Problems with Braxton Bragg affected only slightly the outstanding record of the premier lieutenant general to serve in the Confederate Army of Tennessee. By the time that this Georgian West Pointer (1838) resigned as lieutenant colonel, lst Cavalry, on January 31, 1861, he was one of the most distinguished and well known officers in the old army. Serving in the Seminole and Mexican conflicts, he won two brevets in the latter and was wounded at La Rosia, Mexico. He returned to his alma mater as a tactics instructor and served as commandant of cadets. His textbook Rifle and Ligbt Infantry Tactics, or more familiarly Hardee’s Tactics, became the standard textbook and was widely used by both sides during the Civil War.
As a brigadier general, he served in Arkansas and was then promoted to major general and assigned to central Kentucky. He commanded one of the corps in the Confederate attacks at Shiloh where he was wounded. He led his corps during the defense of Corinth, Mississippi, and after leading the Army of Mississippi into Kentucky under Bragg, he commanded the left at Perryville.
One of the original lieutenant generals allowed under Confederate law, he led an official corps at Murfreesboro and during the Tullahoma Campaign. In order to get away from the despised army commander, Bragg, he took an assignment in Mississippi under Joseph E. Johnston but after taking part in the minor operations there was recalled to the Army of Tennessee to take over Leonidas Polk’s corps at Chattanooga and during the Atlanta Campaign. During the final stages of the latter, i.e., at Jonesboro, he was in charge of two corps in the Confederate attacks. Disenchanted with Hood’s leadership, he accepted transfer to command of the Atlantic coast and served there for the balance of the war.
He was unable to stop Sherman’s March to the Sea but successfully evacuated Savannah at the last minute. Forced to abandon Charleston as Sherman’s command bypassed it, he continued to withdraw into North Carolina with his “corps” drawn from the coastal defenders. joining Johnston’s forces, his last fight was at Bentonville. It was also the last for his only son who was killed there.
In the final reorganization and consolidation of the Army of Tennessee he retained corps command. His new corps comprised two divisions of Army of Tennessee men who had previously served under him and one from the Department of North Carolina. This force he surrendered along with Johnston’s command on April 26, 1865. “Old Reliable” refused command of the army just after the disaster at Chattanooga but seems to have found his appropriate position as a top corps leader. After the war he settled on an Alabama plantation.
- Colonel, Cavalry (March 16, 1861) Brigadier General, CSA (June 16, 1861)
- Commanding Upper District of Arkansas, Department #2 (July 22 – October 1861)
- Major General, CSA (October 7, 1861)
- Commanding lst Division, Central Army of Kentucky, Department #2 (October 28 – December 5, December 18 – December 1861, and February 23 – March 29, 1862)
- Commanding the army (December 5-18, 1861 and December 1861-February 23, 1862)
- Commanding 3rd Corps, Army of the Mississippi (March 29 – July 5, 1862)
- Commanding the army (July 5 – August 15, 1862) Commanding Left Wing, Army of the Mississippi (August 15-November 20, 1862) Lieutenant General, CSA (October 10, 1862) Commanding 2nd Corps, Army of Tennessee (November 20, 1862 – July 14, 1863) Commanding Army of the Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana (July 14-November 1863) Commanding lst (Polk’s old) Corps, Army of Tennessee (November – December 2, 1863, December 22 – January 1864, early 1864 – August 31, and September 2 – October 5, 1864) Commanding the army (December 2-22, 1863) Commanding his own and Lee’s corps, Army of Tennessee (August 31 – September 2, 1864) Commanding Department of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida (October 5, 1864 – February 16, 1865) Commanding Hardee’s Corps, cooperating with Joseph E. Johnston’s forces (February 16-April 9, 1865) Commanding corps, Army of Tennessee (April 9-26, 1865)