24 thoughts on “Ranking Several Rebels

  1. Jeff Davis September 30, 2011 / 9:00 pm

    Well, all three should be dead-last. Johnston won First Bull Run. Bragg won Chickamauga, and PGTB won…um…won…um….Petersburg in 64????

    Johnston beat an army that was green and ill-led.

    Bragg’s victory was due solely to the arrival and assault by James Longstreet and his troops.

    Beauregarde took command when AS Johnston was killed at Shiloh and managed the retreat. He was no match for Grant, Sherman and their men, especially after Buell’s arrival. Even Jefferson Davis didn’t like Beauregarde’s abilities, feeling he was a poor planner. His plan for Shiloh left much to be desired.

    At least Johnston knew how to handle a retreat.



    It’s tough to keep Bragg out of last place especially in light of the way he handled his generals during and after Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge. Not counting that barely keeps Bragg out of last place. PGTB had to be that bad to “out-worse” the other two.

  2. Ray O'Hara September 30, 2011 / 9:07 pm

    How much did Davis hate PGT if he hated him more than he hated Joe E who he hated the maximum it is possible to hate someone.

    PGT never got a real chance, but in his few chances he made things happen.

    Bragg, was Captain Queeg, but he almost had his moments, his craziness would rise up just as things were going good.

    Joe E has a good rep but he was never able to put together an attack and even Lil’Mac got him to retreat.

    all had a fatal flaw that kept them from ever being able to succeed.so how can they possible be rated against each other, it’s like deciding which is deadlier, cyanide, arsenic or hemlock.

    The Yanks will regret not putting TB away the other night, they are the hot team.

  3. Matt McKeon October 1, 2011 / 6:21 am

    Bragg was not suited to army command. Maybe he would have done better as a division commander.

    Johnson was competent at everything, except fighting battles. He would have made a successful commander of the Army of the Potomac, until Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia.

    Beauregard I have a soft spot for. He’s performed well under difficult circumstances.

    Beauregard, Johnson, Bragg the lowest.

  4. James F. Epperson October 1, 2011 / 6:37 am

    Bragg, Beauregard, Johnston:

    Bragg showed ability on numerous occasions, but was done in by his inability to get along w/ subordinates combined with some borderline insubordination by his officers. (I’m convinced that Polk, with his support from Davis, was a large part of Bragg’s problems.)

    Beauregard gets the nod over JEJ simply because of Petersburg, 1864.

    Johnston never did anything except retreat or prepare to retreat.

  5. Lyle Smith October 1, 2011 / 6:44 am

    1. Beauregard

    -Apparently this guy was very good during an actual battle. He may have articulated some nonsensical attack ideas, but when men starting moving around on a battlefield he seems to have responded competently. See First Bull Run and Petersburg. Don’t look at Shiloh though. He gets a mulligan there. He couldn’t see through the trees.

    -Defended Charleston successfully. Engineered Battery Wagner which caused the Federal debacle there. At least two West Pointers were killed or mortally wounded there. What a waste.

    -Was a proponent of the concentration doctrine is the Western theatre, which culminated in part of Longstreet’s corps being moved down to Georgia and helping Bragg defeat Rosecran’s at Chickamauga.

    -According to Lee Beauregard’s name scared the bejesus out of the Federals.

    -He also thought New Orleans should have been defended more stoutly than it was. Maybe Mr. Davis should have listened to him. I have no idea really. They probably needed at least one serviceable ironclad and they didn’t build the two they were building in time.

    -He spoke French. That’s always a quality that raises one up. It’s true today and it was true back then.

    2. Bragg

    -Bragg is probably the “better” of the these three Confederates because he was in command longer and actually handled his army relatively competently. There is more to see from him in hindsight.

    -He did bring his army into Kentucky which is kind of amazing.

    -Stones River was an almost great victory.

    -He gets points deducted for Tullahoma because he guessed wrong.

    -He gets points added for bad intelligence gathering on the part of his cavalry after Tullahoma which caused him to have to skedaddle from Chattanooga. This goes for whenever else they failed him in their intelligence or screening tasks.

    -With better command and control, or people just following his basic orders… he could have bagged about a corps worth of troops at McLemore’s Cove (I think that’s the place) during the Chickamauga maneuvering.


    -Operationally failed compared to the other two Generals. Didn’t stop or remove McClellan from Richmond. Didn’t stop Sherman from getting to Atlanta.

    -Okay, he gets equal credit with Beauregard in stopping McDowell at Manassas.

    -Good leader of men in the McClellan kind of way.

