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.

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Taylor: “I regret to inform you that he [Johnston] considers the situation of Vicksburg eminently critical. Grant is being heavily reinforced by Burnside’s corps. This, added to his strength of position, renders the condition of Vicksburg, in General Johnston’s opinion, almost hopeless.” By the end of June it was clear that Kirby Smith’s army could not help and that no more reinforcements would be forthcoming. Barring a miracle, Vicksburg’s surrender was only a matter of time, perhaps only a

senior officers in Bragg’s army thought that Bragg should be dismissed and command of the army given to Johnston. Determined to resist such a step, Davis decided to come West to see for himself.27 The president arrived in Atlanta in the second week of October; from there, he travelled north to Marietta to confer with Bragg. As evidence of just how out of touch he was with sentiment in the Army of Tennessee, Davis brought John Pemberton along with him. He was hoping to convince Bragg to take

is nothing (except my sweetheart) that I love more than you & if you could see her, Pres, you couldn’t be mortified at being put in the 2d place.”16 While Lydia’s brother Robert was in Europe ostensibly studying European fortifications, he also fell in love—dramatically of course—with Georgine Urquhart, whom he married almost at once, in August 1841. But Johnston’s romance with Lydia did not lead to immediate matrimony. Two considerations stayed him. The first was his lack of money. He was not

phase of the campaign. Knowing he could not keep up communications with Vera Cruz, he abandoned his supply line and, on August 7, plunged westward toward Mexico City. In his report, Scott declared that he threw away the scabbard and went forward with the naked blade. As the American Army marched out of Puebla with flags unfurled and bands playing, Scott rode past the cheering ranks. Here was a martial scene to make Johnston’s pulse pound.19 In the second week of August the American soldiers

superior enemy army, and was undermined by an unsympathetic, frequently hostile, administration. He was, in his own mind, a martyr to Davis’s lack of vision. In March 1862 the lengthening days and the distant music of the geese returning north signalled the end of winter to the men in Johnston’s army. One recalled that “The buds began to swell, the dogwood to blossom, and the wild onions, which the men gathered by the bushel and ate, began to shed their pungent odor....” The return of spring

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