Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 06.djvu/146

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Southern Historical Society Papers.

and Kentucky, had for the defence of his whole line 31,000 men. Speaking of the movement upon Donelson, the biographer says: "To meet it, General Johnston sent a force, which he estimated moderately at 17,000 men, reserving for himself only 14,000 men to perform the more delicate task of retiring before a larger army, ably commanded. Even after reinforcing Grant with thirteen regiments, General Buell had left seventy regiments of infantry besides artillery and cavalry—fully 55,000 men. Certain, it is, therefore, that General Johnston took himself the place of greater hazard, and left his subordinates the opportunity of glory." Twenty-five thousand men more might have enabled General Johnston to have attempted an offensive campaign by an advance against Buell. Inadequate transportation and the nature of the country rendered offensive operations by the Confederates physically impossible upon the left flank. But even with such increased strength he would have been compelled to attack the strong position of Munfordsville with a force numerically inferior to the army which held it; or, withdrawing the 17,000 men intended for the defence of the forts, permit Grant to push on, unresisted, to Nashville, thus gaining his rear, and completely severing his communication with his department. With the force actually at his disposal an aggressive policy at that date, and in his then situation, would have been madness. Whatever may be thought of Buell by his own side, he has always been and always will be considered by Confederates one of the ablest and most formidable commanders the United States Government put at the head of her armies. Wary, perfectly prudent, always thoroughly cognizant of the situation, he never failed to move promptly and strike energetically at exactly the right time. The only Federal commander who was apparently not solicitous concerning his numerical strength—certainly calling less complainingly and constantly for troops, and getting fewer than the others. He was the only Federal General ever in the West whom the Confederates feared when at the head of a comparatively small army.

It is but simple truth to say that if we often felt a salutary respect, bordering upon if not actually gliding into bodily fear of the Federal armies, we were rarely afraid of their Generals. But the manner in which Buell came to Grant's salvation at Shiloh; the style in which he followed like a bloodhound close upon Bragg's trail into Kentucky; the audacious determination with which he marched his depleted army to Louisville; the skill and