A mistake.He had just returned from an inspection of Vicksburg, and told me he had never seen so much fortification, and thought it a mistake to keep so large an army in an entrenched camp; that the army ought to be in the field; that a heavy work should be constructed to command the river just above Vicksburg at ‘the turn,’ with a year's supply for a good garrison of about three thousand men, which would guard the river better than the long line of dispersed guns and entrenchments and troops which extended above and below Vicksburg for more than twenty miles. While commanding the Department of the Gulf I occasionally sent him supplies of provisions, troops, and some siege-pieces, which he mounted on the works of Atlanta, declaring thereby his intention to ‘keep that place.’ After his removal from command I received this very interesting letter from him:
Macon, Ga., September 1, 1864.My dear Maury: I have been intending ever since my arrival at this place to pay a part of the epistolary debt I owe you. But you know how lazy it makes one to have nothing to do, and so with the hot weather we have been enduring here I have absolutely devoted myself to idleness. I have been disposed to write more particularly of what concerns myself—to explain to you as far as practicable the operations for which I was laid on the shelf, for you are one of the last whose unfavorable opinion I should be willing to incur. You know that the Army I commanded was that which, under General Bragg, was routed at Missionary Ridge. Sherman's army was that which routed it, reinforced by the Sixteenth and Twenty-third corps. I am censured for not taking the offensive at Dalton—  where the enemy, if beaten, had a secure refuge behind the fortified gap at Ringgold, or in the fortress of Chattanooga, and where the odds against us were almost as ten to four. At Resaca he received five brigades, near Kingston three, and about three thousand five hundred cavalry, at New Hope church one—in all about fourteen thousand infantry and artillery. The enemy received the Seventeenth corps and a number of garrisons and bridge guards from Tennessee and Kentucky that had been relieved by ‘one-hundred-day men.’
Fought every day.I am blamed for not fighting. Operations commenced about the 6th of May. I was relieved on the 18th of July. In that time we fought daily, always under circumstances so favorable to us as to make it certain that the sum of the enemy's losses was five times ours, which was ten thousand. Northern papers represented theirs up to about the end of June at forty-five thousand. Sherman's progress was at the rate of a mile and a quarter a day. Had this style of fighting been allowed to continue is it not clear that we would soon have been able to give battle with abundant chances of victory? and that the enemy, beaten on this side of the Chattahoochee would have been destroyed?
Sherman's Army stronger.It was ceriain that Sherman's army was stronger compared with that of Tennessee, than Grant's compared with that of Northern Virginia. General Bragg asserts that Sherman's was absolutely stronger than Grant's. It is well known that the Army of Virginia was much superior to that of Tennessee. Why, then should I be condemned for the defensive, while General Lee was adding to his great fame by the same course? General Bragg seems to have earned at Missionary Ridge his present high position. People report at Columbus and Montgomery that General Bragg said that my losses had been frightful; that I had disregarded the wishes and instructions of the President; that he had in vain implored me to change my course, by which I suppose it is meant assume the offensive.
Utterly untrue.As these things are utterly untrue it is not to be supposed that they were said by General Bragg. The President gave me no instructions and expressed no wishes except just before we reached  the Chattachoochee, warning me not to fight with the river behind us, and against crossing it, and previously he urged me not to allow Sherman to detach to Grant's aid. General Bragg passed some ten hours with me just before I was relieved and gave me the impression that his visit to the army was casual. He being on his way further West to endeavor to get us reinforcements from Kirby, Smith and Lee. I thought him satisfied with the state of things, but not so with that in Virginia. He assured me that he had always maintained in Richmond that Sherman's army was stronger than Grant's. He said nothing of the intention to relieve me, but talked with General Hood on the subject, as I learned after my removal.
The object.It is clear that his expedition had no other purpose than my removal, and the giving proper direction to public opinion on the subject. He could have had no other object in going to Montgomery. A man of honor in his place would have communicated with me as well as Hood on the subject. Being expected to assume the offensive he attacked on the 20th, 22d, and 28th of July, disastrously losing more men than I had done in seventy-two days. Since then his defensive has been at least as quiet as mine was; but you must be tired of this. We are living very quietly and pleasantly here. The Georgians have been very hospitable. We stopped here merely because it was the first stopping-place. Remember us cordially to Mrs. Maury. Tell her that the gloves arrived most opportunely. Mine have just been lost, and it would have been impossible to buy more, and they are lovely. Just before I left the army we thought the odds against us had been reduced almost six to four. I have not supposed, therefore, that Sherman could either invest Atlanta or carry it by assault. Very truly yours,
Since the great war between the States we have been often so associated as to impress me with the tender nature which underlay the martial mind and person of our great soldier. As a host, and with his wife he was attentive and tender above all men. She was very humorous and jovial and delighted to have a joke on him, and he enjoyed it from her as heartily as any of us.  One day at Sweet Chalybeate Springs a party of us, as usual, assembled before dinner around one of John Dabney's great hail-storm juleps. The General was sitting near the baluster of the portico, which overlooked the wall beneath, and deep in some narrative, when he was interrupted by a shriek which startled us all and broke in upon his story. After looking over to learn the cause of such a yell, he recommenced his story, but was again interrupted as before. Again he looked and then again resumed, only to be interrupted a third time. Then, fierce as Mars, he looked down upon the screamer and said: ‘Why don't you run away? Why don't you run away?’ I suggested, ‘Well, that's fine advice for a great general to give.’ Turning savagely upon me he said, ‘If she will not fight, sir, is not the best thing for her to do to run away, sir?’ Mrs. Johnston, with a burst of her hearty laugh, said, ‘That used to be your plan always, I know, sir.’ This relieved us all, and we burst into a laugh in which he joined as heartily as any.