previous next

[473] President was needed, and stated that, if the facts were as General Johnston reported them, the reenforcment would be sent on his request.

But the situation was so critical, involving, as I believed and explained at length to General Johnston, the fate of the Confederacy, that I said I would go in person to Richmond and lay all the facts before the President, and I did not doubt he would act promptly.

I then said to General Johnston: ‘How long can you hold Sherman north of the Chattahoochee River? This is important, because I must go to Richmond, and Morgan must go from Virginia or Forrest from Mississippi, and this will take some time, and all must be done before Sherman drives you to Atlanta.’ General Johnston did not answer this question with directness, but gave me data which authorized me to conclude that he could hold Sherman north of the Chattahoochee River at least fifty-four days, and perhaps sixty days. I made this calculation with General Johnston's data in his presence, and told him the result, and he assented to it. When this result was stated, General Hood, who was presented, said, ‘Mr. Hill, when we leave our present line, we will, in my judgment, cross the Chattahoochee River very rapidly.’ ‘Why, what makes you think that?’ said General Johnston, with some interest. ‘Because,’ answerd General Hood, ‘this line of the Kenesaw is the strongest line we can get in this country. If we surrender this to Sherman, he can reconnoiter from its summit the whole country between here and Atlanta, and there is no such line of defense in the distance.’

‘I differ with your conclusion,’ said General Johnston. ‘I admit this is a strong line of defense, but I have two more strong lines between this and the river, from which I can hold Sherman a long time.’

I was delayed en route somewhat, and reached Richmond on Sunday morning week, which I think was the 9th day of July. I went to the hotel, and in a few moments was at the Executive mansion.

This interview with Mr. Davis I can never forget.

I laid before him carefully, and in detail, all the facts elicited in the conversation with General Johnston, and explained fully the purpose of my mission. When I had gone through, the President took up the facts, one by one, and fully explained the situation. I remember very distinctly many of the facts, for the manner as well as matter stated by Mr. Davis was impressive. ‘Long ago,’ said the President, ‘I ordered Morgan to make this movement upon Sherman's rear, and suggested that his best plan was to go directly from Abingdon through East Tennessee. But Morgan insisted that, if he were permitted to go through Kentucky and around Nashville, he could greatly recruit his horses and his men by volunteers. I yielded, and allowed him to have his own way. He undertook it, but was defeated, and has retreated back, and is now at Abingdon with only eighteen hundred men, very much demoralized, and badly provided with horses.’ He next read a dispatch from General Stephen D. Lee, to the effect that A. J. Smith had left Memphis with fifteen thousand men, intended either as a reenforcement for Sherman or for an attack on Mobile; that, to meet this force, he (Lee) had only seven thousand men, including the commands of Forrest and Roddy. He would like to have reenforcements, but anyhow, with or without reenforcements, ‘he should meet Smith, and whip him, too.’ ‘Ah! there is a man for you,’ said Mr. Davis. And he did meet Smith with his inferior force, and

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 People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Albert Sidney Johnston (8)
W. T. Sherman (7)
A. J. Smith (3)
E. D. Morgan (3)
Jefferson Davis (3)
Stephen D. Lee (2)
J. B. Hood (2)
N. B. Forrest (2)
Roddy (1)
Benjamin H. Hill (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
July 9th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: