Page:Confederate Portraits.djvu/37

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7
JOSEPH E. JOHNSTON

frame, compact, muscular, energetically martial; yet bodily illness would sometimes hamper him just at a crisis. On the voyage to Mexico, Lee was enjoying himself, keenly alive to everything that went on about him. "I have a nice stateroom on board this ship," he writes. "Joe Johnston and myself occupy it, but my poor Joe is so sick all the time I can do nothing with him."13

And external circumstance was no kinder than the clayey habitation. "It seemed Johnston's fate to be always placed on posts of duty where extended efforts were necessarily devoted to organizing armies,"14 writes his biographer. He was always in time for toil, for discipline, for sacrifice. For achievement he was apt to be too late. It is surprising how often the phrase recurs in his correspondence. "It is very unfortunate to be placed in such a command after the enemy has had time to prepare his attack."15 "I arrived this evening, finding the enemy in full force between this place and General Pemberton, cutting off the communication. I am too late."16 "It is too late to expect me to concentrate troops capable of driving back Sherman."17 At the greatest crisis of all, after retreating a hundred miles to draw his enemy on, he at last made his preparations with cunning skill for a decisive stand, which should turn retreat into triumph—too late. For the order arrived, removing him from the command and robbing him once more of the gifts of Fortune.

It was from Davis that this blow came and Davis, or