Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/371

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General Joseph E. Johnston. 365

however, not only Sherman, but Schofield, then marching up the Neuse from New Berne, with whom conclusions must be tried.

It was under such conditions that Johnston exposed to the world the electric force and vivid lightning of his arm. Here he gave the lofty answer, he scorned to make in words, to all who dared taunt him with want of daring. It should be some one, not less seamed over with honorable scars, who makes that charge. The battle fur- rowed chieftain might have said: " Put your fingers in my wounds, all ye who doubt." But the heroic answer ever is in deeds. So answered the captain, ' ' who careless of his own blood was careful of that of his men, who knew how to take them under fire and how to bring them out." * From first manoeuvre to final onset nothing can surpass the magnificent strategy he now displayed. It will have to blush before no other of the war, or of the world. With decisive- ness of command, which was met by celerity of execution, he at once ordered the movements which snatched, from the very jaws of death, the last Confederate victory. In the thrilling game of chess, which he now played, no pawn was taken without his leave, while he darted forward and backward upon the board, each time giving check to the king. That game was played with the coolness and consummate skill of a master hand, which knew no pause, no tremor, no uncer- tainty, and only lacked the force of numbers, which genius could not create, to shine by the side of Austerlitz. It was the grand audacity of a conscious master, whose nerve matched his skill ; whose min- isters were strength and swiftness. His first movement was with the troops of Bragg's then near Goldsboro, added to those of D. H. Hill, just arrived from Charlotte, to strike Schofield at Kingston. The blow was sufficient to scotch Schofield' s advance.

Bragg's troops and those of the Army of Tennessee were now ordered to Smithfield, midway between Raleigh and Goldsboro it being at the moment uncertain through which of these places Sher- man's route would be. Hardee was instructed to follow the road from Fayetteville to Raleigh, which, for thirty miles, is also that to Smithfield. On the 15th of March, Hardee had reached Elevation, on the road to Smithfield. On the i8th Hampton reported that Sherman was marching towards Goldsboro. The right wing, on the direct road from Fayetteville, had crossed the Black creek; the left,

  • Report of L. P. Wigfall in the Senate of the Confederate States, March

1865.