previous next

[389] There was, therefore, a period of about seven weeks which the Confederate commander might utilize for the equipment and consolidation of his army, and for the study of the country in his neighborhood, now evidently to become the theatre of the campaign. Some show of fortification there was, but it was generally felt that Chattanooga could never be held as a fortress, and the recent loss of Vicksburg was hardly needed to enforce the folly of sacrificing an army to maintain a post. Of the aspect of that gallant Army of Tennessee, as it appeared at that time to observers fresh from your ranks in Virginia, I would particularly speak. A considerable portion of it had just seen their homes abandoned to the enemy, and the first march in retreat would carry them beyond the border of their beloved Tennessee; yet their mood was cheerful and devoted; nay, fierce and warlike. But this was to be expected of the veterans who still stood by the flags which had received their baptism of fire on the field of Shiloh. The unworthy and the meanspirited had been ruthlessly winnowed out, and of those that were left in the older regiments almost every man might claim the title of patriot and soldier. Whilst the temper and spirit of the men were thus in no wise below the heroic pitch of their brothers in the Virginian army, their outward appearance as soldiers moving in large bodies was perhaps not equalled in the Confederate service. Under the influence, doubtless, of General Hardee, much attention had been paid to tactics, and some of the divisions made an imposing display in evolutions of the line. The mention of that honored name, so familiar in the earlier stages of the war in connection with drill and the formal parts of military business, calls up now in the mind's eye of every man who knows the story of the western army, a far different image — a grand and commanding figure of a soldier — the gallant leader on some field of triumph, dashing across fence and ditch at the head of troops electrified by the splendid bearing of the superb horseman, and charging with him always as to assured victory — or, again, in a moment of crisis, galloping up with a regiment of Texas cavalry, to be hurled full plunge through the pine woods on the flank of a Federal infantry division, just in time to save the communications of the army; or better still, in his highest appearance, as the bold and rapid corps commander, who never forgot Napoleon's injunction to “attack vigorously after having observed well where to strike.” I reckon it as a serious misfortune that Hardee was not destined to lead a corps in the campaign we are approaching. He had recently been detached to take a command in Mississippi, and the army lost in the crisis of its history the most brilliant corps commander the war produced on our side, after your own Jackson and Longstreet.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: