Monday, October 26, 2015

U.S. Army Posts Named After Confederate Officers - Should We Change Their Names?



Fort Lee Virginia

  

  When Dylan Roof murdered nine innocent people in cold blood at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston South Carolina liberals exploited a tragedy in an attempt to ban the Confederate battle flag. The left was calling for not only banning the flag but destroying Confederate statues. They wanted to remove the bust of Forrest from the Tennessee State capital building, and they actually wanted to dig up his remains and move his body from Memphis. These are just a few of the things that the left wanted to do. They even wanted to change the names of the ten U.S. Army posts named after Confederate officers. These posts were named after nine generals and one colonel. Some of these generals were mediocre at best if not incompetent. The posts are Ft. Lee, Ft. A.P. Hill, Ft. Pickett, Ft. Hood, Ft. Benning, Ft. Gordon, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Polk, Ft. Rucker, and Camp Beauregard. Just for the sake of tradition alone I wouldn't change the names. The economic costs of changing the names would be extremely high. All of these posts were originally established to train soldiers for WW1 or WW2. At that time North and South was trying to heal old wounds from the Civil War. In the spirit of reconciliation the Army was open to naming new posts after regional Confederate heroes. Lee, A.P. Hill and Pickett were Virginians. Hood was a from Kentucky but had been stationed in Texas prior to the war and led Texans in battle as a Confederate general. Polk was born in North Carolina but was Episcopel bishop of Louisiana and Beauregard was from Louisiana. John B. Gordon and Benning were Georgians. Braxton Bragg was from North Carolina and Edmund Rucker was born in Tennessee but moved to Birmingham Alabama where he became an industrialist. Of course during the time that these posts were named black people had very little political clout in the South, or in the country as a whole. Today, one in five soldiers are black and many are serving on posts that are named after Confederate officers. I doubt that their choice would have been any of these men if they had a say in the matter. If it had been up to me I wouldn't have named army posts after Bragg, Polk, Hood, Benning, or Pickett. Just on their lack of military talent and mediocrity alone. Over the next few days and weeks I am going to take a look at each one of these posts named after Confederate officers. I will offer my opinion as to which of them deserved to have a military installation named after them, for whatever my opinion is worth. The first one that I will look at is Ft. Lee Virginia.


  Ft. Lee is in Prince George County Virginia. Construction began in June 1917 in order to train troops for WW1. It was closed after the war and another Ft. Lee would be built on the site of the original fort in 1940 to prepare for WW2. After WW2 it would specialize in quartermaster training and it would become a WAC (Women's Army Corps) training site.


  Robert E. Lee was a great tactical commander but unlike Grant he didn't have a grand strategic vision. He greatly admired George Washington and modeled his demeanor and character after him. Like Washington he had a quite stoicism and was a very moral man. Lee and Washington come across to us in history as the marble men. Lee's character was such that his four daughters would die unmarried because they could never find a man that measured up to their father. Lee was a much better general than Washington on a tactical level but he could have borrowed from Washington's strategic vision. Washington realized after his devastating defeat at New York how close he had come to disaster. He knew that there was no way that he was going to defeat the British in a head to head match up. They had the best army and Navy in the world and they were the wealthiest nation.Washington decided that he would engage the British but he would avoid entrapment. He was not afraid or too proud to disengage when his army was getting the worst end of the deal or it was in danger of being destroyed.

  This was very hard for a man as aggressive as George Washington. He constantly wanted to attack the British. In this respect Lee was much like Washington. He was very aggressive. This trait was evident on the first day at Gettysburg when he made the decision to take on Meade over the objections of Longstreet. Washington knew that the only hope he had of defeating the British was to fight not to lose. As long as the Continental Army survived, the United States of America survived. As long as the Confederate Army survived the Confederacy survived. Lee lost the war in the end because he never came to the realization, like Washington, that he didn't have the resources in men and supplies to defeat the the North in a head to head struggle. His only hope would be to seek an armistice rather than an outright victory over the North. America's victory over England was only made possible by our alliance with France. The North's twin victories over the South at Antietam and Bragg's Kentucky campaign ended any chance of of an alliance with England or France.
George Washington

  Jefferson Davis and other Southern leaders were not willing to give up a single inch of southern soil without a fight. Early in the war a line was established from the Mississippi river through Cumberland Gap. An area the size of Western Europe. Then the line ran through Northern Virginia to the very environs of Washington D.C., The Confederate capital was situated at Richmond, only 100 miles south. In the Revolution Washington had to give up much territory to the British. They controlled New York, New Jersey, Charleston and much of the Carolina's and Virginia. Losing territory was difficult but in end it made no difference to the outcome of the war. The Confederacy was too large and the Army too small to successfully defend all that territory. Lincoln and Davis were terrified at the thought of losing their capitals. The North and South wasted thousands of valuable lives defending them. The North could afford these lives but the south couldn't. The original location of the Confederate capital in Montgomery made much more sense. It was deep in Confederate territory and would have been much harder for the Union Army to reach logistically. Defending it would have been easier for the Confederacy than Richmond. However the Confederate government decided to move to Richmond for political reasons after Virginia seceded from the Union in April 1861. Virginia was the most populous state and the wealthiest and most influential state in the south. It had industries like the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond. Every battle that Lee fought was in some way connected to protecting Richmond or relieving pressure on the city. Thousands of irreplaceable lives were squandered in the defense of the Confederate capital. Again Lee refused to learn from history. In the American Revolution Philadelphia was captured by the British and Washington D.C. fell to them in the War of 1812. The White House and government buildings were burned. It was humiliating for us but losing our capitals did not affect the outcome of these two wars at all.
The British burning the White House

  

  Another sign that Lee's strategic vision was lacking was his intense loyalty to the state of Virginia. Strategically the war was won in the west. The fall of Vicksburg shut off the flow of men and resources from the Trans Mississippi area which involved the Confederate states of Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. The fall of Nashville and the Nashville-Chattanooga corridor opened the deep South to invasion. After the fall of Atlanta Sherman's ultimate plan was to capture Savannah and march his army north through the Carolina's and straight in to Lee's rear. However he would surrender before that could happen. The western theater encompassed a five state region. Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama. It was a vast 241,000 square mile area that was the size of the combined area of Greece, Scotland, the Netherlands, England, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, and Belgium combined. Generals faced problems of supply and maneuver unlike anything in American military history. The Army of Tennessee was mainly responsible for protecting this area . Over time it would face three Northern armies. The Army of the Tennessee, the Army of the Cumberland and the Army of the Ohio. Lee would face one Army. The Army of the Potomac. Much of the Confederacy's industrial production, raw materials, livestock, key rail junctions, and food supplies were in these states.

  The war in the east was fought for political goals rather than strategic. It was fought over roughly the 100 hundred mile corridor between Washington and Richmond. Because of Lee's aggressiveness and the smaller area of military operations, large scale battles occurred more frequently in Virginia than in the western theater. This is why Virginia had more battles than any other state during the Civil War. Since the armies fought more frequently there were more casualties. Tennessee was second in the number of battles. This was because it was a border state surrounded by eight states. Because there were more newspapers on the east coast and it was the political and population center the war in the east garnered more attention. Still today historians put more emphasis on the eastern theater than the western theater. Lee was the Souths most successful general and this is another reason the eastern theater was given more attention. His talent was needed more in the west than in the east however. The west had generals like Albert Sidney Johnston, Braxton Bragg, John Bell Hood, and Joseph Johnston leading the Army of Tennessee. In my opinion both General Albert S. Johnston and Joseph E. Johnston were overrated. Bragg was George McClellan on steroids and Hood was a brave and competent subordinate but he was way over his head as the general of an army. The South was like a house on fire. The fire was in the back of the house and Lee was spraying down the front porch.






Lees Crypt



  We can't discount the impact of Stonewall Jackson's generalship on Robert E. Lee. Jackson confused and befuddled three Union armies during his Shenandoah Valley campaign in 1862. Forcing Lincoln to protect Washington rather than reinforcing McClellan. This gave Lee the freedom to take on McClellan after his very costly victory over McClellan in the Seven Days Battles. Lee lost men that he couldn't afford to lose, Jackson performed brilliantly at Second Bull Run. He tried to talk Davis and Lee into allowing him to take an army of about forty thousand men throughout the North. He would turn them into foot cavalry in the same way he did in the Valley Campaign. He would live off the land and bring the war to Northern soil and always staying a step ahead of the Yankees. Jackson believed that this would have a devastating psychological effect on the Northern people. He would select high ground of his choosing and allow Northern regiments to smash themselves to pieces on his strong defensive lines. Jackson would say that he had seen positions that he couldn't take but never one that he couldn't hold. From there he would march his foot cavalry from one defensive position to another. Lee and Davis would never grant him permission to carry out his plan. Jackson was like Forrest in that he was more successful when he held independent command. I have often wondered what an army led by Stonewall Jackson would look like with Nathan Bedford Forrest leading his cavalry. Lee's greatest victory at Chancellorsville was Stonewall's plan and primarily executed by Jackson. Lee believed in the Napoleonic concept of the decisive battle. Jackson would receive the wound that would kill him on the night of the battle because he not only wanted to defeat the Yankees but he was endangered himself looking for a way to cut them off and destroy them. Lee was never as successful without Jackson as he was with him. He was a great general, even with his flaws but his true greatness was for his leadership in helping to reunite the country after the war. The Civil War was a dangerous time for this country and Lee was instrumental in helping to heal the wounds created by that war. For his ability as a general and especially his statesmanship after the war he definitely deserves to have an Army post named after him.
Ambrose Powell Hill
Fort A.P. Hill



Fort A.P. Hill is located near Bowling Green Virginia. It was opened on June 11, 1941 and has been a training and staging area for all American wars since WW2. It is presently used to train Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine personnel.


  Ambrose Powell Hill - (1825-1865) Was a competent and aggressive Confederate officer that served the Confederate Army well. He was born in Culpeper Virginia and attended West Point from 1842 until 1847. Because of illness that would plague him off and on throughout his life he would have to repeat his third year. Hill's roommate at West Point was George McClellan and they would compete with each other for the same woman. Ellen Marcy was engaged to Hill and seems to have preferred him over McClellan but her father forbade the marriage and she broke off the engagement. Ellen would eventually marry McClellan. Hill would be involved in the closing stages of the Mexican War. Later as a quartermaster officer he would operate against the Seminoles in Florida. In 1859 he married a widow named Kitty Morgan McClung. She was the sister of future Confederate cavalryman John Hunt Morgan. They would have two children together.

  Hill joined the Confederate Army in March 1861 after resigning from the U.S. Army. He was held in reserve at 1st Bull Run and was noted for his aggressiveness at the battle of Williamsburg in May 1862, earning his second promotion to Major General. Hill commanded one of the largest divisions in the Confederate Army but he named it the Light Division. This was primarily because of the speed that the unit marched from point A to point B. Hill gained a reputation for his fearlessness in battle but he became involved in an ongoing public quarrel with his 1st Corps commander General James Longstreet. A series of newspaper articles inflated Hill's role in battle and Longstreet resented this. Eventually he had Hill arrested for insubordination. Robert E. Lee had Hill transferred to Thomas J. (Stonewall) Jackson's 2nd Corp's because he was afraid there would be a duel at some point between his two generals. Under Jackson he excelled in the battle of Cedar Mountain and the Battle of second Bull Run. Although he performed brilliantly, he clashed with Jackson over marching orders during the Maryland campaign and was placed under arrest for neglect of duty. Hill would not remain under arrest for long because he was too valuable to the campaign. Jackson was a hard officer to serve under because he would give orders and expect them to be carried out to the letter. Jackson would not share information with subordinate officers as to his ultimate purpose for these orders. This habit would drive General Richard Stoddert Ewell to distraction and he thought Jackson was crazy as a loon. Jackson was very eccentric but he was a military genius. He had a strategic vision on how to win the war for the South, in the same way that Grant had for the North. They were modern thinking soldiers.

