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Chapter 4:

I very much regret I should find it incumbent upon me to discuss, at this hour, certain operations in the West; but most unjust strictures, passed upon me by General Johnston, and which are derogatory to my character, alike as a man and a soldier, compel me to speak in self-defence, or otherwise admit by silence the charges brought forth.

Although I feel by reason of injustice done me in the past that I have good cause to demand of our people the privilege of a hearing upon certain matters little understood by them. I would, nevertheless, have left the work of vindication to the unbiassed historian of the future, had not my words and actions been so strangely misrepresented.

Before and just after the close of the war, our people, in the despair of defeat, were in no state of mind to listen to truth which ran counter to their prejudices. Blind passion, however, has now subsided, and reason, it is hoped, has returned. I therefore solicit a hearing upon the subject of some of the most important historical events recounted by General Johnston, and in which I was a prominent actor. [70]

In his Narrative General Johnston speaks as follows, pages 353-54:

General Hood in his report of his own disastrous operations accused me of gross official mis-statements of the strength of the Army and of its losses-asserting that I had “at and near Dalton” an available force of seventy-five thousand (75,000) men, and that twenty-two thousand five hundred (22,500) of them were lost in the campaign, including seven thousand (7000) prisoners. He recklessly appealed for the truth of these assertions to Major Kinloch Falconer, Assistant Adjutant General, by whom the returns of the Army were made, which were my authority for the statement attacked by General Hood. At my request, made in consequence of this attack, Major Falconer made another statement from the data in his possession, which contradicts the appellant. By that statement the effective strength of the Army “at and near Dalton” was forty thousand four hundred and eighty-four (40,484) infantry and artillery, and twenty-three hundred and ninety (2390) cavalry.

Furthermore, page 356, he says:

The loss of the Confederate Army in this campaign, while under my command, was nine thousand nine hundred and seventy-two (9972) killed and wounded. About a third of it occurred near Dalton and Resaca.

The point in controversy, and which I shall consider at present, is this statement made in my official report:

On the 6th of May, 1864, the Army lay at and near Dalton, awaiting the advance of the enemy. Never had so large a Confederate Army been assembled in the West. Seventy thousand (70,000) effective men were in the easy direction of a single commander, whose good fortune it was to be able to give successful battle, and redeem the losses of the past. * * The Army of Tennessee lost twenty-two thousand seven hundred and fifty (22,750) men, nearly one-third of its strength.

I shall now demonstrate the actual loss during General Johnston's campaign. In order to do this, it is necessary to prove what was the force “at and near Dalton,” or as I expressed it in my official report, “In the easy direction of a single commander,” May 6th, 1864. It must be admitted that in order to estimate the loss of an Army during any campaign, [71] siege, or battle, it is necessary first to ascertain the total effective force at the beginning of hostilities, and when the battle is over, or the siege, or campaign ended, again to find out the effective total, which, subtracted from the number at the outset, will unquestionably give the loss. This is the only means by which it can be fairly indicated. The losses of an Army are greater or less according to the manner in which the troops are handled; i. e., an Army standing its ground and fighting, or advancing and driving the enemy, as was the case in Virginia, under General Lee, will count but few stragglers and deserters; the actual loss is not great, from the fact that the wounded men go to their homes proud of their wounds, and the majority of them are soon found again in the ranks.

On the other hand, an Army fighting and retreating at the same time, taking up positions, day after day, to be given up only under cover of darkness, suffers great loss. During such a campaign, the orders necessary to be issued in withdrawing from the immediate presence of the enemy, are depressing, such as directing that dead silence be observed, wheels muffled, etc., for fear of discovery and being fired upon. Let this policy be continued for a distance of one hundred miles, as it was from Dalton to Atlanta, and the “pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war” are lost in a somewhat funereal procession.

The wounded cannot return home buoyant and hopeful, as they are forced to bear with them the chilling intelligence that the Army is falling back; in all such instances they tarry with their friends, and many fail to report again for duty. However, the loss from this source is but small in comparison to that which accrues from the number of stragglers picked up by the enemy, and of deserters who, beholding their homes abandoned to the foe, become disheartened, and return to their families within the lines of the enemy, as was the case in North Georgia and West Alabama during General Johnston's continued retreat. [72]

The statement derived from Doctor Foard's1 return of the killed and wounded, is doubtless correct; but General Johnston's intention cannot, assuredly, be to affirm that this number, nine thousand nine hundred and seventy-two (9972), constitutes his entire loss during his campaign. According to the return of Major Falconer, his own Adjutant General,2 and to which he refers, the effective strength of the Army on the 10th of June, near Kennesaw Mountain, when about eighty miles from Dalton, and within about twenty miles of Atlanta, was fifty-nine thousand two hundred and forty-eight (59,248); whilst the return of the 10th of July shows, just after crossing the Chattahoochee river on the night of the 9th, an effective total of only fifty thousand six hundred and twenty-seven (50,627), which, subtracted from the number we had when near Kennesaw Mountain the 10th of June, demonstrates a loss of eight thousand six hundred and twenty-one (8621), less six hundred (600) of J. K. Jackson's command, sent to Savannah. Therefore, it seems impossible that this General should wish to create the impression that nine thousand nine hundred and seventy-two (9972) was his entire loss from all causes, when, within the last twenty miles of his retreat, he lost eight thousand and twenty-one (8021) effective men.

A vacancy in the ranks, brought about by desertion, is as actual and effective as if the soldier had been killed in battle. It is worse in its results, as the deserter generally takes with him his arms, and demoralizes the comrades he has forsaken.

I shall now pass to New Hope Church, a little higher up the country, and ascertain his effective force, to which must be added three thousand three hundred and eighty-eight (3388)3 killed and wounded prior to his arrival at that point, or to “the passage of the Etowah,” since they were effective soldiers at Dalton; in this manner I shall gradually trace the number of available troops, from which deduct the effective [73] total turned over to me by General Johnston on the 18th July, and I shall finally arrive at his entire loss during the campaign.

The Army reached New Hope Church on the 25th and 26th of May, and remained in that vicinity about ten days previous to the retreat upon Pine and Kennesaw Mountains, near Marietta. It was here visited by General L. T. Wigfall, a man of talent, and, at that time, in the Confederate States Senate, but who, owing to his intense enmity to President Davis, allowed himself to be governed by undue influences. General Wigfall was virtually the political chief of staff of General Johnston, and considering the close relations of these gentlemen, a statement from him relative to the strength of the Army at that period may safely be regarded as good authority. This Senator, in a speech directed against President Davis and myself, in the Confederate States Senate, asserted that, “at New Hope Church, he (Johnston) had of all arms” 4 sixty-four thousand (64,000); of these eight thousand (8000) were cavalry, supposing it not to have increased by recruiting up to that time; that gives him fifty-six thousand (56,000) infantry and artillery.

Thus he allowed fifty-six thousand (56,000) infantry and artillery on the 26th May, after being out thirteen days from Dalton; but admitted only eight thousand (8000) cavalry. There must be a mistake in respect to this arm of the service. It should be borne in mind that General Johnston reports, in accordance with Major Falconer's statement, on the 1st of May, and previous to General Sherman's advance, only two thousand three hundred and ninety-two (2392) cavalry, and that no other return was made up until the 10th June, when the Army was near Kennesaw Mountain-forty days in the interim having elapsed. Field-returns are made up from the returns of corps commanders, and may be called for every ten days, or every month or two, as the Commanding General may deem [74] proper. It does not follow, however, that commanders of corps, divisions, brigades, and regiments, neglect to make up their returns every few days. In fact, it is well known that this duty is neglected by no discreet officer, even during an active campaign; otherwise there would be no means of ascertaining the number of men engaged in any one battle. The return of Major Falconer, I presume, is correct so far as it gives the effective strength of the cavalry directly at Dalton on the 1st of May; but it does not include brigades “near Dalton,” “within the easy direction” of General Johnston, as shown by the following extract from the official return now in the possession of Major General Wheeler, a copy of which this officer furnished me on the 2d May, 1874:

