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Chapter 32: concentration at Corinth.

General Johnston had now effected the concentration of his troops at Corinth, with the intent of striking Grant before the arrival of Buell. The strategic importance of this point can scarcely be over-estimated. At Corinth, two great railway lines crossed — that running north and south from Mobile, on the Gulf, to Columbus, near the mouth of the [539] Ohio; and that from Memphis to Chattanooga, running east and west, and connecting the Mississippi River with the railroad system of Georgia and East Tennessee. The Mississippi Central Railroad from New Orleans runs west of and nearly parallel with the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, gradually approaching it, and forming a junction with it at Jackson, Tennessee. Still farther west, the Memphis Railroad to Bowling Green runs northeast, crossing the Mobile & Ohio at Humboldt. With the Tennessee River as the Federal base, its Great Bend from Florence to Savannah formed a salient, to which the railway system conformed. Corinth was the central point and key of this system and its defense. Pittsburg Landing, twenty-two miles distant, was the strongest point near it on the river for a base. There was no mistake in its selection, if it had been judiciously intrenched, as has been shown.

To concentrate at Corinth, and fight the Federal armies in detail-Grant first, Buell afterward-this had been the cherished object to which, during so many weeks, General Johnston had bent every energy. That concentration was at last accomplished. Arriving at Corinth in person on the 24th of March, with his troops nearly all on the ground or at hand, he spent a week in the reorganization, armament, and array of the forces collected there from so many quarters.

It has already been seen how Polk's command was drawn back from Columbus, in accordance with the plan settled upon at Bowling Green, February 7th. It has been seen, too, that the War Department, as soon as it realized the fact of General Johnston's retreat from Bowling Green, ordered Bragg from Pensacola, with his well-disciplined army, to aid in resisting the weight of the attack. Polk had been negotiating with Lovell, in January, to spare him some troops; and in compliance with a telegraphic request made by General Johnston from Bowling Green, February 2d, Lovell sent him Ruggles's brigade. General Johnston telegraphed, February 12th, for these troops to report, by the shortest possible route to Corinth, for orders from General Beauregard. Generals Chalmers and L. Pope Walker were already on the line of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, with considerable commands.

These pages have evinced how many and how strenuous efforts had been made to raise troops in the South during that autumn and winter. Many regiments, long organized, were lying in rendezvous waiting for arms. The fall of Donelson hurried up volunteering, and these new levies were added to the others. At this juncture-at the critical moment, it may be said indeed, at the last moment — some cargoes of arms ran the blockade, and the troops were pressed to the front to receive these precious weapons, arriving, some in time, some too late, to share in the glories of Shiloh. General Beauregard issued an eloquent appeal for volunteers, and several regiments responded — a high compliment to his prestige won at Manassas. [540]

The Comte de Paris mentions (vol. i., page 525), on what authority does not appear, that Beauregard “left Manassas with 15,000 men,” and that “he had with him well-trained troops, who took with them the prestige of the Bull-Run victory, and were to inspire new ardor in the Army of the Mississippi, of which they were destined to form the nucleus.”

This is an error. General Beauregard came to the Army of the West with his staff only. The troops collected under his command at Corinth were composed of Polk's corps, Bragg's corps, Ruggles's, Walker's, and Chalmers's brigades, and the new troops sent forward by the Governors. Careless writers have assumed that this considerable army was summoned into being, or concentrated at Corinth, by other than regular military methods; but they are mistaken. They were recruited, armed, disciplined, and assembled at Corinth, by the conjoint efforts of the State and Confederate governments, extending through many months, and by the slow and laborious processes already detailed in these pages.

The army now collected at Corinth consisted of Polk's corps, whom we have seen holding Columbus, and baffling Grant at Belmont; Bragg's well-disciplined troops, who had been all the fall in training. at Pensacola; Ruggles's reinforcement, detached from Lovell at New Orleans; and Chalmers's and Walker's commands, as stated. To these were added such new levies as the Governors had in rendezvous, who in this emergency were sent to the front, even without arms, and a few regiments which were raised in response to General Beauregard's call.

It will be remembered that General Johnston's plan of concentration at Corinth, long contemplated, had taken shape as soon as Donelson fell.

On February 21st Mackall, adjutant-general, telegraphed to General Pillow, who was at Columbia, that General Johnston's “retreat will be toward Shelbyville.” On the same day orders were given to send Cleburne's regiment to Decatur. On February 24th General Johnston telegraphed President Davis:

My movement has been delayed by a storm on the 22th, washing away pike and railroad-bridge at this place. Floyd, 2,500 strong, will march for Chattanooga to-morrow, to defend. This army will move on the 26th, by Decatur, for the valley of the Mississippi. Is in good condition and increasing in numbers.

When his arrangements at Murfreesboro were complete, he wrote to Mr. Benjamin, February 27th, that he was about to move to the defense of the Mississippi Valley, “crossing the (Tennessee) River near Decatur, in order to enable him to cooperate or unite with General Beauregard.” Next day he moved. This was before Halleck's orders for the movement up the Tennessee, and ten days before it began, and General Johnston was already three days on his march before Columbus was evacuated. [541]

On the 26th of February General Beauregard asked for a brigade to assist in the defense of New Madrid, in the following terms:

Appearance of an early attack on New Madrid, in force. Position of absolute necessity to us. Cannot you send a brigade at once, by rail, to assist defense as fast as possible?

In his report of the battle of Shiloh, he says:

General Johnston being at Murfreesboro, on the march to form junction of his forces with mine, was called on to send at least a brigade by railroad, so we might fall upon and crush the enemy should he attempt an advance from under his gunboats.