  A. P. Hill would enjoy his finest hour at the battle of Antietam. Late in the battle Ambrose Burnside managed to establish a bridgehead across Antietam Creek after crossing the Rohrbach's bridge under heavy fire. The bridge would later be named Burnside's bridge.There were only about five hundred Confederate troops defending it but they put up a very effective defense because they held the high ground. I always thought that Burnside was foolish charging across the bridge in the manner that he did. In my mind his troops should have forded Antietam creek. When I visited the battlefield in 2003 I realized that because of the steep angle of the banks and the depth of the creek fording was not possible. Anybody else but Burnside would have crossed farther down the creek where it was fordible and they would be able to flank the Confederates. When Burnside finally overwhelmed Lee's right flank Lee was out of options. He had no reserve troops and Burnside was on the verge of encircling his remaining battle line. Then in the distance A. P. Hills Light Division battle flags were seen coming up from Harper's Ferry at breakneck speed. It would drive Burnside's troops back, saving Lee's Army from annihilation.

  Hill would shine at the one sided defeat of Union forces at Fredricksburg and he would briefly take over command of Jackson's 2nd Corps after he was mortally wounded during his brilliant victory at Chancellorsville. Hill would be wounded in the calves of his legs and would be relieved by J.E.B Stuart. Later that month Hill would be promoted to Lt. General and placed in command of the newly formed 3rd Corps. At Gettysburg Hill's aggressiveness would be criticized for instigating the battle with Meades forces on the 1st day. Lee's original orders were for his generals to avoid a general battle if possible. Hill's troops were also involved in Pickett's Charge. His aggressiveness would cause him to suffer a disastrous defeat at Bristoe Station when he was led into an ambush by Union forces. He performed well at the battle of the Wilderness but was forced to turn over command of 3rd Corps to Jubal Early during the battle of Spotsylvania for a short while because of illness. Even though he would return to command just before Cold Harbor Hill would suffer with illness for the most of the remaining time that he had on earth. In March 1865 during the final days of the siege of Petersburg he would be on sick leave. Finally on April 2, 1865 during the 3rd battle of Petersburg he was shot by a Union soldier as he and a staff member rode along the front of Confederate lines. Hill died at the young age of 39, only one week before Lee would surrender at Appomattox. He had his flaws but Lee once called him the best officer of his grade. In my opinion Hill earned the right to have an army post named after him.


Fort Pickett or Fort Thomas?


  

Ft. Pickett is near Blackstone Virginia. It has been a National Guard and Reserve training base since WW2 and is a Virginia National Guard installation today.

  George Pickett was born in Richmond Virginia. on January 25th 1825. He attended West point graduating last in his class of 59 students in 1846. Another George, by the name of George Armstrong Custer also graduated last in his class of 1861. That position is now called the "Goat" at West Point. Pickett would serve in the Mexican War from 1846 until 1848. Lt. Pickett would be a hero after raising the flag over a captured castle at the battle of Chapultepec. After the war he would serve on the Texas frontier. Pickett suffered much personal tragedy. As a captain he married Sally Minge. She was the great-great grandniece of President William Henry Harrison. In 1851 she and her baby died in childbirth. Pickett would eventually be transferred to the Washington territory where he met and fell in love with a Haida Indian named Morning Mist. In 1857 she died giving birth to their son James. Soon after he was involved in a Canadian border confrontation called the Pig War between American and British troops. After Virginia seceded from the Union he traveled back home and was given the rank of Colonel in the Confederate Army.

  In 1862 he was promoted to brigade command under James Longstreet. He served bravely at the battle of Williamsburg and the battle of Seven Pines. Pickett was severely wounded at Gaines Mill, which was the only clear cut victory for Lee during the Seven Days battles. He would not return to action until September and would play a small part in the battle of Fredricksburg. In the Spring of 1863 he would marry a teenager named LaSalle "Sallie" Corbell and by September they would be married. Had it not been for the battle of Gettysburg and Picketts Charge very few people, other than the serious student of the Civil War, would have ever heard of George Pickett. Actually the charge should be named the Pickett-Pettigrew-Trimble Charge because these were the three primary Divisions assisted by elements of A.P. Hill's 3rd Corps. Pickett's charge covered an area about a mile in length between Seminary Ridge and Cemetery Ridge. The charge was preceded by the largest bombardment that ever occurred on the North American continent. Lee bombarded Cemetery Ridge with a 150 cannon prior to the charge that killed more people behind Cemetery Ridge than on it. This was because the gunners overshot their targets because of new ammunition that they weren't used to. About 15,000 Confederates took part in the charge. Most every school child that has heard of Pickett's Charge. The only battle that could compare was the battle of Franklin where 18,000 Confederates attacked entrenched lines over two miles of open ground and no artillery support. Franklin was ignored because it occurred in the western theater and because of the bias of eastern historians. Pickett's division however was decimated, suffering over 50% casualties. When Pickett returned to the Confederate lines after the attack Lee asked about the condition of his division. Pickett responded, "General Lee I have no division". He never forgave Lee for ordering that charge.

  Pickett fought through Grant's overland campaign and would defend the Petersburg defenses. On April 2, 1865 Pickett was not with his division when it was attacked and destroyed at the battle of Five Forks. He was in the rear at a shad bake with other Confederate officers. By the time he arrived on the scene the battle was lost. Lee was furious and he was forced to abandon the Petersburg lines. He would be forced to surrender a week later at Appomattox. After the war Pickett left the country with his family and went to Canada to avoid prosecution as a former Confederate. He would return a year later and eventually would receive a full pardon. Pickett would live out his last days as a farmer and insurance agent. He would also turn down a position in the Egyptian military. Pickett would die at the age of 50 of a liver ailment in 1875. Does George Pickett deserve an army post to be named after him? Not particularly. Yes, he was a brave officer and we must give him credit for that. Bravery by itself shouldn't be justification for naming an army installation after you. Besides, as I have said nobody would know who Pickett is if it had not been for a famous charge that was a disastrous failure. If it were up to me I would have named Fort Pickett after my favorite Union general. A man who is also a Virginian. General George H. Thomas.
  
George Henry Thomas
 
  George Henry Thomas was born July 31, 1816 in Southampton County Virginia.. His father was a farmer and a slaveowner and at one point he owned 685 acres and 24 slaves. George's father would die when he was 13. During the 1831 Nat Turner rebellion he and his family would be forced to hide in the woods near their home.This slave revolt made many Southerners become more entrenched in their views on slavery implementing harsher safeguards to prevent future rebellions. Thomas however came to believe that slavery was such a vile institution that it would drive men to violence. However Thomas owned slaves for much of his life but it is said that he taught 15 slaves to read and write as a child in spite of Virginia laws against the practice and the wishes of his father. Thomas graduated from West Point in 1840. He served bravely in the Mexican War and in the Seminole Wars. When Virginia seceded from the Union he was faced with the same tough decision that was facing Robert E. Lee. Whether to remain loyal to the Union or to stand by Virginia. Thomas had married 31 year old Frances Kellog from Troy New York in 1852 which heavily influenced his decision to remain loyal to the Union. His family disowned him because of his decision and never spoke to Thomas again. His three sisters turned his picture to the wall.

  In my mind George H. Thomas was the best general in the Union Army. He saved the Army of the Cumberland from destruction at Stones River and at Chickamauga where he acquired the nickname (The Rock of Chickamauga). He smashed General Felix Zollicoffer at Fishing Creek Kentucky and his men lifted the siege of Missionary Ridge propelling Grant into overall command of the Union Army. Thomas smashed Hood at Peachtree Creek in the battles for Atlanta. At Nashville he earned the name (Hammer of Nashville) when he virtually destroyed Hood's Army of Tennessee. Thomas led the longest and most devastating pursuit of a Confederate army during the war. This pursuit was over one hundred miles and in the dead of winter. He did all of this in spite of the fact that he was not trusted by many in the North because he was a Southerner. Grant came very close to relieving him at Nashville because he believed Thomas to be too cautious and slow. His thoroughness in preparing for battle was mistaken for slowness. Thomas was never surprised in battle like Grant was at Shiloh. It was only because of the staunch defense by W.H.L. Wallace and Benjamin Prentiss in the Hornet's Nest that saved Grant's butt. That and the lack of strategic foresight of the Confederates Generals Albert Sydney Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard in bypassing this pocket of resistance. Had they done this Grant wouldn't have been able to establish a final line of defense, Grant's career would have been over right then and there. It almost ended as it was after Shiloh. Rumors spread through the army that he had been drunk. Only Lincoln's ultimate support saved Grant in the end.

  I don't mean to imply that Grant was not a great general. He was but I just believe that Thomas was the best. Grant totally misread the capabilities and potential of George H. Thomas. He was successful in spite of the suspicions of many in the North that he was a traitor due to his Southern roots. Thomas would command several departments in the South after the war to enforce Reconstruction. Thomas did much to protect the Freedman from the Klan and white abuse. He would also enforce labor contracts for the Freedman. President Johnson offered Thomas the rank of Lt. General with the intention of replacing Grant who was a Republican. Thomas was always loyal and he refused the promotion. This in spite of the fact that Grant had not been fair to him over the years. He would die of a stroke while writing an article defending his military record from a critical article written by John Schofield. He had been disciplined on the recommendation of Thomas at West Point. Schofield had fought under Thomas at Franklin and Nashville and was a backstabber who sent dispatches to Grant behind Thomas back criticizing his generalship. Schofield couldn't hold a candle to Thomas in terms of military ability or character. In conclusion Thomas was vastly superior to George Pickett as a general. Unfortunately a much larger number of people would be able to identify George Pickett as opposed to George H. Thomas.
JOHN BELL HOOD

Fort Hood Texas


  

Ft. Hood is near Killeen Texas. It was built in 1942 to test and train tank destroyers. It is the largest U.S. military installation in terms of population in the world.

  John Bell Hood was born on June 1, 1831 in Owingsville Kentucky and was the son of a physician. Hood would graduate very low in his class at West Point, along with future Union generals James B. McPherson and Phillip Sheridan in 1853. Both McPherson and Sheridan would also have army posts named after them. Ft. Sheridan in Illinois and Ft. McPherson in Atlanta Georgia. Ft. Sheridan was closed down in 1993. Ft. McPherson is still in existence. It was established in 1885 and had housed troops since 1835. During the Civil War it was a Confederate Army post. General McPherson was killed during the battle of Atlanta and the post was named in his honor. Of course 1885 was not a time of reconciliation between North and South so choosing that name for an army post was an arbitrary decision by the U.S. Army. My father went through basic training at Fort McPherson in 1944.

  Hood's first duty station was in Northern California In 1855 he was assigned to the 2nd United States Cavalry and served under Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston. The unit was transferred to the Texas frontier and Hood spent five years there. In 1857 Hood was wounded in the hand by an arrow while fighting Indians and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant for bravery. Apparently he was an adrenaline junkie because he turned down a prestigious assignment as a cavalry instructor at West Point to remain on the frontier fighting Indians. Hood was sympathetic to the Southern cause and intended to join the Confederacy whenever his home state of Kentucky seceded. Kentucky never seceded so Hood submitted his resignation anyway in April 1861. He saw his first real action during the Seven Days campaign. Hood's reputation for bravery in battle was firmly established at the battle of Gaines Mill when he personally led a charge that overran the Union lines. He was promoted to command a division in General Longstreet's 1st Corps. Hood spearheaded a massive flanking movement at 2nd Bull Run that routed Union General John Pope's army. His division was instrumental in beating back a Union attack in the West Wood near the Dunker Church at Antietam. He would shine during the battle of Fredricksburg but because of the 1st Corps was on detached duty in Suffolk he would miss out on Lee's greatest victory at Chancellorsville.

  At Gettysburg things started to go south for Hood when he was ordered to outflank the extreme left of the Union lines on Little Round Top. Hood disagreed with the orders but gave a valiant effort. He was seriously wounded in the left arm by fragments of an artillery shell and would not be able to use it for the rest of his life. Hood recuperated in Richmond where he would spend as much time as he was able courting a young beautiful socialite twelve years his junior by the name of Sally (Buck) Preston. Men had a habit of falling in love with her. Three of her suitors died before she met Hood. One in a duel with his cousin. One was killed at Gaines Mill, and another at Fredricksburg. After Hood regained his health he was sent with Longstreet's Corps to reinforce Bragg during the battle of Chickamauga. Hood received his wound at Gettysburg on July 2nd 1863 and was wounded even more seriously at Chickamauga on September 20th. He was shot in the upper thigh of his right leg. The leg was amputated at the hip. Losing a leg in the Civil War was bad enough. If your leg was amputated from the knee down your chances of survival were about 50/50. If your leg was amputated at the hip your survival chances were about 5%. Hood was very lucky as well as being a tough cookie. He would recuperate in Richmond where he would see a lot of Sally Preston. Her feelings for him were no where near as strong as his for her. She told Mary Chestnut “I never cared particularly about [Hood]….I would not marry him if he had a thousand legs instead of having just lost one.”
The wounding of John B. Hood at Chickamauga

  Hood bravely returned to a Corp's command in the Army of Tennessee. He wore an artificial leg and had to be strapped on his horse. Joseph E. Johnston commanded the Army of Tennessee. His Fabian defensive tactics against Sherman irritated Hood who was very aggressive. Hood constantly complained to Richmond and just after Johnston's army withdrew to the environs of Atlanta he would replace Johnston. I don't know that Johnston would have succeeded in holding Atlanta. At this point the South had few options. In retrospect I think that the main object of both Lee and Johnston should have been to preserve the Confederate Army. Both Richmond and Atlanta should have been abandoned instead of sacrificing so many soldiers to protect them. As long as the army survived the Confederacy survived. The flanking maneuvers of both Johnston and Sherman conserved lives compared to the blood bath that had been going on in Virginia from May to July 1864. Only when Sherman made the mistake of attacking Johnston's entrenched position at Kennesaw Mountain was there any major casualties comparable to the eastern theater. For many years I have considered Joseph Johnston a failure as a commander because he was always on the retreat and never seemed to deliver a knockout punch when he had his chances. I have changed my outlook however on the South's ultimate strategy for winning the war in recent years. Johnston was the perfect commander for a George Washington strategy of fighting not to lose rather than fighting to win. Looking back on the history of that war with the benefit of 150 years hindsight it is easy to assume that the North thought the war was as good as won in July 1864. Lincoln didn't think so. He was mentally preparing himself for defeat in the 1864 election. The Democratic Party, surprise, surprise, was pushing a peace platform. They wanted an armistice or a truce with the south. Davis decision to replace Johnston with Hood in front of Atlanta in July 1864 was a monumental mistake.

  Sherman respected the generalship of Johnston and was ecstatic when he heard that Johnston was being replaced by Hood on July 17th. Even Lee had misgivings. When Davis asked his opinion on replacing Johnston he said that Hood was "a bold fighter, very industrious on the battlefield, careless off," but he could not say whether Hood possessed all of the qualities necessary to command an army in the field. Lee added that he had a high opinion of Hood's gallantry, earnestness, and zeal. In my opinion Hood was a great commander from the corps to division level on down. However he was out of his league as the commander of an army. There was no soldier that was braver than Hood. In four battles for Atlanta that took place on the four points of the compass. North east, west and south, Hood greatly damaged the brave Army of Tennessee. Hood was defeated at the battle of Peachtree Creek to the north of Atlanta on July 20th 1864. Then the battle of Atlanta on July 22. The battle of Ezra Church on July 28.and the battle of Jonesboro on August 31 to Sepember 1st. Atlanta fell on September 2, and Lincolns election was assured. Northerners began to see a light at the end of the tunnel. It is hard to tell how long Johnston could have held out in Atlanta if he had remained in command. One thing is pretty certain. I think even if Johnston had given up Atlanta the Confederate Army would have been in much better shape. The South lost nearly 10,000 casualties and millions of dollars of food and supplies that were either destroyed or captured.

  I believe that Hood was trying to drive away the Union Army outside Atlanta in the same way that Lee drove McClellan from the suburbs of Richmond during the Seven Days battles in 1862. The only problem was that Sherman wasn't the overly cautious McClellan. In 1862 troops were still fighting out in the open. By 1864 troops were fighting behind breastworks and trenches. Hoods thinking was outdated.

  After the fall of Atlanta Hood could try to slow Sherman's march to the sea by positioning himself in front of Sherman. Or he could try a bold plan of marching north in the hope of luring Sherman away from a deep south invasion. Hood chose the latter option of moving north. For awhile Sherman took the bait, chasing Hood over the earlier battlefields of the Atlanta campaign. Sherman knew what Hood was trying to do and he wanted to begin a march to the sea but a nervous Grant and Lincoln wanted Sherman to dispatch Hood. If Hood was running loose in the North this could cause both men tremendous political problems. Finally Sherman was able to convince Grant and Lincoln that he go ahead with his march to the sea and take care of Hood simultaneously.

  Sherman sent his best commander, General George H. Thomas to Nashville in order to put together an army that could destroy Hood. Eventually Hood would open his Tennessee campaign. It was speculated that Hood would either try to recapture Nashville, head for Cinncinatti, or try to link up with Lee in Virginia. At Spring Hill Tennessee Hood missed an opportunity to completely destroy John Schofield's army that was sent by Thomas to slow Hood down. Hood would chase Schofield into Franklin where in five of the bloodiest hours of the war he would lose 7,000 men in a needless frontal assault.against entrenchments. In addition to that he would lose six field generals that were killed outright. Since Schofield retreated Franklin was considered a Confederate victory. On December 2 Hood arrived in the suburbs of Nashville with what was left of the Army of Tennessee numbering about 20,000 men. His plan was to allow Thomas's army of 55,000 men to attack him. He would stop the attack and then counterattack. On December 15th Thomas began his attack. On the 16th Thomas crushed Hood, his career as a soldier, and the Army of Tennessee. Hood would be replaced in January 1865 after a long retreat to Mississippi. The Army of Tennessee was nearly destroyed. Only 9,000 men were left out of the original 30,000 that crossed into Tennessee.

  After the war Hood would become a cotton merchant in New Orleans and president of an insurance company. He would marry a lady named Anna Hennen and they would have eleven children, including three sets of twins. Hood's wife and one of his children would die in a yellow fever epidemic in 1879. He would die soon after leaving ten children orphaned. They would be assisted economically by a memoir called Advance and Retreat that was published after his death. In addition they would adopted by families across the South and in New York.

  Should Hood have an army post named after him? In my opinion no. If he had never become an army commander, I would say yes. There was no better lower echelon commander or subordinate than John Bell Hood. Nor was there ever a braver soldier. However his handling of the Army of Tennessee should disqualify him in my opinion.
Henry Lewis Benning


Fort Benning Georgia

  

Ft. Benning is near Columbus Georgia and straddles the Georgia-Alabama line. Ft. Benning is the home of the Army infantry school. It was established in 1918 to train troops for WW1. My brother-in-law Ronnie Phillips went through basic training there in 1965.

  Henry Lewis Benning was born in Columbia County Georgia on April 2, 1814. Benning grew up on a plantation and attended Franklin College which would later become the University of Georgia. After college he would move to Columbus Georgia, which would become his permanent home. He married a Columbus lady named Mary Jones. Together they had ten children. One of their boys would die in the Civil War and five daughters would outlive Benning. He would be admitted to the bar in 1821 and later become an associate justice of the Georgia State Supreme Court. He was a staunch advocate of slavery and a virulent racist. In a letter to Howell Cobb written in July 1849, he stated that a Southern Confederacy would not be enough—because a Confederacy might itself eventually become divided into northern and southern regions as slavery waned in some of the states—and called for a Southern "consolidated Republic" that "will put slavery under the control of those most interested in it. He became a delegate from Muscogee County Georgia to the state secession convention. After Georgia seceded he was the commissioner from Georgia to the Virginia secession convention. He stated his reasons for urging secession from the Union. Benning stated that were the slave states to remain in the Union, their slaves would ultimately end up being freed by the anti-slavery Republican Party. He also said that he would rather be stricken with illness and starvation than to see blacks liberated from slavery and be given equality as citizens.

  The following is a speech that he gave on February 18, 1861 to the Virginia Secession Convention. What was the reason that induced Georgia to take the step of secession? This reason may be summed up in one single proposition. It was a conviction, a deep conviction on the part of Georgia, that a separation from the North was the only thing that could prevent the abolition of her slavery. ... If things are allowed to go on as they are, it is certain that slavery is to be abolished. By the time the north shall have attained the power, the black race will be in a large majority, and then we will have black governors, black legislatures, black juries, black everything. Is it to be supposed that the white race will stand for that? It is not a supposable case. ... war will break out everywhere like hidden fire from the earth, and it is probable that the white race, being superior in every respect, may push the other back. ... we will be overpowered and our men will be compelled to wander like vagabonds all over the earth; and as for our women, the horrors of their state we cannot contemplate in imagination. That is the fate which abolition will bring upon the white race. ... We will be completely exterminated, and the land will be left in the possession of the blacks, and then it will go back to a wilderness and become another Africa... Suppose they elevated Charles Sumner to the presidency? Suppose they elevated Fred Douglass, your escaped slave, to the presidency? What would be your position in such an event? I say give me pestilence and famine sooner than that. The thing that that the (fire eaters), as the radical defenders of slavery were called in the South, didn't understand was that by pushing so hard for war they in the end were the greatest of all abolitionists. The results of the war insured the abolition of slavery.

  Benning became a Colonel in the 17th Georgia infantry regiment, which he raised himself, rather than take a position in the newly formed Confederate cabinet. He opposed the Confederate Conscription Act because he thought that it violated the concept of states rights and was almost court martialed for refusing to obey certain orders. Benning served in Robert E. Lee's army and his first combat experience was at the second battle of Bull Run. His brigade was a very important part of the defense of the Burnside bridge on the Confederate right. at Antietam. He became known as the "Old Rock" for his bravery. Benning was promoted to Brigadier general in January 1863. He commanded Benning's Brigade in Hood's Division. At Gettysburg his brigade attacked Devil's Den driving off the Union Army and suffering heavy casualties. In September his unit was sent to fight at the battle of Chickamauga and on September 20th his men were part of Longstreet's breakthrough that split the Union army in half. He had two horses shot out from under him and in desperation cut loose a nearby artillery horse and rode bareback into combat. The Union army counterattacked and many of his men fled in disorder. In a state of excitement he rode up to Longstreet saying "General, I am ruined; my brigade was suddenly attacked and every man killed; not one is to be found. Please give me orders where I can do some fighting." Longstreet responded, "Nonsense, General, you are not so badly hurt. Look about you. I know you will find at least one man, and with him on his feet report your brigade to me, and you two shall have a place in the fighting line." He was humiliated by Longstreet's response and returned to fight bravely for the rest of the battle. Later he would fight at the battle of the Wauhatchie near Chattanooga and the battle of Knoxville. At the battle of the Wilderness he would be severely wounded in the shoulder. He would return to action in the waning days of the Petersburg siege and the heartbroken Benning would be part of the last troops to lay down their arms at the surrender ceremony at Appomattox. Upon returning home he found that his house had been burned. Benning resumed his law practice and had to support not only his own family but the family of his wife's brother who had been killed in the war. Benning died on the way to court in 1875 after suffering a stroke.

  Does Benning deserve to have an army post named after him? In my opinion, no. There is no doubt that Benning was very brave. However he represents the worst of the Southern culture and people to me. He was a racist ideologue. Other than the fact that he was brave and possibly a good family man there is little to defend here. I can easily imagine him in a white sheet with a burning cross in the background addressing a Klan rally. I can relate very well to the black soldiers resentment of serving their country on a military base named after such a man.
John B. Gordon
Fort Gordon Georgia

  


Ft. Gordon is in Augusta Georgia and was established to train troops for World War 1. In that war it was the home of the 82nd Division which would become the famous 82nd Airborne in WW2. Alvin C. York trained at Ft. Gordon and would be part of the 82nd Division.

  General John B. Gordon was born on February 6, 1832 in Upson County Georgia. His father moved the family to northwestern Georgia where he operated a coal mine. Gordon attended the University of Georgia and after two years held the highest grade point average, However he dropped out before graduation. In 1854 he moved to Atlanta, married and became a lawyer. Gordon was not successful so he took over the operation of his fathers mine. He was doing this when the Civil War broke out. Like Benning, Gordon became a political general without any formal military training. He became one of the best generals on either side during the war. Gordon became the commander of a tough group of Georgia and Alabama mountaineers called the "Racoon Rough's" and would rise to the rank of Major General. Gordon was a great leader that inspired his men to do great things in battle. He was said to be tall, lanky and straight as a ramrod. He fought at 1st Bull Run, Williamsburg, and Seven Pines. During the Seven Days he paced fearlessly in front of his men and had the butt of his pistol shot off. A bullet passed through his canteen and one tore away the front of his coat and at Malvern Hill he was wounded in the eyes. Gordon defended the Sunken Road at Antietam in the Confederate center. He would be shot five times. The first minie ball passed through the calf of his leg. The second bullet hit him higher in the same leg. The third passed through his left arm severing a small artery and mangling muscles and tendons but he was still on his feet leading his men. A fourth ball hit him in the shoulder and his men begged him to go to the rear but he refused. He was finally put out of action when a bullet tore through his left cheek and exited through his jaw. Gordon fell face down with his face in his cap. A bullet hole in his hat, that he had received earlier in the day, was the only thing that saved him from drowning in his own blood. A surgeon thought that he was mortally wounded but he was able to return to Virginia where his wife nursed him back to health.





  

Gordon returned to duty just in time for the Gettysburg campaign. His men formed a bucket brigade to save Wrightsville Pennsylvania from burning to the ground. At Gettysburg he gave aid to a wounded Union general who he thought was mortally wounded named Francis Barlow. After the war they would meet in Washington D.C. Gordon was unaware that Barlow had lived and he wrote an account of their meeting in his memoirs. Seated at Clarkson Potter's table, I asked Barlow: "General, are you related to the Barlow who was killed at Gettysburg?" He replied: "Why, I am the man, sir. Are you related to the Gordon who killed me?" "I am the man, sir," I responded. No words of mine can convey any conception of the emotions awakened by those startling announcements. Nothing short of an actual resurrection from the dead could have amazed either of us more. Thenceforward, until his untimely death in 1896, the friendship between us which was born amidst the thunders of Gettysburg was greatly cherished by both.

— John B. Gordon, Reminiscences of the Civil War


Some historians believe that Gordon fabricated this story because Barlow later fought in the battle of the Wilderness. Gordon had a large role in the battle of the Wilderness and he saved the Confederate Army from being routed at Spotsylvania. He would be wounded in the head at the battle of Shepherdstown West Virginia. At the battle of Third Winchester his wife ran into the street to urge retreating Confederate troops to stand and fight. Gordon was horrified to find his wife standing in the street with bullets and shrapnel falling around her. Gordon would be wounded one more time before the end of the war. He would man the lines at Petersburg and lead the last attack before Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Gordon would head up the Confederate surrender ceremony at Appomattox. The following is Union General Joshua Chamberlains account.

  The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least. The act could be defended, if needful, by the suggestion that such a salute was not to the cause for which the flag of the Confederacy stood, but to its going down before the flag of the Union. My main reason, however, was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond;—was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured? Instructions had been given; and when the head of each division column comes opposite our group, our bugle sounds the signal and instantly our whole line from right to left, regiment by regiment in succession, gives the soldier's salutation, from the "order arms" to the old "carry"—the marching salute. Gordon at the head of the column, riding with heavy spirit and downcast face, catches the sound of shifting arms, looks up, and, taking the meaning, wheels superbly, making with himself and his horse one uplifted figure, with profound salutation as he drops the point of his sword to the boot toe; then facing to his own command, gives word for his successive brigades to pass us with the same position of the manual,—honor answering honor. On our part not a sound of trumpet more, nor roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breath-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead!


Joshua Chamberlain - The Passing Of The Armies
Surrender ceremony at Appomattox

  


  After the war Gordon was opposed to reconstruction and the freedman attaining political rights. He ran as governor of Georgia but was defeated in 1868. Gordon was considered the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Georgia but like Nathan Bedford Forrest in Tennessee he always denied it and even testified before Congress under oath that he was not a member of the Klan. In 1873 he was elected to the Senate. Gordon was a believer in the New South and Industrialization. He went into private business in 1880. Was elected Governor of Georgia in 1886, and was elected to the senate again in 1891. He would serve there until 1897. In 1903 he would publish an account of his service in the Civil War called Reminiscences of the Civil War. Gordon would die while visiting his son in Miami Florida at the age of 71 in 1904. Does Gordon deserve to have an army base named after him? I am kind of on the fence on this one but I believe that he does. Although bravery by itself should not necessarily qualify someone for such an honor as in the case of Benning. Gordon definitely qualifies in the area of bravery. The fact that he saved the Confederate army at Spotsylvania is significant however.


Edmund Winchester Rucker

Fort Rucker Alabama

  There is not a great deal of information about Edmund Rucker. I know that he was born in Tennessee in 1834. He became a self taught surveyor and engineer. In May 1861 he joined a company of sappers, miners and engineers as a private in the Confederate Army. Later he would be promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. Eventually he would be placed in command of a heavy artillery unit made up of Confederate soldiers from Illinois called Stewarts Invincibles. His unit was sent to Island # 10 in the Mississippi River and he escaped with part of his men when the island fell to Union forces on April 8, 1862. Rucker was promoted to Captain on May 10, 1862 after he was assigned to Ft. Pillow on the Mississippi River near Memphis. In October 1862 he was a Major when he was transferred to the 16th Tennessee cavalry battalion. By February 1863 he was promoted to Colonel and took part in John Pegram's Kentucky raid. He was placed in command of Rucker's Legion made up of the 12th and 16th Tennessee Battalions on June 1, 1863 and his unit would fight at Chickamauga in September. Rucker was transferred to Mississippi in February 1864 and was given command of the 6th Brigade in Abraham Buford's Division. He fought under Forrest at Brices Crossroads and at Tupelo where he was wounded. Rucker returned to duty on July 14th 1864 and placed under the command of James Chalmers. The Brigade served at the battle of Nashville. Rucker was covering the rear of the routed Confederate Army. Defeated, ragged, and panic stricken Confederate soldiers were fleeing out the Granny White Pike after the Army of Tennessee's left wing and center collapsed late in the afternoon of December 16th 1864. Ruckers Brigade stacked fence rails and logs across the pike near the present day intersection of Granny White Pike and Richland Woods Lane. The Union Cavalry attacked this position after dark which became known as the battle of the Barricades. Much of it occurred at night and during the battle Rucker accidentally rode into a group of Union Cavalrymen and realizing he was surrounded engaged the Union commander Colonel Spaulding in a sword fight using cavalry sabers. Their arms became entangled and somehow they swapped sabers. Years later the sabers were returned to the original owners. Colonel Rucker was shot in the arm and captured. The battle lasted until about midnight. The Confederates were successful in buying time for Hood's army to retreat. The fight between Colonel Rucker and Colonel Spaulding is etched in stone at the entrance of Princeton Hills subdivision off of Murray Lane.

  


  After the war Rucker worked with Forrest on a railroad project. He then moved to Birmingham Alabama in the 1880's where he became a prominent businessman and was called a pioneer industrialist. Should Rucker have an army post named after him? Again, I am on the fence. I have the feeling that it was more because of his prestige as an Alabama industrialist than his ability as a military leader that Fort Rucker was named after him. If he had not established himself as a successful businessman in Alabama I doubt that many Alabamian's would have known who Edmund Rucker was. There is no doubt that Rucker was a brave, competent officer and sacrificed much for his country. Beyond that he was similar to Forrest in that he had no prior military experience and he rose from a private to high rank in the Confederate Army. Rucker officially ended the war as a Colonel. He would be given the honorary rank of Brigadier General by the state of Alabama after the war. Forrest on the other hand would enter the war as a private and end it as a Lt. General. Lt. General was the highest rank bestowed by both armies at that time. In the Union Army Major General was the highest rank until Ulysses S. Grant became overall commander of the army in March 1864. The rank was resurrected by an act of Congress. George Washington was the last General to hold that rank before Grant. I want to remind the reader that these army posts were named either in WW1 or WW2 at the time they were established. This was a vastly different time in our history than today. The thinking of people was much different. As I have already stated I wouldn't change the names of these posts today simply for the history behind them since they were established and because of the money it would cost to change the names. I am simply trying to evaluate the names from my modern day perspective combined with a historical perspective which of these officers actually deserves an army post to be named for them. Bravery and ability are important factors in my opinion. Rucker definitely possessed these two characteristics.

  Where I am torn is whether or not he had a great impact on the war, good or bad. Would the course of the war been affected that much if Rucker had never been born. I don't think so. I also look at what kind of person Rucker was along with the other officers I am evaluating. For example I don't like Benning because racism was at the core of his being and he comes across as an evil person to me, although he displayed extreme courage in battle. Hitler won the Iron Cross for bravery which is the equivalent of our Medal of Honor, or the British Victoria Cross. He was a very brave soldier but he was a despicable person. Although Rucker was a product of his generation, just like most white men of the period, he doesn't come across to me as a controversial or evil man. If bravery, skill and character are the criteria then Rucker should have a post named after him. Ft. Sill Oklahoma was named after Sheridan's friend General Joshua Sill who was killed at the battle of Stones River defending the Union line near where the Avenue Mall is in Murfreesboro today. Like Rucker, he was a competent and very brave officer but he also had no real impact on the course of the war. He was killed fairly early in the war. Sill fought for the Union but he was also a product of his time. I would offer that if you asked him to give his opinion on black people it would probably not be much different than Rucker's. My opinion is subjective and it is a chance for me to evaluate the ten Confederate officers who have army posts named for them and share my opinion with the reader.

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard
    PGT Beauregard 

Camp Beauregard is in Pineville Louisiana. It was established in 1917 to train troops for WW1. In 1940 it became a training base for WW2 and was used in the Louisiana maneuvers. Today it is operated as a training base for the Louisiana National Guard.

P.G.T. Beauregard was born on May 28th 1818 on a plantation in St. Bernard Parish Louisiana. He was a descendant of an Italian noble family through his mother and a French-Welsh heritage through his father. He attended New Orleans private schools and a French school in New York. Beauregard never spoke english until he was twelve years old. He attended West Point and graduated 2nd in the class of 1838. His classmates nicknamed him "Little Napoleon" and "Little Creole" Beauregard was married twice. He had two children by his first wife who would die in 1850. His second wife would die in 1864 after a long illness. Beauregard would fight in the Mexican War and was wounded at the battle of Chapultepec. After the war he became a military engineer helping to improve the defenses of several forts in the deep South. He was defeated in a mayoral race in New Orleans and only served two days as superintendent of West Point in January 1861. This was because of his perceived Southern sympathies. Beauregard would resign from the U.S. Army in February 1861 after Louisiana seceded from the Union.

Beauregard was appointed the first Brigadier General in the Confederacy and was chosen to defend Charleston Harbor. He would order the opening shots on Ft. Sumter which would start the Civil War. The bombardment would begin on April 12th and Major Anderson would surrender on the 14th. Anderson had been Beauregard's teacher at West Point. The South's firing on Ft. Sumter was a big mistake. Politically it was popular with the war hawks and the fire eaters in the South but it had the same adverse effect on the North as the attack on Pearl Harbor had on the United States in 1941. At least from the standpoint of the Japanese. Yamamoto hit the nail on the head when he said that ' I fear all that we have done is awaken a sleeping giant". When you look at the resources of the United States in population, industrial capacity, raw materials such as oil, coal, and iron that could be made into steel and the potential size and power of our military forces the odds were greatly stacked in our favor. Japan was a have not nation. It had to expand into the neighboring countries of Asia in order to acquire these resources and overextended itself in the process. They would have to contend with hostile populations in these countries in which that hostility was increased by the brutality of the Japanese.


The South was in a similar situation as the Japanese. The North had a population of twenty-two million as opposed to the South's five million white population. There were also four million blacks in the South that were mostly slaves. Many of these slaves could be used to build fortifications, do manual labor, and free up the whites to fight. For the most part they were hostile to the Southern cause. The Emancipation Proclamation would disrupt and undermine this labor force even further when slaves sought the protection of nearby Union forces. Although the money tied up in slaves, slavery and cotton in the South totaled more than all Northern assets combined, the North's industrial and agricultural output was greatly superior to the South. The North produced while the South consumed. The Union could produce the materials needed to conduct a war while the South could produce a small portion but the rest would have to come from overseas or through battlefield captures. As the naval blockade tightened and the South began to lose battles even this source would diminish.

If calmer heads had prevailed and decided to wait on Lincoln to make the first aggressive move there is the possibility that the South could have won it's independence by default. Lincoln would have faced a gigantic dilemma. If he invaded any one of the seven seceded states it might have caused even more than the four border states of Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas and North Carolina to secede. They would do it later after Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion. The North might have lost Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri, if not Delaware. It was also a slave state. On top of that the South had many Northern friends in Congress and on the courts. For years North and South had worked to keep a coalition together that was committed to avoiding war. This is why slavery had been written into the Constitution in the first place, Abolitionists like John Adams, Benjamin Rush and Benjamin Franklin knew that the only way that there would ever be a United States of America they had to compromise with slavery, at least in the short term. It would be up to a future generation to rid America of this curse. The tension caused by slavery would be alleviated by this coalition from time to time before the Civil War. It would engineer the Missouri Compromise in 1820. The Compromise of 1850 and the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. On the very eve of Civil War some Northerners in this coalition were proposing a 13th Amendment to guarantee slavery forever. This amendment would prohibit the passage of any anti-slavery laws in the future. Firing on Ft. Sumter effectively broke apart this coalition. At least temporarily. It would be resurrected after the political Compromise of 1877 and the election of Rutherford B. Hayes. This coalition between North and South would protect Jim Crow and segregation in the same way that it had protected slavery until the passage of the 1964 and 65 Civil Rights Acts ended the coalition forever. As late as the 1960 election Kennedy would place Johnson, a Southerner, on the ticket in order to unite the Northern and Southern wings of the Democratic Party. General Grant in his memoirs hit the nail on the head when he said that the greatest abolitionists were the Confederates themselves. When they fired on Ft. Sumter they guaranteed the end of slavery. We cannot blame Beauregard totally for this mistake. He was a soldier and he was following the orders of his superiors.

As soon as slavery fired upon the flag it was felt, we all felt, even those who did not object to slaves, that slavery must be destroyed. We felt that it was a stain to the Union that men should be bought and sold like cattle.

Ulysses S. Grant

  After Sumter Beauregard was the man of the hour. He was a genuine Southern hero and was placed as second in command to General Joseph Johnston at 1st Bull Run. Since Johnston was late arriving on the field he deferred to the plan of battle that Beauregard had already drawn up. The Confederates routed the Union Army and it was after this battle that Beauregard became the enemy of Jefferson Davis. They fought over field tactics and he was critical of the fact that Davis failed to pursue the defeated Union troops into Washington D.C. In my opinion Beauregard has been proven right. An opportunity for an even greater victory was lost. Davis and Johnston quarreled over the fact that he should have been considered the highest ranking general in the Confederate Army since he held the most seniority and rank in the old army. For the rest of the war Davis opinion and use of these two men would be clouded by the hard feelings he held for them and they for him. Beauregard was instrumental after the battle of 1st Bull Run in designing the Confederate battle flag for the Army of the Potomac. This is what the eastern Confederate Army was named before Lee later changed it to the Army of Northern Virginia. When the first national flag or Stars and Bars was adopted it was chosen because it looked so much like the Stars and Stripes. On the battlefield at Bull Run this similarity was downright dangerous. Confederate units were mistaken for Yankees and this produced unnecessary casualties and confusion. Beauregard helped create the flag that we now know as the Confederate Battle flag or St. Andrews cross. This was done to alleviate confusion on the battlefield.

  Beauregard was sent to the western theater in time to serve under another Johnston at Shiloh, Albert Sidney Johnston. Again he was second in command and was still considered a hero for his twin victories at Sumter and 1st Bull Run. Johnston adopted Beauregard's plan of battle which proved to be too complicated for the green and untried Army of Mississippi, which would later come to be known as the Army of Tennessee. Beauregard opened the battle with three Confederate Corps lined up in echelon, which was one corps lbehind the other instead of a line formation. This caused confusion and the mingling of various units in battle. Johnston bled to death after a bullet cut an artery behind his knee. Johnston would be the highest ranking general killed in battle because he was foolishly exposing himself as if he was a regimental commander instead of an Army commander near the Peach Orchard. Beauregard assumed command. He made the controversial decision to break off the Confederate attack after nightfall. The Confederates had taken Grant by surprise and victory had been in their grasp. Beauregard was demonized for losing the battle of Shiloh because he didn't continue the attack on the night of April 6. The rebels had pushed the Union Army all the way to the banks of the Tennessee River. By nightfall however they had long since squandered their chance at victory. By then Grant had firmly established a very strong defensive line and he was receiving reinforcements from Don Carlos Buell. In addition Union gunboats were lobbing shells into the Confederate line.The best chance for Confederate victory had been earlier in the day when they were attacking the Hornets Nest. The rebels should have posted enough men to pin down the isolated Union pocket of resistance. Then using the bulk of their army they could have then bypassed it. Crushing Grant before he could organize a last line of defense. On the morning of the 7th Grant outnumbered Beauregard about two to one with the added reinforcements of Buell and the troops of Lew Wallace. Beauregard skillfully pulled off a fighting withdrawal to Corinth Mississippi which had been Grant's original goal all along.

  Grant followed Beauregard's army and laid siege to Corinth. Facing an army twice his size he retreated to Tupelo in May 1862. Corinth was one of the most important rail centers in the South. Davis was furious with Beauregard over it's loss and relieved him while he was on sick leave. Braxton Bragg would take command of the Army of Tennessee. Beauregard was placed in command of the coastal defenses of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Throughout 1863 and early 1864 Beauregard defended Charleston. He used innovative means of defending the city and harbor. The submarine Hunley and the use of mines. He defended Charleston from repeated attacks by the Union Navy. Ft. Sumter over time was pulverized into rubble but it never surrendered until the very last days of the war. In April 1864 he was placed in command of the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia. In June 1864 he blocked the Union Army at the last moment from capturing Petersburg which was the gateway to Richmond. His actions forced the Union Army into a ten month siege.

  In October 1864 Beauregard was placed in command of a region of the South that included John Bell Hood's Army of Tennessee. He was limited to an advisory role and was unable to halt Sherman's March to the Sea. Beauregard was replaced by Joseph E. Johnston and both men would surrender to Sherman at Durham North Carolina on April 26, 1865. After the war Beauregard would serve as a superintendent of a Louisiana railroad. A president of a streetcar company and in 1877 Beauregard along with former Confederate general Jubal Early was supervisor of the Louisiana Lottery. In 1879 he became the Adjutant General of the Louisiana State Militia. Beauregard was in a constant fight with Jefferson Davis through his published writings. He died in 1893 at the age of 74. Does Beauregard deserve to have an army post named after him? Yes because I believe that Beauregard was a competent general that was not allowed to perform at his full potential because of the pettiness of Jefferson Davis.






Leonidas Polk
  
  Ft. Polk is near Leesville Louisiana. It was established for the Louisiana maneuvers in the 1940's. Ft. Polk is now the home of the Joint Readiness Training Center. My brother-in-law Hulon Helms pulled his basic training at Ft. Polk in the early 1960's.



