In 1909 Simon Bolivar Buckner gave an interview later published in Confederate Veteran. His opinions of General Braxton Bragg and Lieutenant General James Longstreet, both of whom he served with closely, are worth noting.
“General Bragg had some merit, a good deal of merit, but was ill balanced. When President Jefferson Davis visited Chattanooga, I was riding with him up Lookout Mountain, when he asked me: ‘What do you think of Bragg?’ I said: ‘Mr. President, I will tell you frankly, General Bragg as a military man, as a commander, is wanting in imagination. He cannot foresee what probably may occur. When he has formed his own opinions of what he proposes to do, no advice of all his officer put together can shake him; but when he meets the unexpected, it overwhelms him because he has not been able to foresee, and then he will lean upon the advice of a drummer boy.'”
“Longstreet was a gallant fighter. He reminds me of Marshal Ney in his character. It was said of Ney that out of sight of the enemy he had not the remotest idea of strategic movements; but when he heard the sound of artillery, he woke up, and on the field of action he was superior to almost any one in tactical movements, but knew nothing about strategic movement before he came in contact. Longstreet reminds me of Ney in that respect.”
These informed opinions are worthy of consideration. In my study of General Bragg’s campaigns in Kentucky and Tennessee, I have come to the same conclusion as Buckner about Bragg’s erratic nature and inability to think ahead.
Anyone interested in reading the rest of the interview, it is in Confederate Veteran Volume XVII.