June it was announced in general orders that the army of occupation in Kentucky
had been consolidated, for active service, into the Twenty-third Army Corps, under command of Major General George L. Hartsuff
This corps numbered, of all arms, about twenty-four thousand men.
The army headquarters at Washington
had planned to move these three forces as near simultaneously as possible, and by pressing the enemy heavily on all sides at once, prevent him from dividing any one of his defensive forces to reinforce another.
was already pushing Pemberton
into his forts at Vicksburg
were to move on parallel lines, the first toward Knoxville
, the second toward Chattanooga
It was a most favorable moment to strike directly into the heart of the Confederacy
had weakened himself to strengthen Johnston
in his vain endeavor first to prevent, and then to raise the siege of Vicksburg
and his troops concentrated near the Tennessee
His cavalry was thrown well forward.
He waited the signal from Murfreesboro
to move southward in concert with Rosecrans
held East Tennessee
It was one of those supreme opportunities that occur in all great wars, which, if seized in a strong hand and wielded with vigor, can be so improved as to end the strife in one heavy, short, and sharp campaign.
A competent military critic, looking at the situation from to-day, would probably conclude that, had these three armies been controlled by one master of right qualities, he would have brought the campaign to a glorious end by autumn, and brushed the Confederacy
out of Tennessee
, North Georgia
, and Mississippi
, if indeed he had not so weakened it that the whole structure would have tumbled into ruin before the dawn of 1864.
But we had no such man at the head of Southwestern military affairs.
They were in the hands of three commanders, entirely independent of each other, and probably jealous of each other.
These chiefs had no very high opinion of General Halleck
, the nominal commander-in-chief at army headquarters, and this last sentiment of the generals was indulged in by all ranks in their several armies.
It was a different task to disconcert plans made by or for the heads of armies thus situated from that which would have been necessary to break the back of one of Grant
's campaigns a year later.
He had ample authority, and the rugged will to enforce his orders.
But speculate as we may about “what might have been,” history will record the fact that the nicely fixed plan for a grand co-operative campaign of the three armies mentioned was completely balked, that one of them came to grief and well-nigh to destruction at