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[32] General Johnston was increased to seventeen thousand men. The stores not required for immediate use were ordered to Chattanooga, and those which were necessary on the march were ordered to Huntsville and Decatur. On February 28th the march was commenced for Decatur through Shelbyville and Fayetteville. Halting at those points for the purpose, he saved his provisions and stores, removed his depots and machine shops, obtained new arms, and finally, at the close of March, joined Beauregard at Corinth with twenty thousand men, making their aggregate force fifty thousand.

Considering the great advantage which the means of transportation upon the Tennessee and Cumberland afforded the enemy, and the peculiar topography of the state, General Johnston found that he could not with the force under his command successfully defend the whole line against the advance of the enemy. He was, therefore, compelled to elect whether the enemy should be permitted to occupy Middle Tennessee, or turn Columbus, take Memphis, and open the valley of the Mississippi. Deciding that the defense of the valley was of paramount importance, he therefore crossed the Tennessee and united with Beauregard.

The evacuation of Nashville and the evident intention of General Johnston to retreat still further, created a panic in the public mind which spread over the whole state. Those who had refused to listen to his warning voice, when it called them to arms, were loudest in their passionate outcry at what they considered a base surrender of them to the mercies of the invader. He was accused of imbecility, cowardice, and treason. An appeal from every class was made to the President demanding his removal. Congress took the matter in hand, and, though the feeling there resulted merely in a committee of inquiry, it was evident that the case was prejudged. The Confederate House of Representatives created a special committee ‘to inquire into the military disasters at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, and the surrender of Nashville to the enemy,’ and as to the conduct, number, and disposition of the troops under General Johnston. Great feeling was shown in the debates.

Generals Floyd and Pillow, the senior officers at Fort Donelson withdrew after it had been decided to surrender, in order to avoid being made prisoners. The Secretary of War (Benjamin) wrote to General Johnston on March 11th as follows:

The reports of Brigadier-Generals Floyd and Pillow are unsatisfactory, and the President directs that both these generals be relieved from command until further orders. In the mean time you will request them to add to their reports such statements as they may deem proper on the points submitted. You are further requested to make up a report, from all the sources of information accessible to

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