“Bragg was the great autocrat”

So sayeth Sam Watkins, author of Co. Aytch: Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment, or, a Side Show of The Big Show, of the soldier’s “love” for their commander Gen. Braxton Bragg:

“They had no love or respect for General Bragg. When men were to be shot or whipped, the whole army was marched to the horrid scene to see a poor trembling wretch tied to a post and a platoon of twelve men drawn up in line to put him to death, and the hushed command of ‘Ready, aim, fire!’ would make the soldier, or conscript, I should say, loathe the very name of Southern Confederacy.

“And when some miserable wretch was to be whipped and branded for being absent ten days without leave, we had to see him kneel down and have his head shaved smooth and slick as a peeled onion, and then stripped to the naked skin. Then a strapping fellow with a big rawhide would make the blood flow and spurt at every lick, the wretch begging and howling like a hound, and then he was branded with a red hot iron with the letter D on both hips, when he was marched through the army to the music of the ‘Rogue’s March.’

It was enough. None of General Bragg’s soldiers ever loved him. They had no faith in his ability as a general. He was looked upon as a merciless tyrant. The soldiers were very scantily fed. Bragg never was a good feeder or commissary-general. Rations with us were always scarce. No extra rations were ever allowed to the negroes who were with us as servants. No coffee or whisky or tobacco were ever allowed to be issued to the troops. If they obtained these luxuries, they were not from the government.

These luxuries were withheld in order to crush the very heart and spirit of his troops. We were crushed. Bragg was the great autocrat. In the mind of the soldier, his word was law. He loved to crush the spirit of his men. The more of a hang-dog look they had about them the better was General Bragg pleased. Not a single soldier in the whole army ever loved or respected him.”

Via Brainz, a commenter at Dead Confederates.

About Dick Stanley

Retired Texas daily newspaperman
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