Braxton Bragg was the most controversial military officers in US history. He was born in 1817 in Warrenton, North Carolina. Children criticized Bragg for he was allegedly born while his mother was serving a prison sentence for murdering an Afro-American slave. His father, Thomas Bragg, was a carpenter, but he managed to send him to one of the best schools in the region, Warrenton Male Academy (McWhiney, 2017). This marked the beginning of Bragg’s career in military service and his significant contribution to American history.
John, Bragg’s elder brother and a legislator, facilitated Bragg’s admission to the US military academy. He requested Senator Willie Mangum to sponsor Bragg to join West Point Academy in 1833. He graduated 5th out of 50 cadets in 1837 because of his sharp memory, passion, and hard work (Hess, 2016). Following his exemplary performance in the military academy, he was appointed a second lieutenant in the 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment in the US.
Bragg served in Florida during the Second Seminole War, which took place between 1835 to 1842 before he was sent to Charleston in South Carolina for disciplinary actions because he publicly criticized General Winfield Scott. In 1847, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel because of the bravery he demonstrated in the Battle of Buena Vista during the Mexican-American War (Hess, 2016). Bragg married Eliza B. Ellis, a rich woman from Louisiana, in 1849 before establishing a sugar plantation in Thibodaux.
Additionally, Bragg operated as a general colonel in the Louisiana military. He was promoted to the rank of major general after strengthening Louisiana’s military during the civil war of 1861 (Martin, 2014). It was a good opportunity to showcase his military expertise, which earned him another promotion to brigadier general (Hess, 2016). Being a strict disciplinarian, the soldiers he trained had the best military drills. This earned him another promotion to the rank of major general in 1862 before participating in the Civil War’s Western Theater.
The Battle of Shiloh in 1862 was Bragg’s first main combat as a major general. Bragg became a full general upon General Albert S. Johnston’s death during the battle (McWhiney, 2017). He was appointed to command the Army of Tennessee in May 1862 after General Beauregard failed during the Siege of Corinth. The defeat of the Rosecrans’ army in 1863, during the Battle of Chickamauga, is one of the most remarkable Confederate victories (Martin, 2014). However, he resigned in 1863 due to criticism and was replaced by General Joseph Johnson.
Finally, Bragg went back to Louisiana after the civil war to find his sugar plantation taken by the Union Army. The seizure subjected him to financial hardships, but he secured a job as superintendent in the New Orleans Waterworks. In 1874, he relocated to Texas, where he worked as a chief engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad and Texas’ chief road inspector before his demise in 1876.
Hess, E. J. (2016). Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy. University of North
Carolina Press Books.
Martin, S. J. (2014). General Braxton Bragg, CSA. McFarland.