Report of Hon. L. T. Wigfall in the Senate of the Confederate States, march 18, 1865.
Mr. Wigfall, chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs, returned the correspondence between the President and General Johnston, and recommended that it be printed. Mr. Wigfall also returned the report of General Hood, and said: Mr. President: I return the report of General Hood, with a recommendation from the Committee on Military Affairs that it be printed. I am instructed by the committee to say that this recommendation would not have been made had the house not already ordered it to be published. No action of the Senate can now keep the report from the public, however desirable it might be. Indeed, having even been sent to both Houses in open session by the President without any warning as to “its tendency to induce controversy” or cause “prejudice to the public service,” as in the case of General Johnston's report, the damage was already done — if damage should result from its contents being made known. The official report of the Secretary of War at the beginning of this Congress contains an attack upon General Johnston. It was sent to us by the President in open session, and published by order of Congress. General Johnston's report, which contained his defense against this attack, was asked for promptly, but was withheld for months. It was finally sent to us in secret session, with a protest against its publication. A report of the operations of the Army of Tennessee while under the command of General Hood is asked for, and we receive this  paper in open session as soon as it can be copied. No word of warning as to its character is given. Much of it is but a repetition of the charges made by the late Secretary of War, and, if they can be sustained, it is manifest that our present disasters are not to be attributed to General Johnston's removal, but to his ever having been appointed. It follows, too, that he should not be continued in his present command. It becomes necessary, therefore, to examine into the correctness of these charges. The Senate did not ask for a review of General Johnston's campaign, but for a report of the operations of the army while under the command of General Hood. Though uncalled for, it is before us and the people, and I propose to give it a fair and calm consideration. In reviewing the review I shall refer to the official “field returns” on file in the Adjutant and Inspector-General's office, made and signed by Colonel Mason, Assistant Adjutant-General, and approved by General Johnston, and not to those with the army, revised and “corrected,” which I have never seen. The field returns on file here are, or should be, duplicates of those with the army, which are made up from the returns of the corps commanders. Not having the honor of a personal acquaintance with Colonel Falconer, I do not know what reliance is to be placed on his corrections of official documents. I do know Colonel Mason and General Johnston, and I do not believe either capable of making a false or fraudulent return. General Hood in his review gives the effective total of General Johnston's army, “at and near Dalton,” to be seventy thousand on the 6th of May, 1864. These returns appear to have been made tri-monthly, on the 1st, 10th, and 20th of each month. The last official “field return,” previously to the 6th of May, on file in the Adjutant and Inspector-General's office, is of the 1st of May. It shows his effective total to be forty thousand nine hundred and thirteen infantry and artillery, and twenty-nine hundred and seventy-four cavalry, amounting in all to forty-three thousand eight hundred and eighty-seven. This return  shows, however, that two brigades of cavalry, under the command of General Johnston, were in the rear recruiting their horses, the effective total of which is not given. General Johnston, in his report, estimates his cavalry at this time at “about four thousand,” which would make the effective total of these brigades one thousand and twenty-six, which, added to the twenty-nine hundred and seventy-four “at” Dalton, makes the four thousand. Estimating his cavalry at four thousand, it is obvious that from the official returns he had but forty-four thousand nine hundred and thirteen effective total “at and near” Dalton on the 1st of May, the date of the last return before the 6th of that month. The official records show, then, that General Hood over-estimated General Johnston's forces “at and near Dalton” by twenty-five thousand and eighty-seven men. If General Hood, by the term “at and near Dalton,” refers to the forces after this date received by General Johnston from General Polk, he is again in error as to numbers. It was not till the 4th of May that General Polk was ordered to “move with Loring's division and other available force at your command, to Rome, Georgia, and thence unite with General Johnston.” On the 6th, the day on which General Hood says this army “lay at and near Dalton, waiting the advance of the enemy,” General Polk telegraphs to General Cooper from Demopolis: “My troops are concentrating and moving as directed.” On the 10th, at Rome, he telegraphs the President: “The first of Loring's brigade arrived and sent forward to Resaca; the second just in; the third will arrive to-morrow morning. . . . French's brigade was to leave Blue Mountain this morning. The others will follow in succession; Ferguson will be in supporting distance day after to-morrow; Jackson's division is thirty-six hours after.” Yet General Hood asserts that, four days before this, the army was “assembled” at and near Dalton, and “within the easy direction of a single commander.” The last of these reenforcements joined General Johnston at New Hope Church the 26th of May, nearly three weeks after they were alleged to be “at and near Dalton,” and  amounted to less than