May 6th, 1864. General field and staff and company officers present, five hundred and twenty-five (525); total effective fighting force, four thousand two hundred and ninety-nine (4299); aggregate officers and men effective for battle, four thousand eight hundred and twenty-four (4824). Dibbrell and Harrison joined from East Tennessee with fourteen hundred and fifteen (1415) effective men just after this report was made. Dibbrell and Harrison reached Resaca about May 1st. I went down and inspected the command.

This aggregate gives a total effective of six thousand two hundred and thirty-nine (6239), and it is evident that General Johnston's chief of cavalry, Major General Wheeler, had in his command this number, “at and near Dalton,” not only on the 6th, but on the 1st of May.

General Johnston himself furnishes proof of the correctness of Major General Wheeler's report of the 6th, by his acknowledgment of the presence of Dibbrell's brigade on the 9th of May, in these words :5

“ On the same day, Major General Wheeler, with Dibbrell's and Allen's brigades, encountered a large body of Federal cavalry near Varnell's Station.” He admits also General [75] Martin's division of cavalry to have been at Cartersville a short distance south of Resaca on the 1st of May, and Major Kinloch Falconer states in his official report :6 “The cavalry of the Mississippi Army which joined near Adairsville was estimated at three thousand nine hundred (3900) effective men, and Martin's cavalry division, which joined near Resaca, at three thousand five hundred (3500).” Let us, therefore, continue the search for cavalry, before returning to New Hope Church to make the first estimate of the effective strength of this Army. General Johnston, in his Narrative, alludes to the following accessions (p. 353): “Jackson's three thousand nine hundred (3900) met us at Adairsville on the 17th.” This number, added to Wheeler's and Martin's forces of six thousand two hundred and thirty-nine (6239), gives of this arm of the service an effective total of ten thousand one hundred and thirty-nine (10,139); which number, in lieu of eight thousand (8000) reported at New Hope Church, added to fifty-six thousand (56,000) infantry and artillery, gives sixty-six thousand one hundred and thirty-nine (66,139), instead of sixty-four thousand (64,000), of all arms, as stated by General Wigfall.

The following letter, from Major General Wheeler affords additional evidence of the correctness of the foregoing estimate of cavalry:

New Orleans, La., June 1st, 1866.
Dear General:--In reply to your inquiry as to the aggregate number of officers and enlisted men, mounted and dismounted, I could have thrown into action at any time prior to the siege of Atlanta, had I been notified that a battle was to be fought, and time given to bring up men detailed at the rear, I will state that the records in my possession show that upon the 10th day of July, 1864, the figures referred to were eight thousand four hundred and ten (8410); of these, six thousand two hundred and seventy-nine (6279) were fighting, enlisted men already on duty, mounted on serviceable horses. General Jackson had three brigades which are not included in the above. [76]

I cannot give his exact force, but when he first joined the Army near Adairsville I was informed he had about forty-five hundred (4500) men.

I remain, General, with great respect,

Your obedient servant,


Joseph Wheeler. To General John B. Hood, Late Commanding Army of Tennessee.

Thus, the first summary shows an effective total of sixty-six thousand one hundred and thirty-nine (66,139) men, thirteen days out from Dalton; to which force should be added three thousand three hundred and eighty-eight (3388) killed and wounded, a loss which General Johnston acknowledges to have sustained prior to the passage of the Etowah, and the result shows a grand Army of sixty-nine thousand five hundred and twenty-seven (69,527) effectives “at and near Dalton,” exclusive of deserters, stragglers, and the prisoners captured from the commencement of the campaign to the arrival of the Army at New Hope Church. Therefore it requires an allowance of but four hundred and seventy-three (473) men, lost as stragglers and deserters during the thirteen days of retreat, in order to sum up the seventy thousand (70,000) effectives alluded to in my official report.

