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Along with George H. Thomas and Henry Halleck, Braxton Bragg is one of the Civil War leaders whose memoirs -- and raisons d'Etat -- I would most like to read. Many are the reasons given why General Bragg never got around to those musings; and this post suggests one more possibility, and it involves a man named Kinloch Falconer. An 1860 graduate of the University of Mississippi, Kinloch Falconer joined the 9th Mississippi as a Private and accompanied his regiment to Pensacola, Florida in March 1861, and became part of Braxton Bragg's force there, occupying the former U.S. Navy Yard and all the pre-war fortifications... except Fort Pickens. The key to control of access to Pensacola Bay, Fort Pickens was a thorn in the side of General Bragg (who ordered Colonel Chalmers to attempt a night raid against that facility 8/9 October 1861.) A month later, on November 22nd a gunnery duel erupted, pitting Confederate batteries at Fort Barrancas and Fort McRee against Union-held Fort Pickens and a squadron of Federal warships in the Gulf of Mexico. Because the guns at Pickens and Barrancas were not designed to fire all the way across at each other -- about three miles -- neither of these forts suffered much damage. Fort McRee (sometimes spelled Fort McRae) was another matter: only one mile from fort Pickens, on the opposite spit of land controlling the entrance to Pensacola Bay, Fort McRee was the most exposed of the Confederate positions. And it was just outside that wing-shaped fort that the 9th Mississippi was dug in, assigned to guns designed to prevent a landing by Federal troops. (The 10th Mississippi, under command of Colonel J.B. Villepigue, operated the big guns inside Fort McRee.) Over the course of 36 hours, the entire vicinity of Fort McRee was blasted by guns from Fort Pickens and warships USS Richmond and USS Niagara. Fort McRee was reduced to a smoldering ruin; but Colonel Villepigue's spirited defense of the position won acclaim from Braxton Bragg, and he was promoted to Brigadier General. Kinloch Falconer -- who had spent time clerking for General Bragg -- came to the notice of newly-minted General Villepigue, and was assigned as his Assistant Adjutant General. The 9th Mississippi left Florida in early 1862, and went on to fight alongside the 10th Mississippi at Shiloh. But Kinloch Falconer did not accompany his regiment; instead, he was promoted to Captain and followed General Villepigue to his new assignment: defense of Fort Pillow, on the Mississippi River. That position was evacuated just before the fall of Memphis (in June 1862) and John B. Villepigue (alumnus of The Citadel and 1854 graduate of West Point) next found himself assigned as Brigade commander (in Lovell's Division) Earl Van Dorn's Army of West Tennessee. Wounded during the October 3-5 Battle of Second Corinth, Villepigue succumbed to his wounds in November. And Captain Falconer found himself re-assigned to General Braxton Bragg, for whom he worked as AAG until early 1865... when he was again re-assigned, this time to the Staff of General Joseph E. Johnston. (When Johnston accepted terms offered by William Tecumseh Sherman on April 26th 1865 it was Major Falconer's signature that appeared on the Surrender Document.) Kinloch Falconer's war was over, but his usefulness was not. It was known that the AAG to several general officers had kept meticulous records -- and a diary -- during his years of service to the Confederacy. (One element of his diary, for the year 1865, is on file at Vanderbilt University at Nashville.) In the years after the war, General J.E. Johnston frequently contacted Falconer for precise details IRT Operations conducted during the War of the Rebellion. Braxton Bragg, too, contacted Falconer in 1870 with many questions IRT Bragg's military operations (which may indicate that Bragg was contemplating writing his memoirs, before his untimely death in 1876.) Kinloch Falconer, himself, met an untimely death in 1878. Then serving as Secretary of State for Mississippi, while on a visit to seriously ill relatives at Holly Springs he succumbed to the Yellow Fever epidemic then raging. His papers are now on file with the University of Mississippi. Ozzy References: http://clio.lib.olemiss.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/civil_war/id/2108/rec/8 Bragg's 1870 query to Falconer http://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/UF/00/08/56/93/00002/00067jc.pdf Falconer's involvement with Johnston's surrender 1865 http://clio.lib.olemiss.edu/cdm/search/searchterm/Kinloch Falconer Collection/mode/exact/page/1 Kinloch Falconer Collection http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bordenave_Villepigue General J. B. Villepigue at wikipedia N.B. Thanks to David (Ole Miss) for providing access to the Kinloch Falconer Collection.
