Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

“Possessed of an irascible temper, and naturally disputatious.”

Posted in Leadership, Memory by Andy Hall on September 16, 2010

Over at KNOXVILLE 1863, the novel, Dick Stanley has a couple of posts up on Confederate General Braxton Bragg. They paint a picture of a man who was decidedly not popular, either with his men or with his fellow senior officers. He was a prickly man, very much caught up in protocol and form. In his own memoir, Ulysses S. Grant echoes some of their impressions of the man — honest, industrious, and decidedly formal with colleagues. Grant goes on to repeat an anecdote about Bragg from the prewar Army which, accurate or not, vividly captures Bragg’s obsession with procedure:

Bragg was a remarkably intelligent and well-informed man, professionally and otherwise. He was also thoroughly upright. But he was possessed of an irascible temper, and was naturally disputatious. A man of the highest moral character and the most correct habits, yet in the old army he was in frequent trouble. As a subordinate he was always on the lookout to catch his commanding officer infringing his prerogatives; as a post commander he was equally vigilant to detect the slightest neglect, even of the most trivial order.

I have heard in the old army an anecdote very characteristic of Bragg. On one occasion, when stationed at a post of several companies commanded by a field officer, he was himself commanding one of the companies and at the same time acting as post quartermaster and commissary. He was first lieutenant at the time, but his captain was detached on other duty. As commander of the company he made a requisition upon the quartermaster–himself–for something he wanted.

As quartermaster he declined to fill the requisition, and endorsed on the back of it his reasons for so doing. As company commander he responded to this, urging that his requisition called for nothing but what he was entitled to, and that it was the duty of the quartermaster to fill it. As quartermaster he still persisted that he was right. In this condition of affairs Bragg referred the whole matter to the commanding officer of the post. The latter, when he saw the nature of the matter referred, exclaimed: “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself!”

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