« PreviousContinue »
ammunition, clothing, bacon, sugar, molasses, salt, were found in the place by the enemy.
The natural corollaries of the surrender were numerous and mournful:--the attack on and defense of Jackson, and withdrawal of Johnston to Meridian; the brilliant but fruitless battle of Chickamauga; the misfortune of Missionary Ridge; the reinforcement and transfer of Sherman to. Dalton; the Confederate retreat into Georgia; the fall of Atlanta; the desolations of Georgia and the Carolinas; the surrender at Chapel Hill; finally, a lost Confederacy.
The succeeding pages of this memoir will be no more than a review of the consequences of a surrender which was at first unnecessary, and which, when made necessary, was then premature.
In the report in which Gen. Johnston reviewed the occurrences which have been now detailed, he said: “I have been compelled to enter into many details, and to make some animadversions upon the conduct of Gen. Pemberton. The one was no pleasant task, the other a most painful duty. Both have been forced upon me by the official report of Gen. Pemberton, made to the War Department instead of to me, to whom it was due. A proper regard for the good opinion of my government has compelled me to throw aside that delicacy which I would gladly have observed towards a brother officer, suffering much undeserved obloquy, and to show that in his short campaign Gen. Pemberton made not a single movement in obedience to my orders, and regarded none of my instructions; and, finally, did not embrace the only opportunity to save his army—that given by my order to abandon Vicksburg."
Important supplement to the story of Vicksburg.-President Davis' part in the
disaster.--Radical difference of military views of the President and of Gen. Johnston.-The disaster of Missionary Ridge.--Gen. Johnston takes command of the Army of Tennessee.-His successful reorganization of it.—Comparison of forces with the enemy.-Gen. Johnston's reasons for withdrawing from Dalton.-Sherman's plan of campaign.-The retreat towards Atlanta and its incidents.-Gen. Johnston removed from command.-"All hell followed."--A sharp dispatch to Richmond.-Injustice of the government to Gen. Johnston.
We must supplement the story of Vicksburg by an important explanation. It has not been the design of the preceding pages to impeach the integrity of Gen. Pemberton's intentions. In a report, supplemental to the principal one, which he made of these transactions, he vouched a paper which fully justified his conduct, and explained his motives. On the 7th May, the very day on which Gen. Johnston was writing from Tullahoma, by a remarkable intuition, that he had “no hope that Gen. Pemberton would regard a suggestion” from him, President Davis telegraphed Gen. Pemberton in these words :—“Want of transportation of supplies 'must compel the enemy to seek a junction with their fleet after a few days' absence from it. To hold both Vicksburg and Port Hudson is necessary to a connection with Trans-Mississippi. You may expect whatever it is in my power to do."* This order had doubtless been given to Gen. Pember. ton for the purpose of superseding that which Gen. Johnston had sent him six days before, from Tullahoma, directing him “to concentrate and attack Grant immediately;” of which Gen. Johnston had advised the War Department.
Here was a command superiour to that of Gen. Johnston, which Gen. Pemberton was obliged to obey. He did so, in the spirit and in the letter. Whatever may have been the blunders that his inexperience in the field might have led him to commit, it cannot be said that he failed in fidelity to his trust; or that
* Confederate Reports on Siege of Vicksburg, &c., p. 209.
his disobedience to the orders of his immediate superiour was not excused by the order which had come to him from the superiour of both. There was a difference of opinion-an houest difference of opinion-between Mr. Davis and Gen. Johnston, as to the best policy to be pursued; a difference which not merely related to the case of Vicksburg, but applied to the whole conduct of the war. Mr. Davis was for defending a multitude of positions and outposts ;-a policy which involved a dispersion of strength. Gen. Johnston was for a system of field operations, executed by consolidated armies, and maximum aggregations of troops. Mr. Davis, just at the period in question, was in favour of suffering a siege at Vicksburg and Port Hudson; standing at bay at Tullahoma; and sending an army of invasion into Maryland. Gen. Johnston was in favour of withdrawing the armies from the two Mississippi fortresses into open field; assuming the offensive at Tullahoma, a point far within the Confederacy; and resting content, after driving the invader from Virginia, to halt on her borders. It was Gen. Pemberton's misfortune to have to choose between conflicting orders; and yet, by failing to pursue either with decision, he not only lost both Vicksburg and its army, but lost them both too soon.