[Sketch of Corinth Mississippi by Adolph Metzner, on file with Library of Congress.] The following Letter of 20 March 1862 from Braxton Bragg to wife Eliza is of interest due the following: Bragg reveals the lack of discipline discovered upon his arrival in Corinth; "draconian measures" put in place by Major General Bragg to instill discipline at Corinth; discusses feeble health of General Beauregard (who is still at Jackson Tennessee, attempting recuperation) reveals pre-planning stage, before General Johnston arrives (and before decision taken on "what is to come in April.") Corinth, Miss. 20th March My dear Wife, By a hasty note from Bethel Station I announced my sudden departure for this place. Since that time I have had no time to write. Everything was in disorder and confusion here, troops arriving in large numbers without supplies, and greatly disorganized by hasty and badly conducted arrangements. Weather bad, and no accommodation, even for the sick. The [Tishomingo] Hotel a perfect pandemonium, thousands of hungry men standing against the barred door, ready to rush in and sweep the tables, regardless of sentinels or officers. Even the kitchen was not safe, meals were seized from off the fires, and the life of the hotel keeper threatened for expostulating. Poor Mr. Lea -- you remember him as the Steward at the Sweet Springs -- said he was over-matched for once. No promise of a fashionable (3 o'clock) dinner would appease the hungry multitude -- but all is now changed. With Gladden in command, and the La. regiments to charge bayonets, the swine are driven back, and the town is quiet and peaceable. It is most difficult to see what is to be our future. The enemy is threatening both flanks. At Island No.10, which is now our highest point up the river, we hold with heavy guns. But the pressure is very great against it, and the evacuation of New Madrid exposes us to be cut off from below. We have another strong position still lower, near Randolph Tenn, but not yet in good condition. My heavy guns from Pensacola are going there, and some of my old troops are there, but they need good commanders. The name of the place is unfortunate -- Fort Pillow. If we can keep them back on the Mississippi, I shall not despair at all of our losses elsewhere. We are to a great extent, however, reduced to the Fabian Policy. Our troops and our supplies are so limited and so disorganized that effective operations are out of the question unless we can have a little time to restore tone and confidence. My forces united to Genl Ruggles are here, about 22.000. Polk's and Johnston's are coming in hourly and taking position on my right and left. Your advice in your letter of the 12th is fully adopted in my own of today, organizing my command. All Tennesseans are scattered among better men in small squads, so that we can hold them in observation. I never realized the full correctness of your appreciation of them, until now. A general order, of which I enclose a copy, was predicated on their infamous proceedings, and I am glad to say had its effect. No plundering has taken place since. It is my fixed purpose to execute the first one caught in such acts. But the order, itself, and the arrest of a Colonel, have produced a very wholesome reform. Genl Beauregard has re-published the order to the whole Army, and ordered its observance. Towson was several days with the fair ladies at Jackson, and had every opportunity of seeing their merits and deficiencies, though ladies ought not to have the latter. Suffice it to say neither will please him. He has not said a word, but I will answer for him -- it is unnecessary to set forth objections. Robert and Mr. [Fader] are still with me. Bob will never do much with the Army, as he cannot stand the hardships -- exposure of any kind, or the inequality of camp life soon disables him. And we are far from being comfortable here. But still, for several days it was very hard to live at all. Genl Beauregard is still in Jackson, but proposes coming here in a few days. His health is still very feeble, and as long as he is distressed and worried, as he has been, he cannot improve. Every interview with Genl Polk [shunts] him back a week. But for my arrival here to aid him, I do not believe he would soon be living. His appeal for plantation bells was somewhat on the order of the "Under the enemy's guns at Castroville [Texas]" -- sensational. We have more guns now than instructed men to serve them. And metal in New Orleans for many more. May God protect and preserve you, Your Husband Braxton Bragg [Handwritten original http://repository.duke.edu/dc/braggbraxtonpapers-000846347/secst0300 at Duke University Library, Braxton Bragg Papers, items 52 - 55.] Thanks to Duke University for making this letter available online. Ozzy References: http://www.loc.gov/item/2017646911/ Tishomingo Hotel sketch by Adolph Metzner (1862) at Library of Congress. http://archive.org/stream/earlysettlersind00sowe#page/n593/mode/2up/search/Castroville resource provided for explanation of Castorville Texas. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Fabian+policy definition of Fabian Policy.
