previous next

Correction as to the composition of Reynolds's Brigade—Correspondence between Governor Porter and Major Sykes.

Nashville, November 12, 1883.
Major E. T. Sykes:
Dear Sir,—In your sketch of General Bragg's campaigns, published in the November number of the Southern Histori-Cal papers, it is stated in note on page 496, in regard to the battle of Mission Ridge, that ‘Brigadier-General Alexander W. Reynolds's brigade of East Tennesseeans were the first to give way, and could not be rallied.’

I claim some familiarity with the distribution of the troops from this State, and I am positive that there was not a Tennesseean in Reynolds's brigade. Will you please furnish me with your authority for the statement referred to.

Very respectfully,

Dear Sir,—Yours of the 12th instant reached me to-day, and I hasten to reply, saying that my authority for the statement in the [46] note on page 496, of the November number, 1883, of the Southern Historical Society papers, that Brigadier-General Alexander W. Reynolds's Brigade of East Tennesseeans were the first to give way at Mission Ridge, and could not be rallied, is the late General Bragg. In the preparation of the sketch, General Bragg furnished me many of his private papers, ‘preserved from the general wreck,’ and wrote me several letters in answer to certain questions at different times asked of him. The statement to which you called my attention was furnished in answer to one of these questions, but did not reach me until the sketch had been published in our city paper, the Columbus Index, then edited by our mutual friend, General J. H. Sharp. I appended the statement, and other information furnished me by General Bragg, in the form of notes, intending at some future time to elaborate more at length; but on the visit here last winter of General George D. Johnston, agent of the Southern Historical papers, he heard of the papers in my possession, and asked to read them, and then made the request that I furnish them to the Society at Richmond. In the following (last) February I received from Rev. J. William Jones, of the Society, a very urgent letter requesting copies of my papers. Not having the time to make copies, I sent him the original papers by express on the 13th of February last, and heard no more from them until I saw the first installment of the ‘Sketch’ published in the papers.

The original autograph letter of General Bragg, dated February 8, 1873, containing the statement of which you complain, is quite lengthy, and written entirely with pencil; and, along with the other letters, is in the possession of the Southern Historical Society, where you can, I presume, by writing to the Secretary, obtain a copy. It was in a good state of preservation when forwarded by me.

In his report of the battle of Mission Ridge you will observe that General Bragg charges Anderson's division with first giving way and permitting the enemy to pierce our centre; but you can see by reading the letter of February 8, 1873, a copy of which is now before me, he makes the following unqualified declaration:

‘I have always believed our disasters at Mission Ridge were due immediately to misconduct of a brigade of Buckner's troops from East Tennessee, commanded by Brigadier-General Alexander W. Reynolds, which first gave way and could not be rallied.’

You will find in said letter many startling revelations, which I would not, for obvious reasons, allude to in the ‘sketch.’

So far as I personally know, this brigade may or may not have [47] been composed of Tennesseeans. It may not have had a single Tennessee regiment or company in it. I only state what was given to me as a fact by one who was presumed to know. I trust that you will consider me as desiring only to chronicle the truths of history as furnished by what I considered the most reliable source of information. And certainly the General of the army should be presumed to be the best repository of all important information touching the army under his command. At least I feel that you will relieve me of any motive or disposition to mistake important facts, when it is seen that the statements I make are backed by the authority of the General commanding. I wished only to speak of the facts as they were represented to me, ‘Nothing extenuate, nor set down aught in malice.’

Very respectfully,

Nashville, November 20, 1883.
Major E. T. Sykes:
Dear Sir,—I inclose a communication from General M. J. Wright, of the War Records Office, Washington, D. C., in which he gives the organization of Reynolds's brigade from the records of the Confederate States War Department. You will see from this that there were no Tennessee troops in Reynolds's brigade. I also enclose a letter from General Frank Cheatham to the same effect; and to-day I was informed by ex-Governor John C. Brown that he had personal knowledge of the fact that Reynolds's brigade was formed of regiments from North Carolina and Virginia. My own opinion is that Reynolds's brigade was in no .wise responsible for the disaster at Mission Ridge; but you will understand that my object just now is to ask you to examine the evidence I furnish and to make the correction due to Tennessee.

Very respectfully,

Dear Sir,—Your letter of the 20th instant, with inclosures, reached me to-day, and, as requested therein, I hasten to reply. From your statement, fully indorsed and supported by the statements [48] of Generals Cheatham and Wright, and ex-Governor John C. Brown, all of whom commanded Tennessee troops under General Bragg, I am convinced that there was no Tennessee organization in the brigade of General Alexander W. Reynolds during the Mission Ridge fight, or at any other time. The evidence furnished by you and them make it certain that Reynolds's brigade was composed of the Fifty-fourth and Sixty-third Virginia, Fifty-eighth and Sixtieth North Carolina infantry regiments; hence, the statement in the note on page 496, of the November number, 1883, of the Southern Historical Society papers, that ‘Brigadier-General Alexander W. Reynolds's brigade of East Tennesseeans were the first to give way, and could not be rallied,’ does injustice to the gallant troops from your State.

The authority for the statement in the note referred to is given in my letter to you of the 14th instant, which in justice to us both should be published along with this. It may be that General Bragg intended to convey the idea that Reynolds's brigade had just been serving in East Tennessee under Buckner, and had recently joined him; but I submit that his language, quoted in mine of the 14th instant, conveys the impression that was made use of by me.

Not wishing to do injustice, or be guilty of a seeming wrong to any one, I take pleasure in authorizing you to make such use of our correspondence as will put the question in its true light.

Yours truly,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: