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    Braxton Bragg discusses the true hero of the Battle of Buena Vista

    Braxton Bragg Autograph Letter (Unsigned) Regarding the Battle of Buena Vista. Six pages, two sided, 7.75" x 9.75", n.p., n.d. Exceptional unsigned and undated letter offers first-hand knowledge of the real "Hero of Buena Vista." Bragg's letter, addressed to an unidentified Colonel who also fought with him at Buena Vista, begins: "Our friend . . . has informed me of your intention to review the many fraudulent claims put forth by Genl. Wool to be considered 'The Hero of Buena Vista,' and requested such facts as I might possess. . . . You are fully aware of all that occurred on the 22d Feby, after Genl Taylor's arrival on the battle field. The incidents of that evening, related in Wool's own report, disprove, in toto, one of the strongest claims of the 'Hero' . . . 'That he made all the arrangements and dispositions of the troops, which were approved by Genl. Taylor and remained unchanged.' From the time Genl. Taylor left on the 22d to his return on the 23d, I did not hear an order, or even hear of one, from Genl. Wool."

    Bragg then gives details backing up his contention that General Wool was not the hero he claimed to be. In part: "In his official report, Genl. Wool says he gave an order . . . after the action commenced . . . for my command to move from its position on the extreme right. I received no such order. . . . On first reaching the plateau, where the battle was raging, I met Capt. Lincoln, Genl. Wool's Chief of Staff, and enquired for the Genl. and asked for orders. He replied, 'I do not know where the General is. . . . We are sorely prepared, many of our troops are retreating, and unless we check the enemy very soon we are lost.' In a few minutes Genl. Taylor was on the spot, and the enemy was giving ground. . . . Genl. Taylor soon drove back a victorious enemy numbering more than five times his strength. From this time until late in the afternoon, his every effort was a success. I did not see or hear of Genl' Wool doing anything for the rest of the day."

    Shortly after this skirmish, another began: "A dreadful carnage ensued. Our troops, with implicit confidence in the invincibility of their new commander, Genl. Taylor, did not . . . fly on the approach of danger. Many were slaughtered in a hand to hand conflict, and the overwhelming superiority of the enemy soon pushed back the remaining fragments by physical force. It was my good fortune to be among the first to reach this most critical position at this alarming crisis. . . . In a few moments your command and others were at my side and you know the result. The enemy fell back with immense loss. . . . Here was a victory for our side and Genl. Taylor was the 'Hero.'"

    Bragg does give General Wool credit for being at the battle, but reserves the title "Hero" for General Taylor. "Genl. Wools' claims to full credit for his services at Buena Vista ought never to be questioned. He was in command . . . on the morning of 23d Feby, 1857, when attacked by the Mexican forces under Santa Anna. In less than two hours, he was shamefully defeated, and a large portion of his army was flying for safety. . . . Genl. Taylor assumed the command of this defeated and disorganized Army, received the report of its commander, Genl. Wool, that 'the day had gone against us,' returned to the conflict, drove the enemy from the field with immense loss, honored himself, his army, his country's honor." Braxton Bragg was a career United States Army officer, a general in the Confederate States Army, and a principal commander in the western theater of the American Civil War. At Buena Vista, early in 1847, Bragg fought with General Zachary Taylor and his reduced army of about 6,000, which defeated General Antonio López de Santa Anna's army of 20,000 in a two-day battle. Letter is lightly age toned with a faint paper clip rust stain on three pages. An exceptional Mexican War content letter in very fine condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2009
    24th-25th Saturday-Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 525

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