During the angry political strife which preceded the contest of arms, General Albert Sidney Johnston 2
remained silent, stern, and sorrowful.
He determined to stand at his post in San Francisco
, performing his full duty as an officer of the United States
, until events should require a decision as to his course.
— his adopted State--passed the ordinance of secession from the Union
, the alternative was presented, and, on the day he heard the news, he resigned his commission in the army.
He kept the fact concealed, however, lest it might stir up disaffection among the turbulent
population of the Pacific Coast
He said, “I shall do my duty to the last, and, when absolved, shall take my course.”
All honest and competent witnesses now accord that he carried out this purpose in letter and spirit.
, who relieved him, reported that he found him “carrying out the orders of the Government
's Administration treated General Johnston
with a distrust which wounded his pride to the quick, but afterward made such amends as it could, by sending him a major-general's commission.
He was also assured through confidential sources that he would receive the highest command in the Federal
But he declined to take part against his own people, and retired to Los Angeles
with the intention of farming.
There he was subjected to an irritating surveillance; while at the same time there came
across mountain and desert the voice of the Southern
people calling to him for help in their extremity.
His heart and intellect both recognized their claim upon his services, and he obeyed.
At this time he wrote, “No one could feel more sensibly the calamitous condition of our country than myself, and whatever part I may take hereafter, it will always be a subject of gratulation with me that no act of mine ever contributed to bring it about.
I suppose the difficulties now will only be adjusted by the sword.
In my humble judgment, that was not the remedy.”
When he arrived in the new Confederacy, his coming was welcomed with a spontaneous outburst of popular enthusiasm, and deputations from the West
preceded him to Richmond
, entreating his assignment to that department.
said that he regarded his coming as of more worth than the accession of an army of ten thousand men; and on the 10th of September, 1861, he was intrusted with the defense of that part of the Confederate States
which lay west of the Alleghany Mountains
, except the Gulf Coast
having control of the coast of West Florida
, and Mansfield Lovell
of the coast of Mississippi
). His command was
General Albert Sidney Johnston at the age of fifty-seven.
From a photograph taken in salt Lake City in 1860.
the appearance of General Albert Sidney Johnston before the war is described as both commanding and attractive.
In some respects the bust of Alexander Hamilton is the best extant likeness of him, a resemblance very frequently remarked.
His cheek-bones were rather high, and with his nose and complexion gave him a Scotch look.
His chin was delicate and handsome; his teeth were white and regular, and his mouth was square and firm.
In the portrait by Bush taken about this time, his lips seem rather full, but as they are best remembered, they were somewhat thin and very firmly set. Light-brown hair clustered over a noble forehead, and from under heavy brows his deep-set but clear, steady eyes looked straight at you with a regard kind and sincere, yet penetrating.
In repose his eyes were as blue as the sky, but in excitement they flashed to a steel-gray, and exerted a remarkable power over men. He was six feet and an inch in height, of about one hundred and eighty pounds weight, straight as an arrow, with broad, square shoulders and a massive chest.
He was strong and active, and of a military bearing.-W. P. J.|
imperial in extent, and his powers and discretion as large as the theory of the Confederate Government permitted.
He lacked nothing except men, munitions of war, and the means of obtaining them.
He had the right to ask for anything, and the State Executives
had the power to withhold everything.
the Mississippi River
divided his department into two distinct theaters of war. West of the River
with a force of from 60,000 to 80,000 Federals, confronted by Price
in the extreme
southwest corner of the State
with 6000 men, and by Hardee
, in north-eastern Arkansas
, with about as many raw recruits down with camp diseases and unable to move.
East of the Mississippi
, the northern boundary of Tennessee
was barely in his possession, and was held under sufferance from an enemy who, for various reasons, hesitated to advance.
The Mississippi opened the way to a ruinous naval invasion unless it could be defended and held.
was at Cairo
with 20,000 men; and Polk
, to oppose his invasion, had seized Columbus, Ky.
, with about 11,000 Confederates, and had fortified it. Tennessee
was twice divided: first by the Tennessee River
, and then by the
Autograph found inside the cover of General Johnston's pocket-map of Tennessee, and written three days before the battle of Shiloh--probably his last Autograph.|
, both of which invited the advance of a hostile force.
Some small pretense of fortifications had been made on both rivers at Forts Henry
, near the boundary line, but practically there was nothing to prevent the Federal
army from capturing Nashville
, then the most important depot of supplies west of the Alleghanies
Hence the immediate and pressing question for General Johnston
was the defense of the Tennessee
The mock neutrality of Kentucky
, which had served as a paper barrier, was terminated, on the 13th of September, by a formal defiance from the Union Legislature of Kentucky
The United States Government had about 34,000 volunteers and about 6000 Kentucky
Home Guards assembled in the State
under General Robert Anderson
, of Fort Sumter
fame, who had with him such enterprising corps commanders as Sherman
, and Nelson
had some four thousand ill-armed and ill-equipped troops at Cumberland Gap
under General Zollicoffer
, guarding the only line of railroad communication between Virginia
, and overawing the Union
population of East Tennessee
This hostile section penetrated the heart of the Confederacy
like a wedge and flanked and weakened General Johnston
's line of defense, requiring, as it did, constant vigilance and repression.
's force, General Johnston
found only 4000 men available to protect his [whole line against 40,000 Federal troops.
There were, it is true, some four thousand more raw recruits in camps of