road to Louisville was opened
      Buell quickly moved his forces north and re-fitted and reorganized in
      Louisville.By the first week of October the Union forces under Buell
      moved south from Louisville in search of Bragg's forces.In the
      resulting campaign Bragg was placed on the strategic defensive and was
      in constant fear of being cut off from Tennessee and thus being
      destroyed. The resulting Battle of Perryville being little more than a
      badly bungled holding action.
      Therefore I would respectfully contend to the reader that the true high
      water mark of the Confederacy in the West was on the Banks of the Green
      River at the little town of Munfordville on September 18,1862. I have
      spent several days at this small hamlet. I have raised a glass or two
      on the hills overlooking the beautiful Green River. I have sung many a
      drunken Irish ballet with my pards from CLEBURNES near the same spot
      where Braxton Bragg made his fateful decision to walk away and to in
      his words "win the campaign with marches and not battles".There are no
      large monuments at Munfordville, in fact there are few monuments at
      all. There are the earth works that had been occupied by the federal
      garrison and well off the beaten path there is a very small monument to
      the Mississippi troops that first attempted to storm the federal works.
      But as is befitting of the long frustrated and usually over-looked
      heros of the Army of Tennessee there exsist no lasting memorial to
      commemorate that point in time when having over-come all the odds they
      where on the very verge of imposing their military will on their more
      numerous and much better equipped adversary. I often wonder if Braxton
      Bragg ever realized that on September 18, 1862 he made the one or the
      two most historically significant decisions of his life.
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