- Joseph E. Johnston
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- Johnston, Joseph E. (Joseph Eggleston) 1807-1891
- Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography by Craig L Symonds, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
Most of the times when the covey rose up, Johnston failed to fire, explaining that the birds were too far away, or screened by brush, or the sun was in his eyes. Characteristically, Johnston met the first crisis in his new district by doing nothing. In December Pemberton called for reinforcements because Vicksburg, Miss. This was precisely the type of situation that Johnston was expected to manage. Yet he declined to send reinforcements because he speculatively assumed that they could not reach Mississippi in time. Nor was Johnston better at managing destructive personality clashes among commanders within the nearby Army of Tennessee, as became evident that winter.
After losing the Battle of Perryville in Kentucky under General Bragg, the army returned to Tennessee with a bitterly divided general staff. Leonidas K. He did neither. Seddon even ordered Johnston to conduct a personal investigation of the Army of Tennessee and provide a full report to Richmond. While declining to assume major responsibilities, Johnston used his authority for one innovation that ultimately proved catastrophic. He was impressed that, by burning the federal supply depot at Holly Springs, a force of only 3, horsemen under Gen.
Earl Van Dorn was able to force Grant to abandon his overland march to Vicksburg. This represented a new role for cavalry; previously, Confederate cavalry had been used for reconnaissance and for raids that were never large enough to thwart a major offensive. While the arrangement led to future decades of fireside tales about daring, lightning strikes by Confederate cavalry veterans, it also stripped Pemberton of adequate forces for reconnaissance.
Furthermore, Grant trumped the strategy by using invulnerable river transports to carry and supply his soldiers to the Louisiana shore opposite Vicksburg. Grant subsequently crossed the river, captured and destroyed Jackson, Miss. His 30, Confederates surrendered on July 4, Explore multimedia from the series and navigate through past posts, as well as photos and articles from the Times archive. Once Grant crossed the river, Seddon ordered the hesitant Johnston to take command in Mississippi and sent him reinforcements to rescue Pemberton.
And, for the six weeks of the Vicksburg siege, Johnston did little but keep his army nearby, waiting for a favorable opportunity that never came. Consequently, the secretary concluded the best presently available hope for independence lay with the Army of Northern Virginia. Follow Disunion at twitter. Sources: Patrick, Rembert W. Phil Leigh is an armchair Civil War enthusiast and president of a market research company. He is preparing an illustrated and annotated version of the memoirs of Confederate Pvt. Aytch: Illustrated and Annotated.
He was unsuccessful in persuading them and deployed most of his force on the Peninsula. Following lengthy siege preparations by McClellan at Yorktown, Johnston withdrew and fought a sharp defensive fight at Williamsburg May 5 and turned back an attempt at an amphibious turning movement at Eltham's Landing May 7. By late May the Union army was within six miles of Richmond.
Realizing that he could not defend Richmond forever from the Union's overwhelming numbers and heavy siege artillery and that McClellan's army was divided by the rain-swollen Chickahominy River , Johnston attacked south of the river on May 31 in the Battle of Seven Pines or Fair Oaks. His plan was aggressive, but too complicated for his subordinates to execute correctly, and he failed to ensure they understood his orders in detail or to supervise them closely. The battle was tactically inconclusive, but it stopped McClellan's advance on the city and would turn out to be the high-water mark of his invasion.
More significant, however, was that Johnston was wounded in his shoulder and chest by an artillery shell fragment near the end of the first day of the battle. Smith commanded the army during the second day of the battle, before Davis quickly turned over command to the more aggressive Robert E. Lee, who would lead the Army of Northern Virginia for the rest of the war.
Johnston was prematurely discharged from hospital on November 24, , and appointed to command the Department of the West, the principal command of the Western Theater , which gave him titular control of Gen. Braxton Bragg 's Army of Tennessee and Lt. John C. Pemberton 's Department of Mississippi and East Louisiana. The other major force in this area was the Trans-Mississippi Department, commanded by Lt. Theophilus H. Holmes , stationed principally in Arkansas. Johnston argued throughout his tenure that Holmes's command should be combined with Pemberton's under Johnston's control, or at least to reinforce Pemberton with troops from Holmes's command, but he was unable to convince the government to take either of these steps.
