Friday, August 17, 2012

Bragg’s Intelligence system

On pages 58-59 of Atlanta 1864, Last Chance for the Confederacy (published in 2000), Richard McMurry writes, "During the winter and spring Johnston's scouts and patrols brought back intelligence about the Yankee forces in southeastern Tennessee. An intelligent and experienced general, Johnston organized (or may have inherited from Bragg) a system of spies in Chattanooga, Nashville, and other points behind Sherman's lines. From these sources the Confederate commander had derived enough information to develop by mid- to late April a surprisingly accurate picture of Sherman's intentions."

I recall reading a variety of assessments of Bragg's "intelligence system." One historian suggesting that Bragg went about blind, obtaining no effective intelligence whatsoever. One historian suggested that the only effective intelligence had to come from his cavalry and the cavalry was deficient, another that Bragg was too dependent upon spies and not on his cavalry implying that he preferred spies and preferred using his cavalry for other purposes. This passage by McMurry suggests that Johnston's, and possibly Bragg's intelligence systems were extremely efficient. One can't but wonder how efficient these historians "intelligence systems" are.

While not pertinent to this thread, McMurry describes Johnston as being a more effective and efficient General than I have read from anyone else recently. Although he doesn't contradict the general view about Johnston's not wanting to fight. He concludes his 4th chapter with the following:

"The great struggle for North Georgia would be waged by one general who did not want to fight except in very limited circumstances and under conditions that seemed never to exist and by another who preferred not to fight at all."

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