Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/370

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364 Southern Historical Society Papers.

downfall all around him, his erectness was untouched ; his plume was still a banner; his name a talisman. The moral and military force which had been lost in Johnston, will be measured for all time, by the events of the interval, between his enforced abdication and patriotic resumption of command. The impending wreck of things rallied of its own accord upon the disinherited knight. The hopes of which his downfall had been the pedestal, were now themselves a ruin. Out of the lime-pit of their destruction, out of their crash and chaos, rose from the rejected stone the straightness of the Doric column.

At this time it was plainly Sherman's plan to march through the Carolinas to the rear of Lee. When the western army went to pieces in hopeless wreck, in front of Nashville, the one hope of the Confederacy was the defeat of Sherman, by all the forces which could be assembled in the Carolinas, united to those of Lee; when- ever the latter could most effectually withdraw from the lines at Petersburg. Everything depended upon the success of this move- ment, and the subsequent union of the same forces against Grant. The task had sufficient elements of difficulty as originally presented. Just at this time a new one was introduced. On the I4th of January Schofield had been ordered from Clifton, on the Tennessee river, to Annapolis. From this point he had been carried by water to North Carolina, where he united to his own army the corps of Terry.

From the time Sherman left Atlanta every wave of opposition had calmed in his front. He could march to the sea or to the mountains as he pleased. The indications were that the mighty host, which had marched through Georgia in such comfort, would cross the Cape Fear at Fayetteville, to be joined there by Schofield, when, on the 22d of February, 1865 the day he was restored to command Johnston was ordered " to concentrate all available forces and drive back Sher- man." The order was one less difficult to give than to execute. It was a question on the first of March, which would reach Johnston first, his own troops from Charleston, or Sherman's army. Hardee did, indeed, cross the Pedee, at Cheraw, on the morning of the 3d, but his rear guard was so hard pressed, that it had hardly time to destroy the bridge after passing over it. On the evening of the same day, information was received that the broken columns of the Army of Tennessee had reached the railroad at Chester. Sherman's order of march encouraged the hope, that the tatters of the Confederacy might be gathered up in time to engage one of his wings. It was,