nineteen thousand men. If none were lost by sickness, desertion, or the casualties of battle, which is not probable, General Johnston had at New Hope about sixty-four thousand men on the 26th of May, instead of seventy thousand, at Dalton, on the 6th--a difference of six thousand, not very great, it is admitted, yet it shows General Hood to be not quite accurate in his estimates. General Hood asserts that General Johnston lost twenty-two thousand seven hundred men in his retreat, and offers to prove that by the record. At New Hope he had about sixty-four thousand men. The field returns of the 10th of July, the last made while the army were under his command, shows, at Atlanta: forty thousand six hundred and fifty-six infantry and artillery, and ten thousand two hundred and seventy-six cavalry-fifty thousand nine hundred and thirty-two-say fifty-one thousand. Deduct this from sixty-four thousand and it leaves thirteen thousand loss in artillery, infantry, and cavalry, instead of twenty-two thousand seven hundred, as alleged by General Hood. General Johnston does not give the losses of his cavalry, for want of reports. He had four thousand at Dalton, and received four thousand (Polk's) at Adairsville on the 17th of May-eight thousand. At Atlanta he had ten thousand two hundred and seventy-six, showing that he had recruited his cavalry twenty-two hundred and seventy-six over and above his losses. Leaving out his cavalry, he had at Atlanta, 10th of July, forty thousand six hundred and fifty-six infantry and artillery. At New Hope he had of all arms sixty-four thousand. Of these, eight thousand were cavalry, supposing it not to have increased by recruiting up to that time. That gives him fifty-six thousand infantry and artillery. At Atlanta he had, of these arms, forty thousand six hundred and fifty-six, which deduct from the fifty-six thousand and it shows his losses to be, in infantry and artillery, fifteen thousand three hundred and forty-four. Under repeated orders from the War Department, General Johnston had before this time sent off three regiments. Supposing them to average two hundred effective total, they  would amount to six hundred each; deduct that amount from the fifteen thousand three hundred and forty-four, and it leaves but fourteen thousand seven hundred and forty-four total loss in killed, wounded, deserters, stragglers, and prisoners, of his infantry and artillery. From this amount deduct ten thousand killed and wounded, and we have four thousand seven hundred and forty-four lost from all other causes in these arms. But it appears that the cavalry had increased twenty-two hundred and seventy-six. Deduct this from the four thousand seven hundred and forty-four, and his losses in all arms, except in killed and wounded, amount to but twenty-four hundred and sixty-eight. We have, then, a loss by desertion and straggling, and prisoners, of only some two thousand five hundred from the “digging and retreating” policy. The demoralization of the army could not have been as great as General Hood supposes, or its losses from these causes would have been greater. The “working by night and traveling by day” would seem, too, not to be a very bad policy where the army has confidence in its leader. General Hood asserts that a retreating army must lose more by straggling and desertion, if it does not fight, than it would in killed and wounded if it does. He attempts to show this by what he regards well-established principles, and not by figures. Napier differs from General Hood on this point. In discussing the losses of Massena from the Torres Vedras, he says: “It is unquestionable that a retreating army should fight as little as possible.” General Hood also insists that the army at Atlanta was greatly demoralized by the loss of men and officers, and by constant falling back. I do not recollect any general officer, except General Polk, who was killed while Johnston was in command; there may have been others, but certainly not many. What were his losses in general officers from Atlanta to Nashville? His march from Jonesboro to the Tennessee line was a retreat, and from Nashville to Tupelo; yet he lost by desertion but three hundred, and left the army in fine spirits. The demoralization of Johnston's  army cannot be accounted for on this theory. But was it demoralized? It fought well when he first took command. His disasters around Atlanta are not attributed by him to a want of spirit in the men, but to incompetency in the officers. He could not have his orders executed. I incline to the opinion that he is mistaken as much as to his facts as he is in his theory. General Hood insinuates that General Johnston attempts to dodge an acknowledgment of his full losses by “excluding the idea of prisoners,” and charges that his official returns show more than seven thousand under the head of “absent without leave.” This is a very grave charge against an officer and a gentleman-General Hood should know that the usual, if not only, mode of stating the loss of prisoners is in a marginal note opposite the column of “absent without leave.” It can never be other than an approximate estimate; for no general can know how many of his “absent without leave,” after a battle, have gone voluntarily to the enemy, and how many have been captured. General Hood should know also that the absent and prisoners of an army are continued on its rolls from time to time, as the “field-returns” are made out, without reference to a change of commanders, and that it is very possible, therefore, that a part, or even the whole, of the seven thousand prisoners may have been lost when the army was under the command of General Bragg. The rout at Missionary Ridge had occurred before General Johnston took command. This is a matter, however, which especially concerns General Hood. The field return of the 10th of July shows a loss of not quite seven thousand prisoners (six thousand nine hundred and ninety-four). Opposite General Hood's corps is this note: “Two hundred and thirty-eight officers and four thousand five hundred and ninety-seven men, prisoners of war, are reported among the ‘absent without leave.’ ” This shows that, out of not quite seven thousand prisoners of war, nearly five thousand (four thousand eight hundred and thirty-five) were captured from his corps. He knows whether they were lost by him under Johnston, or by some  one else, under Bragg. For the accuracy of the statement, he, and not General Johnston, is responsible. The return of the army is only a consolidation of the returns of the corps commanders. But if there were seven thousand prisoners taken during the retreat from Dalton, how does he account for the fact shown by the official returns that General Johnston had, at Atlanta, on the 10th of July, leaving out his killed and wounded, within twenty-five hundred men of the number put under his command previously? How can this excess of loss in prisoners over his total loss (except in killed and wounded) be explained? Upon no other hypothesis than that his army increased by recruiting more rapidly than it decreased by straggling and loss of prisoners. The morale of the army, then, could not have been very bad --at least not as bad as it is supposed by General Hood to have been. Nor could the people of the territory which General Johnston was “abandoning” have lost all confidence in him. It must have been from them that his recruits were gathered. It is alleged that at Dalton “the enemy was but little superior in numbers, none in organization and discipline, and inferior in spirit and confidence.” The army which is described as “inferior in spirit and confidence” to Johnston's was the one which had lately routed it at Missionary Ridge, under Bragg. An army flushed with victory is not usually wanting “in spirit and confidence.” Did the presence of Johnston cause them to doubt their future success? What infused “spirit and confidence” into the Army of Tennessee 2 Was it the consciousness that it, at last, had a commander who, careless of his own blood, was careful of that of his men, who knew when to take them under fire and how to bring them out, and whose thorough soldiership would save them from ever being uselessly slaughtered by being led to battle, except when some good purpose was to be accomplished, or some brilliant victory achieved? If the “discipline and organization” of the army were as perfect as described, who produced it? For four months it had been under the control  of Johnston. What evidence has General Hood to sustain his assertion that at Dalton the enemy was but little superior to us in numbers? He relies upon Sherman's statement that he was as strong at Atlanta as when the campaign opened. His army at Missionary Ridge was estimated at eighty thousand. He was afterward reinforced by the army from Knoxville and the troops from North Alabama, besides other. Our scouts reported that he had been reenforced with at least thirty thousand men. General Sherman told General Govan, or said in his presence, that he commenced the campaign with one hundred and ten thousand. I have never heard it estimated at less than ninety thousand infantry and artillery. In July General Wheeler estimated it between sixty-five and seventy thousand. The Northern papers, about that time, admitted his losses to be forty-five thousand. His cavalry was estimated by General Wheeler at not less than fifteen thousand. Johnston in the mean time, under orders of the War Department, sent off two brigades and received one. General Hood charges that General Johnston did not intend to hold Atlanta. As evidence of this, he says that no officer or soldier believed it, and that General Johnston had thrown up no intrenchments in front of his lines opposite Peach-tree Creek. If General Johnston intended, as he says he did, to strike the head of Sherman's columns, as soon as they appeared across Peach-tree Creek, and before they were intrenched, or had time even to deploy into line of battle, what use had he for field-works? They would have been in his way if erected, and his men would have been uselessly fatigued in constructing them. Not having been present, I cannot speak of the opinion of the army. But, admitting the fact, I submit that the opinion of the army is not always evidence of the intentions of the general. Is it not possible, too, that General Hood may have mistaken his own opinion for that of the army? The evidence that General Johnston did intend to hold the place is given in his report. In addition, it may be added that he held New Hope for a fortnight, and only left it because the enemy  left their intrenchments confronting it-moving to the railroad and to the rear. he then held a position in front of Kenesaw for a month, and left that, at last, because, by extending his intrenchments, Sherman had got nearer to Atlanta by several miles than we were. In all the fighting we had been successful, and that in positions frequently prepared for defense in a few hours. Is it probable, then, that General Johnston would not have attempted to hold a place fortified already to his hand under the direction of the Engineer Bureau, and previously inspected by Major-General Gilmer, the chief-engineer of our army? Why had he been strengthening it from the 5th of July, with all the labor he could command, if he did not intend to defend it, in the event of his failing to crush the enemy at Peach-tree Creek? Why was he strengthening it at the very moment of his removal a If the position was as weak as described by General Hood, why did Sherman not attempt to carry it by assault? The place, in my judgment, could not have been taken either by assault or investment. What are the facts General Sherman first