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  • philip@twinoaks.org
    To all: I would like to make a couple more points about the nature of the command structure and the decisions made to hold Bragg and not to promote obviously
    Message 1 of 2 , May 25, 2000
      To all:
      I would like to make a couple more points about the nature of
      the command structure and the decisions made to hold Bragg and
      not to promote obviously more talented individuals.
      Jefferson Davis was the quintiessential planter aristocrat, sent
      to West Point and given a plantation by his brother, he served in
      the U.S. Senate and as Secretary of War. While it may be easy to
      write off the failure to relieve Bragg as solely the personality failure
      of Davis, I believe that it goes deeper than that. Freehling's "Road
      to Disunion" adequately documents and fully characterizes the
      planter aristocracy. As heads of plantations they were autocrats
      within their own sphere. They were not used to entertaining
      dissension, and expected to be obeyed. They were not used to
      being challenged, and brooked little dissent. Willimam Davis'
      biography of Jefferson Davis described him in almost identical
      terms. When J. Davis decided he was right, it was an
      incontestable fact. I believe he was chosen to head the
      government of the Confederacy, not in spite of his personality
      flaws, but because he so fully embodied the ideal of the planter
      aristocracy. His decisions, while certainly effected by his individual
      traits, were more clearly dominated by a lifetime of training.
      To the person who pointed out that Forrest was probably
      unqualified for command of a major army: I must defer to your
      greater knowledge on this subject, you are obviously far better
      informed than I. But that does not answer my point that, to my
      knowledge he was never tested. If he was such a military genius
      as so many contend, then wasn't it crucial that they find out if he
      could perform in the larger sphere? After Chickamauga he stormed
      at Bragg for promoting Wheeler above him. This could only add to
      the charges of insubordination against him, but if he truly believed
      that he was the man best qualified to promote the Confederate
      efforts in the West, wasn't he justified in his anger and frustration?
      Joe Hooker was egregiously insubordinate to Burnside. He did his
      utmost to oust him and some say succeeded. He was noted for
      being attached to a group that discussed the possibility or
      desirability of a dictatorship. Lincoln, in spite of all of these reports
      appointed this insubordiante to head the Army of the Potomac. In
      his letter to Hooker he openly acknowledged the rumors about a
      dictatorship, and said that he would risk the dictatorship if Hooker
      could win battles.
      As for Cleburne, you are far better read on the subject than I,
      Mr. McRaven. He looks like a fascinating character, and is on my
      list. His greatest sin seems to be his advocacy for the arming of
      slaves in exchange for their freedom. His proposal is a very
      revealing summary of the Confederate cause, its dilemmas, and its
      possibilities for success. Once again, however, I must point out a
      parallel with Lincoln. Lincoln's relationship to McClellan was a
      complex one. McClellan did not share Lincoln's political views,
      wrote a long letter to him about his political policies that was
      counter to Lincoln's beliefs, and surrounded himself with a cadre of
      officers who were generally democrats contemptuous of the
      republicans. He rudely snubbed Lincoln once, but Lincoln's reply
      was something to the effect that he would hold the man's horse (or
      hat, I forget) if he would only win battles. Contrast that with the
      admitted treatment of Cleburne.
      Philip Callen
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