Braxton Bragg is generally regarded as “The Confederacy’s Worst General.” He commanded the 2nd largest Rebel Army, the Army of Tennessee. It was the largest Confederate military force in the western theater. A career military man, and veteran of the Mexican War of 1846, Bragg failed spectacularly. He withdrew and lost huge amounts of territory, farmland and railroads after the Battles of Perryville and Stones River, and abandoned most of Tennessee without much of a fight, after being completely outmaneuvered during the Tullahoma Campaign.  He won a major victory, his only one, at the Battle of Chickamauga, but failed to destroy the shattered Union Army. Perhaps the only thing that saved the Union Army in the early part of the war was that Union General Don Carlos Buell was equally incompetent and uninspiring.

Most of his senior officers were contemptuous of his leadership. He was arrogant, refused strategic advice, was a paranoid martinet and openly lashed out at his generals. After the Battle of Stones River, General Benjamin Franklin Cheatham vowed never to serve under Bragg again, and General John C. Breckinridge, whose brigade had been destroyed in a near suicidal charge, challenged Bragg to a duel. Nathan Bedford Forrest once said to Bragg, “You have played the part of a damned scoundrel, and are a coward, and if you were any part of a man I would slap your jaws and force you to resent it.”

Several generals sent letters to President Jefferson Davis asking that Bragg be sacked, but Davis, who had been Bragg’s roommate at West Point, remained his close friend and kept him in place even as he lost Kentucky and Tennessee and wasted many thousands of lives.

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