- The New line of Confederate defence south of Nashville.
-- its objects.
-- co-operation of Johnston and Beauregard.
-- capture of Island no.10 by the enemy.
-- Gen. Polk's evacuation of Columbus.
-- McCown's occupation of Island no.10 and New Madrid.
-- condition of the defences at these places.
-- Pope moving on New Madrid.
-- smallness of McCown's force.
-- Pope's strength in artillery.
-- his occupation of point Pleasant.
-- a terrific bombardment.
-- evacuation of New Madrid.
-- effect of this movement.
-- bombardment of Island no.10.
-- gallant defence of Rucker's battery.
-- transfer of a portion of McCown's forces to Fort Pillow.
-- his preparations for retreat.
-- Gen. MacKALLall assigned to the defence of the Island.
-- canal cut by the enemy across the Peninsula.
-- two gunboats pass the Island.
-- MacKALLall's surrender.
-- wretched management of the evacuation of the Island.
-- great loss of Confederate artillery.
-- the battle of Shiloh.
-- concentration of Confederate forces at Corinth.
-- Grant's lines at Pittsburg.
-- Buell advancing from Nashville.
-- design of the Confederates to attack before the junction of these forces.
-- unfortunate loss of a day in the march.
-- the Confederate plan of battle.
-- the enemy driven from his encampments.
-- splendid and irresistible charge of the Confederates.
-- tragical death of Gen. Johnston.
-- the Confederates press on in their career of victory.
-- Grant in the last extremity of defeat.
-- he retreats to the banks of the Tennessee.
-- Beauregard's order for a cessation of the conflict.
-- a fatal halt.
-- explanation of it.
-- Beauregard's great mistake.
-- demoralization of his troops by plunder.
-- Buell's forces across the Tennessee.
-- the second day's action.
-- the Confederates fall back.
-- overwhelming force of the enemy.
-- odds of the second day's battle.
-- the enemy does not attempt a pursuit.
-- a frightful sum of carnage.
-- Beauregard's claim of success.
-- Federal interpretation of the battle.
-- exultation at Washington.
-- death of Johnston, a serious loss to the Confederacy.
-- sketch of his military life.
-- President Davis' tribute to the fallen hero.
-- his obsequies in New Orleans
Since falling back to Murfreesboroa, Gen. Johnston
had managed, by combining Crittenden
's division and the fugitives from Donelson
, to collect an army of seventeen thousand men. His object was now to co-operate with Gen. Beauregard
for the defence of the Valley of the Mississippi
, on a line of operations south of Nashville
The line extending from Columbus
, by way of Forts Henry
, had been lost.
had involved the surrender of Kentucky
, and a large portion of Tennessee
to the enemy; and it had become necessary to re-organize a new line of defence south of Nashville
, the object of which would be to protect the railroad system of the Southwest
, and to ensure the defence of Memphis
and the Mississippi
Capture of Island no.10 by the enemy.
Another concern was to put the Mississippi River
in a state of complete defence; and on abandoning Columbus
, it was decided to take a strong position about forty-five miles below it at Island No.10
. Gen. Polk
, with the greater part of the garrison, retired towards Jackson, Tennessee
, and Gen. McCown
, with the remainder, was ordered to occupy and hold Island 10 and Madrid Bend.
When Gen. McCown
arrived at the Island
, he found it nearly destitute of defences.
He reached there about the 24th of February, with Col. Kennedy
's 21st Louisiana Regiment.
At that time there were no batteries on the Island
, and only two, partially armed and in bad working order, on the Tennessee
was ordered to commence fortifying the position immediately.
The only fortification at New Madrid, was Fort Thompson
, a small earth-work under the command of Col. E. W. Gantt
. Gen. McCown
immediately laid off, and ordered the construction of Fort Bankhead, at the mouth of Bayou St. John
, which makes into the Mississippi
just above New Madrid.
Between the 25th of February and the 1st of March he was followed by a detachment of the forces from Columbus
The whole force at the two points-Island 10 and New Madrid-consisted of about fourteen regiments, some of them greatly reduced.
This force was about equally divided between the two points.
On the first of March the enemy's cavalry appeared before New Madrid, and it was definitely ascertained that Gen. Pope
was moving on that place, with a large force.
He was not long in making his appearance.
The Mississippi River
was open to the gunboats of the enemy, down to Island 10
, and the Confederate
works there, for want of time, had not been completed.
To hold both places, the Confederates
had not more than five thousand effective men, and five or six wooden gunboats, under Commodore Hollins
Despite the unfavourable prospect, Gen. McCown
commenced an energetic course of operations.
At New Madrid, Fort Bankhead was finished and strengthened, as was Fort Thompson
by an abattis in front.
Batteries and magazines were put in course of erection, and guns mounted daily at the Island
Such arrangements for securing stores and taking care of the sick, as the circumstances permitted, were promptly made.
Heavy skirmishing commenced at New Madrid about the first of March, and continued daily up to the 13th.
The enemy had brought across with him a large train of artillery, including a number of 32-pounders, with which he made frequent attacks on the forts.
These attacks were handsomely met; our gunboats participating in the conflict.
The enemy established himself on the river below New Madrid, at Point Pleasant
and other places, for the purpose of annoying our transports, and cutting off communication between New Madrid and Memphis
During these thirteen days Gen. McCown
was most active in his movements-passing from one point to the other, as he deemed his presence necessary-superintending the erection of batteries at the Island
, and directing operations at New Madrid.
