Its only merit is sincerity.
On the principle that everything may be of use that bears upon the war, it is offered for what it is worth.]
It was whilst we, the shattered remnants of Bragg
's army, lay cowering among the hills of Dalton, Ga.
, in the winter of 1863, that General Joseph E. Johnston
came to us and assumed command.
He arrived on the 27th of December, and immediately bent all his energies to the almost superhuman task before him: the task of shaping from a starved, ragged, ill-used mob of men, a disciplined command, which in three months time was to be the sole defense, the sole obstacle, against the mighty and splendidly-equipped army of Sherman
I call his task a superhuman one—and justly so. The calamity which preceded his arrival, and, indeed, made his presence necessary, was one of the most mournful events in our Confederacy's mournful existence, and it had a lasting influence on the subsequent fortunes of our ill-fated cause.
Following so soon after the overwhelming victory of Chickamauga
, the defeat at Missionary Ridge
was an astounding revelation of bad management some
-where, and of the rapidity with which a fine army can be demoralized.
The battle of Chickamauga
was won by hard fighting.
It was emphatically a victory for the men
. But indifferently armed and equipped, with little discipline, they turned on a pursuing army, onethird larger than their own, carried their breastworks, forced them back from their positions, and at last put them to an overwhelming rout.
This was the work of men who had just retreated one hundred and eight miles. It seems strange that under such depressing circumstances they could have preserved so well their morale
, and so gallantly have done their duty.
But it is easily explained.
Every veteran soldier knows that a well-regulated retreat does not materially affect the spirits of the men. Our withdrawal from Tennessee
was such an one.
It was conducted quietly and systematically.
Although the rigors of military law had then little or no existence in our camp, and we, therefore, were not in a high state of discipline, yet our march was an orderly one, and the men were cheerful and well-disposed.
They had many good causes for being so. They had never known defeat, and although that absurd notion, that their foes were naturally cowards, had long been abandoned, their experience