Chapter 30: from Murfreesboro to Corinth.
- Change in plans. -- Corinth determined on as a centre. -- letter from Beauregard. -- reenforcements and arms. -- power of local demands. -- General Johnston's review of the situation. -- plan of concentration. -- testimony of Preston, Whitthorne, Harris, and Tate. -- choice of route. -- a difficult retreat. -- reorganization at Murfreesboro. -- the retreat. -- Morgan's first raids. -- the March. -- public terror and fury. -- Exasperation against General Johnston. -- demands for his removal. -- the press. -- prominent officials. -- President Davis's firmness. -- attacks in Congress. -- General Johnston's serenity. -- steadfast friends. -- moral power and confidence of final success. -- Floyd and Pillow again. -- correspondence between President Davis and General Johnston. -- success the test of merit. -- Colonel Jack's account of President Davis and General Lee. -- concentration completed.
It has been seen that, in the conference of February 7th, with Beauregard, the plan adopted was substantially a division of the command, by which General Johnston should face Buell and cover East and Middle Tennessee, while General Beauregard should defend the country west of the Tennessee River. The issue at Donelson left General Johnston with little more than half his former strength in array. The whole aspect of affairs was changed by the surrender there; and hence a modification of the plan of operations was demanded by the circumstances. A contingency had happened which he had contemplated and was prepared for, though he had not expected it would occur. General Johnston's  resolve was sudden, and has the appearance of a military inspiration; but it has already been explained by General Brown's and Colonels Schaller's and Munford's reminiscences. It had evidently been matured in his mind, as an alternative. To retreat south of the Tennessee and defend that line had been his plan, with Corinth as his probable centre. He now determined to concentrate his forces there, and, uniting his own army with that which he had assigned to Beauregard, to hazard a battle. Soon after the conference at Bowling Green, General Beauregard addressed a letter to General Johnston, dated February 12th, which shows how strong a hold General Johnston's views had taken on his mind. Though for the most part a recapitulation of those views, there are some important modifications which render proper the insertion here of the entire letter. It will be found that before the loss of Fort Donelson was known, or the capture of the army there even apprehended, General Beauregard suggests the probability that General Johnston would speedily have to retreat behind the Tennessee River. It is needless to say that it was not the purpose of General Johnston to take that step unless compelled to do so. But as soon as the army at Donelson surrendered the time had come when this move must begin, with as much celerity as was consistent with the preservation of morale and material of war. It must, of course, have been agreeable to him to be sustained beforehand by General Beauregard's formal approval of a retreat under much less stringent circumstances than now actually existed. The following is General Beauregard's letter:
It was the easier for General Johnston to adopt this resolution to get behind the Tennessee, as the War Department, aroused by the fall of Fort Henry, had taken steps to reenforce him. On February 8th Secretary Benjamin wrote him:
The condition of your department, in consequence of the largely superior forces of the enemy, has filled us with solicitude, and we have used every possible exertion to organize some means for your relief.The secretary goes on to state that eight regiments had been ordered to East Tennessee, which would make the whole force there some fifteen regiments, and would leave Crittenden's command free to act with the centre. He continues:
To aid General Beauregard at Columbus, I send orders to General Lovell to forward to him at once five or six regiments of his best troops at New Orleans.He also promises 2,800 Enfield rifles, and adds:
We have called on all the States for a levy of men for the war, and think, in a very few weeks, we shall be able to give you heavy reenforcements, although we may not be able to arm them with good weapons. It is due to General Lovell to say that he used diligence in obeying what must have been a distasteful order to him, and in his letter to General Johnston, evinced a clear perception of the importance of Corinth as a strategic point. To use a homely proverb, the action of the War Department looked like “locking the stable-door after the horse was stolen.” But, as has already been suggested, in a popular revolution, based on the idea of State-rights or decentralization, the War Department was greatly hampered in its designs by local public opinion operating both through the State Executives and through Congress. Colonel Woolley, in the letter already quoted, says truly and forcibly:
