Criticized for his inability to win battles during the Civil War (1861-1865), North Carolinian Braxton Bragg, writes historian William S. Hoffman, was the man of the hour during the Mexican War (1846-1848).
During the conflict, Lieutenant Bragg commanded an artillery battery at the battles of Fort Texas (later known as Fort Brown), Monterrey, and Buena Vista. (At Buena Vista, Bragg fought alongside his future enemy and invader of North Carolina, William Sherman.) For his exemplary performance, the twenty-eight year old Bragg received commendations from his superiors and a promotion to the rank of captain. At Monterrey, Bragg’s precise artillery fire stopped the advance of Mexican troops through the city streets. Reporting on what happened at Buena Vista, General Zachary Taylor believed Bragg’s cannonade against vastly superior numbers had “saved the day.”
Bragg’s performance inspired the telling of patriotic stories. In the heat of battle, Taylor had supposedly ordered, “A little more grape, Captain Bragg.” Whether Taylor said it or not, Americans repeated the story and the command as a testament of American bravery, determination, and victory.
William S. Hoffman, North Carolina in the Mexican War, 1846-1848 (Raleigh, 1969), 8-13.