I shall now ascertain the strength of the Army at Adairsville, on the 17th May, after four days retreat, and again. estimate the effective strength “at or near Dalton.”

Shortly after the fall of Atlanta, and whilst we were lying in bivouac at Lovejoy Station, I sent for Major Kinloch Falconer, who was at that time one of my Assistant Adjutant Generals, and called his attention to the outcry against me,. through the medium of the press, which charged that I had lost many more men during the siege of Atlanta than had General Johnston during his campaign; and, inasmuch as he was the Adjutant General of my predecessor, I desired to know from him the entire loss, from all causes, during the retreat from Dalton to Atlanta. He at once replied that he could not [77] give me the exact figures, for the reason that General Johnston had taken with him all the books and records of the Army to Macon, but that we had lost, in round numbers, twenty-five thousand (25,000) men. Moreover, that we had, at Adairsville, fifty-three thousand (53,000) infantry. Two of my staff officers, Captain John Smith and Lieutenant E. B. Wade, happened to be present at the time, and gave me, whilst these facts were fresh in their memory, the following affidavits:

Houston, Texas, .June 21st, 1865.
I certify that on or about the 10th September, 1864, Major Kinloch Falconer, Assistant Adjutant General, Army of Tennessee, reported officially in the presence of Lieutenant E. B. Wade, Aide-de-Camp, Mr. James H. Haggerty, and myself, to General J. B. Hood, at Lovejoy's Station, Ga., that the loss of that Army, from all causes during the campaign from Dalton to Atlanta, Ga., between the 7th of May and 18th of July, 1864, was twenty-five thousand (25,000) effective men. He also stated that the Army, when at Adairsville, Ga., numbered fifty-three thousand (53,000) effective infantry, after the losses sustained at Rocky Face Mountain and Resaca, Ga.


John Smith, Aide-de-Camp.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 22d June, A. D. 1865.


I certify that on or about the 10th day of September, 1864, Major Kinloch Falconer, late Assistant Adjutant General, Army of Tennessee, C. S. A., reported officially in the presence of Captain John S. Smith, Aide-de-Camp, Mr. Haggerty, and myself, to General J. B. Hood, commanding Army at Lovejoy Station, Ga., that the loss of that Army, from all causes, during the campaign from Dalton to Atlanta, Ga., between the 7th day of May and the 18th day of July, 1864, was twentyfive thousand (25,000) effective men. He (Majot Kinloch Falconer) also stated that the Army when at Adairsville, Ga., numbered fifty-three thousand (53,000) effective infantry, after the losses sustained at Rocky Face Mountain and Resaca, Ga.


This day came before me, J. N. Clark, J. P. for said county, E. B. Wade, and made oath that the facts stated in the within certificate are true to the best of his knowledge and belief, this 1st day of June, 1866.

Sworn and subscribed before me the date above.


J. N. Clark, J. P. For said County.

The statement of Major Falconer relative to the strength of the infantry at Adairsville tallies very well with that of General Wigfall, as to this arm of the service at New Hope Church, and I have no doubt of the correctness of Major Falconer's assertion to me.

Allowing three thousand eight hundred (3800) artillery, acknowledged by Major Falconer on the 10th of June, the Army at Adairsville exhibits, with the addition of ten thousand one hundred and thirty-nine (10,139) cavalry, an effective total of sixty-six thousand nine hundred and thirty-nine (66,939), to which should be added three thousand three hundred and eighty-eight (3388) killed and wounded “near Dalton and Resaca,” and this second summary shows an effective total of seventy thousand three hundred and twenty-seven (70,327), exclusive of stragglers, deserters, and prisoners captured from Dalton to Adairsville.

The foregoing summary fully tallies with the first, and we find, when only four days out from Dalton, over seventy thousand effectives, exclusive of deserters, stragglers, and prisoners captured.

It cannot be asserted with any degree of reason that it was not feasible to have remained longer at Dalton, inasmuch as General Johnston had only to fortify Mill Creek and Snake Creek Gaps to insure his safety, and sufficient time to receive all the reinforcements then en route to Dalton.

