A Cursory sketch of General Bragg's campaigns. Paper no. 2.
By Major E. T. Sykes, of Columbus, Miss.
The Kentucky campaign.By the 21st of August, having made all needful preparations and inured his troops to the necessary and required discipline, General Bragg, with Hardee and Polk's corps, crossed the Tennessee river at Harrison's Ferry, nine miles above Chattanooga (we had but one transport, and consequently were several days crossing, which allowed the boys in gray an opportunity of bathing, the last they enjoyed until we captured Mumfordsville, on the Green river), and moving over Waldem's Ridge (it should, in respect and deference to its size, have been more properly called High and Broad mountain) and Cumberland mountain, turned Buell's left; and on the 5th of September the Confederate column was greeted with a large sign board, nailed by our advance pioneer corps to a tree on the side of the road, with these words appearing on it in bold relief: ‘You now cross from Tennessee to Kentucky.’ That was the dividing line between two States, and well did the boys in ‘dirty gray’ make the welkin ring as they at one step bounded across the narrow but visible line drawn for their observation and exultation. General E. Kirby Smith in the meantime moved from Knoxville, flanked the Federal General G. W. Morgan, who was in the occupancy of Cumberland Gap, got into the enemy's rear, whipped Bull Nelson at Richmond, Ky., capturing many prisoners and a superabundance of supplies, clothing, and camp equipage, and succeeded in reaching and occupying Lexington, establishing an outpost at Covington, on the Ohio river, just opposite Cincinnati. General Bragg's design was to unite with him at the capital of the State and solidly advance on Louisville, his objective point. Moving for that purpose through Glasgow (where God bless the ladies with their miniature Confederate flags; we were welcomed with joyful tears and loving smiles, as never were soldiers welcomed before), Mumfordsville1 (where the writer, then commanding Company  ‘K’ in the Tenth Mississippi Infantry, had some bitter experience, but in two days after, when Bragg marched up his army on the 17th of September, made about 4,500, under Colonel C. L.  Dunham, lay down their arms and yield to the gray, he felt in a great measure repaid for the almost irreparable loss of the soldier and his friend, the brave and intrepid Colonel Robert A. Smith), Hodgensville, Bardstown, and Harrodsburg, we halted for rest around the latter places, when Buell, whose army had marched straight to Louisville, and receiving heavy reinforcements, returned to give battle to our forces. General Bragg's sanguine anticipations on entering Kentucky were, in the nature of things, necessarily disappointed. He had thought, and not without reason for his hope, that the Kentuckians would flock to his standard by the thousands, when in truth and in fact very few joined him. Not that the great bulk of her citizens did not sympathize with our cause, but the apprehension of an early abandonment of their homes, and the want of time to make their worldly arrangements, prevented.
Battle of Perryville.General Buell, learning the position of our forces near Perryville, determined on attacking us there. Bragg wisely prepared to receive and give him battle, and, in fact, ascertaining that Crittenden's corps was nearly a day's march in the rear of Buell, he sent Withers's division of Polk's corps to intercept him, whilst he, with the remainder of the army, attacked the two Federal corps under McCook and Gilbert, both under the immediate command of Buell, then rapidly, and, as they thought, securely, approaching Perryville, hoping to crush them in detail, and thereby remain for a time at least master of the situation in the dark and bloody ground. But by one of those mishaps that will sometimes crop out when least looked for or expected, our (Withers's) division, which, as said above, was sent to intercept Crittenden's corps, came up, at the intersection of two roads, with the advance guard of General E. Kirby Smith's army hastening to General Bragg's support, and they being all dressed in new Federal suits, the spoils at Richmond, where Bull Nelson had the discretion, under the cloak of big-hearted generosity, to supply the much needed requisitions of the haughty Confederate (this was about twelve miles north of Harrodsburg, near the Louisville turnpike), Major W. C. Richards's (who had just before at Mumfordsville been severely wounded) sharpshooters of Chalmers's brigade, under command of Captain West, and those of our new, and, as it resulted, friendly acquaintances, mutually mistaking each other for the enemy, commenced skirmishing and continued for some time, and until Smith's men, discovering the mistake, sent forward a flag of truce and removed the apprehension, but not until it was too late for the accomplishment of the errand upon which we had been sent. The game had flown; Crittenden, with only his rear guard slightly harrassed, passed on and in time united with Buell's forces, then being driven back from Perryville, and turned the tide of battle against us, which, till his arrival, had rolled so proudly at our bidding, and in connection with the signal defeat of Van