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[471] by a vigorous and determined effort to attack him in detail during some of his many flank movements—are questions upon which there has been a decided conflict of opinion, and upon which it would be for me now neither useful nor pleasant to enter. When it became known that the Army of Tennessee had been successively driven from one strong position to another, until finally it had reached the earthworks constructed for the exterior defense of Atlanta, the popular disappointment was extreme. The possible fall of the ‘Gate City,’ with its important railroad communication, vast stores, factories for the manufacture of all sorts of military supplies, rolling mill and foundries, was now contemplated for the first time at its full value, and produced intense anxiety far and wide. From many quarters, including such as had most urged his assignment, came delegations, petitions, and letters, urging me to remove General Johnston from the command of the army, and assign that important trust to some officer who would resolutely hold and defend Atlanta. While sharing in the keen sense of disappointment at the failure of the campaign which pervaded the whole country, I was perhaps more apprehensive than others of the disasters likely to result from it, because I was in a position to estimate more accurately their probable extent. On the railroads threatened with destruction, the armies then fighting the main battles of the war in Virginia had for some time to a great degree depended for indispensable supplies, yet I did not respond to the wishes of those who came in hottest haste for the removal of General Johnston; for here again, more fully than many others, I realized how serious it was to change commanders in the presence of the enemy. This clamor for his removal commenced immediately after it became known that the army had fallen back from Dalton, and it gathered volume with each remove toward Atlanta. Still I resisted the steadily increasing pressure which was brought to bear to induce me to revoke his assignment, and issued the order relieving him from command only when I became satisfied that his declared purpose to occupy the works at Atlanta with militia levies and withdraw his army into the open country for freer operations, would inevitably result in the loss of that important point, and where the retreat would cease could not be foretold. If the Army of Tennessee was found to be unable to hold positions of great strength like those at Dalton, Resaca, Etowah, Kenesaw, and on the Chattahoochee, I could not reasonably hope that it would be more successful in the plains below Atlanta, where it would find neither natural nor artificial advantages of position. As soon as the Secretary of War showed me the answer which he had just received in reply to his

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Albert Sidney Johnston (2)
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