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Benjamin Franklin Cheatham (American National Biography)

Scholarship

Arthur W. Bergeron, "Cheatham, Benjamin Franklin," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00223.html.

Cheatham's division fought next in the battle of Stones River, Tennessee. Their attack against the Union right on 31 December 1862 was uncoordinated, most accounts stating that Cheatham was drunk and incapable of directing his division. His biographer cites conflicting reports on the degree of Cheatham's intoxication and concludes, "His troops were poorly served by their divisional commander for the early part of the battle and suffered needless casualties until Cheatham managed to rally them for a concerted movement" (Losson, p. 91). His relations with Bragg became strained after the battle, especially when the latter's official report criticized Cheatham for not attacking promptly.

At the battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, 19-20 September 1863, Cheatham performed well. His men repulsed enemy attacks on the first day of fighting and helped put pressure on the Union left flank the next day. Bragg reorganized the army in November and took away from Cheatham most of his Tennessee troops. The division fought in the battle of Lookout Mountain on 24 November, but Cheatham was absent on leave. He returned in time to participate in the battle of Missionary Ridge on 25 November, where the division held its position until ordered to retreat that night...

Cheatham was very popular with his men during the war because of the concern he showed for their needs and well-being. No one ever questioned his bravery or boldness in action, but his love of alcohol sometimes impaired his performance on the battlefield. He did well leading a brigade or a division but did not have the capacity for corps command.

How to Cite This Page: "Benjamin Franklin Cheatham (American National Biography)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/19023.