There was, in fact, no enemy there until some two weeks later, and the brigade called for was intended, as is seen above, for a different purpose-“to assist defense,” not “to fall upon and crush the enemy.” The correspondence between General Beauregard and General Johnston shows that the former was advised of all of General Johnston's movements.

General Beauregard wrote from Jackson, Tennessee, March 2d, to General Johnston:

I think you ought to hurry up your troops to Corinth by railroad, as soon as practicable, for here or thereabouts will soon be fought the great battle of this controversy.

Adjutant-General Mackall telegraphed for General Johnston to General Beauregard, March 7th:

The general understands that detachments for this army are coming east. Will you order none to pass the line of road running to Corinth?

This, with the other circumstances already given, is conclusive that Corinth was the objective point of General Johnston's march. While engaged in these efforts at concentration, General Johnston fully perceived the necessity of haste in their execution, and it has been seen that all possible speed was made.

Immediately after Sherman effected his first lodgement at Pittsburg, Bragg conceived the project of striking him a blow at once, which, if it had been executed promptly, would very probably have proved successful, and might have changed the whole course of subsequent events. This bold stroke was, however, prevented by the following orders from General Beauregard, who determined to await General Johnston's arrival: [542]

Jackson, Tennessee, March 17, 1862.
Dear General: I telegraphed you yesterday, via Corinth, my views relative to the two strategic points, Chamberlain and Corinth (according to the map). Having brigades of observation at Purdy and Iuka, the two points threatened by the enemy from the Tennessee River, I also addressed you a letter on the same subject through my adjutant-general, Colonel Jordan.

Yesterday evening, however, Captain Jordan submitted to me your intentions, formed, no doubt, before having received my communications, above referred to, relative to a proposed movement on your part, in two columns from Corinth and Bethel, to meet at Adamsville. This movement, with such troops as we have, in the presence of a determined enemy, might be dangerous, for the point of junction is too near his positions at Crump's Landing and Pittsburg. I would prefer uniting farther back, at or near Purdy, if the roads permit it. But what I wish to call your attention particularly to is, the nature of our operations. I do not think, owing to the quality of our troops, the nature of the country we would have to operate in (cut up with small streams, woods, etc.), not knowing exactly where the enemy intends to strike, and in what force, that our operations ought to be purely offensive; I would prefer the defensive-offensive — that is, to take up such a position as would compel the enemy to develop his intentions, and to attack us, before he could penetrate any distance from his base; then, when within striking distance of us, to take the offensive, and crush him wherever we may happen to strike him, cutting him off, if possible, from his base of operations, or the river; in that way, we would be certain not to march on Crump's Landing or Pittsburg, when, perhaps, we ought to move on or toward Iuka or Eastport. The great desideratum is to be thoroughly prepared wheresoever and whenever required, on positive information only of the enemy's movements, and for which purpose you must have strong advanced posts in every direction toward him, protected by a strong body of cavalry, thrown well forward, to watch the enemy and give timely notice of his approach . .

(Here follow directions for the disposition of the troops, not specially pertinent to this memoir.)

My health not permitting me yet to be with you, I have thought it advisable to give you these general ideas, which may be of service to you. I hope, however, to be well enough to join you when the fighting shall have commenced, not, however, to interfere with your arrangement, but merely to assist you, if I can, and prevent misunderstandings, complications, etc.

My physician tells me that I must stop talking altogether, and avoid any undue excitement. How in the world can that be done, at this critical moment? They might as well tell a drowning man that he must not catch at a straw.

Still hopeful, however, I remain, yours truly, (Signed)

G. T. Beauregard, General commanding.
P. S.-While I have guarded you against an uncertain offensive, I am decidedly of the opinion that we should endeavor to entice the enemy into an engagement as soon as possible, and before he shall have further increased his numbers by the large numbers which he must still have in reserve and available --that is, beat him in detail.

To Major-General B. Bragg.

(For the information of General A. S. Johnston.)


General Beauregard's report of the battle of Shiloh is given in full in the appendix to Chapter XXXV. Its statements have led to many erroneous inferences and much of the prevalent misapprehension as to the circumstances preceding and attending the battle of Shiloh. It is not the province of the present writer to deal with it controversially. It is given to the reader, not as a just or accurate view of these events, but because so important a document belongs to history. It has seemed to the writer, however, that this report ought to be looked at in the light of its intent and of the circumstances under which it was composed. It was written in the first hours of the great and sudden disappointment and reversal of the splendid dream of complete triumph opened to the Southern arms at Shiloh, and closed again by General Johnston's death. It was written, too, amid the wreck of an unavailing contest, and, unconsciously perhaps, to reconcile the results with the fair promise of its opening. Hence its standpoint is simply personal.

Its strictly personal character is readily seen, when it is observed that it contains no record of all the service of General Johnston in his last campaign and his last battle. These are attributed to an impersonal “It.” The report says, “It was expected,” “It was decided,” “It was determined,” where strong men thought the experience of a veteran and the energies of a great soldier were incorporate, vivid, and strenuous, in the person of their leader.

That the aspect of General Beauregard's report is simply personal to himself is evident from the fact that General Johnston's name appears in it but four times, and then in the following connections: 1. That he reenforced General Beauregard; 2. That General Johnston was advised that his attack conformed to the expectations of the President; 3. That he died bravely at Shiloh; 4. That he had a staff worthy of commendation. Surely, if this is a record of General Johnston's part in the battle of Shiloh, this memoir would not be worth the writing. Hence, it seems to the writer that General Beauregard's report must be taken merely as the record of General Beauregard's own services from his own point of view.

