Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 21, 1863 (Saturday): Longstreet Advises Bragg

Bleak House (Longstreet's HQ at Knoxville)

HEADQUARTERS, November 21, 1863.
General B. BRAGG,
Missionary Ridge:
    The enemy's threat against your left is for the purpose of inducing you to retire. If you fail to do so, he will be obliged to retire himself, or throw a very strong force in your rear. If he does put a force behind you, you can fall upon it and destroy it, and then resume your position. With the present bad roads, I doubt if he can put a very large force behind you. If he does, and you let it get well out to your rear, I think it cannot escape you.
     I remain, very respectfully, &c.,


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 3, Page 733.

Longstreet feared Bragg would recall him from independent command in front of Knoxville, besieging Burnside.  His response was to minimize the difficulties faced by Bragg and offer him advice, and in this case not very good advice.  Longstreet misunderstood both Grant's intentions and the change in the balance of forces brought on by Sherman's arrival.  This memo is similar to ones Longstreet sent Lee when Longstreet had independent command in Suffolk during the Chancellorsville campaign.  Longstreet, in that instance, insisted Lee faced a threat he could not readily overcome without the First Corp being available.  Here, he takes the same tack with Bragg.

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