Year
1817

Braxton Bragg born

On this day in 1817, Confederate General Braxton Bragg is born in Warrenton, North Carolina. Bragg commanded the Army of Tennessee for 17 months, leading them to several defeats and losing most of the state of Tennessee to the Yankees.

Bragg graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1837, and went on to fight in the Seminole War of the 1830s and the Mexican War in 1846 and 1847. In Mexico, he earned three promotions but also survived two assassination attempts by soldiers in his command. Bragg was temperamental and acerbic, a capable soldier but a difficult personality. These character flaws would later badly damage the Confederate war effort.

When the Civil War began, Bragg was appointed commander of the Gulf Coast defenses but soon promoted to major general and attached to General Albert Sidney Johnston’s Army of Tennessee. Bragg fought bravely at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862, leading attacks while having two horses shot out from under him. When Johnston was killed during the battle, Bragg became second in command to Pierre G. T. Beauregard. After Beauregard was forced to relinquish his command for health reasons, Confederate President Jefferson Davis turned to Bragg.

Bragg’s record as army commander was dismal. He marched northward in the fall of 1862 to regain Kentucky, but was turned back at the Battle of Perryville in October. On New Year’s Eve, Bragg clashed with the army of Union General William Rosecrans at the Battle of Stones River, Tennessee. They fought to a standstill, but Bragg was forced to retreat and leave the Union in control of central Tennessee. In the summer of 1863, Rosecrans outmaneuvered Bragg, backing the Confederates entirely out of the state. Only at Chickamauga, Georgia, in September did Bragg finally win a battle, but the victory came in spite of Bragg’s leadership rather than because of it.

Bragg followed up his victory by pinning the Yankees in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Union forces, now led by General Ulysses S. Grant, broke the siege in November and nearly destroyed Bragg’s army. Bragg was finished, having now alienated most of his generals and lost the confidence of his soldiers. He resigned his command and went to Richmond, Virginia,to be a military advisor to President Davis. Bragg fled southward with Davis at the end of the war but both men were captured in Georgia. Bragg was soon released, andworked as an engineer and a railroad executive before his death in 1876.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Naval hero killed in duel

U.S. Navy officer Stephen Decatur, hero of the Barbary Wars, is mortally wounded in a duel with disgraced Navy Commodore James Barron at Bladensburg, Maryland. Although once friends, Decatur sat on the court-martial that suspended Barron from the Navy for five years in 1808 and ...read more

Arab League formed

Representatives from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Yemen meet in Cairo to establish the Arab League, a regional organization of Arab states. Formed to foster economic growth in the region, resolve disputes between its members, and coordinate ...read more

Stamp Act imposed on American colonies

In an effort to raise funds to pay off debts and defend the vast new American territories won from the French in the Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), the British government passes the Stamp Act on this day in 1765. The legislation levied a direct tax on all materials printed for ...read more

Westmoreland to depart South Vietnam

President Lyndon B. Johnson announces the appointment of Gen. William Westmoreland as Army Chief of Staff; Gen. Creighton Abrams replaced him as commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam. Westmoreland had first assumed command of U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam in June 1964, ...read more

First Stanley Cup championship played

On this day in 1894, the first championship series for Lord Stanley’s Cup is played in Montreal, Canada. The Stanley Cup has since become one of the most cherished and recognized trophies in sport.The Stanley Cup was the creation of Sir Frederick Arthur Stanley, lord of Preston ...read more

FDR legalizes sale of beer and wine

On this day in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Beer and Wine Revenue Act. This law levies a federal tax on all alcoholic beverages to raise revenue for the federal government and gives individual states the option to further regulate the sale and distribution of ...read more

Louis L’Amour born

Louis L’Amour, the prolific author of scores of bestselling western novels, is born in Jamestown, North Dakota.An indifferent student, L’Amour dropped out of high school at age 15. Over the next two decades, he traveled around the world working in an amazing variety of jobs. At ...read more

Stephen Sondheim is born

Stephen Sondheim, one of the last giants of the American musical theater to work in a style not influenced by rock and roll, was born in New York City on March 22, 1930. Sondheim and the work he created helped revolutionize the Broadway musical in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.When ...read more

Teachers are indicted at the McMartin Preschool

Seven teachers at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California are indicted by the Los Angeles County grand jury after hearing testimony from 18 children. Included among the charged are Peggy McMartin Buckey, the head of the school and her son Ray Buckey. Seven years and ...read more

The origins of the Hummer

On this day in 1983, the Pentagon awards a production contract worth more than $1 billion to AM General Corporation to develop 55,000 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). Nicknamed the Humvee and designed to transport troops and cargo, the wide, rugged vehicles ...read more