Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/145

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
General Albert Sidney Johnston.

fore, directly upon Bowling Green, or by the water lines, which it was thought the forts that have been mentioned sufficiently guarded. So long as this line was maintained, General Johnston's department was safe and could not be invaded. Soon after the occupation of this position, the commands of Hardee and Pillow, aggregating seven or eight thousand men, were brought from Missouri and Arkansas, where they had been operating to no purpose, and by strenuous effort and earnest solicitation, General Johnston succeeded in recruiting and bringing to the front several regiments, but failed to induce the people of his department to respond properly to his own zealous exertions, or even to convince them of their peril. The battle of Manassas had induced throughout the entire South a ruinous feeling of confidence and security. Seven Kentucky regiments were also organized during the winter. The troops were constantly drilled and instructed in the duties of the camp, and frequent expeditions were undertaken, which not only inured them to the hardships of the march and the bivouac, but contributed to delay the advance of the Federal forces by inducing the belief that the Confederates were preparing for aggression. This condition of things, however, could not last long. Forty-eight thousand men were collected in the Federal armies under Buell and Thomas, and heavy forces were massing at Cairo under Grant, C. F. Smith and McClernand, to attack Donelson and Henry. This movement, if successful, would lay open the road to Nashville, force the evacuation of Bowling Green and Columbus, and isolate and risk the loss of Memphis. On the 19th of January the first shock of arms was felt, on the left flank, at Fishing Creek, where the Confederate General George B. Crittendon was defeated by Thomas and forced to a disastrous retreat.

The United States Government, determined to improve success, rapidly reinforced Buell, and he, in turn, reinforced Grant. On the 2d of February the Federal movement up the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers was commenced. The only reinforcement Johnston could obtain from his government was Floyd's brigade from Western Virginia; otherwise he was compelled to rely for troops entirely upon his own department. The entire Federal strength for offensive purposes upon the Bowling Green and the river lines early in February cannot be estimated at much, if any, short of 90,000 men. To meet their assaults, Johnston, by greatly reducing the garrison at Columbus, leaving only the slenderest depot guards, and calling into the field every other effective soldier in Tennessee