Dorn at Corinth on the second (4th October) day of that engagement, necessitating Bragg's retreat out of Kentucky by Cumberland Gap. Van Dorn's army, had it been successful at Corinth, was to have cooperated with us in Tennessee and Kentucky, insuring success to our arms in the latter State. But few know the fact, or knowing it have suppressed its utterance, that General Bragg's original plan  was not to engage the enemy at Perryville, but, on the other hand, if his orders had been obeyed, the battle field would have been elsewhere or Louisville surrendered to our forces. It was, as well as the writer can from memory recall, in substance this: General Bragg, on leaving the army in and around Bardstown, proceeded to Lexington, where was stationed the division of General Smith, and had left General Polk, as the senior or ranking Major-General, in command. On arriving at the capital he determined on making a coup de main on Louisville with Smith's troops, sufficiently supported, whilst Polk was ordered to make a flank movement, so successful in the strategy of Stonewall Jackson's campaigns, and turn the enemy's right. Had this been done, the result and issue of the contest might and most probably would have been different. But there are marplots to be found in every household, cabinet and council. General Polk saw fit (and it may have been best; it is not for me to say) to disregard the order until he could communicate with General Bragg by courier and suggest the propriety and, as he deemed, necessity of remaining with and protecting our very large and important supply train. The delay in communicating, at the distance they were apart, was valuable time never to be regained; the enemy had changed position, and hence General Bragg realized a sad disappointment by General Polk's conduct in the full fruition of his hopes—on the 4th of October inaugurated the Hon. Richard Hawes, at Frankfort, as Confederate Provisional Governor, and on the same day evacuated the city and returned with the troops there stationed, and hastened with all speed and at imminent risk of life or capture to join and resume immediate command of his troops near Harrodsburg and Perryville, and make an effort to repair the mistakes of his subordinate. Hence the battle of Perryville, of necessity fought, and fought under the circumstances, with its consequent disastrous results. In this campaign General Bragg accomplished all that it was possible for him or any other General at that time similarly circumstanced to do, but not as much as he had hoped when he entered her borders.
Retreat out of Kentucky.With saddened hearts we commenced the retreat on the 8th of October, 1862, crossing Duck river, passing Camp Dick Robinson (then newly dubbed Camp Breckinridge), Crab Orchard, Mt. Vernon, Wild-Cat Bend, Cumberland Gap, and on to Knoxville. The  Federals, finding it useless, pursued but little south of Crab Orchard. The fruits of this campaign in supplies, provisions, and all the necessary appendages of an army, were almost fabulous. Think of nearly four thousand wagons, a majority of which were branded with the letters U. S., heavily loaded with the best and every variety of jeans, warm blankets, provisions, and other spoils of our oversupplied foes; several thousand head of cattle, the finest the eye ever beheld, and in truth, only by a hungered people, too fine to slaughter; besides, more than a thousand mules and as many sheep, and you have some approximate idea of what good that campaign was to an impoverished and starving Confederacy of people, to say nothing of the experience gained in the realization of the fact that, unless you are able and intend permanently to occupy a country and can make its people believe it, it is futile to hope with confidence for any material aid from them, particularly in men. It is ‘hoping against hope.’
The Tennessee campaign.After the army had rested for a while from its arduous trials, Bragg commenced his movements into Tennessee preparatory to an advance on Nashville. Tulehoma and Shelbyville were his rallying points, with outposts at Murfreesboroa, Eagleville, &c.; and finally, in December, the army was concentrated in and around Murfreesboroa, with outposts advanced to the vicinity of Nashville. Instead of Rosecrans, who had superceded Buell, going into winter quarters at Nashville, as Bragg was led to believe from spies, he broke up camps on the morning of the 25th of December, and pouring down his hordes by way of the Wilson, Nolinsville, Murfreesboroa, and Jefferson turnpikes, drove our outposts back to the main line, established near and crossing Stone river, a short distance in front of the railroad bridge, with its right resting on Lebanon pike. It will be remembered that General Joseph E. Johnston had been placed in command of this Confederate department, but did not engage in active field operations, and that also, not anticipating any attack from the enemy, had sent Generals Morgan and Forrest with their cavalry in different directions—the first to destroy Rosecrans's communications in Kentucky, the latter to harrass, cut off, and destroy Grant's line of communications; and also a division of infantry under General Stevenson had been sent to our army in Mississippi.