As further evidence of the correctness of my assertion, this General states in his Narrative, page 352: [79]

The troops received by the Army of Tennessee during the campaign were those sent and brought to it by Lieutenant General Polk, and formed the corps of the Army which he commanded. Of these, Canty's Division of about three thousand (3000) effectives reached Resaca on the 9th of May. Loring's of five thousand (5000) on the 11th; French's of four thousand (4000) joined us at Cassville on the 18th; and Quarles's brigade of twenty-two hundred (2200) at New Hope Church on the 26th.

Our Army retreated from Dalton on the night of the 12th and the morning of the 13th of May, and, as just cited, Cantry's Division of three thousand (3000) was at Resaca on the 9th, and Loring's of five thousand (5000) on the 11th.

Thus, we discover fourteen thousand two hundred (14,200) infantry, and thirty-nine hundred (3900) cavalry under General Jackson, moving en route to Dalton, prior to the 9th of May; and that the head of Polk's column, which was Canty's Division, joined General Johnston's left, at Resaca, on that date. which facts seemingly indicate that there were at least some troops “within easy direction” of this General on the 6th of May. Let us, however, for the present, adhere to the question of the strength and losses of his Army.

Since the cavalry increased so greatly in number after the 1st May, it is reasonable to suppose that the infantry and artillery likewise augmented after that date, and before we left Dalton.

It was telegraphed over the country that General Sherman was about to advance. This information induced quite a large number of absentees to return; as General Hardee and myself had noticed this increase a short time before the retreat began, the subject was mentioned between us when discussing the approaching campaign, and we found by comparison that we had as many as forty-two thousand five hundred (42,500) effective infantry and artillery in our two corps, exclusive of not less than six hundred (6oo) effectives in the reserve artillery. If a return had been made up on the 10th or 12th of May, the number I have stated would have appeared upon it.

The following extract from a letter of Colonel W. H. Sellers, [80] Assistant Adjutant General of Hood's Corps, Army of Tennessee, dated October 20th, 1872, Galveston, Texas, furnishes evidence of the correctness of my statement in this regard:

I cannot be as positive regarding the strength of your command during the operations at and from Dalton to Atlanta as I could wish. My recollection, however, is that you mustered twenty-one to twenty-two thousand (21,000 to 22,000) effectives at Dalton and Resaca, at which latter point some diminution occurred in casualties, and in desertions on the night of our retreat on Cassville.

Hardee's Corps was the largest in the Army, and numbered about two thousand (2000) more than my corps.

As previously stated, the assertions of General Wigfall as to Johnston's strength and losses may safely be regarded as correct; and General Johnston furnishes evidence of his satisfaction therewith by inserting in his Narrative the speech delivered by Wigfall in the Senate Chamber of the Confederate States. This Senator, in his estimate of the strength of Polk's Corps,7 says “it amounted to less than nineteen thousand (19,000) men.”

Colonel Douglas West, of New Orleans, La., who was at that time Assistant Adjutant General of Polk's Corps, says on November 13th, 1869, in answer to a letter from me in regard to the strength of that corps when it joined General Johnston, “We bore on the rolls an aggregate of about twenty-four thousand (24,000) present.” General Johnston acknowledges to have received eighteen thousand one hundred (18,100) from that source.

We now have forty-two thousand five hundred (42,500) in Hood's and Hardee's Corps at Dalton, exclusive of six hundred reserve artillery; and about nineteen thousand (19,000) in Polk's Corps, which was marching rapidly to that point, together with eight thousand four hundred and ten (8410) of Wheeler's Cavalry, exclusive of Jackson's. [81]

We find, by this summary, seventy thousand five hundred (70,500) effectives — a number in excess of that which is stated in my official report. This number of troops, however, did not, at that time, embrace all the available forces which were subject to the order of General Johnston.

