Braxton Bragg: The Most Hated Man of the Confederacy

- Winner of the Richard Barksdale Harwell Book Award, 2017

- Finalist, Army Historical Foundation, 2016 

- A Selection of the History Book Club 


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“In this skillful and balanced assessment of Confederate general Braxton

Bragg, Earl J. Hess takes into account both sides’ views of this controversial man and offers his own takes in ways that are informative, insightful, and persuasive. Sometimes surprising, always effective, this is the definitive study of the life and career of an unquestionably important but oft-maligned Civil War figure.”--Ethan S. Rafuse, author of Robert E. Lee and the Fall of the Confederacy, 1863-1865


"Earl Hess is one of the most prolific military historians of the Civil War, and one of the finest. He has a penchant for offering fresh, lucidly written, and convincing interpretations of supposedly long-settled issues. Braxton Bragg is no exception. This not only is a superb, even-handed study of Bragg's wartime performance; it also successfully challenges the reflexive negative stereotypes about Bragg and shows how they arose in the first place. Required reading for any serious student of the Civil War." --Mark Grimsley, author of The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865



As a leading Confederate general, Braxton Bragg (1817–76) earned a reputation for incompetence, for wantonly shooting his own soldiers, and for losing battles. This public image established him not only as a scapegoat for the South’s military failures but also as the chief whipping boy of the Confederacy. The strongly negative opinions of Bragg’s contemporaries have continued to color assessments of the general’s military career and character by generations of historians. Rather than take these assessments at face value, Earl J. Hess's biography offers a much more balanced account of Bragg, the man and the officer.


While Hess analyzes Bragg’s many campaigns and battles, he also emphasizes how his contemporaries viewed his successes and failures and how these reactions affected Bragg both personally and professionally. The testimony and opinions of other members of the Confederate army—including Bragg’s superiors, his fellow generals, and his subordinates—reveal how the general became a symbol for the larger military failures that undid the Confederacy. By connecting the general’s personal life to his military career, Hess positions Bragg as a figure saddled with unwarranted infamy and humanizes him as a flawed yet misunderstood figure in Civil War history.



Published By: 

The University of North Carolina Press

P.O. Box 2288

Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2288


Full List of Books by Dr. Earl J. Hess

Author Bio