But who is to be blamed? Tile answer is given by every flash of lightning that comes from the coast. I shall not be believed if I state the number of letters General Johnston wrote while at Bowling Green, urging that an indefensible coast and unimportant towns be abandoned, and that troops be sent to enable him to give battle and win a great victory. But his warning was unheeded, his requests denied. Nor was the President at fault. He knew what Johnston knew. Go to Richmond, and the truth will then be learned. Each little town on the sea-coast thought that upon its defense depended the salvation of the Southern Confederacy. Senators and Congressmen, afraid of unpopularity, demanded that the troops of their States should be kept for home protection. They formed parties against the President, and threatened him with serious opposition if he did not conduct the war as they recommended. In vain did the President remind them of the fable of the old man and the fagot of sticks-singly they could be destroyed, together no power could break them. Except a few large towns there were no points on the sea-coast of any strategic importance. The presence of garrisons at little places only invited the naval expeditions of the enemy. Had there been no troops at those points there would have been no attack.The following letters from General Johnston to the Secretary of War give a brief but comprehensive view of his situation :
Colonel (afterward Major-General) William Preston, then acting on General Johnston's staff as a volunteer aide, enjoyed as free an intercourse with him as any one could. Not long after General Johnston's death, in a letter (dated April 18, 1862) to the present writer, he gave a succinct but clear account of the campaign. The following is an extract from it:
Nashville was indefensible. General Johnston withdrew to Murfreesboro, determined to effect a junction with Beauregard, near Corinth. His two chief staff-officers, Colonels Mackall and Gilmer, deemed it impossible. Johnston persevered. He collected Crittenden and the relics of his command, with stragglers and fugitives from Donelson, and moved through Shelbyville and Fayetteville on Decatur. Halting at those points, he saved his provisions and stores, removed his depots and machine-shops, obtained new arms, and finally, at the close of March, joined Beauregard at Corinth with 20,000 men, lifting their aggregate force to 50,000. This movement having been completed, though General Johnston fully appreciated its hazard if the enemy had interrupted him with 20,000 or 30,000 men between Decatur and Corinth, General Johnston found himself for the first time at the head of an army capable of giving battle. In the mean time, he had borne with unshaken constancy and serenity the obloquy leveled at him by ignorant assailants, consoled by the unwavering confidence reposed in him by his unalterable friend the President, and upheld by his own manly self-reliance in the midst of adversity.General W. C. Whitthorne, then Adjutant-General of Tennessee, now a member of Congress from that State, has addressed to the writer the following communication:
After the fall of Nashville, and while General Johnston was at Murfreesboro with his troops, and while General Forrest was at Nashville superintending the removal of stores, I was at General Johnston's headquarters in Murfreesboro, having some business with his staff-officers, which being completed, I was in the act of leaving the house, when an aide of General Johnston informed me that he (General Johnston) wished to speak to me. Upon entering his room he asked if I was going to leave without calling upon him. I replied, “Yes,” but excused myself upon the ground that I knew he was overwhelmed with business,  etc. He at once inquired as to the feeling and views of the people of Tennessee, spoke feelingly and rapidly of the situation; informed me that he was making arrangements to move his force as rapidly as possible to Corinth, which would leave Middle Tennessee exposed; but added, or rather concluded, by saying, “General Whitthorne, go tell your people that, under the favor of Providence, I will return in less than ninety days and redeem their capital.” I remember well his confident tone, his smile, and the earnestness of his manner. I had such faith and confidence in him that I believed such would be the case. And, had he lived, my conviction is, that lie would have accomplished his purpose and his plan — the recovery of Nashville.Governor Harris, on the fall of Nashville, carried the State archives to Memphis to secure them. While there, on February 20th, General Johnston telegraphed him to consult Beauregard, and call out the whole strength of the State to his aid. Governor Harris informs the writer that he received a telegram from General Beauregard asking him on his return to Nashville to come by way of Jackson, Tennessee, which he did by a special train. General Beauregard requested him to visit General Johnston at Murfreesboro, and tell him that he (General Beauregard) thought he had best concentrate at or near Jackson or Corinth, in that region. Governor Harris went to Nashville, where he remained a short time, and then proceeded to Murfreesboro. This must have been before the 23d of February, when Nashville was finally abandoned. He delivered General Beauregard's message to General Johnston, who promptly replied that such was his intention, and that he was then making preparations for that purpose. The following statement of facts was made by Colonel Sam Tate, of Memphis, March 7, 1878, and forwarded to the writer:
Indeed, General Johnston's letters and telegrams show quite conclusively that, from the moment of his arrival at Murfreesboro, it was his settled purpose to move his army to Corinth by the way of Shelbyville and Decatur. As it has been suggested in certain quarters that General Johnston ought to have removed his army from Murfreesboro by the railroad to Stevenson and thence to Corinth, the writer propounded to General Gilmer the question of the practicability of such a move. The following is his reply:
Being thus occupied, I had no conversation with your father at Nashville as to the after-movements of his army; nor did I have on the march to Murfreesboro. I think it was at Murfreesboro that I first knew of the decision to make, if practicable, a junction with Beauregard at Corinth. As to the movements by rail from Murfreesboro to Stevenson and thence to Corinth, by the Charleston & Memphis Railroad, it was simply impossible without sacrificing the supplies and munitions on which the subsistence and armament of the command depended. The entire transportation capacity of the railroads was taxed to the utmost, and even then immense quantities of meat and other commissary supplies were left at Nashville, Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Fayetteville, and Huntsville. Again, the movement was made over the “metal” roads leading to Shelbyville, Fayetteville, and Huntsville, as expeditiously, considering the number of troops to be transported, as it could have been by rail, with the imperfect organization of the railroad, as it then existed.The movement from Nashville, southeast by way of Murfreesboro, to a certain extent beguiled the Federal generals into the belief that General Johnston intended to retreat on Chattanooga, and masked the concentration of his troops to the west. A direct retrograde would have betrayed his purpose. Had they understood his design, with larger forces, shorter lines, and better routes, they might have anticipated him at Corinth, or even intercepted him at Decatur. When the condition of the troops, the season of the year, the unprecedented rains and floods, and the consequent state of the roads, are taken into consideration, this retreat may well be accounted an extraordinary triumph over the greatest difficulties. The following narrative will show some of the embarrassments which had naturally caused the  staff to distrust the feasibility of this circuitous route, or, indeed, of any concentration with Beauregard. At Murfreesboro were now concentrated all the troops east of the Tennessee River and west of the mountains. It was here that General Johnston assumed command of the army on the 23d of February, thus relieving Hardee, who had thus far been holding the immediate command. As has been seen, there were fifteen regiments in East Tennessee, besides Floyd's force of 2,500 men sent back by General Johnston to Chattanooga. General Johnston reorganized his own army (now numbering about 17,000 men) at Murfreesboro. The nucleus was the force that had been posted near Bowling Green, to which was added Crittenden's command and the debris of Donelson. The army was reorganized in three divisions under Hardee, Crittenden, and Pillow respectively; with a reserve brigade under Breckinridge, and the Texas Rangers and Forrest's cavalry unattached. The brigade-commanders were Hindman, Cleburne, Carroll, Statham, Wood, Bowen, and Breckinridge. There were represented in the army thirty-five regiments and five battalions of infantry, seven regiments and five battalions of cavalry, and twelve batteries of artillery. The number of organizations, as compared with the effective total, evinces that they were but skeletons. The strictest regulations were adopted for the restoration of discipline and the morale of the army. Orders for the repression of straggling and of marauding under the pretext of impressment or purchase were rigid and thorough. General Johnston, always keenly alive to the rights of citizens and of their helplessness in presence of an army, warned commanders against stripping them of the “means of support even for the necessities of the army,” and ordered safeguards to be granted where the means of the citizen were reduced “to the wants of his family.” The line of march from Murfreesboro through Shelbyville and Fayetteville to Decatur was a middle route between the railroad to Chattanooga and the turnpike from Nashville through Columbia and Pulaski. It was adopted so as to enable the Confederate army to intercept and give battle to Buell, in case he should advance by any of these three roads. The movement was covered by a cloud of cavalry, Helm's First Kentucky, Scott's Louisiana, Wirt Adams's Mississippi, and by Forrest's and Morgan's commands, who were bold and energetic in harassing the enemy. The incessant rains, varying from a drizzle to a torrent, flooded the roads, washed away bridges, and made encampment almost intolerable and marching nearly impossible. General Hodge, in his sketch, says of the road taken:
Lying, for the most part, through cultivated and deep bottoms, on the edge of Northern Alabama it rises abruptly to cross the great plateau thrown out  from the Cumberland Mountains, here nearly a thousand feet above the surrounding country and full forty miles in width, covered with dense forests of timber, yet barren and sterile in soil, and wholly destitute of supplies for either man or beast. Two weeks of unintermitting rain had softened the earth until the surface resembled a vast swamp ....During his retreat, General Johnston's movements were well covered by his cavalry, who also brought him full information of the enemy. Scott's gallant action has already been mentioned. Captain John H. Morgan here first began to win his reputation as a raider. “The raid” --a wild dash at the enemy's communications-is, of course, as old as warfare. But Morgan, and after him, Stuart, Forrest, and others, made it historic and heroic. For the raid, the torpedo, and the ram — a modified revival of the old Roman beaked vessel-legitimate modern warfare is indebted to the Confederates. Morgan's first raid was begun on the afternoon of March 7th. With Lieutenant-Colonel Wood, ten rangers, and fifteen of his own squadron, he advanced along by-roads eighteen miles from Murfreesboro toward Nashville that day, and on the next morning marched until he came opposite the lunatic asylum, near Nashville. Here he commenced overhauling the trains as they came along, capturing and disarming the men, until he had ninety-eight prisoners, including several officers. Returning in three parties, one was pursued by the Fourth Ohio Cavalry, and obliged to abandon sixty of the prisoners. They brought in thirty-eight prisoners, however, with a large number of horses, mules, sabres, pistols, saddles, etc. Encouraged by this essay, he and Colonel Wood, with forty men, again set out from Murfreesboro, secretly and in separate parties, on the afternoon of the 15th. They made a rapid march, reaching Gallatin, on the Louisville & Nashville Railroad, twenty-six miles north of Nashville, at 4 P. 3r. next day. Here he seized the telegraph-office, with several of Buell's dispatches, and burned all the rolling-stock and water-tank of the railroad at that place. He returned with five prisoners, through the enemy's lines, to Shelbyville. On the 28th of February, the army took up the line of march, Hindman's brigade in advance, and Hardee covering the rear with all the cavalry. Orders prescribed twelve to fifteen miles a day as the march. The hardships endured have perhaps been sufficiently outlined A soldier present in the campaign says 1 of this retreat:
The difficulties attending it were great, but a more orderly and more successful one, under all the circumstances, was perhaps never accomplished. Popular indignation, even rage, blind but full of confidence and of such force as would have goaded common minds into desperation, was poured out upon the head of  the commander. The wintry season, inclement, unpropitious beyond measure for such an undertaking, was calculated both to tax the skill of the general and destroy the martial ardor, even the ordinary morale, of the troops. Dangers menaced the retreating army as much as hardships crowded upon its course.... Demoralization, almost unavoidably consequent upon the state of the public mind and the nature of a retreat, threatened to destroy the efficiency of bodies of troops who could not have been spared in case of an attack. And the state of the weather-heavy rains having set in before the command had quitted the vicinity of Nashville-foreboded evil, in retarding if not arresting the progress of the army, by swollen streams and impassable mud. But everything went on with a regularity and a degree of order that seemed to have been the result of circumstances working in entire harmony with the plans of a great general, instead of having been adverse at every step; and he reached Corinth with so little loss of men or munition as to mark him one of the first administrative minds of his age and country.Duke says “Life of Morgan,” page 118):
When the line of march was taken up, and the heads of the columns were still turned southward, the dissatisfaction of the troops broke out into fresh and frequent murmurs. Discipline, somewhat restored at Murfreesboro, had been too much relaxed by the scenes witnessed at Nashville, to impose much restraint upon them. Unjust as it was, officers and men concurred in laying the whole burden of blame upon General Johnston. Many a voice was then raised to denounce him, which has since been enthusiastic in his praise, and many joined in the clamor, then almost universal against him, who, a few weeks later, when lie lay dead upon the field he had so gallantly fought, would have given their own lives to recall him.The extracts from narratives and letters, which will be quoted, give an idea of the panic and rage stirred up by the evacuation of Nashville, and the evident intention to retreat from the State. The wrath and terror, so strikingly exhibited in Nashville, spread with incredible rapidity over the whole State. Bounds could scarcely be set to the fury and despair of the people. Every hamlet resounded with denunciation, and every breast was filled with indignation at the author of such calamities. Those who had refused to listen to his warning voice, when it called them to arms, were loudest in their passionate outcry at what they considered a base desertion of them to the mercies of the invader. General Johnston was, of course, the special target of every accusation, including