The following extract from Major General G. W. Smith's official report attests the presence of over three thousand (3000) Georgia State troops, which could have been, in May, 1864, assembled at Dalton, in the event the Commanding General of our Army had desired to offer battle, when in possession of Rocky-faced Ridge:

headquarters, Georgia militia, Macon, Ga., September 15th, 1864.
General J. B. Hood, Commanding Army of Tennessee, near Lovejoy Station:
General:--My appointment was dated 1st June. I took command a few days thereafter, relieving General Wayne, who returned to the duties of his office as Adjutant and Inspector General of the State. The force then in the field was composed entirely of State officers, civil and military. They had been formed into two brigades of three regiments each, and one battalion of artillery, making in all a little over three thousand (3000). The command had reported for duty to General J. E. Johnston, and had been ordered to guard the crossings of the Chattahoocnee river from Boswell Bridge to West Point.

These troops were far superior to those usually found in the ranks of the militia, as they weie composed of the civil and military officers of the State, and were possessed of more pride and intelligence. They could have performed noble service in well-constructed redoubts in Mill Creek and Snake Creek Gaps; would have proved the equal of regulars in those positions, and have allowed General Johnston the grand opportunity to attack Sherman with his main Army, by passing over the northern slope of Rocky-faced Ridge.

We find, as above stated, forty-two thousand five hundred (42,500) in Hardee's and Hood's Corps; nineteen thousand (I9,000) in Polk's Corps; eight thousand four hundred and [82] ten (8410) in Wheeler's immediate command, and three thousand (3000) Georgia State troops under General Wayne; thus forming a grand total of seventy-three thousand five hundred and ten (73,510) effectives “at and near Dalton,” either marching to or in readiness, to be promptly massed at that point.

It will be observed that I have estimated the total effective cavalry at ten thousand one hundred and thirty-nine (10,139), whereas, Major Falconer, in his return of the 10th of June (page 574, Johnston's Narrative), acknowledges ten thousand five hundred and sixteen (10,516); also, that I have made no allowance for the return to duty of some of the wounded, prior to the passage of the Etowah, nor for the killed and wounded of the cavalry, prisoners, stragglers, and deserters in the two estimates at New Hope Church and Adairsville.

I have been compelled to make these various estimates in order to demonstrate the actual strength of General Johnston's Army, since he furnished the War Office with no returns after the 1st of May until June 10th, and since he, as stated by his own Adjutant General, took with him all the books and records of the Army when he relinquished the command. Major Falconer is sustained in his statement in regard to the removal of the records to Macon, by the following declaration, which prefaces the diary of Brigadier General Shoupe:

Memoranda of daily movements and events in the Army of Tennessee, kept by Brigadier General F. A. Shoupe, assigned to duty as Chief of Staff by orders from General Hood, dated July 24th, 1864:

No records were turned over by former chief of staff; therefore, the records of the office embrace only the administration of General Shoupe.

Major Falconer, in referring to General Johnston's last return of the 10th of July, says: “The report was made under General Johnston, and signed by General Hood. On the 18th of July the command was turned over to General Hood.” [83]

He estimates the force turned over to me on the 18th of July, eight days after this return, at fifty thousand six hundred and twenty-seven (50,627) effectives, assuming that no losses occurred from the 10th to the 18th of July. The last eight days General Johnston commanded the Army. This supposition is not reasonable, since eight thousand and twentyone (8021) were lost the thirty days previous to the 10th. Owing to the change of commanders under such extraordinary circumstances, surely from two to three thousand deserted during the interval. Therefore, I estimated the number of the Army of Tennessee turned over to me on the 18th of July at forty-eight thousand seven hundred and fifty (48,750), which estimate I arrived at through my chief of staff, Brigadier General Shoupe, who was with me at the time I made my official report. I also placed his losses at twenty-two thousand seven hundred and fifty (22,750), and his strength at seventy thousand (70,000) effectives, when I knew them to have been in excess thereof. My desire, however, was not to overestimate either.

