A bit of Bragg

I present to you part of a letter from Lt. Col. Bolling Hall, Jr, of the 59th Alabama Infantry. It was written on December 6, 1863, addressed to Hall’s father. I find it very interesting.

Speaking of the battle of Missionary Ridge, notes Hall, “All blame Hardee with it that I have seen. Every body says Bragg is not at all to blame. You would be, I can almost say, astoundeBolling Halld were you to go into the army to see what a calamity¬†all without exception regard the removal of Bragg.

I have talked to many from different commands & the confidence is universal in him. Of course I do not refer to general officers. I talked to none of them about it. Col. Sawyer [of the 24th Alabama Infantry] told me he always knew that Btagg was popular with a majority but he has been astonished to find how strong & universal the feeling is for Bragg and how great the confidence in him.

I heard several say the defeat at Missionary ridge was not as great a calamity as the removal of Genl Bragg & the latter has demoralized the army more than the former. What are we to come to if newspapers and politicians too cowardly themselves to go into danger are thus to break down our best & bravest Generals.

I have seen but one man who thinks Hardee can replace Bragg, i.e. is competent to take his place.”


Not the usual sort of commentary.



17 Responses to “A bit of Bragg”

  1. James F. Epperson Says:

    Very different from the conventional view, that’s for sure. What, supposedly, did Hardee do to cause the defeat?

  2. Lee White Says:

    Thank You Dave, another pro Bragg account to add to my ever growing list, though not surprising with the Hall’s since Bragg sent a condolence letter to them after Boiling’s death in 1866. However on the Hardee account that is interesting, this is the third mention Ive seen of it by some with pro Bragg leanings.

  3. Dave Powell Says:

    Lee, the internal dynamics of the Army of Tennessee are far from unanimous. This letter struck me for how hard it slams Hardee, which surprised me.

  4. Lee White Says:

    Dave, I will have to find it, but I have another that talks about how unpopular Hardee is with the men, and its a soldier in his Corps.

  5. lwhite1864 Says:

    I found one of them, its Luthor Wyman of Semple’s Battery, “Gen. Hardee is at present in command of the army, he is not liked at all by the men. Reports are that Gen. Johnston will take command in a few days with Gen. Bragg as his adjutant general. He will do. A large portion of the army was very sorry to part with Bragg…”

  6. Lee Elder Says:

    Hall was a Bragg supporter through Hall’s service with Bragg. At one point after Chickamauga, when Hall was still a member of Hilliard’s Legion, Hall wrote that Bragg was the hero of the war. Hall also made a point that officers who did their job liked Bragg and officers who did not do their job did not like Bragg. I thought that was an interesting observation.

  7. Nathan Towne Says:

    This is a very interesting letter. Did you find it in a repository? I am not aware of a collection of his letters having been published. Have they?

    Also, the 59th Alabama regiment was no longer serving with the Army of Tennessee and was not involved in the fighting at Missionary Ridge. The 59th Alabama was serving in the East Tennessee operations, was it not?

    • Nathan Towne Says:

      Am I wrong? Maybe I am mixing things up. I am almost positive that the 59th Alabama was serving in the Knoxville campaign.

  8. Dave Powell Says:

    You are not wrong. The 59th was in East Tenn. Bolling Hall had recovered from a wound and was trying to get back to them when he got trapped with the AOT in Dalton after the Missionary Ridge fiasco. So while the 59th was not with the army, he was.

    Oh, and this is from Alabama Dept of Archives or Auburn (I think – found a digital transcription and not sure where that is from.)

  9. Ted Savas Says:

    After reading several books by Mr. Powell, and now reading Earl Hess’ new biography on Braxton Bragg (in advance galley), this view as espoused here is more believable than in the past. Much of what we think we know has really been shaped by a few pens, their spilled ink sopped up by other “historians” and fed to succeeding generations as objective truth.

    Nice find, DP. How is the new paperback?

    • Nathan Towne Says:

      Mr. Savas

      How good is Hess’ new biography on Bragg. Keep in mind that I have fairly high standards. I typically find Hess to be an outstanding author though. Also, has anyone gotten a copy of the new study on the Army of the Cumberland’s cavalry arm yet?

      Nathan Towne

  10. Theodore Savas Says:

    Hi Nathan

    It is quite good, and Hess does very good work, both as a writer and researcher. Not sure how he turns out so many books so quickly.

    The Bragg bio is high level–the discussion is strategy, general movements, command relationships, etc. It reads like a very long academic article. That is not a criticism because it works very well. It is the Bragg corrective (much like Dave P’s “Failure in the Saddle” and his Chickamauga trilogy) that has so long been needed.

    My review will appear in Civil War News.

    • Nathan Towne Says:

      That is nice to hear. I have many of his books and they are typically very good. I wrote a fairly detailed review on his study of the fighting along the Kennesaw line back in the Summer of 2013 which is posted on Amazon for example.

      • Nathan Towne Says:

        The book that I am really curious about is the new study on the Army of the Cumberland’s cavalry arm by an author named Dennis Belcher. If anyone has a copy of it I am interested in how in depth it is and what their opinions on it are.

  11. Lee Elder Says:

    May I correspond with you via email? I am in the middle of some research and am seeking guidance. If you are willing, I believe my email is registered with this blog.

    Lee Elder

    • Nathan Towne Says:


      I am not sure if you have heard back from Dave Powell on this, but for what it is worth, I would be willing to discuss anything that you want to. What are you interested in?

      Nathan Towne

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