Joseph E. Johnston
The first issue facing Johnston in the West was the fate of Braxton Bragg. The Confederate government was displeased with Bragg's performance at the Battle of Stones River , as were many of Bragg's senior subordinates. Jefferson Davis ordered Johnston to visit Bragg and determine whether he should be replaced.
Johnston realized that if he recommended Bragg's replacement, he would be the logical choice to succeed him, and he considered that a field army command was more desirable than his current, mostly administrative post, but his sense of honor prevented him from achieving this personal gain at Bragg's expense.
After interviewing Bragg and a number of his subordinates, he produced a generally positive report and refused to relieve the army commander. Davis ordered Bragg to a meeting in Richmond and designated Johnston to take command in the field, but Bragg's wife was ill and he was unable to travel. Furthermore, in early April Johnston was forced to bed with lingering problems from his Peninsula wound, and the attention of the Confederates shifted from Tennessee to Mississippi, leaving Bragg in place.
The major crisis facing Johnston was defending Confederate control of Vicksburg, Mississippi , which was threatened by Union Maj. Ulysses S. Grant , first in a series of unsuccessful maneuvers during the winter of —63 to the north of the fortress city, but followed in April with an ambitious campaign that began with Grant's Union army crossing the Mississippi River southwest of Vicksburg.
Catching Lt. Pemberton by surprise, the Union army waged a series of successful battles as it moved northeast toward the state capital of Jackson. On May 9, the Confederate Secretary of War directed Johnston to "proceed at once to Mississippi and take chief command of the forces in the field.
When he arrived in Jackson on May 13 from Middle Tennessee, he learned that two Union army corps were advancing on the city and that there were only about 6, troops available to defend it. Johnston ordered a fighting evacuation the Battle of Jackson , May 14 and retreated with his force to the north. Grant captured the city and then faced to the west to approach Vicksburg.
The survivors retreated to the fortifications of Vicksburg. Johnston urged Pemberton to avoid being surrounded by abandoning the city and to join forces with Johnston's troops, outnumbering Grant, but Davis had ordered Pemberton to defend the city as his highest priority. Grant launched two unsuccessful assaults against the fortifications and then settled in for a siege. The soldiers and civilians in the surrounded city waited in vain for Johnston's small force to come to their rescue. By late May Johnston had accumulated about 24, men but wanted additional reinforcements before moving forward.
He considered ordering Bragg to send these reinforcements, but was concerned that this could result in the loss of Tennessee. He also bickered with President Davis about whether the order sending him to Mississippi could be construed as removing him from theater command; historian Steven E. Woodworth judges that Johnston "willfully misconstrued" his orders out of resentment of Davis's interference. Pemberton's army surrendered on July 4, Along with the capture of Port Hudson a week later, the loss of Vicksburg gave the Union complete control of the Mississippi River and cut the Confederacy in two.
President Davis wryly ascribed the strategic defeat to a "want of provisions inside and a general outside [Johnston] who would not fight. The relationship between Johnston and Davis, difficult since the early days of the war, became bitter as recriminations were traded publicly about who was to blame for Vicksburg. Davis considered firing Johnston, but he remained a popular officer and had many political allies in Richmond, most notably Sen.
Louis Wigfall. Instead, Bragg's army was removed from Johnston's command, leaving him in control of only Alabama and Mississippi. While Vicksburg was falling, Union Maj. William S. Rosecrans was advancing against Bragg in Tennessee, forcing him to evacuate Chattanooga. Bragg achieved a significant victory against Rosecrans in the Battle of Chickamauga September 19—20 , but he was defeated by Ulysses S.
Grant in the Battles for Chattanooga in November.
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Bragg resigned from his command of the Army of Tennessee and returned to Richmond in the role as military adviser to the president. Davis offered the position to William J. Hardee , the senior corps commander, who refused it. He considered P. Beauregard, another general with whom he had poor personal relations, and also Robert E. Lee, who was reluctant to leave Virginia, first recommended Beauregard, but sensing Davis's discomfort, changed his recommendation to Johnston.
Faced with Maj. William T. Sherman 's advance from Chattanooga to Atlanta in the spring of , Johnston conducted a series of withdrawals that appeared similar to his Peninsula Campaign strategy. He repeatedly prepared strong defensive positions, only to see Sherman maneuver around them in expert turning movements , causing him to fall back in the general direction of Atlanta.
