Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/102

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96 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Not the least instructive part of these popular volumes of war records is that which relates to General Joseph E. Johnston, who was removed from the command of the Confederate army just before that great campaign closed, after he had fought with varying success, and, at all events, successfully retreated before Sherman from Dalton to Atlanta, covering a distance of one hundred miles and a period of seventy days. This event was the culmination of a quarrel of long standing between Jefferson Davis and General Johnston.

Although maintained with a sort of stilted dignity calculated and doubtless intended to deceive the outside world, beneath all it was the deepest, bitterest personal feud of the war, and, like most antago- nisms in high place, was apparently without adequate cause. There never was any real concord between the two men from the day Johnston assumed command at Harper's Ferry, May 23, 1861, until the war closed with Davis' flight and Johnston's surrender at Dur- ham's station, April 26, 1865.

Many of the misfortunes of the Confederacy can be directly traced to the hostility between Davis and Johnston, and no doubt their dis- sentions were of direct and material benefit to the North. It must be true that many things were done and many other things left undone by both which would have been otherwise but for their eternal controversies. Their estrangement had its beginning in a question of rank raised by Johnston, which grew until it poisoned the whole South and finally intrenched itself in the Confederate Congress.

Every enemy Davis had, from whatever cause, naturally and at once became the friend and active partisan of Johnston, lauding his military genius to the skies, and, as a matter of course, belittling the President's statemanship. It is along these lines the quarrel was maintained, not only by the two principals now dead but by their respective admirers and supporters.

So far as the official records are concerned, the case is practically closed with these Atlanta volumes, which carry affairs down to when Davis, officially alleging Johnston's failure to arrest Sherman's advance, superseded him in front of Atlanta with General John B. Hood, July 17, 1864, though it is true when the Confederacy was- on its last legs, at Lee's wish and suggestion, that Davis again called Johnston to command the forlorn hope in North Carolina. But after this event neither of the belligerents had much time to devote to personal quarrels, although Johnston in his " Narrative" does not fail to point out the absurdity of some of the President's last ditch