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equalled the accretions which occurred from the return of absentees to duty. His principal accessions of strength were of cavalry; but this arm was always inferiour in strength to that of the opposing force; too inferiour to allow of detachments in sufficient number for effective operations on the enemy's rear.
The force opposed to him was the army which Grant had commanded at Missionary Ridge, estimated to be 80,000 strong, which was reinforced at different times by two corps, one division, and several thousand recruits-equal, in the aggregate, to 30,000 men, and making a grand total of 110,000 men. At the outset of the campaign its strength was 98,797, including 15,000 cavalry, and was in each arm more than double the strength of Johnston's army.
With this force of 45,000 against 98,000, Gen. Johnston was strongly urged from Richmond, by both Mr. Davis and Gen. Bragg, to inaugurate an offensive campaign. This he was sufficiently anxious to do, but he felt no less keenly the folly of attempting it without numbers adequate to success. With a disproportion of force, compared with that of the enemy, of less than one to two, he could only have assumed the offensive in the manner afterwards adopted by Gen. Hood; that is to say, by, avoiding the enemy's front, leaving the country open to his forward progress, and himself marching around to some indefinite point in his rear. In truth, he could only have assumed the offensive by resorting to a species of flight.
His own view of the question was thus stated : “At Dalton, the great numerical superiority of the enemy made the chances of battle much against us, and even if beaten, they had a safe refuge behind the fortified pass of Ringgold and in the fortress of Chattanooga. Our refuge, in case of defeat, was in Atlanta, one hundred miles off, with three rivers intervening. Therefore, victory for us could not have been decisive, while defeat would have been utterly disastrous. Between Dalton and the Chattahoochee we could have given battle only by attacking the enemy intrenched, or so near intrenchments that the only result of success to us would have been his falling back into them; while defeat would have been our ruin."
During the winter, while perfecting the organization and discipline of his army, he withdrew the larger portion of it from
Dalton, to Rome, in Georgia ; and in February, a corps of his army was sent to Mississippi to aid in the repulsion of Gen. Sherman, who was making the experiment of a “movable column" midway through that State. The detached corps, however, after awhile returned, upon the retirement of the column that had drawn it, to their quarters. So that, at no time, was the relative strength of Johnston, compared with that of the enemy, materially greater than it had been at the beginning; and he was, therefore, never in strength to justify an assumption of the offensive. To have done so, would have been to discard all the ideas of rational generalship, and to gamble in the lotteries of war.
In the first days of May, 1864, the enemy, by concerted arrangements for the East and the West, began to move simultaneously on Richmond and Atlanta, Gen. Grant having gone to Virginia, and Gen. Sherman having assumed command of the assemblage of Federal “ armies” that had been consolidated before Dalton. By the 5th, Gen. Sherman had begun to push forward with vigour. His plan of campaign was the avoidance of pitched battles, and the substitution of flank movements, intrenching always in these, whether necessary for defense, or for driving his adversary back. In a topography distinguished by bold ranges of mountains, parallel with the line of march, this system of operations was more practicable than it would have been found to be in a country of open campaign, as the assailing detachments of the retreating army were thus required to venture upon more circuitous and more hazardous détours for the purpose of assault. The sort of fighting which resulted from such strategy was incessant skirmishing, interspersed with spirited actions. between detachments, seldom rising into a general engagement.
Gen Johnston had, of course, no choice but to conduct a wary retreat, and to inflict a succession of skilful blows upon the columns of his adversary when incautiously exposed or whilst unprotected by intrenchments. The calculation in which he indulged has been expressed by himself:
“In the course pursned, our troops always fighting under cover, had very trifling losses, compared with those they inflicted; so that the enemy's numerical superiority was reduced daily and rapidly, and we could reasonably have expected to cope with the Federal army on equal ground by the time the Chattahoochee was passed. Defeat on this side of the river would have been its destruction. We, if beaten, had a place of refuge in Atlanta, too strong to be assaulted, and too extensive to be invested."
His retreat was along the line of the railroad leading from Dalton to Atlanta, a distance of just 100 miles, which crosses three considerable rivers, running at nearly equal intervals apart; namely, the Oostanaula, the Etowah, and the Chattahoochee. Calhoun, Adairsville, and Cassville are between the Oostanaula and Etowah; New Hope Church, Altoona, Dallas, and the Kenasaw and Lost Mountains are between the Etowah and Chattahoochee. Atlanta is behind the Chattahoochee, at a distance of about fourteen miles, and south of Peach Tree Creek.
