Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/353

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General Joseph E. Johnston. 347

was the instruction of which Fabius and Marcellus were the apt pupils, and Hannibal the school-master.

It is idle now to speculate as to what might have happened, had Johnston been allowed to be the real main spring of movements he was so fitted to direct ; if the substance of his important command had been delivered to him. Fortune opposed him with an iron heart, which no excellence could touch. He opposed fortune with an iron will, which, unconquered and undismayed, has outlived fortune's worst and triumphed over it. His strife seems to be waged less with visible, than with some inscrutable power, which baffled, but never met him in authentic shape. It is his peculiar fame, that no disap- pointment and no calamity has been able to deny and to dethrone his real supremacy. All noble strength partakes of the wrestler's agony. The thing which we honor is the unshrinking dedication of thews and sinews by man to his fellows, in the face of the frown of power and in the teeth of temporal scorn. That which makes the brave man, struggling in the storms of fate, a sight for gods and men, is the magnanimity to rise from strain and overthrow, with a rectitude of will untainted and unspent ; the uprightness, which, bows with bended knee before God's footstool, but not with bended neck under man's yoke, nor subjugated brow under life's oppression. The struggle of fate seemed to be to write the death-warrant of all which to Johnston was most precious ; but the final victory was with John- ston. The moral self which was his charge to keep, the post of which he was God's sentry, was never once surprised; never once surren- dered. What was then his lonely outpost is to-night his citadel.

The ink was hardly dry upon the special order assigning Johnston to the Department of the West, when he promptly made known the plan of campaign which commended itself to him. Inasmuch as the army of the Trans-Mississippi was relatively strong, and the army now proposed to be placed under him was relatively weak, and the latter, subject to the further disadvantage of being divided by the Tennessee River, he urged that the united force of both departments be thrown at once on Grant. As the troops in Arkansas and those under Pemberton had the same great object the defence of the Mis- sissippi Valley and both opposed to troops having one object the possession of the Mississippi the main force of the latter operating on the east side of the river; the more direct and immediate co-opera- tion of the former was the thing advised. He significantly adds, "As our troops are now distributed, Vicksburg is in danger." He