seized the Augusta road, and held it for six weeks to no purpose. To seize the Macon road he had to let go that to Augusta, which could have supplied our army. In making that movement, he exposed his flank to attack, which blunder was not taken advantage of. His movement was concealed by a curtain of cavalry, and was probably not known to General Hood in time. A large portion of his cavalry under Wheeler was in Sherman's rear, operating on his line of communications. To avoid any such contre-temps, General Johnston kept his cavalry in hand to watch the movement of the enemy and avoid being outflanked. But I do not propose to discuss General Hood's campaign, which he says was without fault. My purpose is simply to correct errors into which, in my judgment, he has fallen as to General Johnston's, and to do this General Hood has rendered it necessary to consider somewhat the operations around Atlanta. If he did, as he supposes, really commit no blunder, he is probably the only general,  living or dead, who can claim such good fortune. Napier says: “The greatest masters of the art may err; he who wars walks in a mist, through which the keenest eyes cannot always discern the right path.” Turenne exclaims: “Speak to me of a general who has made no mistakes in war, and you speak of one who has seldom made war.” General Hood charges as a fault that General Johnston abandoned territory which he ought to have defended. Similar objections were made by the King of Spain to Soult's plan of the campaign of Talavcea, to which the Duke of Dalmatia replied: “Under present circumstances, we cannot avoid the sacrifices of some territory. . . . This will not be distressing as it may appear, because the moment we have beaten and dispersed the enemy's masses we shall recover all our ground. .. . . I conceive it impossible to finish this war by detachments. It is large masses only, the strongest that you can form, that will succeed.” Had all the scattered forces in Mississippi and Alabama been concentrated upon Sherman's rear when he was one hundred and forty miles in the interior, and his communications been thoroughly cut, what to-day would have been our condition? “All our ground recovered,” Sherman's army destroyed, and Johnston's ready to raise the siege of Richmond or cross the Ohio. Again, it is alleged that the mountainous country of Northern Georgia offered great advantages, which were abandoned. Napier says: “Here it may be well to notice an error relative to the strength of mountain-defiles, common enough even among men who, with some experience, have taken a contracted view of their profession. From such persons it is usual to hear of narrow passes in which the greatest multitudes may be resisted. Now, without stopping to prove that local strength is nothing if the flanks can be turned by other roads, we may be certain that there are few positions so difficult as to render superior numbers of no avail. Where one man can climb, another can, and a good and numerous infantry crowning the acclivities on the right and left of a disputed pass will soon oblige the defenders  to retreat or fight upon equal terms. If this takes place at any point of an extended front of defiles, such as those of the Sierra Morena, the dangerous consequences to the whole of the beaten army are obvious. Hence such pases should only be considered as fixed points around which an army should operate freely in defense of more expanded positions; for defiles are doors, the keys of which are the summits of the hills around them. A bridge is a defile, yet troops are posted not in the middle, but behind a bridge, to defend the passage.” Peach-tree Creek offered every advantage which deep rivers and mountain-passes could afford. It was impassable for an army, except at a few points. Johnston expected to fall upon the heads of the enemy's columns as they issued from these crossings, and crush them before they could form. From General Hood's report of his own operations, it seems they were allowed time not only to form, but intrench before they were attacked. What is called General Johnston's defensive policy is severely criticised. Fewer men are lost by fighting than by retreating, etc. General Hood does not seem to consider sufficiently the worth of an army, nor the consequences which follow the destruction of one. Napoleon said that the very first duty which a general owed to his country was to preserve his army. After the battles of Ocana and Alba de Tormes, in which Ariazaga lost his army, he was defended upon the ground that the campaign was undertaken by the directions of his government. Napier repudiates such defense. He says:
Ariazaga obeyed the orders of his government! No general is bound to obey orders (at least without remonstrance) which involves the safety of his army; so that he should sacrifice every thing but victory, and many great commanders have sacrificed even victory rather than appear to undervalue this vital principle. ... Sir Arthur Wellesley absolutely refused to cooperate in this short and violent campaign. He remained a quiet spectator of events at the most critical period of the war;  and yet, on paper, the Spanish project promised well .... This man, so cautious, so conscious of the enemy's superiority, was laying the foundation of measures that finally carried him triumphant through the Peninsular War. False, then, are the opinions of those who, asserting that Napoleon might have been driven over the Ebro in 1808-9, blame Sir John Moore's conduct. Such reasons would as certainly have charged the ruin of Spain on Sir Arthur Wellesley, if, at this period, the chances of war had sent him to his grave. But in all times the wise and brave man's toil has been the sport of fools.The complaint against General Johnston cannot be that he would not fight, for he fought almost every day, killing and wounding