My attention having been called to the exaggerated statements of Federal officers in regard to my losses around Atlanta, it will be seen that I telegraphed the War Department on the 18th of August that General Johnston turned over to me forty-nine thousand and twelve (49,012) effectives. This must have been the assumed estimate of Major Falconer at the time, as no return was made up on the 18th of July.

Having established the strength of the Army to have been over seventy thousand (70,000) effectives after General Polk's Corps joined, it only remains to be shown that these reinforcements were “available.”

General Johnston asserts in his Narrative, page 304, “On the 5th the Confederate troops were formed to receive the enemy.” On the next page, referring to the same date (May 5th), he states, “In the evening a telegram from Lieutenant General Polk informed me that he had been ordered to join the Army of Tennessee with all his infantry” ; also, “At day-break [84] on the 7th the Federal Army moved forward; * * * in the afternoon the Federal Army placed itself in the front of the Confederate line, its right a little south of Mill Creek Gap, and its left near the Cleveland road.”

General Wigfall furnishes the following information obtained from the War Office:8

It was not till the 4th of May that General Polk was ordered to move with Loring's Division and other available force at your command to Rome, Georgia, and thence unite with General Johnston. “On the same page he states that on the 6th of May the following dispatch was sent to General Cooper, at Richmond, by General Polk from Demopolis, Alabama,” My troops are concentrating and moving as directed.

It will be seen that on the 4th of May, Polk's Army had been ordered to join the Army of Tennessee; was concentrating and moving forward rapidly by rail from Demopolis on the 6th, having but a short distance to march; and that General Sherman did not take up his position in front of Rocky-faced Ridge until the afternoon of the 7th of May.

Between the two Armies arose, I might say, a high wall of stone, as the name Rocky-faced Ridge indicates. The Confederate position was one of the strongest to be desired; it was necessary to hold but two gaps in the mountains: Mill Creek and Snake Creek. The approach of the Federal Army down the railroad from Chattanooga, in lieu of down the road from Cleveland, rendered the position the more secure, inasmuch as General Johnston would not have had a stone wall between him and his adversary, had General Sherman advanced by the latter route, where the country is open towards Cleveland. I have always thought General Sherman did not wish to accept a pitched battle, or he would have moved upon Dalton from that direction. His advance by the Chattanooga road, and, subsequently, in front of Rocky Face, convinces me that his intention was to initiate the policy of wasting our strength, which he so effectually carried out in the campaign [85] from Dalton to Atlanta. He came to the position of all others most favorable, if our commander could have been induced to hold his ground, viz: in front of Rocky-faced Ridge.

General Polk was not far distant from Dalton, when it is considered that eight thousand (8000) of his troops were at Resaca on the 9th and 11th, and that he in person was in Dalton on the 12th. General Johnston could well have awaited the arrival of the whole of this Army, since it required so small a force to hold Mill Creek and Snake Creek Gaps, as previously stated, and practically demonstrated by General Sherman's use of them, after these mountain defiles fell into his possession.

When en route to Tennessee, during the campaign in the Fall of 1864, the Confederate Army, after having captured the troops stationed at Dalton, attempted to march through Mill Creek Gap; it was prevented from so doing by a squad of men posted within a little fort, covered with railroad iron, and which had been constructed of logs of large size, around which was thrown up an embankment of earth to protect the troops against field artillery; port holes had been cut so as to allow the men to fire in all directions, and especially upon the line of the railroad. It was reported to me that field artillery had little or no effect upon this impromptu fortification, and that when the men charged up to it they could not find an entrance; therefore, it could not be taken without much loss of time, and considerable cost. Major Kinloch Falconer was severely wounded while experimenting with this little fortress, which occasioned the Army to march several miles around it. At a later hour, however, after the order to move forward had been issued, this block-house was surrendered to a detachment of our troops.

