previous next
[226] while some five hundred cavalry, with Colonel Forrest, passed out between the enemy's right and the river.

The fall of Fort Henry and the calamitous capitulation of Fort Donelson, resulting in the loss of Kentucky and Tennessee, were blows that staggered the Confederacy. A cry of condemnation arose against General Johnston, upon whom, as commander of the Western Department, rested the responsibility of these irreparable disasters.

The disappointment and profound discouragement that became manifest all over the country, but especially in that portion of it lying in close proximity to the scenes of our successive defeats, cannot be described. The demoralization of the army and the panic of the people were complete; and bitter complaints against the general commanding our forces were heard on all sides. Pleas of incompetency and lack of generalship were openly urged, and direct demands were made to the President to remove the Commander-in-Chief and thus save the cause from irretrievable loss. General Johnston, with that elevation of mind and uncomplaining fortitude for which he was conspicuous, bore, unflinchingly, and without explanation, the reproaches and accusations levelled against him, though he was most keenly alive to the withdrawal of public confidence from him.

On the 18th of March, about forty days after the events above related, he wrote to President Davis a long and earnest letter, wherein he described the disastrous results which had followed the aggressive movement of the enemy, and explained what seemed to him to make necessary his plan of campaign as given in the ‘memorandumni’ we have already mentioned, and his evacuation of Bowling Green, pending the battle that was then being fought at Donelson. The letter was evidently meant as a justification of his defensive policy, and contained a synopsis of his views and embarrassments at that period. No one will ever question his sincerity or honesty of purpose as there expressed. Still, there are passages of this letter, and inconsistencies, almost amounting to contradictions, which it is but fair to point out and correct. We shall consider these matters at the proper time and place, as we proceed with our narrative.

Without wishing to cast undue blame on that gallant soldier, it may not be amiss to look back to what might have been done even with his small and ill-armed forces, had he followed a different

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.
A. S. Johnston (2)
N. B. Forrest (1)
Jefferson Davis (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.
March 18th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: