October 6, 1863: Davis Travels West

Braxton Bragg

Unlike Abraham Lincoln who stayed closely anchored to Washington during the entire War, Jefferson Davis, realizing that the Confederacy was losing that critical theater, made three trips to the West, in attempts to raise morale through speeches and to create unity in the fractured and fractious Confederate command structure in the West.  In each of his three trips he succeeded in the first and failed in the second.

Traveling West on October 6, his number one concern was the Army of the Tennessee.  Bragg’s failure to capitalize on his victory had been gravely disappointing to Davis, and he was now confronted with the fact that Bragg’s always bad relationship with his corps commanders had now disintegrated to open hatred, with the corps commanders sending a petition to Davis for Bragg’s removal.  Davis was going to attempt to sort all of this out personally.

At a meeting of the Corps commanders and Bragg Davis asked each of the Corps commanders if they wanted Bragg removed.  After some hesitation Longstreet said yes, followed quickly by Buckner, Cheatham and Hill.

Davis, who was always just as loyal to the incompetent Bragg as he was to the brilliant Lee kept Bragg in command as morale in the Army of Tennessee plummeted.  Longstreet was sent off on a wild goose chase to besiege Knoxville.  D.H. Hill lost his corps command.

Buckner was reduced to a division commander by Bragg and he went on medical leave to Virginia.  Only Cheatham retained his corps command.

Davis in my opinion has tended to receive quite a bit of unfair blame for the defeat of the Confederacy.  He was a hard working Chief Executive who almost led his country to victory.  However, the gravest disservice he did to the Confederacy was sustaining Bragg in command and destroying the command structure of the Army of Tennessee as a result, right before its defeat at Chattanooga.  Keeping Bragg in command ensured that the Army of Tennessee went into this great battle with a commander that virtually no one in the Army had any confidence in, and whom many hated.

Published in: on October 6, 2019 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on October 6, 1863: Davis Travels West  
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