Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/354

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348 Southern Historical Society Papers.

proposed, therefore, the union of the forces of Holmes and Pember- ton; those of Bragg to co-operate if practicable. By the junction he could, as he believed, overwhelm Grant, then between the Talla- hatchie and Holly Springs, far from his base the place for victory.

No notice having been taken of this plan, and suggestions made by him respecting the commands of Bragg and Pemberton, as well as objections interposed by him to the diminution of the former force to augment the latter, failing also of approval, Johnston acquired the feeling that his wide command was little more than nominal. To be answerable for issues without authority to order, or potently ad- vise, is " a barren sceptre " which none can grasp with use or honor. Upon the ground that armies with different objects, like those of Mississippi and Tennessee, were too far apart for mutual dependence, and, therefore, could not be commanded properly by the same gene- ral Johnston asked to have a different command assigned him. Ul- timately a special order did so re-assign him. Intermediately he received specific orders directing him where to go.

It was on the 22d of January, 1863, while he was inspecting the defences of Mobile, that he was ordered to go to the headquarters of Bragg, for the purpose of determining whether the latter had so far lost the confidence of his army, as to make it expedient to supersede him. If such was found to be the fact, Johnston was to be his suc- cessor. It was hardly fair, thus to make a generous mind at once competitor and judge ; to place him in a position, where his merest word would exalt himself at the expense of the party judged. John- ston threw every doubt in favor of his companion in arms, and ad- vised against Bragg' s removal. His letter to the Confederate Presi- dent upon this subject deserves to be known more widely than it is. "I respectfully suggest," he wrote, "that should it then appear to you necessary to remove General Bragg, none in this army or en- gaged in this investigation ought to be his successor." This is the voice of a true knight. It is the reflex of that grace of mind which is ever the noblest ornament to its greatness. When death has silenced him who wrote, it speaks to the hearts which survive, like a trumpet in the stillness of the night. He had returned to Mobile when, on the i2th of February, he was ordered to assume charge of the army of middle Tennessee. At the time the general of that army was bowed and broken by the illness of his wife, supposed to be at the point of death. With a natural chivalry, Johnston post-