    -I think he came to understand the larger strategy of the South though and understood that in the West Fabian tactics might have been the way to go. I tend to agree with him that Vicksburg and Port Hudson should not have been defended and those troops should concentrated at Jackson, MS or somewhere in east Mississippi for further use elsewhere.

    -His plan of attack at Seven Pines was nice, but he failed at getting his officers to follow through with it, but that’s mostly the story of the Civil War early on anyway (the whole war really). If not wounded, who knows what he could have done and he would have had Lee helping him out with strategy from over his shoulder.

    It would have been interesting to see if Beauregard and Bragg could have been a kind of team in the West and Johnston and Lee a team in the East. It might not have worked out, but some of their weaknesses might have been avoided with the help of the other.

    Beauregard would have been respected by the other officers, and he’d benefit from Bragg’s organization and logistical skills, and general strategic competence.

    Lee may have provided Johnston the resolve to maneuver forward. Ah, probably not.

  6. John Foskett October 1, 2011 / 8:33 am

    This is like asking an NHL GM if he wants the Gomez contract, the Redden contract, or Sean Avery. Let’s see – Beauregard stumbled to a co-win at FBR, then bolluxed up the attack formation at Shiloh after Johnston deferred to him, and did nothing memorable afterwards. Johnston finally goaded himself to aggression at Seven Pines and screwed that up with a poorly-ciommunicated set of orders (helped by others) then spent the rest of the War watching (Vicksburg) or backpedalling more than an All-Pro NFL cornerback, until it was too late and he indulged in some legacy-creation at Bentonville. So here’s an odd choice – Bragg. Only because of Chickamauga (the fruits of which, of course, got fumbled away), because he at least had some aggressive instincts, and because much of the rest of what happened is partly explained by the “relationship” he had with some real jerks under his command. How do you think Lee would have done depending on Polk, Hardee, and some of the rest of the A of T crowd? (Lee did manage to control another loose cannon who broke Bragg’s leash – Longstreet). Bragg = 0; Johnston = -1; Beauregard = -1.

  7. Carl Schenker October 1, 2011 / 1:04 pm

    (1) At the beginning of the war, Fitz John Porter wrote to McClellan that men like him were needed for the Union, to offset the reputations of the likes of “Davis, Bragg, and Beauregard.” Link below. James Fry sent a similar letter to Cump Sherman, which I can’t put my hands on. I can’t remember whether Fry’s lineup of CSA figures was the same or differed possibly to include Johnston.

    (2) I jut finished the new bio of Bragg by Samuel L. Martin. Was interested to see that Henry Halleck was effusive in his praise of Bragg’s march into Kentucky:

    (3) In his joint study of Joe Johnston and Cump Sherman (“Worthy Adversaries”), Ed Longacre had a great line (IIRC): “Johnston never held a position he wasn’t prepared to retreat from.” [Of course, I can’t now find it to get precisely.]

    • Carl Schenker October 1, 2011 / 2:56 pm

      Longacre’s book is “Worthy Opponents.” The quote is: “Jefferson Davis could not bring himself to abandon territory to the enemy, every square inch of Southern soil was sacred ground. Yet Joe Johnston . . . never occupied a position that he did not consider retreating from.” (P. 77.)

  8. Noma October 1, 2011 / 2:21 pm

    Speaking of Braxton Bragg, could someone explain why the U.S. named an Army post after a Confederate General? And why name it after such a failed general? I’ve always been puzzled by that. Are any American military posts named after Confederate generals?

    • Bob Huddleston October 1, 2011 / 3:30 pm

      Fort Benning, GA. As to your initial question, “could someone explain why the U.S. named an Army post after a Confederate General? And why name it after such a failed general?” I suspect most were created and named in the huge buildup for World War II, at the height of the Lost Cause.

      • Brooks D. Simpson October 1, 2011 / 4:34 pm

        After all, Fort McDowell’s out here in Phoenix. So plenty of forts have been named for generals of uncertain accomplishment.

  9. Noma October 1, 2011 / 2:22 pm

    (I mean) …Are any *other* American military posts named after Confederate generals?

    • Bob Huddleston October 1, 2011 / 3:27 pm

      There is or was in the ’60s Camp Pickett in Virginia. There is Fort Hood in Texas. Fort Polk in Louisiana.

      • Lyle Smith October 1, 2011 / 4:20 pm

        Fort A.P. Hill is in Virginia too.

    • Lyle Smith October 1, 2011 / 3:47 pm

      Fort Benning in Georgia. Fort Polk in Louisiana. Fort Hood in Texas.