The campaign, though one of the most spirited that has ever been recorded in the annals of scientific warfare, was marked by very few general engagements. The first occasion on which such an one might have happened is thus described by Gen. Johnston ; and the details of this affair, as well as of one or two others, will be given, chiefly in order to introduce the reader to an acquaintance with the more distinguished of the characters who served under Gen. Johnston. It occurred on the 19th and 20th May, near Cassville, which is half-way between Dalton and Atlanta. Gen. Johnston writes of it officially:
“When half the Federal army was near Kingston, the two corps at Cassville were ordered to advance against the troops that had followed them from Adairsville, Hood leading on the right. When this corps had advanced some two miles, one of his staff-officers reported to Lieut.-Gen. Hood that the enemy was approaching on the Canton road, in rear of the right of our original position. He drew back his troops and formed them across that road. When it was discovered that the officer was mistaken, the opportunity had passed by, by the near approach of the Federal army. Expecting to be attacked, I drew up the troops in what seemed to me an excellent position-a bold ridge immediately in rear of Cassville, with an open valley before it. The fire of the enemy's artillery commenced soon after the troops were formed, and continued until night. Soon after dark, Lieut.Gens. Polk and Hood, together, expressed to ine decidedly the opinion formed upon the observation of the afternoon, that the Federal artillery would render their positions untenable the next
day, and urged me to abandon the ground immediately and cross the Etowah. Lieut.-Gen. Hardee, whose position I thought weakest, was confident that he could hold it. The other two officers, however, were so earnest and unwilling to depend on the ability of their corps to defend the ground, that I yielded, and the army crossed the Etowah on the 20th, a step which I have regretted ever since.”
An obstinate engagement was fought in open field near the New Hope Church, which ran through the 25th and three succeeding days of May. Gen. Johnston thus speaks of it:
“An hour before sunset Stewart's division, at New Hope Church, was fiercely attacked by Hooker's corps, which it repulsed after a hot engagement of two hours. Skirmishing was kept up on the 26th and 27th. At half-past five, P.M., on the 27th, Howard's corps assailed Cleburne's division, and was driven back about dark with great slaughter. In these two actions our troops were not intrenched. Our loss in each was about 450 in killed and wounded. On the 27th the enemy's dead, except those borne off, were counted 600. We, therefore, estimated their loss at 3,000 at least. It was probably greater on the 25th, as we had a larger force engaged then, both of artillery and infantry.
“ The usual skirmishing was kept up on the 28th. Lieut.Gen. Hood was instructed to put his corps in position during the night to attack the enemy's left flank at dawn the next morning, the rest of the army to join in the action successively from right to left.
“On the 29th Lieut.-Gen. Hood, finding the Federal left covered by a division which had intrenched itself in the night, thought it inexpedient to attack, so reported, and asked for instructions. As the resulting delay made the attack inexpedient, even if it had not been so before, by preventing the surpriseupon which success, in a great degree, depended—he was recalled."
But the most severely contested engagement occurred on the 27th June, Gen. Johnston's army being posted on Kenasaw and Lost Mountains, a few miles north-west of the Chattahoochee. He thus describes the hottest part of the fight:
« On the 27th, after a furious cannonade of several hours, the enemy made a general advance, but was everywhere repulsed
a larger til
with heavy loss. The assaults were most vigorous on Cheatham's and Cleburne's divisions, of Hardee's corps, and French's and Featherstone's, of Loring's. Lieut.-Gen. Hardee reports that Cheatham's division lost in killed, wounded, and missing, 195. The enemy opposed to it, by the statement of a staff-officer subsequently captured, 2,000; the loss of Cleburne's division eleven, that of the enemy on his front, 1,000; and Maj.-Gen. Loring reported 236 of his corps killed; wounded, and missing; and the loss of the enemy, by their own estimates, at between 2,500 and 3,000, which he thinks very small.”
General Sherman adınitted that this assault was a failure. But this General continued to advance by means of intrenchments, until Johnston, on the night of the 9th July, crossed the Chattahoochee River, and began to prepare for the final battles by which he had, from the beginning of his retreat, intended to save Atlanta. The main body of the enemy crossed on the 17th. Sherman's progress had been at the rate of eighty-six miles in seventy-three days, or rather more than a mile a day. The retreat had been the masterpiece of Johnston's life, and one of the most skilful and successful that had ever been executed. He had brought along everything; every gun, every wagon, every camp-kettle. The enemy's losses, if the reports of the Northern press were accurate, had been about 45,000 men; his own, less than 11,000. He devoted an active and laborious week to the defences of Atlanta. Seven of the heaviest rifled cannon had been obtained from Mobile, and through personal solicitations addressed by him to Gen. Maury, were now planted on its ramparts. An immense number of negroes were employed in its earthworks. He was doing the business thoroughly, after his usual manner, as he in a few days communicated it to Gen. Hood. His plan was —first to attack the Federal army while crossing Peach Tree Creek. If successful, great results might be hoped for, as the enemy would have both the creek and the river to intercept his retreat. Second, if unsuccessful, to keep back the enemy by intrenching, to give time for the assembling of the State troops promised by Governor Brown; to garrison Atlanta with those troops, and when the Federal army approached the town attack it on the most exposed flank with all the Confederate troops.