Immediately on his arrival at Corinth, March 24th, General Johnston held a conference with Generals Beauregard, Polk, and Bragg, after which General Beauregard went back to Jackson; but returned on the 26th, and lent zealous and valuable aid in spite of his malady. About the same time General Johnston had the conference with Van Dorn, in which it was determined to bring his army also to Corinth. The enemy was at this time reported in front of Monterey, almost half-way between Pittsburg and Corinth, advancing. But this was a mistake. Grant made no move of note previous to the battle. It was known that Buell was advancing, and the time taken for reorganization and armament [544] had to be measured by his movements. If these would permit it, a little time would make the Confederate army, reinforced by Van Dorn, compact and terrible. If, however, he pressed on, the blow must be struck without waiting for Van Dorn. The Comte de Paris, in his history of the war, vol. i., page 557, attributes this delay to hesitation; but there was no hesitation. The work of organization and armament was unavoidable and imperious. The attack was ordered within two hours after Buell's advance was reported.

This work of reorganization and armament first engaged General Johnston's attention. His personal staff was now constituted as follows:

For the important work of reorganization before him, General Johnston called to his aid General Bragg, who had special qualifications for the task. At General Johnston's earnest request, General Bragg consented to act temporarily as chief of staff, with the understanding that he was to have command of his corps on the approach of a battle.

General Bragg played so conspicuous a part in the civil war that this work affords neither scope nor occasion for an account of his life, or an estimate of his character. Indeed, there is scarcely any other career that has come under the writer's personal view where there were so many questions difficult to settle fairly. In Bragg there was so much that was strong marred by most evident weaknesses, so many virtues blemished by excess or defect in temper and education, so near an approach to greatness and so manifest a failure to attain it, that his worst enemy ought to find something to admire in him, and his best friend something painful in the attempt to portray him truly. The writer saw him from many points of view and under divers lights and shadows, and as he has passed into history, gives here a brief mention of him that may serve till some abler hand performs the task of recounting his services.

Braxton Bragg was born in Warren County, North Carolina, in 1815. Members of his family attained eminence in politics and at the bar. [545]

He was graduated at West Point, and entered the Third Artillery in 1837. He saw service in the Seminole War in Florida, and was promoted to first-lieutenant in 1838, Bragg served under General Taylor in the Mexican War, and was brevetted captain in 1846, “for gallant and distinguished conduct in the defense of Fort Brown, Texas.” He was brevetted major for gallant conduct at Monterey, and lieutenant-colonel for his services at Buena Vista. The mythical order of General Taylor to him on that field, “A little more grape, Captain Bragg,” made a popular catch-word, which gave him great notoriety. An attempt was made to assassinate him in camp in 1847, by the explosion of a twelve-pound shell at the foot of his bed.

After the Mexican War, he became a sugar-planter in Terre Bonne Parish, Louisiana, and his methodical habits, industry, and skillful management, gave him great success. At the opening of the war, the State of Louisiana made him commander-in-chief of her volunteer forces. When the Confederate Government was established, President Davis made him a brigadier-general, and put him in command at Pensacola. Here the people and the troops expected a great contest, and, though it did not occur, it afforded a favorable field for Bragg's excellent talents for organization, administration, and discipline. It has been seen how he was transferred with his forces to Corinth.

It is not the province of the present writer to recount his further services, but the following brief abstract from the pen of Colonel J. Stoddard Johnston, who served on his staff, will here suffice:

His first service was at Pensacola, where he distinguished himself as a disciplinarian, and whence he was transferred to Corinth shortly before the battle of Shiloh, having the rank of a major-general. He served with distinction at Shiloh, having been made by General Johnston his chief of staff, and, shortly after, being promoted to a full generalship, succeeded to the command of the Army of the Mississippi. In the succeeding summer, 1862, he transferred the main body of his command to Chattanooga, and planned and executed the Kentucky campaign of that year, being at the same time in command of the department embracing the territory between the Mississippi River and the Alleghany range. Notwithstanding the unpopularity which assailed him after the evacuation of Kentucky, he was continued in command, and transferred his army in November, 1862, to Middle Tennessee, and December 31st of that year fought with 81,000 infantry the battle of Murfreesboro or Stone River. Notwithstanding the superior numbers by which he was opposed under Rosecrans, the victory for a time was his. A bloody repulse of Hardee at the moment when the latter was thought to be giving the finishing stroke to the day, and the slaughter which befell Breckinridge's command two days after, compelled him to retreat and yield the ground to his opponent. He, however, continued to occupy a great part of Tennessee until the following September, when on the 19th and 20th he again fought Rosecrans at Chickamauga. Here his victory was decisive, as at the close of the second day's fight he occupied the battle-field, and Rosecrans retreated to Chattanooga. Failure to pursue and follow up his victory gave Rosecrans [546] time to fortify and restore the morale of his shattered command, and resulted ultimately in Bragg's defeat at Missionary Ridge, November 25th, his retreat into Georgia, and his relinquishment of the command of the army to Joseph E. Johnston. His active military career may be said to have closed here, as he was assigned to staff-duty at Richmond, where he remained until shortly before the close of the war in confidential relations with President Davis, as chief of staff of the armies of the Confederacy. Not long before the surrender, he was placed in command at Wilmington, North Carolina, and was engaged in several actions.

The close of the war found him ruined in fortune, but he went to work cheerfully, following the pursuit of a civil engineer in New Orleans and Mobile, until within the past few years he removed to Galveston, where death closed his. career in his sixty-first year.

General Bragg met his death at Galveston, Texas, September 27, 1876, by heart-disease. He was struck, while crossing a street, and died as suddenly as if he had met his fate on the battle-field.