It is not often the case that all the troops to be brought into action are assembled beforehand at the precise point where a great battle is imminent. On the contrary, when two armies are approaching each other, each commander manceuvres, and, generally, one is forced to keep his adversary in check [86] until the arrival of expected reinforcements. When Lee and McClellan were in the immediate presence of each other, prior to the seven days battle around Richmond, in 1862, General Lee matured his plan, kept the enemy occupied by skirmishing until General Jackson's Army, then operating in the Valley of Virginia, marched a long distance to the railroad near Staunton, took trains to Hanover Junction, thence moved to Ashland, and from there marched and joined General Lee on the battle field of Gaines's Mills, where a great victory was achieved.

Prior to the battle of Sharpsburg, or Antietam, Jackson was at Harper's Ferry, whilst Longstreet was holding in check McClellan's entire Army at Boonsboroa Gap; notwithstanding. Jackson and Longstreet united their forces for battle at Sharpsburg. Prior also to the grandest struggle of the war, Ewell, Hill and Longstreet were extended along a line from the Potomac to Carlisle, Pa.; but all assembled for action before the heights of Gettysburg. An instance still more illustrative is presented when is taken into account the long distance which separated the Confederate forces eventually engaged in the battle of Chickamauga. Rosecranz was moving against Bragg, in Georgia, when Longstreet, with his corps, was ordered from Fredericksburg, Va., to report to Bragg, exactly as Polk was ordered to report to Johnston. Bragg, by manoeuvring, kept his adversary's attention till Longstreet made this long journey from Virginia, when followed the attack, which resulted in a glorious victory. It cannot, therefore, be argued with any degree of reason, when we consider these striking examples before us, that Polk's force-concentrating at a distance of about two hundred and eighty-eight miles, and being pushed rapidly forward by rail on the 4th of May--was not “available” on the 6th, when General Johnston was in position at Rocky-faced Ridge, and could easily have awaited the concentration of all his reinforcements at Dalton. [87]

The plan urged by this General that he was justified in his retreat from Dalton on the night of the 12th by the report that Sherman had moved with his Army down the valley beyond Rocky-faced Ridge, is not warrantable. It was only necessary to have thoroughly fortified Mill Creek and Snake Creek Gaps; collected fifteen or twenty days rations in Dalton; to have sent the trains and engines to some place of safety beyond the Etowah; to have held our position until the arrival of Polk's Army, when a grand assault upon Sherman's left flank and rear could have been made near Tunnel Hill, by passing over the northern slope of Rocky-faced Ridge, with an Army of over seventy thousand (70,000) effectives, which might easily have been increased to seventy-five thousand (75,000) by lessening the extra duty men.

This move, in my opinion, would have culminated in an overwhelming victory; and, in the event of defeat, we had, by holding Mill Creek and Snake Creek Gaps, the short line of retreat, since the railroad south of Kingston deflects greatly to the east One blow in rear of an army is always more to be feared than ten in front, and it would have required only a good roar of musketry, near Tunnel Hill, to have hastened the enemy back to the firing. I have too high a regard for General Sherman's sagacity, as a soldier, to believe that he would have moved the main body of his Army down the valley between Rocky-faced and Horn Mountains, in the direction of Rome, leaving an army of seventy thousand (70,000) at Dalton, in his rear, unless he felt assured, from past history, that his adversary would retreat.

General Johnston and Senator Wigfall have strenuously labored to show that there were not seventy thousand (70,000) available troops “at and near Dalton” on the 6th of May, 1864. I claim, however, that I have, by figures and official data, demonstrated to any unbiassed mind that they were available and “within the easy direction” of the former. In truth, I could as well have fixed upon the 12th of May as upon [88] the 6th, the date mentioned in my official report, since our Army was still at Dalton on the 12th, when nearly one-half of Polk's Corps had already joined Johnston's left at Resaca on the 9th and 11th of May. Therefore, the trivial point raised by these two gentlemen is of little or no consequence.

1 Johnston's Narrative, page 576.

2 Johnston's Narrative, page 574.

3 Johnston's Narrative, page 325.

4 Johnston's Narrative, page 591.

5 Johnston's Narrative, page 307.

6 Johnston's Narrative, page 574.

7 Johnston's Narrative, page 591.

8 Johnston's Narrative, page 590.

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