Letters to the Editor – September 2012

7/2/2012 • America's Civil War

Who’s got the medal?

The July 2012 Field Notes article “Medal of Honor ignites a family fight” states that the parties in a legal dispute over ownership of a medal awarded for the Great Locomotive Chase would allow the medal to be “dis­played tem­porarily at the Southern Museum of Civil War and Locomotive History in Kennesaw, Ga.” No such agree­ment has been made with the Southern Museum. Our policies do not allow for temporary or permanent custody of any object in legal question. However, the Medal of Honor awarded to Sergeant John Morehead Scott, who was hanged for his participation in the raid, is owned by the museum and is on permanent display alongside the loco­motive General. In addition, 19 medals were awarded to participants in the raid, not six as stated in the article.

Dr. Richard Banz, Executive Director
Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History
and Kennesaw Museum Foundation

Clay confusion

I enjoyed the pictures of wartime New Orleans collected by Sgt. Maj. Marshall Dunham (“Crescent City captured,” May 2012). But the first picture of the Henry Clay statue shows it under an arch decorated with American flags. The second shows the same statue without the arch. Where did it go?

Timothy Bubniak
Amsterdam, N.Y.

The statue was dedicated April 12, 1860, the 83rd anniversary of the states­man’s birth. Flags decorated the city streets, according to a contemporary account, and “great pomp” marked the festivities. The photo was likely taken at that time, and the arch was removed later.

Bragging rights

When researching my biography General Braxton Bragg, C.S.A., I found that historians seem to have accepted the colorful lies told by Bragg’s enemies. Some are included in “Generals we love to hate,” by Ethan Rafuse (January 2012). I mean no disrespect, but I feel obligated to defend Bragg.

Rafuse states that Bragg made life unbearable for his men, but his troops were actually better fed, clothed and sheltered than most Confederate commands. And Bragg personally saw to the needs of the wounded in his frequent visits to the hospitals. Rafuse also claims that Bragg lost the confidence of all his subordinates. However, in 1863, when Longstreet distributed a petition calling for Bragg’s removal as head of the Army of Tennessee, only
12 of the 64 brigade, division and corps leaders signed the document.

Bragg was surely argumentative and he made some influential enemies. But as Grady McWhiney, an unkind biographer, admits, Bragg also had a wide circle of friends both in and out of the military. The most hated
general in the Confederate ranks? I respectfully disagree.

Samuel J. Martin
Wallace, N.C.

“I laid out the reasons folks hate Bragg, as I did with the other officers,” Ethan Rafuse responds. “That does not mean I share that hatred. Personally, I view the commander more sympathetically than most. That being said, if you can find another Confederate general who is more loathed by students of the war than Bragg (or Leonidas Polk), I would be glad to hear who it is.”

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