  Leonidas Polk was born April 10, 1806 near Raleigh North Carolina. His family was well off owning over 100,000 acres of land. He would originally attend the University of North Carolina and from there transfer to West Point. His military career was cut short in 1827 when he resigned his commission in order to devote his life to the Episcopal church. Polk married Frances Deveraux in 1830, the great granddaughter of Puritan Jonathan Edwards. Together they would have eight children. In 1832 Polk moved to the vast Rattle and Snap tract in Maury County Tennessee near Columbia.. Colonel William Polk won this land in a card game named Rattle and Snap from the Governor of Tennessee. By 1838 he was a prominent Episcopal Bishop and he built a mansion called Ashwood Hall. It survived the war but burned down in 1874. Leonidas was the second cousin of President James K. Polk. While living here he would build St. John's Episcopal Church. By 1850 he owned as many as 400 slaves making him the largest slave owner in Maury County. In 1841 Polk was elected to be Bishop of Louisiana. By 1860 construction would be started on the University of the South in Sewanee Tennessee and Polk was it's principle founder. He wanted it to be a national university for the South and modeled after England's Oxford and Cambridge Universities. I have been to Cambridge and I have been to the University of the South at Sewanee and I can see the similarity. However I think Sewanee is one of the most beautiful universities I have ever seen. Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith is buried in the graveyard nearby.
Ashwood Hall
The University of the South
  

Polk was a classmate and friend of Jefferson Davis at West Point. He wrote a letter to Davis and offered his services to the Confederacy. He was commissioned as a Major General on June 25, 1861. He was appointed to command the area between the Mississippi River and Tennessee River. Abraham Lincoln was keen to keep border states like Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri in the Union. Kentucky had divided loyalties among it's population and the state government declared it's neutrality. After the South's mistake of firing on Ft. Sumter Polk committed a terrible blunder by violating Kentucky's neutrality. In September 1861 he occupied Columbus Kentucky prompting the legislature to ask for aid from Federal authorities. I would have several ancestors on my mothers side which fought for the Union in Kentucky regiments. My great-great grandfather died in a military hospital in Louisville on December 13th, 1862 at the age of 42 and is buried in Cave Hill National Cemetery. He left ten children without a father, one of which was my great grandmother Mattie Mayfield, age 2.

  On November 11, 1862 Polk was slightly wounded when he was present at a demonstration firing of the largest cannon in his army named (Lady Polk) in honor of his wife. The gun exploded, stunning him and blowing his clothes off. He would be out of action for several weeks. I am not going into a lot of detail on Polk. He was a mediocre officer at best that was continually quarreling with his superiors. Polk would lead an army corps at Shiloh, and Perryville. During the battle of Perryville Polk witnessed his subordinate, Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham,, advancing his division. Cheatham supposedly shouted, "Give 'em hell, boys!" and Polk, retaining the sensibility of his role as an Episcopal bishop, seconded the cheer: "Give it to 'em boys; give 'em what General Cheatham says!" He would command a corps at Stones River, and Chickamauga. From December 1863 until January 1864 he was detached from the Army of Tennessee to serve in independent commands. First as commander of the department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. Then Alabama and East Mississippi from January until May 1864. Polk would unsuccessfully lead the effort to stop Sherman's 1864 Meridian campaign in February.

  Finally on May 4th he was reassigned to corps command in the Army of Tennessee under the command of Joseph Johnston. The Army of Tennessee retreated slowly toward Atlanta before Sherman's army. On June 14th 1864 Polk, along with Generals Hardee, Johnston, and staffs were scouting enemy positions on Pine Mountain near Marietta Georgia. Sherman, not knowing who these officers were ordered Major General Oliver Otis Howard to open fire on them in their exposed position. Howard in turn ordered a nearby battery to open fire. The first and second shells exploded near the group of officers and most of them scattered. Polk, either not wanting to look cowardly, or who knows why, walked away at a slower pace. The third shell nearly cut Polk in half when it hit his left arm, passing through his body and right arm, exploding against a tree. The following account is from a Civil War Trust article called the (Death of Bishop Polk). A shaken Johnston and Hardee huddled near the corpse. "My dear, dear friend," Hardee grieved. Johnston tearfully laid his hand on Polk's forehead lamenting, "I would rather anything but this." Stretcher-bearers came up and the general's body was moved onto a litter. Staff officers escorted it down the mountain; one led the general's horse, "Jerry." Union signal officers had broken the Rebels' wigwag code and picked up a message from Pine Mountain around noon: "Send an ambulance for General Polk's body." The following account of his death was given by Private Sam Watkins. My pen and ability is inadequate to the task of doing his memory justice. Every private soldier loved him. Second to Stonewall Jackson,, his loss was the greatest the South ever sustained. When I saw him there dead, I felt that I had lost a friend whom I had ever loved and respected, and that the South had lost one of her best and greatest Generals. Private Sam Watkins, Co. Aytch[ Sherman was not so caring. He curtly reported the death of Polk to Secretary of War Stanton the next day. ‘We killed Bishop Polk yesterday, and have made good progress to-day…. Bishop Polk's death was a severe blow to the morale of the average Confederate soldier This was because Polk was probably the best loved general in the Confederate Army. Beyond that I see that he had no real positive impact on the Army of Tennessee because as I said earlier he was a mediocre general. Should he have had an Army post named after him? In my opinion no. There were many people much more qualified than Leonidas Polk.
The death of General Polk
         

Braxton Bragg
 
  Ft. Bragg is near Fayetteville North Carolina. It was established in 1918 to train artillery units for WW1. Since WW2 it has been the home of the 82nd Airborne Division and since the early 1960's it has been a training center for counter-insurgency forces such as the Green Berets. Pope A.F.B. or (No Hope Pope) sits adjacent to Ft. Bragg. It's primary mission is to support the 82nd Airborne. On two separate occasions our Security Police unit worked the joint Ft. Bragg-Pope A.F.B. air shows and we pulled a two week summer camp there in 1991.

  Braxton Bragg, (March 22, 1817 – September 27, 1876) was from Warrenton North Carolina. Bragg was picked on as a child because of rumors that his mother had killed a free black man. It was believed that he was born in prison. Despite these rumors the Bragg family was law abiding. They were considered lower class but his father Thomas Bragg was a contractor and carpenter that was prosperous enough to send him to one of the best schools in the state. It was the Warrenton Male Academy. Bragg would write fondly of his father in the many letters that he wrote over the years but he never once mentioned his mother. As young as ten years old his father was trying to have him appointed to West Point. Bragg would win an appointment at age sixteen. Some of his classmates were Joseph Hooker, John C. Pemberton, Jubal Early and John Sedgewick. He graduated fifth out of a class of fifty cadets in 1837. Bragg was assigned to the 3rd U.S. Artillery. He would serve in the Second Seminole War but would see no action. Later he was assigned to Ft. Marion in St. Augustine where he developed a reputation for being argumentative with his superiors that would stay with him for the rest of his career. There is a funny story about Bragg. Ulysses S. Grant said in his memoirs that because of a shortage of officers Bragg was assigned to both the position of company commander and of quatermaster at a frontier post. Grant said the following. "He submitted a requisition for supplies for his company, then as quartermaster declined to fill it. As company commander, he resubmitted the requisition, giving additional reasons for his requirements, but as the quartermaster he denied the request again. Realizing that he was at a personal impasse, he referred the matter to the post commandant, who exclaimed, "My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself!" In August and September 1847 some of his troops tried to assassinate him. Both times he was not injured but the most serious of the two incidents was when someone placed a twelve pound artillery shell under his cot. The explosion destroyed his bed but failed to injure him. He was unable to prove who did it but a deserter later claimed credit for it. This reminds me of unpopular officers being fragged during the last years of the Vietnam war. Bragg would serve with distinction in the Mexican War. He received several brevet promotions for bravery and was promoted to Captain in the regular army. Many would come to admire him on a professional level rather than a personal level because of the discipline and accuracy of his artillery crews. He would end the war as as a legitimate hero.

  On June 7th 1849 he married a wealthy heiress of a Louisiana sugar plantation named Eliza Brooks Ellis. His wife followed him to several primitive frontier assignments in Indian territory which caused stress on their marriage. He asked for reassignment to a better post but was turned down by his friend Secretary of War Jefferson Davis. Bragg resigned from the army in 1856. He bought a large plantation of 1600 acres in Louisiana where he owned over 100 slaves. He was not cruel to them but was able to make the land profitable because he was a stern disciplinarian. Bragg was not in favor of secession but he would help organize a state army in Louisiana. On March 7, 1861 he would become a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. He would be given the department that controlled Pensacola and the Department of West Florida. His men were considered some of the most disciplined in the Confederate Army. In February 1862 he joined General Albert Sidney Johnston at Corinth with his 10,000 men. He was charged with trying to improve the discipline of Johnston's Army of Mississippi which would later be changed to the Army of Tennessee under Bragg's command. Bragg commanded a corps at the battle of Shiloh and would receive public praise for his performance in the battle. He was promoted to full general and his commission would be dated on April 6, 1862, the first day of battle. Beauregard was relieved after he left the army in Tupelo on sick leave. Because Beauregard failed to seek permission Jefferson Davis used this as an excuse to appoint Bragg as commander of the army. Davis and Bragg were personal friends and this friendship would be very detrimental to the future of the Confederacy.

  Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith decided to invade Kentucky from East Tennessee and was asking for reinforcements. The Confederates had been driven out of most of Tennessee. Bragg pondered whether or not to retake Corinth or drive through Middle Tennessee and join Smith in Kentucky. This movement was timed to coincide with Lee's raid into Maryland. Lee as well as Bragg was hoping to recruit men from these two states. Both Bragg and Lee discovered a lack of enthusiasm for the Confederate Army. If both armies could win decisive victories on Northern soil, it might lure either the British or French into an alliance with the South. Union General Don Carlos Buell was tasked with taking Chattanooga, the rail center and gateway to the deep South, but he was moving at a snails pace. Bragg's strategy was sound. Stealing a march on Buell he crossed over into Kentucky in late August and early September occupying Lexington and Frankfort Kentucky. A better commander than Bragg such as a Lee or a Jackson might have been able to draw the Union army into a fight more to the rebels advantage, and scoring a decisive victory. Instead Bragg allowed the Union Army to occupy Louisville positioning itself between Bragg and Cincinnati. On October 8th 1862 a portion of both armies ran into each other looking for water at Doctor's Creek near Perryville. There had been a severe drought that Fall and the weather was hot and dry. Because of a phenomenom called acoustic shadow Buell was not aware that a battle was going on nearby and didn't become involved in the battle until late in the day. The rebels won a hard fought victory but Bragg felt compelled to retreat back into Tennessee. Because of Buell's performance he was replaced by General William S. Rosecrans. Bragg retreated to Murfreesboro and established a defensive line there. Lee's failed campaign in Maryland and Bragg's failed campaign in Kentucky, taken together, ended any chance of foreign intervention on the Southern side. Lincoln was emboldened to sign the Emancipation Proclamation which changed the primary goal of the Union war effort from not only preserving the Union but the war also became a fight for human freedom. This struck a chord with the common people in Britain and France who were also in a struggle with the aristocracy for political and social change. After the Emancipation Proclamation the aristocratic leaders of England and France who were sympathetic to the Southern cause were compelled to withhold their support.