Colonel Johnston continues:

The brief sketch which I have given shows that his service in the late war was large, varied, and active, and the time during which he was in command, from Shiloh to Dalton, comprises the most eventful period of the war in the West. Soldiers with whom he left Pensacola marched northward till they came in sight of Cincinnati, and fought under him at Shiloh, Perryville, Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, and Missionary Ridge; and the historian who attempts impartially to give the details of his marches and his battles will find, though the net results of his efforts were not summed up in victory, what triumphs over obstacles he achieved through the valor of his men, his skill as an organizer and disciplinarian, and his fertility of resource in matters pertaining to the quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance departments ....

I am not his eulogist; but, having been personally associated with him at the most critical periods of his active service, I feel that I owe it to him to bear attestation to the unselfish and untiring devotion he always gave to the service in which he was enlisted. He was not a soldier of the first rank like Lee, lacking some of those essential grander elements which give success to a commander in the field; but he possessed qualifications such as, rightly directed, would have made him great in the Confederate army as Moltke in the Prussian. Sidney Johnston weighed him aright when lie assigned him a position hitherto unknown in American warfare, but essential to the proper organization of a great army, and so recognized by the European powers. As a commander in the field, Bragg was too much engrossed with the details of moving, disciplining, organizing, and feeding his men, to master the broader and more comprehensive duties of a great captain in time of battle. His plans of battles, and orders promulgated, as at Murfreesboro and Chickamauga, will be found to evince more ability, and to comprehend remarkable accuracy of detail as well as clearness and precision.

In both the engagements named, he attacked boldly on the flank; at the former on the left, and the latter on the right; but, in the supreme moment, when Lee or Jackson would have made his victory complete, he failed in the power to [547] modify his original plan, and lost from his tendency to adhere inflexibly to his predetermined line of action. ...

But in the matter in which General Bragg has been most criticised and held up to reproach I think injustice has been done him. That he was strict is true, and that he incited fear and alarm, by his avowed purpose to enforce discipline at all hazards, is also true, and that he may have used in some instances extreme measures we may admit; but that his action was inspired more by a sense of the necessity of his situation as an officer charged with the safety of a great army, than by a cruel disposition, is my firm conviction. He had been bred in a strict school as a West-Pointer, and as captain of an artillery-company in actual war knew the details as well as the necessity of discipline. He was no holiday soldier, and had none of the ulterior aspirations of a volunteer to lead him to curry favor with any one. He therefore exacted of all a rigid performance of duty, a neglect of which fell heavily upon any one, whether high or low; but I was too frequently cognizant of his good deeds of mercy to the delinquents, for light offenses, and commutations, reprieves, and pardon for capital ones, to let him rest under the imputation of a heartless man, or one who wielded his great powers cruelly. In his personal habits and conduct he was thoroughly temperate, in both meat and drink, discarding the use of liquor in any form, and waging ruthless war upon all who made it or sought to supply his men with it. He was untiring in his labors, methodical and systematic in the discharge of business, an early riser, and devout in his attention to his religious duties, being a communicant of the Episcopal Church. In person he was tall and spare, but of a lithe and sinewy frame, and capable of enduring any amount of fatigue. Though in social converse he was peculiarly mild and agreeable in manner, a peculiar conformation of eyebrows, which extended continuously from eye to eye, and a cold, steel-gray eye, which exhibited much of the white when animated, gave him in his sterner moods, or when roused, a very ferocious aspect, which made him a terror to all who incurred his displeasure.

I recall with gratitude and pleasure many acts of personal kindness and friendship of which I was the recipient at his hands, and for which, despite the occurrence of the circumstances which led to severance of association, I shall ever hold him in grateful memory.

Colonel Johnston also mentions his lack of that power of conciliation so necessary to the commander of volunteer troops.

Circumstances give to Colonel J. S. Johnston's estimate of General Bragg a more than ordinary judicial character. They are inserted with such fullness, because they conform very nearly to the well-settled opinions of the present writer. While Bragg was an able man, he was too rigid and narrow to be a great one. He was very harsh and intolerant where he once imbibed a prejudice, and he was not slow, nor always just, in assuming his conclusions. He was always a partisan, and merciless toward those who resisted him, even when his acts were clearly arbitrary. He did not inspire love or reverence, but he commanded respect and fear. He trusted too much those who agreed with him, and was apt to undervalue those who held aloof from or offended [548] him. But if this rugged outline seems too much the likeness of a military despot, it should be added that his purposes were great, pure, and unselfish, and his aspirations high.

But, whatever may have been General Bragg's defects, he was conspicuous for one trait that marks him as the worthy citizen of a republic — a profound sense of public duty. Whether wise or unwise in the means adopted, the ultimate object of his endeavors was the public good. He was a patriot, and in the poverty and trials of his latter days no temptation shook his stoical fortitude in bearing the ills of his own lot, and in maintaining the righteousness and dignity of the cause for which he had suffered. Physical studies, culture from books, and the enlarging and mellowing influences of religion and domestic happiness, gilded his latter days. It is right to give such a man his exact place in history.

Before his death, General Bragg prepared for the present writer a sketch of the battle of Shiloh, the opening of which succinctly explains the preliminaries of that event. It is as follows:

The memory of a fallen commander, however much honored and revered by his countrymen, rarely receives full justice during the excitement of war, and especially when he meets his fate in an active campaign, or on a hotly-contested and unfortunate field. Few can know the motives which influenced, the acts which distinguished, or the opposition which met him. And rules of military etiquette frequently impose silence on these few.

