Monday, September 2, 2013

September 3, 1863 (Saturday): Hill Counsels Bragg

General D. H. Hill

CAMP NEAR BRIDGE, September 3, 1863.
General BRAGG, Commanding Army:
     GENERAL: If the Yankees have really crossed in force at Caperton's, it seems to me plain that the movement is for Chattanooga, in order to secure the railroad as an entirety. They will work their way up Will's Valley until they get in position to drive us from Chattanooga. The road will then be put in operation from Bridgeport. They have evidently spared Chattanooga with the view of using it hereafter; otherwise they would destroy the depot and town.
     I cannot but think that Burnside will be left in some secure place above with his infantry, while his cavalry hold the railroad until Rosecrans secures this end of it. They will then be in condition to hold the country, bring in their supplies, operate among the disloyal portions of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. This is, I think, the programme. The great object is East Tennessee. I have no idea that a movement of infantry will be made against Atlanta. The mounted men will be put upon that work. Rosecrans will avoid battle till Grant is ready to move. The whole Yankee policy for some time past has been that of combined movement. They have had one controlling mind, while we have had no combinations whatever. If we cannot get a fight from Rosecrans before Grant shall move, Johnston will want help and another retreat becomes inevitable.
     I know the country too imperfectly and have too little confidence in my own judgment to counsel any particular course of action, but I have felt so uneasy about the delay that I cannot refrain from expressing my anxiety. If we wait until the meshes be thrown around, we may find it hard to break through. If it ever becomes practicable for us to take the initiative at any time, we would thereby as effectually frustrate Rosecrans as you did at Murfreesborough by the same course.
     With great respect,

     D. H. HILL,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 30, Part 4, Page 588.

Bragg could not afford to become yet another Confederate general to be captured defending a critical point with inferior numbers and lines of supply.  He would be forced to abandon Chattanooga and seek an opportunity to strike Rosecrans before he could, as Hill surmised, move to control eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina.  Hill had been sent west, unable to work for Lee.  He was of some ability, but much disposed to offer opinions and cantankerous in the extreme.

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