Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography (Norton Paperback)

Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography (Norton Paperback)

Craig L. Symonds

Language: English

Pages: 464

ISBN: 0393311309

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"Riveting. . . . A thoughtful biography." ―New York Times Book Review

General Joseph E. Johnston was in command of Confederate forces at the South's first victory―Manassas in July 1861―and at its last―Bentonville in April 1965. Many of his contemporaries considered him the greatest southern field commander of the war; others ranked him second only to Robert E. Lee.

But Johnston was an enigmatic man. His battlefield victories were never decisive. He failed to save Confederate forces under siege by Grant at Vicksburg, and he retreated into Georgia in the face of Sherman's march. His intense feud with Jefferson Davis ensured the collapse of the Confederacy's western campaign in 1864 and made Johnston the focus of a political schism within the government.

Now in this rousing narrative of Johnston's dramatic career, Craig L. Symonds gives us the first rounded portrait of the general as a public and private man.















30. Longstreet to Rhett, 10 June 1862, O.R., I, 11(1):939. 31. Smith, “Seven Pines,” B&L, 2:229; Alexander, Military Memoirs, 11. D. S. Freeman assesses the errors by both Huger and Longstreet in detail in Lee’s Lieutenants, 1:254–60. He concludes, however, that for the original misunderstanding in orders “Johnston in large measure was responsible” (260). 32. JEJ to G. W. Smith, 28 June 1862, in Smith, The Battle of Seven Pines, 19–20. Johnston’s contemporaries were perplexed by his defense of

38(4):657, 663; Johnston, “Opposing Sherman’s Advance to Atlanta,” B&L, 4:263; Connelly, Autumn of Glory, 334–5; McMurry, John Bell Hood, 101; Mackall to Cantey, 5 May 1864, O.R., I, 38(4):663. Cantey’s men did not reach Resaca until the morning of May 9. See James Cooper Nisbit, Four Years on the Firing Line (Jackson, Miss.: McCowat-Mercer Press, 1963), 184. 10. W. P. C. Breckinridge, “The Opening of the Atlanta Campaign,” B&L, 4:278. Johnston and Mackall also blamed Wheeler. When afterward

that there was nothing west of the Missouri “but buffalo, grass, and gravel.” Although the country itself was uninteresting, Johnston was pleased to be on the move. “There is something in marching & continued change of scene very much to my taste,” he told McClellan.36 As usual Johnston dressed for the climate and conditions, spurning the formal uniform of the parade ground and donning the broad-brimmed hat of the frontier. One soldier recalled that in terms of dress, “there is no distinction

for an immediate pursuit. Davis did so. Then someone recalled that the officer who had sent the news of Federal confusion had a reputation for eccentric behavior; perhaps his message was not wholly trustworthy. Davis changed the orders to require a reconnaissance in force at dawn. Before he left that night, Davis decided that word of this victory must be sent to Richmond as soon as possible. He composed a brief telegram that was both dramatic and to the point: “We have won a glorious though

James Rivers. Johnston thought it most likely that McClellan would attempt to outflank the Confederate position at Centreville by crossing the Potomac downstream from Washington at Dumfries or Aquia Creek. From there it was but a short march to Fredericksburg and the railroad to Richmond.7 Jefferson Davis took the oath of office as the first (and, as it would prove, only) “permanent” president of the Confederacy on February 18, 1862. The official inauguration would take place four days later. In

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