Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/364

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358 Southern Historical Society Papers.

there were two roads leading southward to it the probability was that Sherman would divide a column following each road and give Johnston his opportunity to defeat one column before it could receive aid from the other. He gave his orders accordingly for battle on the igth of May. The order announcing that battle was about to be delivered had been read to each regiment and received with exulta- tion. The Roman signal the general's purple mantle lifted in front of the general's tent may be said to have been given. But General Hood, owing to information received from one of his staff, deemed himself justified in not executing the order to himself, and the intended attack was for this cause abandoned. General W. W. Mackall was sent to Hood to ask why he did not attack as ordered. Hood sent word in reply that the enemy was then advancing upon him by two roads, and he could only defend. Johnston then drew up his army on a ridge immediately south of Cassville to receive the attack of the now united columns ; but the conviction of both Polk and Hood of their inability to hold their positions against attack caused Johnston to yield his own. He did this upon the ground that he could not make the fight when two of the three corps com- manders of his army were opposed to it. Hood said that in the position in which he then was he was willing to attack, but not willing to defend. Johnston's view was that the time to attack was when his enemy was divided, and the time to draw together and defend was when his enemy was united. But unless we are to reason that when Johnston was unwilling to fight and some of his generals willing, Johnston must be wrong; and when Johnston was willing to fight and his generals unwilling, the latter must be right ; it is hard to see why he should be blamed for Rocky Face, and they uncriticised for Cassville. Assuredly in both instances the hesita- tion was the honest doubt of courageous men. Again, at New Hope church, after Sherman's determined but vain assault, Johnston made his own dispositions to attack. Hood was to assail Sherman's left at dawn on the 29th of May, and Polk and Hardee to join in the battle successively. At 10 A. M. Hood reported that he found the enemy entrenched and deemed it inexpedient to attack without fresh instructions. The opportunity had passed. The proposition had originally come from Hood and received the sanction of Johnston. Hood says the opportunity had passed, not because his views had changed, but because the situation of the enemy had changed. Doubtless this was so. And might not the commander-in-chief of