Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography (Norton Paperback)
Craig L. Symonds
"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.
Gettysburg and Chickamauga. It was only fitting that he now be assigned the responsibility of delivering the blow that would send Sherman reeling from Georgia. Johnston set the stage by placing Polk’s corps directly athwart the road from Adairsville, facing north. Hood’s corps was to move by a secondary country road, taking up a position to Polk’s right and slightly in advance. In his mind’s eye, Johnston could see it clearly: As the unsuspecting Federals moved south, they would encounter Polk’s
admiration of the crowd, yet he labored during the last quarter of life to protect his public reputation. Part of the explanation for these apparent contradictions is that Johnston was a romantic—both in his simple and emotional patriotism, and in his particular brand of chivalry. His honor and his good name were of first importance, his duty was second, his ambition third. He was a Virginian, a soldier, and a patriot, and for him, at least, there was no conflict among the three. Finally, for
stationary in the Valley, Johnston, reinforced with ten thousand of Beauregard’s men, would return to the Valley to defeat him. Beauregard was so enthusiastic about this plan he sent a copy of it to Johnston. Johnston, of course, had only about half the twenty thousand men Beauregard ascribed to him, and in any case he already faced a numerically superior army.20 Indeed, the enemy’s forbearance so far seemed to be all that protected the Army of the Shenandoah from being overwhelmed. After his
broad uneven plateau of Henry House Hill at about 12:30 P.M. There they encountered a stirring if somewhat alarming sight. Jackson’s brigade held the center of a makeshift Confederate line facing northwest in a shallow fold of the hill. To Jackson’s left were the remnants of Bee’s shattered brigade, and to their front the lead elements of two full Federal divisions were advancing. Obviously, the first thing to be done was bolster the Confederate line. To Jackson’s right and a few hundred yards to
against Longstreet’s line, met resistance, and pulled back. Longstreet was not seriously pressed, but on his left another Federal major general, Winfield Scott Hancock, found a weak spot and threatened to turn the whole position. Because the division’s ammunition reserves were in wagons headed for Richmond, the only way to obtain more, once his men had fired off the cartridges in their pouches, was to call upon Hill for support. True to his pugnacious spirit, Hill countermarched his whole