and of the army that Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
should be put in command.
Gen. Leonidas Polk
wrote to the President
, ‘I think your friends and history would justify you in this, and that magnanimity perhaps may require it at your hands.’
was assigned to command December 16th, and assumed this position of tremendous responsibility December 27, 1863.
On arriving at Dalton
he found a ‘letter of instructions’ from Secretary Seddon
, which in brief expressed a hope that he would be able to provision the army and inspire in the people and authorities ‘a more willing spirit,’ that as soon as the condition of the forces permitted, it was hoped he would be able to resume the offensive, and if the enemy ventured to separate his army, the detachments might be struck with effect.
These ‘instructions’ were prefaced by the statement that ‘it is apprehended the army may have been by recent events somewhat disheartened, and deprived of ordnance and material,’ and the hope was expressed that Johnston
's presence would ‘do much to re-establish hope and inspire confidence. . . . It is desired that your early and vigorous efforts be directed to restoring the discipline, prestige and confidence of the army, and increasing its numbers; and that at the same time you leave no means unspared to restore and supply its deficiencies in ordnance, munitions and transportation.’
It was feared that he would have ‘serious difficulties in providing the supplies required for the subsistence of the army.’
A few days later another letter of instructions, from the President
, arrived, of a different tone.
It stated that Colonel Ives
, of the President
's staff, had reported the army well armed and provided with artillery; that the transportation was in reasonable condition, and the troops in good spirit and tolerably well supplied with clothing and with thirty days provisions.
With stragglers and convalescents rapidly coming in, two brigades from Mississippi
and the cavalry back from Longstreet
, said the