Thursday, January 3, 2008

General Bragg loved his soldiers

It is said that General Braxton Bragg was hated by his men. Confederate
Private Sam Watkins is one of those men who despised General Bragg. If that hatred was true one thing is certain, Bragg didn't publicly write about any hatred that he might have had towards his men. In fact, Bragg honored them. I recently found this in Braxton Bragg's Offical Report on the Battle of Stones River. Written nearly two months after the battle General Bragg states:

"To the private soldier a fair meed of praise is due; and though it is
so seldom given and so rarely expected that it may be considered out of
place, I cannot, in justice to myself, withhold the opinion ever
entertained and so often expressed during our struggle for independence.
In the absence of the instruction and discipline of old armies, and of
the confidence which long association produces between veterans, we have
had in a great measure to trust to the individuality and self-reliance
of the private soldier. Without the incentive or the motive which controls the officer, who hopes to live in history; without the hope of reward, and actuated only by a sense of duty and of patriotism, he has, in this great contest, justly judged that the cause was his own, and gone into it with a determination to conquer or die; to be free or not to be at all. No encomium is too high, no honor too great for such a soldiery, However much of credit and glory may be given, and probably justly given, the leaders in our struggle, history will yet award the main honor where it is due--to the private soldier, who, without hope of reward, and with no other incentive than a consciousness of rectitude, has en countered all the hardships and suffered all the privations. Well has it been said, "The first monument our Confederacy rears, when our independence shall have been won, should be a lofty shaft, pure and spotless, bearing this inscription, 'To the unknown and unrecorded

What more can be said? It is obvious that Bragg and a deep compassion
and respect for the common soldier. I am not saying that Sam Watkins
was wrong becase a lot of his soldiers wrote about there contempt for
General Bragg. The above quotation exposes a part of Bragg that I
didn't know exist and shows us how we need to reflect on all historical
accounts not just the ones written by the best Civil War authors.
Perhaps Bragg's comments are a bunch of crap but I doubt it. I saluate

Bragg on his honorable comments towards his soldiers and Civil War
soldiers in general. They were the greatest generation.

Bragg's full report at Stone's River can be located at:

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