imbecility, cowardice, and treason. These rash charges were not confined to the ignorant, the malicious, or the disaffected. It is true that men with supposed grievances against the Government, the cause, or the commander, seized the occasion to vent their spleen; and that demagogues, eager for aggrandizement at any price, joined in and directed the wild hunt for a victim. But every class helped to augment the volume of protest and appeal to the President,  demanding General Johnston's removal. Indeed, the greater the stake and the more violent the revulsion of patriotic fervor, the bitterer was the disappointment, and the more vindictive the feeling. Everywhere, above, below, with louder and deeper swell, came from a whole people-noble, but mistaken, and with passions strung to the highest pitch — the terrible demand for vengeance. And the victim required by them — the man most ready, most willing to suffer as a sacrifice, if it would avail aught! The press leveled its shafts at President Davis. One of the most rabid of the fire-eating journals in the South used this language, which is given as a sample:
Shall the cause fail because Mr. Davis is incompetent? The people of the Confederacy must answer this plain question at once, or they are lost. Tennessee, under Sidney Johnston, is likely to be lost. Mr. Davis retains him. Van Dorn writes that Missouri must be abandoned unless the claimed of Price are recognized. Mr. Davis will not send in his nomination. A change in the cabinet is demanded instantly, to restore public confidence. Mr. Davis is motionless as a clod. Buell's proclamation to the people of Nashville has disposed the young men, already dissatisfied with Johnston, to lay down their arms, and paved the way to the campaign of invasion in the Mississippi Valley. Mr. Davis remains as cold as ice. The people must know, and feel, and be felt. The Government must be made to move.A writer in one of the public prints at the time, evidently with goodwill, confidence, and respect, toward General Johnston, but somewhat timidly, as if overawed by public opinion, called for “charity” to his conduct. Among other statements he says:
Special correspondents, not satisfied with charges of stupidity, must denounce him as corrupt. So complete is the revulsion of public sentiment, that soldiers, when enlisting, make it a condition that they shall not be placed under General Johnston. This precipitate and unmeasured condemnation must necessarily cripple him. Whatever ability he possesses will be rendered ineffectual through a want of confidence which will withhold from him the means of making his skill available.Some of the telegrams addressed to the President are here given, as illustrations of the universal feeling. But it would be unjust to the writers to give their names, and thus perpetuate their mistake, for which most of them afterward felt and expressed a sincere regret. An ex-member of the United States Congress, in whose house General Johnston made his headquarters, telegraphed President Davis:
Nothing but your presence here can save Tennessee. General Johnston's army is demoralized. Your presence will reassure it, and will save Tennessee.. Nothing else can. For God's sake, come! An officer who overheard its transmission reported the fact to General Johnston, who replied: “I was aware of his distrust. Take no notice of it.” An officer, high in the staff of the army, and influential — a Mississippian-telegraphed thus:
A member of the Confederate Congress telegraphed as follows:
Such was the reversal of opinion afterward in this matter that, soon after the battle of Shiloh, this gentleman voluntarily, and with tears, expressed to the writer his “remorse for this telegram, which could only be accounted for by the panic that had unhinged everybody,” It is due to him to say that he but expressed the popular verdict-the public opinion with which he came in contact. It will be seen that every one of these telegrams contains a most subtile appeal to the powerful instinct of self-love; and it is creditable to the calmness of President Davis's judgment, as well as to the constancy of his friendship, that he took them at their true value. He, almost alone, remained unmoved; and that intrepidity of intellectual conviction, characteristic of him, so often and so mistakenly called his obstinacy, saved the Confederacy, not only from a great injustice, but from a great mistake. He not only lent his moral support to General  Johnston, the weight of his great name-then a tower of strength with the Southern people-but he ordered, to reinforce him at Corinth, from the Gulf coast, Bragg's fresh, disciplined, splendid army, 10,000 strong. All President Davis's power was needed to retain General Johnston in his position. Congress took the matter in hand; and, though the feeling there resulted merely in a committee of inquiry, it was evident that the case was prejudged. The resolutions passed by the Confederate House of Representatives created a special committee “to inquire into the military disasters at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, and the surrender of Nashville into the hands of the enemy,” and as to the conduct, number, and disposition, of the troops under General Johnston. Great feeling was shown in the debates.
