Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/367

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

General Joseph E. Johnston. 361

sary to take all three. On the iyth of July, Johnston had planned to attack Sherman, as the latter crossed Peach Tree creek, expecting just such a division between his wings as Sherman actually made. He had occasion to say this, and did say it more than once, to his inspector-general, Colonel Harvie. To thus successively engage the fractions of the hostile army with the bulk of his own, had been the purpose of his every movement. Success here would be decisive, he thought, by driving the defeated army against the Chattahoochie, where there were no fords, or to the east away from their communi- cations. On the precipitous banks of the Peach Tree the Confede- rate army awaited the hour of battle. The superb strategy of their commander and the superlative excellence of the position he had chosen stood revealed. Johnston himself, with his chief of engi- neers, Colonel Prestman, and his chief of staff, General W. W. Mack- all, was seated at a table examining the ground upon the map and maturing the plan of battle, when the order was delivered relieving him from command.

The goal had been reached, the victory organized to his own vision, the foe delivered into his hand when he was again struck down; but this time not by a blow in the breast, which, at Atlanta as at Seven Pines, was turned to the enemy. With a commanding grace in word and act, on the iyth of July he relinquished his com- mand of the army for which he had wrought so wisely and so well, and turned it over, with his plan of battle, to his successor, on that day appointed.

I deem it just to give verbatim the instructions of Johnston to his strong, staunch hero, General A. P. Stewart. "Find," said John- ston to him, "the best position, on our side of Peach Tree Creek, for our army to occupy. Do not intrench. Find all the good artil- lery positions, and have them cleared of timber." He said that he expected Sherman would cross the Chattahoochie by the fords above the mouth of Peach Tree Creek, and advance across the creek upon Atlanta. He added that Governor Brown of Georgia had promised to furnish him fifteen thousand State militia with which to hold Atlanta, while he operated with his army in the field. He did not say that he would attack Sherman on the crossing of Peach Tree, "but," says Stewart, "his dispositions were evidently made with a view to so attack, and were inconsistent with any other purpose." That evening Stewart rode to Johnston's headquarters to report that he had made the dispositions according to direction. He was met