The Fight For Tennessee: July 1863 to January 1864
Battle of Lookout Mountain
How do we know what Bragg’s men thought of him?
Enough anecdotes entered the record that we are confident Bragg was the most disliked, sometimes despised, leader on either side during the war. There was the moment, for example, when Bragg was interrogating one of his men who claimed that the enemy were in full retreat after the Battle of Chickamauga. Bragg scowled at the soldier and demanded to know if he knew what a retreat looked like. “I should, General,” he replied, “I’ve been with you throughout this whole campaign.” The single best account of Bragg’s misfortunes, however, comes from the pen of Sam R. Watkins, whose diary was later published as Co. Aytch: A Confederate Memoir of Civil War.
“In all the history of the war,” Watkins wrote:
I cannot remember of more privations and hardships than we went through at Missionary Ridge. And when in the very acme of our privations and hunger, when the army was most dissatisfied and unhappy, we were ordered into line of battle to be reviewed by Honorable Jefferson Davis. When he passed us, with his great retinue of staff officers and play-outs at full gallop, cheers greeted them, with the words, “Send us something to eat, Massa Jeff. Give us something to eat, Massa Jeff. I’m hungry! I’m hungry!”