forty-five thousand of the enemy, and losing ten thousand himself. It is that he did not stake the cause of his country on a single cast of the dice — that he would not risk all on the issue of a single battle. When urged by the Portuguese regency to a like course in 1810, Lord Wellington replied: “I have little doubt of final success, but I have fought a sufficient number of battles to know that the result of any is not certain, even with the best arrangements.” He persisted in his defensive policy, and saved Portugal from subjugation. When he had determined to abandon Spain and retreat through Portugal to Lisbon, he was urged to relieve the garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo, containing five thousand men. Napier says: “This was a trying moment. He had in a manner pledged himself, his army was close at hand, the garrison brave and distressed, and the governor honorably fulfilled his part. To permit such a place to fall without a stroke would be a grievous disaster, and a more grievous dishonor to the British arms. The troops desired the enterprise; the Spaniards demanded it as a proof of good faith; the Portuguese, to keep the war away from their own country; finally, policy seemed to call for this effort, lest the world might deem the promised defense of Portugal a heartless and hollow boast. Lord Wellington refused to venture even a brigade, and thus proved himself a great commander, and of a steadfast mind. It  was not a single campaign, but a terrible war that he had undertaken. .. . What would even a momentary success have availed? Five thousand men brought off from Ciudad Rodrigo would have ill supplied the ten or twelve thousand men lost in the battle, and the temporary relief of the fortress would have been a poor compensation for the loss of Portugal. . . . Massena, sagacious and well understanding his business, only desired that the attempt should be made. He held back his troops, appeared careless, and, in his proclamations, taunted the English general that he was afraid; that the sails were flapping on the ships prepared to carry him away; that he was a man who, insensible to military honor, permitted his ally's towns to fall without risking a shot to save them, or to redeem his plighted word. But all this subtlety failed. Lord Wellington was unmoved, and abided his own time. ‘If thou art a great general, Marius, come down and fight.’ ‘If thou art a great general, Silo, make me come down and fight! ’ ” General McCook, United States Army, told several of our officers, made prisoners by him, but rescued by Wheeler, that Sherman said, on hearing the change of commanders of our army, that “heretofore the fighting had been as Johnston pleased, but that hereafter it would be as he pleased.” I mention this not in disparagement of General Hood. The removal of Johnston was an order to General Hood to adopt the offensive policy and deliver battle whenever the enemy appeared. It is to be regretted that General Hood has permitted himself to become the advocate of that policy, for which he was in no way responsible. ... History is always repeating itself! The Portuguese Government, in 1810, became “impatient” of Wellington's delays. Fortunately for the country over which they ruled, he was not under their control. In a dispatch of 7th September, he says: “It appears that the government have lately discovered that we are all wrong; that they have become impatient for the defeat of the enemy; and, in imitation of the central junta, called out for a battle and  early success. If I had had the power, I would have prevented the Spanish armies from attending to that call” (alluding to Ariazaga's campaign), “and, if I had, the cause would now have been safe; and, having the power now in my hands, I will not lose the only chance which remains of saving the cause by paying the smallest attention to the senseless suggestions of the Portuguese Government.” It was in this campaign that Wellington established, beyond all question, his reputation as a soldier, and that by declining battle he destroyed the army of Massena and saved Portugal. For adopting a similar policy, Johnston was removed from his command. The result shows the wisdom of the general, and the folly of the Administration. He was covered with disgrace, but now wears the robe of honor in which popular approval has clothed him. He was superseded by order of the President, and he has been restored to command by General Lee. The President who superseded him has himself been superseded. In the effort to destroy Johnston, the President saved Sherman from destruction. What good to the cause was expected to result from this attack? Is it intended again to remove him if the public mind can be prepared for such an event? Is it desired that the soldiers under him shall have their faith in him shaken To avoid either of these results I have felt it my duty to say what I have. I have examined carefully the correspondence between the Executive Department and General Johnston during that eventful campaign, sent to the Senate, and now ordered to be published, and the field-returns, which show the strength of the army. From the evidence before me, I think that General Hood has failed to make out his case. Others must judge as to correctness of my conclusions. As to General Hood's defense of himself against General Johnston's supposed strictures on him, I have nothing to say. He could have embodied it, I think, with propriety, in his report, if he preferred to do so, though it would have possibly been more regular and more in accordance with the  usage of the service had he sent it as a supplement to his original report, through his superior officer. General Johnston could then have made the correction, if in error; if not, he would have been afforded the opportunity of making such comments as he might think proper.