Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 20.djvu/112

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106 Southern Historical Society Papers.

The Richmond authorities desired Johnston to take the offensive. He insisted on being largely reinforced for that purpose, and theie was an immediate disagreement as to lines and details. Meanwhile Sherman had completed his concentration, and the campaign of 1864 began with his advance southward. Johnston impeded Sherman's march, declined to fight except on his own terms, and was gradually pushed back to Atlanta, in what is generally admitted to have been a masterly retreat. But Davis was dissatisfied, believing that Johnston had missed several opportunities to fight a successful general battle. On July 17 Johnston was superseded in the command by Hood, who immediately fought some disastrous battles under spur from Rich- mond, followed by the loss of Atlanta. With depleted forces he finally took the general offensive, and was defeated and practically destroyed at Franklin and before Nashville, closing the war in the West, and making possible and easy the march through Georgia and the Carolinas.


In brief, the cause of his removal and the ground of complaint against Johnston was that under no circumstances would he fight, and that he did not intend to defend Atlanta. This is the essential point made in all Davis' recitations concerning him in the Bull Run, Peninsular, Vicks'uurg and Atlanta campaigns. And, it must be confessed, the official records go far toward corroborating the Presi- dent's estimate of his general's character. His argument is that Johnston, like McClellan, was never exactly ready for action, was always largely outnumbered, always wanted re-inforcements, always exaggerated obstacles, and always opposed every plan proposed by his government.

It has often occurred to me that had McClellan and Johnston been continued in their respective commands the war would have lasted indefinitely. They were much alike. Both doubted the capacity and courage of their soldiers to overcome given obstacles. Neither believed in the efficacy of fighting. Both were largely endowed with the art of expeditiousiy moving an army in retreat from the presence of the enemy. Neither had any good will toward or con- fidence in his government, and both were " hampered " thereby. It is doubtful if either had complete confidence in his cause.

Johnston, in vindication of his Atlanta campaign, says that Sher- man was relatively stronger than Grant over Lee, that his own effec- tive force was less than fifty thousand men and his total losses less