After the disasters incident to their dispersed condition, which naturally befell the Confederate arms, in the winter of 1861 and 1862, and which culminated in the surrender at Fort Donelson, General A. Sidney Johnston, then commanding all the Confederate forces in the Western Department, acting against the advice of some of his best and ablest commanders, wisely determined to concentrate in the valley of the Mississippi, and there risk his own fate and that of the cause he sustained.1 This movement, directed upon Corinth-commenced early in the month of March--was not fully consummated when information of the enemy's dispositions determined Johnston to attack with the forces then available. In a period of four weeks, fragments of commands from Bowling Green, Kentucky, under Hardee; Columbus, Kentucky, under Polk; and Pensacola, Mobile, and New Orleans, under Bragg; with such new levies as could be hastily raised, all badly armed and equipped, were united at and near Corinth, and for the first time organized as an army. It was an heterogeneous mass, in which there was more enthusiasm than discipline, more capacity than knowledge, and more valor than instruction. Rifles, rifled and smooth-bore muskets --some of them originally percussion, others hastily altered from flint-locks by Yankee contractors, many still with the old flint and steel-and shot-guns of all sizes and patterns, held place in the same regiments. The task of organizing such a command in four weeks, and supplying it, especially with ammunition suitable for action, was simply appalling. It was undertaken, however, with a He so stated to me at Corinth, when, as chief of staff, I advised and he ordered the troops from the Trans-Mississippi to that place, before the battle of Shiloh. [549] cool, quiet self-control, by calling to his aid the best knowledge and talent at his command, which not only inspired confidence, but soon yielded the natural fruits of system, order, and discipline.

This force, about 40,000 of all arms, was divided into four corps, commanded respectively by Major-Generals Polk, Bragg, and Hardee, and Brigadier-General Breckinridge, General Albert Sidney Johnston in chief command; and General Beauregard, who, having recently come out from the army in Virginia, and, being in feeble health, was assigned no special command, but was designated in orders as “second in command,” and as such aided the commander-in-chief with his counsel and advice.

The difficulties mentioned by General Bragg of arming the troops were increased by the process of exchange in many instances for new weapons, some of which were put into the hands of the troops only the day before they marched against the enemy. General Beauregard likewise mentions that want of general officers needful for the proper organization of divisions and brigades of an army brought thus suddenly together, and other difficulties in the way of an effective organization, delayed the movements until the night of the 2d inst. (April).

At this time occurred a remarkable episode, which General Beauregard gives, in the following words, in a letter to the writer:

When General Johnston first met me at Corinth, he proposed, after our staff officers had retired, to turn over the command of the united forces to me; but I positively declined, on his account and that of the “cause,” telling him that I had come to assist, but not to supersede him, and offering to give him all the assistance in my power. He then concluded to remain in command. It was one of the most affecting scenes of my life.

Colonel William Preston, in his letter of April 18, 1862, to the writer, says:

General Beauregard was offered the immediate command of the whole force, but he declined it, as his health was bad, and General Johnston assumed it in person.

When General Johnston told his purpose to Colonel Munford, that officer remonstrated with him, saying that he appeared to have lost Tennessee and Kentucky. “This battle may regain them, and reestablish your jeoparded fame; yet you, on such an occasion,, would invite another to win the glory of redeeming what you had lost.” He smiled, and said, “I think it but right to make the offer.” Colonel Munford pressed upon him other considerations as to the importance of his services to the country, to which General Johnston replied, “I will be present at the battle, and will see that nothing goes wrong.”

General Johnston felt constrained to make this offer, because he had [550] brought with him the smaller fraction of the united forces, and he was on a field that he had set apart for Beauregard's control. That officer had been for some time on the ground, and he was unwilling that a subordinate should suffer by his arrival. He would make any sacrifice himself rather than take one laurel from the brow of a fellow-soldier.

It was his wish to give General Beauregard the command of the troops in the field, which would have secured to that officer whatever of glory might be won at Shiloh; but it was in no wise his intention to abdicate the supreme command, or the superintendence of affairs in the management of the department or the movements of the army. His offer to Beauregard was certainly an act of rare magnanimity. A somewhat analogous case in his career occurred at the battle of the Neches, in 1839. While Secretary of War of Texas, he attended his subordinate on the field, gave him the benefit of his military experience, and then received from his hand the report of the combat. General Johnston had no diffidence as to his fitness for command. He once said regretfully to the writer, during the Mexican War: “There is one thing I know I can do; I am competent to command troops.” In this instance, with General Beauregard, his idea of unselfishness, even though heroic, seems somewhat overstrained; for he would chiefly have suffered in case of a failure, but would not have shared in the glories of a victory.

The rumor of this occurrence also gave rise to the following vigorous protest from Governor George W. Johnson:

Burnsville, Mississippi, March 26, 1862.
My dear sir: A rumor has reached me that has filled me with just alarm for our cause, and which induces me again to write to you, relying on the friendship which I feel for you as my excuse. It is rumored here that you intend to yield to the senseless clamors of fools and pretenders, and to give up the command of the army at the very crisis of our fate. This, if done, will be fatal to our cause, or others will reap what ought to be the just reward of all your noble self-sacrifice for your country. I cannot sit by silent while this is being done. You did what was right; you have in your own hands ample means of self-defense against those who assail you; and, as your friend, I sincerely rejoiced when I heard that Congress had asked for explanations-because this, I knew, would at once break the seal of silence which your own noble sense of justice and mercy to others might have imposed upon you. You left Bowling Green when they would give you no reenforcements, and when it was impossible to defend Fort Donelson except by yielding that position. You had sent all to that point who could be spared from your army in the presence of Buell's army. The event showed that you had sent enough troops to that point — for we had whipped the enemy; and if the generals there commanding chose to surrender, and did so surrender, after victory and to a retreating foe, it is their fault — not yours.

From this disastrous surrender, and not from the defense of Donelson, have resulted the subsequent retreat and concentration of your army here. We are in the right place, at the right time, and the proudest victory of the war awaits [551] you, unless you commit suicide, by yielding up the command of your army when it most needs energy and an active head. You must not do this. I beg that you will not do it, both for your own fame and the good of our country. If I hear that you are resolved upon this course, I will despair of our cause. It will sink under the curse of Heaven, upon a people; who joined like wolves, and with a few wolves in sheep's clothing, to hunt. down the noblest and purest man it has been my good-fortune to know. Very truly and respectfully your friend,

George W. Johnson. General A. Sidney Johnston, headquarters, Corinth, Mississippi.

It is proper to say that General Beauregard considers himself as having inspired General Johnston with the idea of attacking Grant at Shiloh. But he must be mistaken. This was the purpose for which he had concentrated his army at Corinth. What he said to Schaller, Whitthorne, and many others, has already been stated. It was known to the President, to his own staff and generals, and to others, that his main design, in the tremendous effort by which he had transferred his army from Nashville to Corinth, was to fight the enemy in detail. In view of Grant's anticipated movement, and to be able to strike him before Buell's arrival, he had made that race of life and death. He was now within arm's-length of his enemy. While every hour of delay was important to him to augment, organize, arm, and rest his troops, it was never his intention to permit a junction of Buell with Grant. Buell's advance was to be the signal for action. As soon as the intelligence of it was received, his resolution was taken. The information reached him at eleven o'clock at night. In two hours the orders for an advance were issued. This was on the night of April 2d.

President Davis has assured the writer that he concurred in all of General Johnston's plans. They likewise received, about this time, the sanction of a name then, like General Johnston's, under the shadow of legislative disfavor and popular opposition, and supported by the almost unaided hand of the President, but since illustrious — that of General Robert E. Lee. General Lee wrote him a letter, received just before the battle of Shiloh, the text of which is here given. As General Lee was at that time in Richmond, acting as military adviser of the President, this letter may be held to convey Mr. Davis's views as well as his own.

Letter of General Lee to General Johnston.

Richmond, March 26, 1862.
My dear General: no one has sympathized with you in the troubles with which you are surrounded more sincerely than myself. I have watched your every movement, and know the difficulties with which you have had to contend. I hope your cares will be diminished, if not removed, when your junction with the other lines of your army has been completed, which must be accomplished by this time. I need not urge you, when your army is united, to deal a blow at the enemy in your front, if possible, before his rear gets up from Nashville. You have him divided, and keep him so, if you can. Wishing you, my dear [552] general, every success and happiness, with my earnest prayers for the safety of your whole army, and that victory may attend your movements, I remain, truly and sincerely your friend, (Signed)

General Johnston was not insensible to the perils of his aggressive movement, or to the strength of the enemy's position from the nature of the ground and the proximity of his gunboats, affording means of retreat or reinforcement; but it was necessary to destroy that army without delay. To effect this, immediate battle must be delivered. On this General Johnston at once resolved.

The following is from Colonel Munford's address at Memphis:

When General Johnston terminated his retreat from Kentucky, at Corinth, he found General Beauregard in command of a small army, to which he united his own. All available troops were concentrated as rapidly as possible, and, before moving on the enemy at Shiloh, upward of thirty-five thousand men of all arms were in hand. General Beauregard's health was feeble. He was slowly recovering from a severe attack, which had given just cause for serious alarm; but, sick as he was, he was indefatigable in duty. Much, however, devolved on the general-in-chief. Soon after his headquarters were established, General Johnston requested General Bragg, then a major-general of volunteers, to act as his adjutant-general, especially during the reorganization of the army, which was soon to take place. In a day or two he told me Bragg had consented, but would retain his command [as corps commander] in the approaching battle. This was my first knowledge that a battle was imminent. Questions have been mooted as to who projected and who planned the battle of Shiloh. I do not know. I have heard, however, from President Davis's own lips, that the concentration of troops at Corinth, for this purpose, was agreed upon between him and General Johnston beforehand; and that, two days before the battle was fought, General Johnston sent him a despatch in cipher. But I regard these questions and their solution as wholly unimportant. The facts hereafter revealed, which took place on the field the day before the battle, demonstrate that, but for Sidney Johnston, no such battle would have been fought. As far as this question of honor between the generals is concerned, it was emphatically Sidney Johnston's battle, though this fact would never be inferred from the official report of it sent to the Government.

General Johnston was most active in his attention to all the details of reorganization and preparations for the battle. At an early stage in these proceedings, he said he could add a full brigade to his strength, if he could substitute negroes for soldiers detailed as cooks and teamsters, and asked my assistance. I advised sending out men of well-known character from the army into the counties in the rear, with authority to hire, for sixty or ninety days, such negroes as he wanted, and to give obligations binding the Government to pay their value as agreed upon, if, on any account, they were not returned. It was adopted, but we got less than fifty negroes, the men sent out saying, “Those people have given their sons freely enough, but it is folly to talk to them about a negro or a mule.” The general said: “I regret this disappointment; a single brigade may determine the fate of a battle. These people do not seem to be [553] aware how valueless would be their negroes were we beaten.” And on the morning of the 4th of April, our horses already waiting under saddle, I will ever remember his pause on the door-step, lost in thought, and how, looking up, he muttered, half aloud, “Yes, I believe I have overlooked nothing.”

General Beauregard informs the writer:

I prepared the order of march and of battle, which were submitted by me to Generals Johnston and Bragg, in presence of Colonel Jordan, chief of staff of the whole army, and they were accepted without one word of alteration. They were then put in proper form by Colonel Jordan, and furnished to the corps commanders.