Just below is transcript of a communication (likely sent by special courier) from Confederate Secretary of War, Judah Benjamin to Major General Braxton Bragg (then commander of the Army of Pensacola, based at Fort Barrancas). Why is this 27 DEC 1861 letter important to the study of Shiloh? reveals "the intended mission of General A.S. Johnston, when he was sent West" confirms "a dispute" of some nature, between Generals Price and McCulloch; stresses intention for Missouri to be the primary scene of Confederate operations in the West; compares the skills of commander: Fremont vs. Halleck; provides a proposal to Major General Bragg (and recognizes his achievements in Florida). < Private and Confidential > Confederate States of America, War Department -- Richmond, 27 DEC 1861 My Dear Sir When we sent Genl A. S. Johnston to take command of the Western Department, it was believed that he would proceed at once to the west of the Mississippi and conduct the Campaign in Arkansas and Missouri. The obtaining possession of the latter State is of such supreme importance that I need not say to you a word on the subject. Before however Genl Johnston reached the Mississippi, the threatened invasion of Tennessee, and the advance of the Federal forces into Kentucky rendered it necessary to detain him in this latter State equally important as Missouri to the Confederacy, and threatening more immediate danger, especially when considered in connection with the menaced attack on our lines of communication by rail road through East Tennessee. At that time too, the Department of Missouri was committed by the enemy to Genl Fremont, whose incompetency is well known to us, was a guarantee against immediate peril. All this is now changed: Missouri is under command of an able and well instructed military commander. [Dispersions] exist between General Price and General McCulloch which prevent their cordial cooperation. We are threatened with grievous disaster: McCulloch has put his army (of about 9000 excellent troops) into Winter quarters in north western Arkansas, while Price has advanced alone, and we fear with fatal rashness, into a district of country where he is likely to be surrounded and cut off by overwhelming forces. And the Army of Missouri is represented to be a mere gathering of brave but undisciplined partisan troops, coming and going at pleasure, and needing a master mind to control and reduce it into order and to convert it into a real army. After long and anxious consultation with the President, we can find no one but yourself in whom we feel we could rely with confidence as Commander in Chief of the trans-Mississippi Department. Yet we do not know how to fill your place at Pensacola. Missouri must not be lost to us, even at some risk of misfortune at Pensacola. You have so thoroughly and satisfactorily prepared the defences at the latter point that we scarcely believe another attempt will be made on your defences, and we hope that by sending Kirby Smith to take your place, if you should leave, that important point will be successfully defended. You see already that my purpose is to ask you if you would consent to go to the West: in that event Genl Johnston's command would be divided by the Mississippi River, giving him as much even then as he can efficiently attend to; and your command would embrace everything west of the Mississippi, except the coast defences. Your Campaign would comprehend the States of Arkansas and Missouri, (together with northern Texas and the Indian Territory. Genl Price will probably be continued in the command of the Missouri troops when mustered with our service, and their number, of course, I cannot approximate. But we could scarcely have less than twenty or twenty-five thousand men from that state. For Arkansas and the Indian Territory, our forces amount to about 12,000 -- a number of other regiments are now nearly organized in Texas and Arkansas, and we would find means of assigning two or three of the new regiments to Pensacola, and these disengaging for your command the two best Mississippi regiments. With all these resources, aided of course by our hearty and cordial cooperation, it seems to me that we may confidently look for brilliant results. If the tide of battle should turn towards the Mississippi River, your operations would be conducted in cooperation with Genl Johnston's, and of course in that event he would rank you, but unless in case of joint operations on the river, your command would be entirely independent, and such joint operations would only be undertaken by special order of the President, and by your own concert with Genl Johnston. Will you undertake this work? I tell you frankly I believe you owe it to your Country, in this her hour of peril, but it will not be urged on you against your will. If we cannot now make available your name and reputation as a soldier, I confess I know not where else to look at this time. The President and myself have anxiously scanned every name on our Army List, and under all the circumstances (many of which it is not possible to communicate in this letter) we invariably fell back on yours as the name. The circumstances are pressing -- I could not say all that was important for your consideration by telegraph, but I must beg you as soon as it is possible to answer me by telegraph, "I accept," if that be your conclusion. If you say in reply, "I refuse," I must see what next best can be done. I am Yours very truly J. P. Benjamin [to Major Genl Braxton Bragg, at Pensacola.] Made available online by Missouri History Museum -- St. Louis Civil War Project http://cdm.sos.mo.gov/cdm/compoundobject/collection/CivilWar/id/1302/rec/2 Ozzy