Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy

Univ. of North Carolina. Sept. 2016. 368p. maps. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781469628752. $35. BIOG
In his latest work, Hess (history, Lincoln Memorial Univ.; The Battle of Ezra Church and the Struggle for Atlanta) presents a study of the Civil War career of Braxton Bragg (1817–76). Graduating from West Point in 1837, Bragg served in the Second Seminole War and the Mexican-American War. When the Civil War began in 1861, Bragg, then a Confederate general, was assigned to the coastal defense of Florida. He was promoted after the Battle of Shiloh and began organizing an attack through Tennessee and Kentucky, which would ultimately be a failure, as would the Battle of Stones River. While Bragg found victory at Chickamauga, his continued efforts to break the Union forces failed, leading him to resign his position in the army and become a military advisor to Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Bragg's devotion to strict military discipline, his acerbic personality, and his inability to cultivate favorable relationships with other officers and the press caused him immeasurable difficulties—and resulted in his infamous reputation. Hess analyzes Bragg's military campaigns and how his contemporaries viewed him as well as providing historians' opinions.
VERDICT Well-documented, Hess's examination of Bragg is balanced and fair and will interest all Civil War aficionados.
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