Johnston saw the preservation of his army as the most important consideration, and hence conducted a very cautious campaign. He handled his army well, slowing the Union advance and inflicting heavier losses than he sustained. Sherman began his Atlanta Campaign on May 4. Johnston's Army of Tennessee fought defensive battles against the Federals at the approaches to Dalton , which was evacuated on May 13, then retreated 12 miles south to Resaca, and constructed defensive positions. However, after a brief battle , Johnston again yielded to Sherman, and retreated from Resaca on May Johnston assembled the Confederate forces for an attack at Cassville.
A skirmish ensued, forcing the corps commander, Lt. John Bell Hood , to halt his advance and reposition his troops to face the threat. Faced with this unexpected threat, Johnston abandoned his attack and renewed his retreat. On May 20 they again retreated 8 miles further south to Cartersville. The month of May ended with Sherman's forces attempting to move away from their railroad supply line with another turning movement, but became bogged down by the Confederates' fierce defenses at the Battle of New Hope Church on May 25, the Battle of Pickett's Mill on May 27, and the Battle of Dallas on May In June Sherman's forces continued maneuvers around the northern approaches to Atlanta, and a battle ensued at Kolb's Farm on June 22, followed by Sherman's first and only attempt at a massive frontal assault in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain on June 27, which Johnston strongly repulsed.
However, by this time Federal forces were within 17 miles of Atlanta, threatening the city from the west and north. Johnston had yielded over miles of mountainous, and thus more easily defensible, territory in just two months, while the Confederate government became increasingly frustrated and alarmed. When Johnston retreated across the Chattahoochee River , the final major barrier before Atlanta, President Davis lost his patience. In early July, Davis sent Gen. Braxton Bragg to Atlanta to assess the situation. After several meetings with local civilian leaders and Johnston's subordinates, Bragg returned to Richmond and urged President Davis to replace Johnston.
Davis removed Johnston from command on July 17, , just outside Atlanta. Hood, was left with the "virtually impossible situation" of defending Atlanta  which he was forced to abandon in September. Davis's decision to remove Johnston was one of the most controversial of the war. Johnston traveled to Columbia, South Carolina , to begin a virtual retirement.
Johnston, Joseph E. (Joseph Eggleston) 1807-1891
However, as the Confederacy became increasingly concerned about Sherman's March to the Sea across Georgia and then north through the Carolinas , the public clamored for Johnston's return. The general in charge of the Western Theater, P. Beauregard, was making little progress against the advancing Union force.
Political opponents of Jefferson Davis, such as Sen. Louis Wigfall , added to the pressure in Congress. Diarist Mary Chesnut wrote, "We thought this was a struggle for independence. Now it seems it is only a fight between Joe Johnston and Jeff Davis. Lee the powers of general in chief, and recommending that Johnston be reinstated as the commander of the Army of Tennessee.
Davis immediately appointed Lee to the position, but refused to restore Johnston. In a lengthy unpublished memo, Davis wrote, "My opinion of General Johnston's unfitness for command has ripened slowly and against my inclinations into a conviction so settled that it would be impossible for me again to feel confidence in him as the commander of an army in the field.
Stephens and 17 senators petitioned Lee to use his new authority to appoint Johnston, bypassing Davis, but the general in chief declined. Instead, he recommended the appointment to Davis. Despite his serious misgivings, Davis restored Johnston to active duty on February 25, His new command comprised two military departments: the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia; he assumed command of the latter department on March 6.
These commands included three Confederate field armies, including the remnants of the once formidable Army of Tennessee, but they were armies in name only. The Tennessee army had been severely depleted at Franklin and Nashville, lacked sufficient supplies and ammunition, and the men had not been paid for months; only about 6, traveled to South Carolina. Johnston also had available 12, men under William J. Hardee , who had been unsuccessfully attempting to resist Sherman's advance, Braxton Bragg 's force in Wilmington, North Carolina , and 6, cavalrymen under Wade Hampton. Johnston, severely outnumbered, hoped to combine his force with a detachment of Robert E.
Lee's army from Virginia, jointly defeat Sherman, and then return to Virginia for an attack on Ulysses S. Lee initially refused to cooperate with this plan. Following the fall of Richmond in April, Lee attempted to escape to North Carolina to join Johnston, but it was too late. Recognizing that Sherman was moving quickly, Johnston then planned to consolidate his own small armies so that he could land a blow against an isolated portion of Sherman's army, which was advancing in two separated columns.