  The history books usually ignore Bragg's Kentucky raid as the second part of a two part strategy along with Lee's raid into the North culminating with the battle of Antietam. Both were part of a grand strategy that failed. Who knows what Lee would have been able to accomplish if his lost battle plans had not been found by a Union sergeant. The soldier found a piece of paper that was wrapped around three cigars lying in the grass. After sharing the cigars with his buddies he then read Lee's battle orders. Realizing the importance of his find he immediately gave the orders to his superiors who passed them on to General George B. McClellan. He had similarities to Braxton Bragg. Although McClellan was loved by his men and Bragg wasn't, they were both good organizers and administrators. McClellan took the defeated Union Army of the Potomac, after 1st Bull Run, and organized it in to the professional army that it would become for the rest of the war. Although McClellan was not a successful military leader he lifted the morale of the common soldier and they loved him for it. Like Bragg, McClellan started his Peninsula Campaign to take Richmond in a brilliant and bold manner. In the Spring of 1862 he moved his army by boat to the tip of the peninsula formed by the York and James River. He was on the doorstep of Richmond. If McClellan had been Grant I have no doubt that Richmond would have been taken at least two years earlier than it was. Grant's focus would have been not so much on taking Richmond but forcing the Confederates to waste men trying to protect it. McClellan on the other hand was still operating under the concept of winning the decisive battle that would force the Confederates into a negotiated end of the war. Even at this McClellan was the wrong man for the job. Like Bragg he was too cautious and in the end, he lost his nerve, when he faced determined opposition by Lee. Both started their campaigns brilliantly but both ended up on the losing end of the stick. After the Peninsula Campaign and the Seven Days battles Lee embarrassed General John Pope at 2nd Bull Run. McClellan was ordered to Pope's assistance but he was no help. Out of desperation and the fact that McClellan still had political supporters in the government Lincoln felt compelled to use McClellan to stop Lee's incursion into Maryland. After reading Lee's lost orders he knew everything Lee was planning to do. Still he managed to blow it. Had he acted quickly he could have destroyed Lee in detail. Lee divided his army into five wings that were out of contact with each other. McClellan had to slows and missed this golden opportunity. Lee figured out that he was missing a set of orders so he concentrated at Sharpsburg Maryland with an Army of 40,000 men that was outnumbered by McClellan at odds of almost three to one. Lee positioned the army with it's back to the Potomac River. In the event of disaster Lee had no escape route. This illustrates the basic difference of George Washington and Lee. Both were tenacious warriors but Washington, after the battle of New York, would have never risked his army in this fashion. The battle of Antietam was more missed opportunities for McClellan. Instead of attacking Lee all along the line he attacked piecemeal. Allowing Lee to reinforce threatened areas as the battle developed. The battle was the bloodiest single day in American history and a tactical draw. Strategically it was a victory for the North because Lee was forced to end the Maryland raid and retreat back into Virginia. Again McClellan lost a golden opportunity to destroy Lee because of the time it took him to cross the Potomac but he sat by and allowed him to escape. I mention McClellan to illustrate the similarities between McClellan and Bragg. McClellan was as disastrous to the Union cause as Bragg was to the Confederate cause. Lincoln was not a personal friend of McClellan. Davis was a personal friend of Bragg however. Political considerations preserved McClellan's job until after the 1862, midterm congressional elections in November 1862. Lincoln was then free to fire McClellan. The personal friendship of Davis would preserve Bragg until Davis could no longer protect him after his disaster at Missionary Ridge.

  Bragg, after his failed Kentucky campaign established his headquarters in Murfreesboro. It had been occupied by Union troops after the fall of Nashville in the Spring of 1862 but they were defeated by Forrest on July 13th. On December 26th 1862 Rosecrans Union Army left the suburbs of Nashville with about 43,400 men to face Bragg's 37,317. Making a total of 80, 717 men in and around Murfreesboro when the Union Army arrived on December 30th after a hard fought four day march in a cold rain and mud. Murfreesboro had a population of 3,861 of which 1,671 were white and 1,190 were black to put things in perspective. On the morning of December 31, 1862 at 6:00 A.M. Bragg attacked the Union right with his left. The Union army was taken by surprise and pushed back nearly three miles to the Nashville Pike and railroad. Capturing the pike and railroad was the ultimate goal of the Confederate army. Accomplishing this would place the Confederates between the Union Army and Nashville cutting off their route of escape. Bragg allowed himself to be drawn into a time consuming attack on the Slaughter Pen defended by the divisions of Negley and Sheridan instead of bypassing it and pressing toward the pike and railroad. In addition he launched piecemeal attacks on the Union left that were ineffective. Like Beauregard at the battle of Shiloh Bragg lost his chance to win the battle by allowing Thomas to organize a last line of defense along high ground between the pike and railroad which is where the the National cemetery is today. As the Confederates came out of the cedar forest into the open Thomas made it a killing field. Mowing them down left and right. There was virtually no fighting on New Years day. Late in the afternoon of the 2nd Bragg attempted an attack on the Union left which resulted in 1800 casualties in less than thirty minutes. The attack was destroyed by 57 cannon lined hub to hub above McFadden's Ford. On the morning of January 3rd 1863 Bragg decided to retreat. Stones River was rising and it divided Bragg's army. He was afraid that he would be unable to unite his army if he remained and intelligence indicated that reinforcements were on the way for the Union army. Like Antietam for Lee Stones River was a tactical draw but a strategic defeat for the Confederate Army.

  Bragg retreated to what was called the Duck River line. His left was at Hoovers Gap near Beech Grove Tennessee. The center was at Liberty Gap, and Bell Buckle Gap, near Bell Buckle, The vital Nashville and Chattanooga railroad ran through Bell Buckle Gap and the right was at Guy's Gap on the Shelbyville highway. His extreme left flank was guarded by Forrest's cavalry at Columbia and his extreme right flank was guarded by Joe Wheeler's cavalry at McMinnville. This position extended for about 70 miles. Bragg's headquarters were at Tullahoma. Rosecrans's would occupy Murfreesboro on January 5th and his army would be there for five and a half months. In this time his army would build the largest earthen fort in the United States named Ft. Rosecrans and it would become a marshaling area for supplies moving South to support the Union supply line. Murfreesboro would be under Union occupation for the remainder of the war. The first occupation of Murfreesboro in 1862 by Union troops was bad but not near as bad as it would become after the battle of Stones River. The army had hardened it's attitude toward secessionists. The only way a Southerner could conduct business in town was if they were willing to take a loyalty oath. If you chose to live outside the Union lines you were at the mercy of bandits and partisans. Over the course of these months Rosecrans would probe the Confederate right on numerous occasions. Rosecran's strategy was brilliant from start to finish. His probes of the Confederate right out the Shelbyville highway tricked Bragg into preparing for the main attack from that direction. Bragg reinforced his right while weakening his left. The Shelbyville highway route was a better route of attack because the road was wider and the terrain more favorable for operations. Hoovers Gap on the Manchester pike extended for four miles through very steep hills at Beech Grove. The road was so narrow that two wagons could barely pass each other. Bragg, thinking that an attack from this direction unlikely, only had cavalry guarding it.

  Rosecrans was short on cavalry so he allowed Colonel John Wilder to equip his infantry brigade with horses and mules confiscated from the countryside. They were also equipped with long handled hatchets for hand to hand combat and it became known as the (Hatchet Brigade). In addition Wilder was wealthy and he equipped his men, out of his own pocket with the seven shot Spencer repeating rifle. This technology was available at the beginning of the war but army bureaucracy settled on the single shot musket because they were afraid that soldiers would waste ammunition. On the 23rd of June 1863 elements of Granger's Corps moved due west from Murfreesboro toward Triune in order to further deceive Bragg into believing that the thrust of the main attack would be directed toward Shelbyville. George Thomas commanded Rosecran's right. On the morning of the 24th he made Wilder's brigade the spearhead of his main attack. The success of Rosecran's battle plan would depend on speed. Wilder provided the speed. For the rest of the war his brigade would be known as the (Lightning Brigade). This was in spite of a heavy rain that fell for 17 days straight. His men stormed through Hoovers Gap where they pushed back the few Confederate troops guarding it. From the hill that is now the Confederate cemetery and memorial in Beech Grove, next to I-24, they defended the Gap until the rest of Thomas Corps could come up. The Confederates were overwhelmed by the firepower of the Spencer's. They said in wonder that the Spencer could be loaded on Sunday and fired all week. Six miles to the west McCook's Corps was taking Liberty Gap. The fight at Liberty Gap was part of Rosecran's deception. It was a feint intended to make Bragg believe that the main attack was coming from that direction. Liberty Gap was defended by Patrick Cleburne's men.

  In 1972, after I was discharged from the Air Force, I took up metal detecting. I found about one third of the Civil War collection I have today on the farms of Mr. Webb Lynch and of the Beachboard sisters. They owned much of the land that the battle of Liberty Gap was fought on. Mr. Lynch was a widower, living alone, in his eighties when my brother-in-law, Hulon Helms, and myself met him. Mr. Lynch was one of the kindest people that I ever met and he gave us special access to anywhere we wanted to hunt on his farm. We never had to ask permission as long as he was alive. Hulon was very smart when it came to fixing things and he was a television repairman in his regular job. If Mr. Lynch was home we would visit him and he would always offer us something to drink or eat. If the weather was warm we would sit out on his wide porch. Hulon would ask if he needed anything repaired. Hulon did much work around the farm over the years that we knew him. This was his way of repaying his kindness. Between the two of us we found many relics. A Union breastplate, cartridge box plate, bayonets, bullets, shrapnel and a variety of relics. We also found many WW2 relics because this area was used for the Tennessee maneuvers. We found blank cartridges from M-1 Garands, a mess kit that was dated October 1941 and it had a Pvt. Dabbs name etched on it. An Army Signal Corps ring and various other relics. Mr. Lynch would eventually be sent to a nursing home where he would pass away in the late 1970's. We hunted on his farm for at least five years or more.

  After Hoovers Gap fell Confederate infantry assaulted the Union position but were repelled with heavy losses. Cleburne tried to retake Liberty Gap but he was unsuccessful. Bragg was outflanked and by July 3, 1863 he gave orders to fall back to Chattanooga surrendering all of Middle Tennessee to the Union Army. The same day that the Tullahoma campaign ended Lee was defeated at Gettysburg. There had been 51,112 casualties on both sides, with Lee losing a third of his army. The next day July 4th, Confederate general Pemberton surrendered Vicksburg to Grant. The Vicksburg campaign from March 29th to July 4th 1863 cost 19,233 casualties. This is not counting the 30,000 Confederate troops surrendered to Grant. The Tullahoma campaign on the other hand produced 2,203 casualties although the 1,634 Confederate casualties are an estimate. The history books usually concentrate on Gettysburg and Vicksburg. They tend to ignore the Tullahoma campaign. This is because of the low casualty rates in my opinion. Another reason is that the tactical brilliance that Rosecrans displayed in winning the Tullahoma campaign was ultimately overshadowed by his disastrous defeat at Chickamauga. MacArthur would have the same problem in WW2. His brilliant campaign to eventually retake the Philippines produced less casualties than Nimitz island hopping strategy and Eisenhower's European campaign but they received more publicity than MacArthur. In my opinion the fall of Vicksburg and the loss of the Nashville and Chattanooga corridor were strategically more important than Lee's defeat at Gettysburg. The loss of Vicksburg cut the South off from the Trans-Mississippi states of Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas. It also opened the Mississippi river to Northern commerce from Northern farmers and businesses who had been unable to get their goods to the port of New Orleans. This would ease a lot of Lincoln's political problems from that part of the country. As Lincoln would say upon receipt of Grant's message that both Vicksburg and Port Hudson were in Union hands, "Thank God, The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the sea." Grant's strategy to capture Vicksburg was even more brilliant than Rosecrans considering that Vicksburg was a tougher nut to crack than the Duck River Line. However, by capturing the Nashville Chattanooga corridor, which was in essence the Nashville Pike and state highway 41 route to Chattanooga along with the Nashville and Chattanooga railroad, Rosecrans was opening the deep South to invasion. The invasion that would later be completed by Sherman's capture of Atlanta and his famous March to the Sea. Historians who make the claim that Gettysburg was the turning point of the war usually contend that Lee was never able to regain the offensive. This is true, but there is no reason to believe that Lee would not at some point gone on the offensive again if it had not been for the emergence of Grant as overall commander of Union forces in March 1864. Lee lost a third of his army at Gettysburg and his army was badly hurt but he was Lee and dangerous. Meade's caution after Gettysburg, like McClellan's after Antietam, was another lost opportunity for the Union Army. If he had been more aggressive he could have destroyed Lee before he could cross the Potomac back into Virginia. Lincoln was fit to be tied over Meade's inaction but he could hardly censure a general who had just become a national hero by defeating Lee at Gettysburg. Lee's army for the most part remained inactive until Grant's overland campaign in May 1864. If there had been no Grant or his equivalent, there is no reason to believe at some point Lee would have gone on the offensive again. Until Grant waged a war of attrition from the start of the Overland campaign, the war in the east was primarily political while the Northern gains in the west were strategic because they were aimed at the heartland of the Confederacy.