    • Ray O'Hara October 1, 2011 / 6:19 pm

      yes, Forts Benning, Hood, A.P.Hill. R.E.Lee.
      all named for CSA Generals.

  10. Carl Schenker October 1, 2011 / 5:26 pm

    It seems to me that I read somewhere that Fort Bragg was named in honor of Bragg’s service in Mexico, so as to avoid the problem that is bugging people. CRS

  11. Jeff Davis October 1, 2011 / 6:02 pm

    Ahem….Fort Lee, Virginia, is an active Army Post named for Robert E. Lee.
    Fort Gordon in Georgia is named for John B. Gordon,
    Fort Rucker in Alabama is named for Edmund Rucker.

    Fort Bliss was named for a Mexican-American War personage, and Fort Jackson is named for Andy Jackson, even though it is in South Carolina.

    Some of the bases were founded for WW I, and the president at the time was, of course, Woodrow Wilson, who is known to have harbored some Southern sympathies. his father was a Chaplain in the ANV.

    • Jeffry Burden October 1, 2011 / 7:21 pm

      I imagine it was considered wise from a national unity/feelgood standpoint in both WWI and WWII to name installations after Confederates.

  12. Noma October 1, 2011 / 9:35 pm

    Thanks for the answers, everyone. I didn’t realize that there were so many posts named in honor of Confederates. I wonder if any other countries name their military posts after defeated rebels. Anyway, after seeing all your responses, I also came across this post, “Why Do We Still Name Army Bases After Rebels?” by Jamie Malanowski.

    I’m guessing the main purpose is recruiting soldiers from the South, but I wonder how well that works when the prospective soldiers are African Americans. Maybe that’s where the BCM comes in handy.


  13. TF Smith October 2, 2011 / 9:45 am

    The majority of the posts named after former CSA officers were part of the build-up of facilities for the WW I mobilizations, generally as what were regarded at the time as temporary facilities (i.e. “camps” not “forts”), but many survived through the 1920s and 1930s and were available for the 1940 peacetime mobilization, and were used throughout WW II and the Cold War.

    Realize that the “National Army” divisions raised for the WW I mobilization were based on geographic conscription by region, (unlike the AUS divisions raised in WW II, which were – generally – filled on a national basis) and the huge number of camps necessary, and their geographic distribution, makes sense.

    Those that have survived the postwar demobilizations and BRAC as permanent facilities are “mostly” in the South because of a) the weather allows year-round training and B) politics, particularly the emphasis on federal investment in the Sun Belt in the postwar era.

    The names chosen were so largely because of the “reconciliation” theme, especially in the Great War era; there was also a “local hero” meme, which found itself demonstrated with the names of former CSA officers in the Deep South but existed elsewhere – Camps Anza and Beale in California, for example, or Camp Bowie in Texas.

    And some Union officers received similar recognition as well; Camp/Fort Custer in Michigan, for example.


    • Ray O'Hara October 2, 2011 / 10:08 am

      “And some Union officers received similar recognition as well; Camp/Fort Custer in Michigan, for example.”

      As did Fort Devens in Massachusetts.

    • Carl Schenker October 2, 2011 / 10:44 am

      I don’t know how accurate this is, but Martin’s new bio of Bragg says that Congress made clear that Camp Bragg was being named in honor of his service in Mexico, so as to diminish aggravation to living ACW Union vets. P. 472 — unfortunately Martin’s citation is an uncheckable brochure in the post library. I got nowhere trying to confirm this on Google Books.

  14. Jim Bales October 4, 2011 / 1:04 pm

    FWIW — A historical summary of how the Army has named it installations can be found at:

    It includes the statement:
    “War Department documents indicate that the Secretary of War had assumed complete responsibility for the naming of posts by World War I. During the inter-war years, it was common for the Secretary of War to solicit recommendations for names for new posts from installation commanders; corps and branch commanders; as well as the Chief, Historical Section, Army War College. Unsolicited suggestions for names were also submitted from sources outside the military establishment, and political pressure and public opinion often influenced the naming decision. As a result, it was common for camps and forts to be named after local features or veterans with a regional connection. In the southern states they were frequently named after celebrated Confederate soldiers.

    Although naming forts and camps after distinguished military veterans from both the U.S. and Confederate Armies had become a common practice, it was not the official policy until the publication of a War Department memorandum dated 20 November 1939. This memorandum stated that “The War Department has enunciated a policy of naming military reservations in honor of deceased distinguished officers regardless of the arm or service in which they have served.” In the years 1939-1946, almost all military installations designated as forts or camps were named after distinguished military individuals, including veterans of the Confederate Army.”

    Jim Bales

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