After the fall of Vicksburg, the army of Gen. Grant was again before Jackson. Here Gen. Johnston had posted himself in an attitude of defence, behind such imperfect intrenchments as had been improvised, where he was expecting an immediate attack, But the enemy began to intrench and plant batteries, at which deliberate work they spent three days. On the 12th of July a sharp engagement occurred, and heavy cannonading, which was gallantly sustained by Johnston's army. By the 13th, the enemy had extended his intrenched lines until both flanks reached Pearl river, and had nearly encircled the city ; he was, moreover, receiving ammunition for a heavy bombardment. On that night, therefore, Johnston evacuated the place, carrying off all his sick and wounded and all public property. Nothing of this did the enemy discover until the next day.
Johnston withdrew slowly to Meridian, followed part of the way by the enemy, who soon after withdrew from interiour Mississippi, to reappear on another field, where Johnston was again to confront them.
A controversy of some sharpness ensued between the friends of the Richmond administration and those of Gen. Johnston in regard to the operations antecedent to Vicksburg. The question was nothing more, when stripped of partisan surplusage and personal feeling, than a comparison of the policy recommended in Gen. Johnston's order of the 1st May, from Tullahoma, directing Gen. Pemberton “ to concentrate and fight Grant” on first crossing the Mississippi, with the order of Mr. Davis of May 7, from Richmond, advising Gen. Pemberton, in effect, to let Grant alone, and wait a siege in Vicksburg and Port Hudson. But whatever might have been the issues in controversy, the public soon found occasion to render a verdict between the dispntants.
The defeat of Gen. Bragg at Missionary Ridge, on the borders of North Georgia, occurred while Gen. Johnston was yet in Mississippi, which country was not then menaced by the enemy. Grant had superseded Rosecrans in Tennessee, and was soon after to be promoted to the general command of the Federal armies. The principal part of the army which had invested Vicksburg had been transferred to Missionary Ridge; Tennessee, and the grazing districts bordering npon it, was the principal meat-producing region of the Confederacy. To occupy this State permanently was fatally to embarrass the Confederate commissariat; and was, moreover, to obtain a stand-point from which a blow could be most readily dealt upon the vital parts of the South. A huge Federal army had appeared in front of Dalton, and immense preparations were making for a vigorous campaign against Atlanta.
Gen. Bragg's defeat at Missionary Ridge, where he had suffered great loss, had occurred on the 25th November, and the inimical relations which had grown up between himself and his principal officers, and the extreme disfavour into which he had fallen with the public, had rendered a change in the chief command of the Army of Tennessee absolutely necessary. He had, therefore, been relieved at Dalton and transferred to Richmond, where he was placed near the Confederate President, in the capacity, in short, of military secretary, adviser, and Aulic strategist. There was but one sentiment among the people of the West and Southwest as to the person who should succeed Gen. Bragg at Dalton. Gen. Johnston had secured, notwithstanding
the embarrassments which he had encountered, the full confidence of the people; and although the President himself, as well as Gen. Bragg, was inimical to him, it had become necessary that he should be assigned to the Army of Tennessee. He received orders on the 18th December, 1863, to that effect, and assumed command at Dalton nine days afterwards. He found the army, while excellent in material, yet wretchedly demoralized by its recent defeat, and by its prolonged dissatisfaction with his predecessor in command.
He immediately addressed himself to the task of creating an army from the fine material before him. At most, there were but three months which could be employed in this necessary work, and he devoted himself with energy and assiduity to the task. Of his success in this behalf, an intelligent writer, who visited Dalton in April, 1864, wrote:
“Gen. Johnston is unquestionably a great captain in the science of war. In ninety days he has so transformed this army that I can find no word to express the extent of the transformation but the word regeneration. It is a regenerated army. He found it, ninety days ago, disheartened, despairing, and on the verge of dissolution. By judicious measures he has restored confidence, reëstablished discipline, and exalted the heart of his army."
In his official report of the campaign, written after its conclusion, referring to the condition of his army at the close of the retreat, Gen. Johnston wrote, with evident pride and satisfaction : “ These troops, who had been for seventy-four days in the immediate presence of the enemy, labouring and fighting daily, enduring toil, exposure, and danger with equal cheerfulness, more confident and high-spirited than when the Federal army presented itself near Dalton, were then inferiour to none who ever served the Confederacy.”
The effective strength of the Army of Tennessee when Gen. Johnston assumed command of it in December, was 36,826 infantry and artillery, and 5,613 cavalry. On May 1, it was 40,900 infantry and artillery, and 4,000 cavalry. On his relinquishing the command in July, it was 41,000 infantry and artillery, and 10,000 cavalry. During the intervening period, one brigade of infantry was added to and two taken away from the command. The losses by casualty during the campaign nearly