  Bragg occupied Chattanooga but he was again outfoxed by Rosecrans. His flanking maneuver forced Bragg to give up Chattanooga to the Yankee's on September 6, 1863. Rosecrans strategy to date had been immensely successful and I believe he became overconfident. Like Eisenhower before the battle of the Bulge he didn't realize that he was leading his men into a possible ambush. Although Bragg had retreated into northern Georgia Rosecrans had his army traveling through the mountain passes and parts of it were vulnerable to attack. If Bragg had been a Lee, Jackson or Forrest he could have destroyed Rosecrans army one wing at a time. He gave orders to his subordinates to do just that but for one reason or another they failed to carry out orders letting Rosecrans off the hook. Unknown to Rosecrans Lee was sending General James Longstreet's 1st Corps from the Army of Northern Virginia to reinforce Bragg who was concentrating along Chickamauga Creek. Part of his corps arrived in time to fight on the second day of the battle of Chickamauga September 20th 1863 which for one of the only times in the Civil War a Confederate army outnumbered the Union army. The Confederate Army numbered 66,000 as opposed to Rosecrans army of 58,000. Rosecrans began to sense that he was in danger. He ordered his army to concentrate. There was fighting on the 18th but the main battle was opened by Forrest's cavalry on the Confederate right near Reed's bridge on the 19th. The first day of battle was very bloody but ended in stalemate. Longstreet was given command of the Confederate left. Out of sight in the woods near the Brotherton House he lined up his men four ranks deep. About mid morning Union General Thomas J. Wood commanded a division behind the Brotherton house. In the heat of battle Rosecrans made a glaring mistake ordering Wood to move his division one half mile north to reinforce General Reynolds. The order read, “The general commanding directs that you close upon Reynolds as fast as possible and support him.” Wood was on the scene and knew that if he obeyed these orders he would open up a dangerous gap in the Union lines. However Wood was very angry at Rosecrans for an earlier incident in the battle when he was raked over the coals for not obeying an order to the letter by Rosecrans which read, “By your damnable negligence, you are endangering the safety of this entire army, and by God, I will not tolerate it. Move your division at once, as I have instructed, or the consequences will not be pleasant for yourself.” This was one of those "bust your balls" moments that had disastrous consequences for the Union Army and cost the needless sacrifice of many men. It would require a bigger man than Wood to disobey orders and do the right thing. Wood removed his men right at the moment that Longstreet, unaware of the gap in the line, ordered his men forward. Most of these men were hard charging veterans of Lee's army. They charged right through the hole in the Union line splitting the army in half.

  About half the Union army was routed and in a state of panic rushed back to Chattanooga. This included General Rosecrans, General Sheridan, and Assistant Secretary of War Charles Dana who was on assignment to the army. Wilder's "Lightning Brigade" formed a pocket of resistance that held off the Confederates for a while with their Spencer's but it would be the "Rock of Chickamauga" George H. Thomas that would save the day for the Union army on Snodgrass Hill and Horseshoe Ridge. Thomas organized the remainder of the army that fought off one attack after another until he was reinforced General Gordon Granger. Being held in reserve, Granger, without orders, came to the aid of Thomas. With the cover of darkness, Thomas remaining men retreated to Chattanooga. Several Confederate officers, including Longstreet and Forrest, begged Bragg to pursue the Union army into Chattanooga before they could organize a defense. Bragg argued that the army was too exhausted and disorganized for a pursuit. Of course the Union army was also exhausted and disorganized. Like the battles of Shiloh and Stones River, the Confederate army made the mistake of wasting time and blood on a pocket of resistance. If they had bypassed General Thomas on Snodgrass Hill and marched straight into Chattanooga the city and the Army of the Cumberland would have theirs for the taking. This would have been a massive political and military disaster for the Lincoln administration. Bragg fought with his subordinates almost from the time that he took command of the Army of Tennessee. Forrest and Longstreet were furious with Bragg for missing a golden opportunity. Bragg laid siege to Chattanooga over the next few days. By the time Bragg acted the Union army was bottled up inside Chattanooga behind strong defensive works. For the next few weeks the Union army nearly starved. The Confederate army occupied Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. They had a birds eye view of Chattanooga from their elevated positions. Grant was summoned to lift the siege. He rode on horseback through treacherous mountain passes with a leg that was badly injured when a horse fell on him. Upon arrival in Chattanooga he relieved Rosecrans of command, giving the Army of the Cumberland to George Thomas. The defeat at Chickamauga seemed to unravel Rosecrans. Lincoln said that he was like a duck hit on the head. The War Department ordered Sherman's Army of the Tennessee to Chattanooga along with the 11th and 12th Corps from Meades Army of the Potomac. Longstreet's Corps had taken sixteen different rickety Southern rail lines to reach Bragg's army in time for the battle of Chickamauga. The movement of two Union corps to help lift the siege of Chattanooga would be even more arduous. The following is from a site called To The Sound Of The Guns. To reach Chattanooga, the troops started their journey on the Orange & Alexandria (O&A) at some of the war’s most important rail junctions. The trains then would move, by way of Washington, to Baltimore and switch to the B&O for a westward leg. Reaching the Ohio River at Benwood, the troops were to ferry (later move by pontoon bridge) across to Bellaire, Ohio where they would board trains on the Central Ohio Railroad and make the run to Columbus, Ohio. Next the troops would switch to the Indiana Central and move to Indianapolis. There the plan called for another transfer onto the Jeffersonville, Madison, and Indianapolis Railroad for a trip to Jeffersonville, Indiana. Another ferry ride would put the troops in Louisville, Kentucky where they would take the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N). In Nashville the troops would board trains for their last leg on the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad (N&C). The closest terminus would be Bridgeport, Alabama. All told the troops would transit eight states, plus the District of Columbia, and cross four major rivers (the Ohio and the Potomac twice), in their journey of 1200 miles.

  In order to rid himself of Longstreet Bragg sent him and his corps to drive Burnside out of Knoxville. This was a huge blunder. Bragg would need these troops. He also sent Forrest off on independent command after he threatened to kill him. Forrest stormed into Bragg's headquarters in a rage. “I have stood your meanness as long as I intend to. 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. You may as well not issue any more orders to me, for I will not obey them and as I say to you that if you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path it will be at the peril of your life.” Grant would establish a supply line for Union forces in Chattanooga called the (Cracker Line) averting starvation for Thomas's Army of the Cumberland. On November 24th 1863 General Joseph Hooker, commanding troops of the 11th and 12th Corps from the Army of the Potomac attacked Bragg's troops on Lookout Mountain. Because of the low hanging clouds it came to be known as the Battle Above The Clouds. Bragg was outnumbered six to one here and it didn't take that long to drive the Rebels away. The Union troops in and around Chattanooga cheered at the sight of American flags waving from the mountain. On the morning of November 25th Sherman's army of the Tennessee tried to dislodge Cleburne's division from the North side of Missionary Ridge which is where I-24 cuts through the mountain today. Grant did not intend to use Thomas's troops to lift the siege of Chattanooga. He wanted Sherman to have that honor but he was unsuccessful. The Army of the Cumberland on the other hand had been defeated badly at Chickamauga and this proud army was itching for revenge. They were also out to show the Union troops sent to rescue them that they were quite capable of rescuing themselves. Grant ordered Thomas, who occupied the Union center, to occupy Confederate rifle pits at the bottom of the mountain and go no further. The Army of the Cumberland performed as ordered. However when they took the rifle pits they found that their position was untenable. The Confederate troops on top of the mountain were firing straight down into the Union soldiers. They weren't about to retreat but they couldn't stay there either. Spontaneously and without orders the men began climbing Missionary Ridge on the heels of the retreating rebels. From the Confederate point of view on top of this steep mountain, the sight of these determined troops scrambling up at them was more than they could bear. Due to an error by Confederate engineers the entrenchments were placed on the actual crest of Missionary Ridge rather than the military crest. The military crest is always lower which gives defending troops a better and more consistent view of the attackers. At certain points along the actual crest their were blind spots where they lost sight of the Union soldiers. The retreating Confederates from the lower rifle pits were in front of the Yankees and the rebels on top were afraid to fire for fear of hitting their own men. The artillerymen could not depress the barrels of their guns low enough to fire at the Yankees, so they lit the fuses of cannon balls and rolled them down the mountain. The Yankees were on top of Rebels in no time. Many Confederates stood and fought but the rest ran away in panic. They ran clear down the other side of Missionary Ridge and all the way to Dalton Georgia. Eighteen year old Arthur MacArthur planted the flag of the 24th Wisconsin on top of Missionary Ridge. He would earn the Medal Honor for this action and he would be the father of Douglas MacArthur, who would also be awarded the Medal of Honor. Grant like Meade, after Gettysburg, failed to pursue the defeated Confederates and destroy the Army of Tennessee. He was lucky that he got away with a victory. It is very possible that his attack on Missionary Ridge would have failed had it not been for the impromptu attack of Thomas's men on the Confederate center. Grant would be propelled to the overall command of the Union army on the heels of his success in lifting the siege of Chattanooga. Bragg would be replaced by General Joseph Johnston and because of his friendship with Jefferson Davis he would become a military advisor to him for most of the rest of the war.
  Bragg's plantation in Louisiana was confiscated by Union troops in 1862. It was later used as a home for the newly freed slaves. He and his wife moved to Alabama for awhile but he then became the Superintendent of the New Orleans Water Works. When the Reconstructionists came to power he was replaced by a black man. He took jobs at various places across the South but could not get along with the people he worked with and was dissatisfied with most of his jobs. At the age of 59 he passed out while walking down a street in Galveston Texas. Within fifteen minutes he was dead of what appeared to be a stroke or brain aneurysm. He is buried in Mobile Alabama. Does Braxton Bragg deserve to have an army post named after him? No way. However I wouldn't change the name of Ft. Bragg for the simple reason that it has a history and tradition all it's own. So many brave men and women have trained there since WWI. When my Guard unit trained there in 1991 I will never forget watching the paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne boarding the waiting C-141's from Green Ramp loaded down with their parachutes and equipment. It was an inspiring sight and I am sure that the name Ft. Bragg strikes fear in the hearts of our enemies.




































   





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