These orders are in Appendix C to this chapter. In a letter from General Bragg to the writer occur the following comments:

Galveston, Texas, December 16, 1874.
dear Colonel: Yours of the 8th instant, asking for any facts in my possession as to the authorship of the plan for the battle of Shiloh, is received. The details of that plan, arranged after General A. Sidney Johnston decided on delivering battle and had given his instructions, were made up and published to the army in full from the adjutant-general's office. My first knowledge of them was derived from this general order, the authorship of which has been claimed by General Beauregard.

Conceding the arrangement of the details to Beauregard or Jordan, General Bragg continues:

In this case, as I understood then, and still believe, Johnston gave general instructions for the general movement. . . . Over his (Jordan's) signature these elaborated details reached the army.

General Bragg goes on to say that Johnston's general plan was admirable, but condemns the elaboration of the details. He continues:

When the time arrived for execution, you know well what occurred. In spite of opposition and prediction of failure, Johnston firmly and decidedly ordered and led the attack in the execution of his general plan, and, notwithstanding the faulty arrangement of troops, was eminently successful up to the moment of his fall. The victory was won. How it was lost the official reports will show, and history has already recorded.

Independent of General Beauregard's explicit statement, and General Bragg's recollection, nothing could be more natural than that General Johnston should confide the elaboration of the plan of advance and the orders for the movements of troops to General Beauregard. When that officer reported to him he was assigned to command at Columbus, with special reference to his distinction as a soldier and an engineer. He had now been five or six weeks in the neighborhood of Corinth studying this precise problem. What were the best arrangements for [554] an advance against Grant was dependent on an acquaintance with the roads and the nature of the ground to be contested. This was presumably within General Beauregard's knowledge, though his adjutant-general says he had no topographical information, “which hitherto the Confederate generals had been unable to acquire of that region, and of which indeed they could learn nothing definite.” 1 Governor Harris informs the writer that General Johnston seemed to understand the topography of the battle-field thoroughly, principally through information from Major Waddell, now of St. Louis, who showed peculiar talents as a scout.

General Johnston has also been censured for “miscalculating” the time it would take his troops to march from Corinth to the battle-field. General Beauregard had arranged all these details with great particularity; and though there were some mistakes and inherent defects in the order of march which led to confusion and delay, the great obstacles to the rapid movement of the troops were their own rawness and the rain and mud-obstacles which neither foresight nor skill could avert or remedy.

The Comte de Paris advances, in the following paragraph, a better-grounded charge :

We are also of the opinion that they committed a grave mistake in deploying the different corps in successive lines along the whole front of the army, instead of intrusting a part of that front to each corps, itself formed in several lines.

It will be seen by examining the orders issued, and the details of the advance given in the course of this narrative, that the Confederate army attacked the Federal position in three lines parallel to its supposed front. The Comte de Paris claims substantially that the three corps should have attacked by lines perpendicular, instead of parallel, to that front. There is force in the objection; and that such was General Johnston's original intention is clearly evinced by the following telegram:

Corinth, April 8, 1862.
General Buell in motion 30,000 strong, rapidly from Columbia by Clifton to Savannah. Mitchell behind him with 10,000. Confederate forces-40,000-ordered forward to offer battle near Pittsburg. Division from Bethel, main body from Corinth, reserve from Burnsville, converging to-morrow near Monterey on Pittsburg. Beauregard second in command, Polk the left, Bragg the centre, Hardee the right wing, Breckinridge the reserve. Hope engagement before Buell can form junction.

To the President, Richmond.

The words italicized are in General Johnston's own handwriting in the original dispatch.

Why this plan was changed in the orders issued the writer cannot tell. Doubtless General Johnston assented to the change in deference [555] to General Beauregard's opinions in the matter, and for reasons which seemed sufficient at the time. It seems apparent now that much of the confusion, entanglement, and delay, that occurred on the march between Monterey and Mickey's, and of the subsequent intermingling of commands, might have been avoided by adhering to the original plan. At the same time it may be said in extenuation that the entire organization of the army was so recent and temporary in its character, that the breaking up of the corps did not greatly affect either the morale of the troops or the result.

But important as were the preliminaries — the maps, the roads, the methods of putting his army face to face with the enemy, which General Johnston had to take on trust-he knew that the chief strategy of the battle was in the decision to fight. Once in the presence of the enemy, he knew that the result would depend on the way in which his troops were handled. This was his part of the work, and he felt full confidence in his own ability to carry it out successfully.


Special orders, no. 8.

headquarters, army of the Mississippi, Corinth, Mississippi, April 3, 1862.
I.-In the impending movement the corps of this army will march, assemble, and take order of battle in the following manner, it being assumed that the enemy is in position about a mile in advance of Shiloh church, with its right resting on Owl Creek, and its left on Lick Creek: 1. The Third Corps, under Major-General Hardee, will advance as soon as practicable on the Ridge road from Corinth to what is known as the “Bark” road, passing about half a mile northward of the Workhouse. The head of the column will bivouac if possible to-night, at Mickey's house, at the intersection of the road from Monterey to Savannah. The cavalry, thrown well forward during the march to reconnoitre and prevent surprise, will halt in front of the Mickey house on the Bark road. 2. Major Waddell, aide-de-camp to General Beauregard, with two good guides, will report for service to Major-General Hardee. 3. At 3 A. M. to-morrow the Third Corps with the left in front will continue to advance by the Bark road, until within sight of the enemy's outposts or advanced positions, when it will be deployed in line of battle according to the nature of the ground, its left resting on Owl Creek, its right toward Lick Creek, supported on that flank by half of its cavalry; the left flank being supported by the other half. The interval between the extreme right of this: corps and Lick Creek will be filled by a brigade or division-according to the extent of the ground — from the Second Corps. These troops, during the battle, will also be under the command of Major-General Hardee.