On March 19, , Johnston was able to catch the left wing of Sherman's army by surprise at the Battle of Bentonville and briefly gained some tactical successes before superior numbers forced him to retreat to Raleigh, North Carolina. Unable to secure the capital, Johnston's army withdrew to Greensboro. After three separate days April 17, 18, and 26, of negotiations, Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee and all remaining Confederate forces still active in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
It was the largest surrender of the war, totaling 89, soldiers. President Davis considered that Johnston, surrendering so many troops that had not been explicitly defeated in battle, had committed an act of treachery. Johnston was paroled on May 2 at Greensboro. After the surrender, Sherman issued ten days' rations to the hungry Confederate soldiers, as well as horses and mules for them to "insure a crop. This was an act of generosity that Johnston would never forget; he wrote to Sherman that his attitude "reconciles me to what I have previously regarded as the misfortune of my life, that of having you to encounter in the field.
Johnston struggled to make a living for himself and his wife, who was ailing. Johnston was bored with the position and the company failed for lack of capital. He established in an insurance company in Savannah, Georgia, acting as an agent for the Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Company, and within four years had a network of more than agents across the deep South.
The income from this venture allowed him to devote time to his great postwar activity, writing his memoirs, as did several fellow officers. His Narrative of Military Operations was highly critical of Davis and many of his fellow generals. He repeated his grievance about his ranking as a general in the Confederate Army and attempted to justify his career as a cautious campaigner.
The book sold poorly and its publisher failed to make a profit. Although many Confederate generals criticized Johnston, both Sherman and Grant portrayed him favorably in their memoirs. Sherman described him as a "dangerous and wily opponent" and criticized Johnston's nemeses, Hood and Davis. Grant supported his decisions in the Vicksburg Campaign: "Johnston evidently took in the situation, and wisely, I think, abstained from making an assault on us because it would simply have inflicted losses on both sides without accomplishing any result.
For my own part, I think that Johnston's tactics were right. Anything that could have prolonged the war a year beyond the time that it finally did close, would probably have exhausted the North to such an extent that they might then have abandoned the contest and agreed to a settlement. Johnston was a part owner of the Atlantic and Mexican Gulf Canal Company , a canal project approved in It was intended to construct a canal westward from the St. Johnston moved from Savannah to Richmond in the winter of — He served in the 46th Congress from to as a Democratic congressman , having been elected with He did not run for renomination in He was appointed as a commissioner of railroads in the administration of President Grover Cleveland.
After his wife died in , Johnston frequently traveled to veterans' gatherings, where he was universally cheered. Johnston, like Lee, never forgot the magnanimity of the man to whom he surrendered.
He would not allow criticism of Sherman in his presence. Sherman and Johnston corresponded frequently, and they met for friendly dinners in Washington whenever Johnston traveled there. When Sherman died, Johnston served as an honorary pallbearer at his funeral.
Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography by Craig L Symonds, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®
During the procession in New York City on February 19, , he kept his hat off as a sign of respect, although the weather was cold and rainy. Someone concerned for his health asked him to put on his hat, to which Johnston replied, "If I were in his place and he were standing here in mine, he would not put on his hat. Johnston died several weeks later in Washington, D. Johnston statue in Dalton, Georgia , where he took command of the Army of Tennessee. Johnston statue at the location of the Battle of Bentonville , in North Carolina. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Confederate Army general. This article is about the Confederate general. For people with similar names, see Joseph Johnston disambiguation. Green Mount Cemetery , Baltimore , Maryland. It [the ranking of senior generals] seeks to tarnish my fair fame as a soldier and a man, earned by more than thirty years of laborious and perilous service. I had but this, the scars of many wounds, all honestly taken in my front and in the front of battle, and my father's Revolutionary sword.
It was delivered to me from his venerated hand, without a stain of dishonor. Its blade is still unblemished as when it passed from his hand to mine. I drew it in the war, not for rank or fame, but to defend the sacred soil, the homes and hearths, the women and children; aye, and the men of my mother Virginia, my native South. The President detests Joe Johnston for all the trouble he has given him, and General Joe returns the compliment with compound interest. His hatred of Jeff Davis amounts to a religion.