Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Braxton Bragg Takes Command

In the Battle of Shiloh the Confederates had had good success the first day, although their commander, Albert Sydney Johnson, had been killed. The second day P. G. T. Beauregard took over the command, but he ordered a retreat when Grant launched a heavy counterattack, a very controversial decision. Over the next few weeks Halleck, who took over the Union army from Grant, advanced slowly in siege-like fashion towards Beauregard at Corinth, Mississippi. After delaying the Federals for many days, Beauregard ended up abandoning Corinth as well, another decision which many criticized. Beauregard had fallen out of favor with the administration. He was constantly sending plans to his superiors which he thought would quickly end the war, but they always required that he be reinforced with troops Jefferson Davis did not have, and that the enemy move exactly as he wished. He was also sick, and was told by the doctors that he needed time to rest.
Braxton Bragg

The situation finally collapsed when Beauregard took medical leave and left the army without permission. Davis removed Beauregard from command and assigned the post to Braxton Bragg. Beauregard was furious at this. He was very angry at Davis, and wrote,
"If the country be satisfied to have me laid on the shelf by a man who is either demented or a traitor to his high trust - well, let it be so. As to my reputation, if it can suffer by any thing that living specimen of gall & hatred, can do-why it is not then worth preserving.... I am annoyed to death now by having everybody looking at me, wherever I go, like a wild beast."
Many people later pressed Davis to give the command back to Beauregard, but he refused, saying, "If the whole world were to ask me to restore General Beauregard to the command which I have already given to General Bragg, I would refuse it." He had high hopes for Bragg, a North Carolinian who had served in the Mexican War, Bragg was a strict disciplinarian. This meant that he had troops who would obey orders, but it could backfire if he angered them by too strict discipline.


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