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[266]

A shade of sadness, if not of despondency, rested upon General Johnston's brow. The keen anxiety and still-increasing gloom overspreading the country weighed heavily upon him. He suffered deeply, both as a patriot and as a soldier; but men of his courage and character are uncomplaining. ‘The test of merit, in my profession, with the people,’ he wrote to Mr. Davis, on the 18th of March, ‘is success. It is a hard rule, but I think it right.’ The concluding lines of his letter show what were his feelings, when complying with General Beauregard's urgent request for a junction of their armies: ‘If I join this corps to the forces of Beauregard (I confess, a hazardous experiment), then, those who are now declaiming against me will be without an argument.’

Soon after General Johnston's arrival, and in the course of his first conference with General Beauregard, he expressed, with evident emotion, his purpose to turn over to the latter the direct command of our united forces, and to confine his own functions to those of Department Commander, with headquarters at Memphis or Holly Springs. He alleged, as his reason for wishing to do so, that such a course would be best for the success of our cause; that he had lost, in no small degree, the confidence of the people, and somewhat, he feared, of the army itself, in consequence of recent disasters; while he felt sure that General Beauregard, who held the confidence of both, was better fitted to cope with present difficulties and dangers, and fulfil, successfully, public expectation. General Beauregard, in a spirit of disinterestedness and generosity which equalled that of General Johnston, refused to accept his offer. He had left the Army of the Potomac and come to the West, he said, to assist General Johnston, not to supersede him. That it was due to the country and to General Johnston himself that he should remain at the head of the army, now concentrated for a decisive blow before the enemy was fully prepared, and pledged him his cordial support, as second in command. Upon this, General Johnston, who, no doubt, understood General Beauregard's motives, rose from his seat, advanced towards him, and, shaking him warmly by the hand, said, ‘Well, be it so, General! We two together will do our best to secure success.’ It was an affecting scene, and one worthy of being recorded. For, if General Johnston was loath to reap the benefit of the great preparations made by General Beauregard, the latter was no less reluctant that the victory which he hoped would resuit

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