General Joseph Eygleston Johnston. 179
RETICENCE AND EMBARRASSMENT.
Genial and confiding as he was to the friends he knew and trusted, he was reticent and even aversive to those whom he did not like, and was quick to resent any freedom or liberty from those he did not like nor know. Of all men in the world he was the least fitted for the work of canvassing a Virginia district, and he never went upon the hustings that his friends did not fear he would give offence to somebody and in this we were disappointed. He could not overcome his embarrassment in making an extempore speech, and therefore tried to write out his speeches and get them by heart. But he found it impossible to commit to memory what he had written himself, though in all other directions his memory was the most accurate and retentive. Towards the last years of his life he could not command it in little matters, and was often at a loss for the exact word he wished. This was a great trial to him, and in it he recog- nized the beginning of the end. There was a magnetic power about him no man could resist, and exact discipline followed at once upon his assuming any command.
A WRETCHED CONDITION.
When he took charge of the great army, which had been defeated and disorganized before his arrival to its command, it was in wretched condition. Most of the general officers were in open hostility and avowed mistrust of the general commanding, and indiscipline pre- vailed throughout. When Johnston came the change was instan- taneous, and henceforth no army of the Confederacy ever equalled Johnston's in drill and high discipline.
HOW HE IMPROVED IT.
General Carter L. Stevenson was one of the division commanders of that army, of the largest experience and military accomplishments. He had served in every army of the Confederacy and actively in all of our wars since 1834. He told me he had never seen any troops in such fine discipline and condition as Johnston's army the day he was moved from its command.
General Randall L. Gibson had been in constant action in the Wes- tern army (he it was who closed an honorable record by his masterly command of the defences near Spanish Fort, on the eastern shore of Mobile bay, in the last battle of the war between the States), and says that when Johnston assumed command of that army it was some-