He will make the proper disposition of the artillery along the line of battle, remembering that the rifled guns are of long range, and should be placed on any commanding positions in rear of his infantry to fire mainly on the reserves. and [556] second line of the enemy, but occasionally will be directed on his batteries and heads of columns.

II.-The Second Corps, under Major-General Braxton Bragg, will assemble on Monterey, and move thence as early as practicable; the right wing with left in front by the road from Monterey to Savannah, the head of column to reach the immediate vicinity of Mickey's house, at the intersection with the Bark road, before sunset.

The cavalry with this wing will take position on the road to Savannah beyond Mickey's as far as Owl Creek, having advanced guards and pickets well to the front. The left wing of this corps will advance at the same time, also, left in front, by the road from Monterey to Purdy — the head of the column to reach, by night, the intersection of that road with the Bark road. This wing will continue the movement in the morning as soon as the rear of the Third Corps shall have passed the Purdy road, and which it will then follow.

The Second Corps will form the second line of battle, about one thousand yards in rear of the first line; it will be formed, if practicable, with regiments in double columns at half distance, disposed as advantageously as the nature of the ground will admit; and, with a view to facility of deployment, the artillery placed as may seem best to Major-General Bragg.

III.-The First Corps, under Major-General Polk, with the exception of the detached division at Bethel, will take up its line of march by the Ridge road, hence to Pittsburg, half an hour after the Third Corps shall have passed Corinth, and will bivouac to-night in rear of that corps, and on to-morrow will follow the movements of said corps, with the same interval of time as to-day. When its head of column shall reach the vicinity of the Mickey house, it will be halted in column or massed on the line of the Bark road, according to the nature of the ground, as a reserve. Meanwhile, one regiment of its cavalry will be placed in observation on the road from Johnston's house to Stantonville, with advanced guards and pickets thrown out well in advance toward Stantonville. Another regiment or battalion of cavalry will be posted in the same manner on the road from Monterey to Purdy, with its rear resting on or about the intersection of that road with the Bark road, having advanced guards and pickets in the direction of Purdy.

The forces at Bethel and Pardy will defend their positions as already instructed, if attacked; otherwise they will assemble on Purdy, and thence advance with advanced guards, flankers, and all other prescribed military precautions, forming a junction with the rest of the First Corps at the intersection of that road with the Bark road, leading from Corinth.

IV.-The Reserve of the forces will be concentrated by the shortest and best route at Monterey, as soon as the rear of the Second Corps shall have moved out of that place. Its commander will take up the best position, whence to advance, either in the direction of Mickey's or Pratt's house, on the direct road to Pittsburg — if that road is found practicable-or in the direction of the Ridge road to Hamburg, throwing all its cavalry on the latter road as far as its intersection with the one to Pittsburg, passing through Grier's Ford, on Lick Creek.

This cavalry will throw well forward advanced guards and videttes toward Grier's Ford, and in the direction of Hamburg, and, during the impending battle, when called to the field of combat, will move by the Grier's Ford road.

A regiment of the infantry reserve will be thrown forward to the intersection [557] of the Gravel Hill road with the Ridge road to Hamburg, as a support to the cavalry.

The Reserve will be formed of Breckinridge's, Bowen's, and Statham's brigades, as now organized, the whole under the command of Brigadier-General Breckinridge.

V.-General Bragg will detach the Fifty-first and Fifty-second Regiments, Tennessee Volunteers, Blount's Alabama, and Desha's Arkansas Battalions, and Bain's battery, from his corps, which, with two of Carroll's regiments, now en route for these headquarters, will form a garrison for the post and depot of Corinth.

VI.-Strong guards will be left at the railroad-bridges between Iuka and Corinth, to be furnished in due proportions from the commands at Iuka, Burnsville, and Corinth.

VII.-Proper guards will be left at the camps of the several regiments of the forces in the field; corps commanders will determine the strength of these guards.

VIII.-Wharton's regiment of Texas Cavalry will be ordered forward at once, to scout on the road from Monterey to Savannah, between Mickey's and its intersection with the Pittsburg-Purdy road. It will annoy and harass any force of the enemy moving by the latter way to assail Cheatham's division at Purdy.

IX.-The chief-engineer of the forces will take all due measures and precautions, and give all requisite orders for the repairs of the bridges, causeways, and roads, on which our troops may move in the execution of these orders.

X.-The troops, so individually intelligent, and with such great interests involved in the issue, are urgently enjoined to be observant of the orders of their superiors in the hour of battle. Their officers must constantly endeavor to hold them in hand, and prevent the waste of ammunition by heedless, aimless firing --the fire should be slow-always at a distinct mark. It is expected that much and effective work will be done by the bayonet.

By command of General A. S. Johnston:

Thomas Jordan, Assistant Adjutant-General. For General A. S. Johnston, commanding Army of Mississippi.

Memorandum for the commanders of the Corps and of the reserve.

headquarters, army of the Mississippi, Corinth, April 3, 1862.
I.-As soon as the reserve shall have taken position at Monterey, a strong working-party will be sent to repair the bridges, causeway, and road across Lick Creek, on the direct road from Monterey to Pittsburg, so that it may be used in any forward movement of the reserve.

II.-In the approaching battle every effort should be made to turn the left flank of the enemy so as to cut off his line of retreat to the Tennessee River, and throw him back on Owl Creek, where he will be obliged to surrender. Every precaution must also be taken on our part to prevent unnecessary exposure of our men to the enemy's gunboats.

By command of General A. S. Johnston:

Thomas Jordan, Assistant Adjutant-General. For the commander of the forces, Army of Mississippi, Corinth, Mississippi.

1 Jordan's “Life of Forrest,” p. 110.

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