Birthday: March 22, 1817
Died At Age: 59
Sun Sign: Aries
Born Country: United States
Born in: Warrenton, North Carolina, United States
Famous as: Military Leader
Spouse/Ex-: Eliza Brooks Ellis (m. 1849)
father: Thomas Bragg Sr
mother: Margaret Crosland Bragg
siblings: Thomas Bragg
Died on: September 27, 1876
place of death: Galveston
Cause of Death: Paralysis
U.S. State: North Carolina
Founder/Co-Founder: Army of Tennessee
education: United States Military Academy
Who was Braxton Bragg?
Braxton Bragg was a US military officer who served as a Confederate general during the Civil War. Bold and controversial, he was quite a notorious disciplinarian and was despised by his subordinates for the same reason. Known for his undying combative nature, short temper, and attention to detail in terms of military precision, he was a formidable officer who gained accolades. However, his temperament also made him tough to work with. He exhibited an argumentative personality right from his childhood, and he often ended up quarreling with even his superiors. He served in the Second Seminole War and the Mexico-American War right after graduating from the United States Military Academy. Braxton Bragg always showcased an excellent flair and knack when it came to the planning of an attack, but he lacked severely in the execution part. During the Civil War, Bragg was integral in the greatest Confederate victory in the Western Theater. He was able to deal a significant blow to the Rosecrans in the Battle of Chickamauga, but strangely, he didn’t capitalize on the advantage and allowed the Rosecrans to retreat to Chattanooga. In the Battles for Chattanooga, he was defeated by General Ulysses S. Grant. After withdrawing, he offered his resignation and became the military advisor to the president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis.
Childhood & Early Life
Braxton Bragg was born on March 22, 1817, at Warrenton, a town in North Carolina. He was one of the six sons of Thomas Bragg, a carpenter and contractor. His mother was Margaret Crosland Bragg.
It was his father’s decision to send Braxton to the United States Military Academy. With the support of US Senator Willie P. Mangum, Braxton was able to get admission to the Military Academy at West Point in 1833.
He did well academically and graduated as the fifth of fifty cadets from the West Point Class of 1837. His classmates included famous future Civil War generals John C. Pemberton, John Sedgwick, William H.T. Walker, Jubal A. Early, and Joseph Hooker.
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Braxton Bragg served as the assistant commissary and regimental adjutant in the Second Seminole War (1835-42) in Florida. He then became the company commander in the 3rd Artillery, and he also commanded Fort Marion, situated near St. Augustine.
In 1844, he wrote a series of articles in the ‘Southern Literary Messenger,’ through which he criticized the entire army administration and the commander, General Winfield Scott.
This led to his inevitable arrest and court-martial. He was charged with insolence and disobedience. He was given a suspension of rank and command for a time period of two months.
Mexican American War
In 1845, Braxton Bragg and his artillery were ordered to join General Zachary Taylor’s army for defending Texas from Mexico. He won several accolades, and in 1846, he became the captain for the Battle of Fort Brown.
In September 1846, he was promoted to the position of major for the Battle of Monterrey, and in February 1847, he became the lieutenant colonel for the Battle of Buena Vista.
His actions in Buena Vista earned him national fame. Bragg’s timely placement of artillery into a gap in the line rebuffed a strong Mexican attack. He also fought in support of Colonel Jefferson Davis, the future US secretary of war and president of the Confederacy, and the Mississippi Rifles.
He resigned from the army on January 3, 1856. He and his wife then purchased a sugar plantation, which was highly profitable. In 1860, he became active in local politics and was elected to the board of public works.
American Civil War
On December 12, 1860, Braxton Bragg was appointed in the state military board. It was tasked with creating a 5000-man army. He led a group of 500 volunteers to Baton Rouge on January 11, 1861.
Bragg became the major general of the state army on February 20, 1861. He commanded forces in Florida, Alabama, and Pensacola. His tenure was immensely successful. In February 1862, he transported 10,000 men to Corinth, Mississippi, and he was charged with improving the discipline of the confederate troops.
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Braxton Bragg commanded the corps under General Albert Sidney Johnston. In the initial attack against the Union Army, General Johnston lost his life. General P. G. T. Beauregard took command in his place and appointed Bragg his second-in-command. On the second day, the Union Army retaliated, and the Confederates retreated to Corinth.
He received a lot of public praise due to his actions in the battle. Due to an uninformed departure from work by Beauregard, on April 12, 1862, Jefferson Davis appointed Bragg to a full general. He was one of the only seven in the history of the Confederacy to achieve this.
On July 31, 1862, Bragg met Confederate Major General Edmund Kirby Smith, who had decided to invade Kentucky from Eastern Tennessee. Bragg agreed to join the campaign and follow Smith’s plan.
On August 9, 1862, Smith decided to deviate from the plan; he intended to bypass the Cumberland Gap and move north. Bragg chose to follow Smith’s new plan. On October 8, the Union Army and the Confederates, led by Smith and Bragg, met at the Battle of Perryville.
However, even after gaining a significant advantage, Bragg surprisingly decided to retreat. This led to dismay among the troops, and more notably, it strained his relationship with his subordinates like Smith, Hardee, and Polk.
Braxton Bragg also played a major role in the most significant Confederate victory in the Western Theater, the Battle of Chickamauga. Bragg rallied his troops and cornered the Union Army Major General William S. Rosecrans and his artillery. But he hesitated and allowed them to escape.
In the Battles for Chattanooga, Bragg and his men suffered grave causalities from the attack of the new Union commander Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his army. After this, Bragg offered his resignation.
In February 1864, he became the military advisor to President Jefferson Davis. He was tasked with the conduct of military operations of the Confederate States. He used his organizational abilities to prevent corruption and enhance the supply system.
In October 1864, the president sent Bragg to take temporary command of the defenses of Wilmington, North Carolina. Even though the Confederates were able to thwart the initial attack from the Union Army, they eventually conceded defeat.
Family & Personal Life
Braxton Bragg married 23-year-old Eliza Brooks Ellis, a wealthy sugar heiress, on June 7, 1849. They relocated to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, on September 10. In October 1853, they were transferred to Fort Gibson in the Indian Territory.
Braxton Bragg died on September 27, 1876. He suddenly fell over unconscious while walking down a street with a friend. He was dead within 10-15 minutes. The cause of his death is believed to be paralysis of the brain. His body is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Alabama.