I trust the Rangers will be kept as near you as the good of the service will permit; and that they will not be deprived, under any circumstances, from participating in the first battle. The esteem and admiration of every honest man must be desirable to any man, no matter how exalted his position; and, under present circumstances, I feel it is not inappropriate in me to say that I regard you as the best soldier in America, and that I desire to fight under no other leadership, and that such is the feeling of the Texas Rangers.This was not according to regulations — a subordinate commending his superior; but it was no time for conventionalities, as Wharton's vigorous sense clearly saw. R. Scurry, well known in the early annals of Texas, wrote from Hempstead, Texas, March 15th:
I fully approve of your movements. I have all the enthusiasm and feelings of ‘36 upon me. I hope for the best. With an ear deaf to popular clamor, pursue your course and follow the dictates of your own reason, and fame will be your reward.Love and others also wrote to him in the same spirit. Quotations have already been made from an able article from the incisive pen of Woolley; other Kentuckians took the same view; but one of the most gratifying testimonials was a letter, quoted hereafter, from the provisional Governor, George W. Johnson, which might properly be added as a companion-piece to his energetic protest against the evacuation of Bowling Green. A correspondent of the Mobile Register said:
I remember well being with him one evening at Murfreesboro, after the retreat from Nashville, when, in the course of conversation, I urged that he should, in justice to himself, make an explanation to the people. “Ah I my dear friend,” he replied, “I cannot correspond with the people. What the people want is a battle and a victory. That is the best explanation I can make. I require no vindication. I trust that to the future.” Noble, glorious, self-sacrificing heart!  He required no newspaper vindication, because he was conscious that he had taken the only course to save his little army. If there was censure deserved, the people would find out in the future where it should rest. Thus the great, magnanimous and chivalric Johnston bared his head to the storm of anathema and denunciation, without a murmur of complaint or any attempt to shield himself from its fury.The respect due these men is that which was paid the consul who, after Cannse, did not despair of the republic. Colonel Munford says in his address at Memphis, heretofore quoted:
When we left Nashville for Murfreesboro the trip was made in the night, because the army, with their wagons and artillery, would then be encamped, and the road clear. About ten o'clock that night a very heavy rain commenced falling, and General Johnston called for me to exchange my horse for his driver's seat beside him, and get into a little carriage in which he was. We were alone, and the conversation soon became free and full about recent events. I told him he had begun to see and hear something of the clamor his retreat was causing. “Oh, yes,” he said, “but you know I anticipated this. It will last no longer than is necessary for me to be in condition to fight a battle. As soon as I get men enough, I have no fear but that this clamor will become praise.” Thus looking for it to come, as well as facing it when in its midst, he viewed and treated it with the same philosophic calmness and just appreciation. That, as a good man, General Johnston felt the censures of his countrymen is absolutely certain; but that, as a wise man, he estimated them at their true value, and, as a manly man, deviated neither to the right hand nor to the left from the path of duty on account of them, is equally certain.General Preston also states to the writer that General Johnston felt complete confidence in his ability to reorganize his army, and to strike such a blow as would not only restore the confidence of his compatriots, but would turn the tide of defeat into a career of victory. Whoever spoke to him, whoever saw him, went away, not so much touched with the pathos and the difficulties of his great ordeal, as sanguine of success and eager for a trial of arms with the foe. As the retreat was converted into an evident march against the enemy, the spirit of the army rose from the depths into a passionate and exultant thirst for the combat. Munford says:
He had no self-seeking. He honestly believed that the South was right, and the cause of constitutional liberty in America bound up in her fate. In joining her standard, therefore, he was actuated by such convictions of duty that he had no trouble in keeping his eye fixed singly upon her success. As illustrative of this, of his magnanimity and absolute justice, I will notice his treatment of Generals Floyd and Pillow, in the very midst of the denunciations poured out upon him for losing the army at Donelson. He received them both with the utmost kindness, and made Floyd at once commandant of the post at Nashville. After we had reached Murfreesboro, I asked him what he thought of their conduct. He replied: “The official reports are not yet before me. I  do not think it would be just to those gentlemen to permit myself to form an opinion till they have stated the facts in an authentic form.” At Decatur, he voluntarily said to me, “I intend to sustain Floyd and Pillow. Their conduct was irregular, but its repetition may be avoided by a simple order. They are both men of tried courage, and have had experience in the field. We have too few officers possessed of these advantages, and the country needs them. I think it my duty to sustain them, and shall do so.” How rare the man, thus goaded by abuse, who, unheeding self, would do alone as duty bid!On the 16th of March, however, he received a letter from the Secretary of War, dated March 11th, which closed that question. Mr. Benjamin says:
The reports of Brigadier-Generals Floyd and Pillow are unsatisfactory, and the President directs that both these generals be relieved from command until further orders. In the mean time you will request them to add to their reports such statements as they may deem proper — on the following points.The Secretary then propounded a number of interrogatories, relating to matters which have been already fully discussed. He concludes:
You are further requested to make up a report from all the sources of information accessible to you, of all the particulars connected with the unfortunate affair which can contribute to enlighten the judgment of the Executive and of Congress, and to fix the blame, if blame there be, on those who were delinquent in duty.Out of this matter and the general situation in the West arose an unofficial correspondence, which has been published in part. General Johnston's letter of March 18th has been much admired, and comment upon it by the present writer is not called for. President Davis's letters are also given in full, and will be found to reflect equal credit on his head and heart.
Colonel T. M. Jack, in a letter addressed to the present writer in 1877, gives a graphic account of the circumstances under which President Davis received this letter:
Just before the battle of Shiloh your father sent me to Richmond, as bearer of dispatches to President Davis. Among these dispatches was the celebrated letter in which success is recognized as the test of merit in the soldier. M3y duties, of course, were merely executive — to deliver the dispatches in person, and return with the answers quietly and promptly. Arriving at Richmond, and announcing my business to the proper officer, I was at once shown into the office of Mr. Davis and presented to him. I had never before met the President of the Confederacy. He received me with courtesy-even with kindness-asking me at once, “How is your General-my friend General Johnston?” There was an earnestness in the question which could not be misunderstood. Replying briefly, I handed him my dispatches, which he was in the act of opening, when an officer entered the room, to whom the President presented me as General Lee. This was my first meeting with him also-and the last. He had not then attained the full measure of his fame. He was not as yet the idol of the Southern people. These things came afterward, with the recognition by all fair-minded Christendom of the greatness of the Christian chieftain. There was something fascinating in his presence. His manners  struck me as dignified, graceful, and easy. He seated himself by my side at the window, and engaged me in conversation about the movements of our Western army, while the President read, in silence, the dispatches of your father. These two historic figures, together in the capital of the Confederacy, the one chatting pleasantly with a young and unknown officer, the other engrossed with the last formal papers of the ranking general in the field of the Confederate forces after their retreat, and on the eve of a pitched battle on chosen ground, fastened themselves on the canvass of my memory in bright and lasting colors. Listening to the pleasing tones of the general's voice, I watched, at the same time, with eager interest, the countenance of the President, as he read the clear, strong, and frank expressions of his old friend and comrade, full of facts, and breathing sentiments of the noblest spirit. There was softness then in his face; and, as his eye was raised from the paper, there seemed a tenderness in its expression, bordering on tears, surprising and pleasing at that critical juncture in the civil and military leader of a people in arms. Next day the President handed me his dispatches, which were delivered to the general at Corinth, as he was preparing for the field. “How did the President receive you?” he asked, in a playful way, as I handed him the dispatches. “As the aide-de-camp of his friend,” was my response, in the same spirit; after which he made no further allusion to the mission.The following was the reply borne to General Johnston by Colonel Jack:
On the 25th of March General Johnston completed the concentration of his troops. On that day he wrote to the President from Corinth, “My force is now united, holding Burnsville, Iuka, and Tuscumbia, with one division here.”