On July 13th, 1864, Braxton Bragg arrived in Atlanta on a grim mission, one that might suit his grim appearance. Bragg’s mission was to confer with Joseph E. Johnston and determine what his plan was to defend Atlanta—if there even was one.
That evening, after meeting with Johnston, Bragg telegraph President Jefferson Davis that there didn’t seem to be much hope for a change in how operations had been going.
On July 14th, Davis determined that he must replace Johnston—but with who? That decision would come in a few days.
Before leaving, Bragg took the time to visit his old corps, now being commanded by Gen. John Bell Hood. The visit to his old troops seemed to lift his spirits after his depressing meeting with Johnston. One of his former command, William Bass of the 7th Mississippi Infantry, noted in his diary on July 15th:
The Army visited by General Bragg [as] he passed through our camp to General Walthall’s Brigade, a great many followed after him [and] seemed to be anxious to see the face of their old commander. After reaching General Walthall’s Brigade, loud cheers were heard for a speech from General Bragg who told them that he was no hand to speak, that the best speech he had ever heard was made by them in front of the enemy with their muskets and it would afford him much pleasure to be with us again on such an occasion. He said that he had been far from us, but he could assure us that we had not been forgotten by him.
Another Mississippian, Lt. Joseph Rand, stated:
Gen. Bragg visited us and dont think I ever saw anyone so welcomely received. The men almost lost their senses they seemed so frantic with joy at meeting their old leader. Gen. B. made a short speech. He I think was looking better than I ever saw him
It did seem that many shared Capt. C. Irvine Walker’s opinion of their old chief, especially in the place they now found themselves under Joe Johnston’s leadership.