Up to the 12th of March, the lines of the enemy had been gradually approaching our works at the latter place.
The skirmishing and artillery conflicts had been continual and severe.
At midnight on the 12th, the enemy opened a fierce bombardment.
The scene was terribly grand.
A large number of the enemy's batteries were in full play, and were fiercely replied to, by all the guns from our forts and boats.
The darkness, the hoarse voice of the wind, the rush of the waters, the roar and flash of the guns from the shore and from the river, made a scene exceeding all description.
This bombardment continued but a short time, and soon the echoes of the last gun had died upon the waves; and the winds, and the sullen tones of the Mississippi
were the only sounds that disturbed the silence of the night.
About daylight on the morning of the 13th the enemy again opened with their 24-pounders and an 8-inch howitzer.
The principal point of attack was Fort Thompson
, under the command of acting Brig.-Gen. E. W. Gantt
, of Arkansas
This officer conducted the defence with skill and spirit, replying to the enemy so effectually as to dismount several of his guns.
The firing continued at intervals during the afternoon, but entirely ceased about sunset.
The result of these bombardments determined Gen. McCown
upon the evacuation of New Madrid.
Our wooden gunboats had suffered severely under the enemy's fire; the garrison of New Madrid was small; and Pope
's batteries were in a position which prevented reinforcements from being brought up the river.
On the night of the 13th March there was a heavy storm of rain and thunder, and under cover of the darkness the Confederate
garrison evacuated New Madrid, and sought shelter either with that of Island 10
, or in the works on the left bank.
obtained possession of New Madrid, was able to isolate Island 10 from the Lower Mississippi
, and eagerly expected the surrender of the other defences.
The evacuation was accomplished without any very serious loss.
the midst of a furious rain, and in the face of a powerful army of the enemy, it was hardly possible to have everything brought off. Gen. Gantt
laboured assiduously to save whatever he could, at Fort Thompson
, and was himself among the last who embarked.
Our greatest loss was in heavy guns.
These it was found impossible to get away; but they were spiked, and otherwise disabled.
Some three or four transports were ordered to each fort, to take off the troops and munitions.
's brigade, from Fort Bankhead, was landed at the foot of the highlands about four miles below the Island
; Gen. Gantt
's from Fort Thompson
, at Tiptonville
But although the Confederates
had surrendered New Madrid so easily, they had no idea of giving up Island 10
We have already stated that when Gen. McCown
reached the Island
the position was nearly destitute of defences.
Now there were five fine batteries erected on the Island
, and well armed, and an equal number on the Tennessee
shore-mounting in all nearly sixty guns.
Magazines had been provided, the ammunition assorted and arranged, and everything put in readiness for action.
From the Island
to New Madrid by the river, it is about twelve miles --from New Madrid to Tiptonville
about sixteen, and from Tiptonville
across to the Island
by land, about four miles. There was a river shore of twenty-seven miles, between the last two places, though they were in fact but a short distance apart.
This shore had to be closely watched, for the enemy held possession of the Missouri
side, from New Madrid to a point below Tiptonville
The brigades of Gantt
were placed along the river, to guard it, with instructions to concentrate and drive the enemy back, if he should anywhere attempt a crossing.
On the morning of the 17th the enemy's fleet commenced shelling the Island
at long range, to which the Confederates
paid but little attention.
About ten o'clock, however, they came within range, and opened on Rucker
This battery was on the Tennessee
shore, about a mile above the Island
It was located before Gen. McCown
took command at the Bend
, on rather low ground, but at an excellent point for commanding the river.
The Mississippi was very high, and this battery was separated from the others by a wide slough.
The platform was covered with water, and the magazine unsafe from dampness.
The attack was made by five iron-clad gunboats (three of them lashed together about the centre of the stream, and one lying near either shore) together with the whole mortar fleet.
The conflict was terrific.
For nine long hours, shot and shell fell in, over and around the battery, in horrible profusion-tearing up its parapet, and sending death through the company engaged in its defence.
The men worked their pieces standing half-leg deep in mud and water.
The company was small and the labour great.
In the afternoon, Capt. Rucker
, finding his men exhausted by fatigue, asked for reinforcements, which were
sent to him. For this purpose no detail was made, as a sufficient number of volunteers were found to supply his wants, and marched into the very jaws of death to the relief of their exhausted comrades.
In the mean time, from fort and river, the conflict was still kept up with unabated fury.
It seemed more than could be hoped from mortal courage and endurance, that the battery should be worked against such terrible odds.
But it was, and at last, about night-fall, the enemy was compelled to withdraw, with some of his boats for the time disabled.
had the last shot at him, as he retired up the river.
The battery mounted five guns.
Only two of them were in a condition to be worked, at the close of the fight.
, under orders from Gen. Beauregard
, left the Bend
for Fort Pillow
, on the night of the 17th of March, with six regiments of infantry, Bankhead
's light battery, and a part of Stuart
's, embarking at Tiptonville
, and reaching the former place on the morning of the 18th.
This movement was accomplished with such secrecy, that few, even of the officers remaining at the Bend
, were aware of it until it was accomplished.
On the afternoon of the 19th, Gen. McCown
was ordered to send from Fort Pillow
three regiments, to report to Gen. Bragg
, leave the remainder at that post, and return himself and re-assume command at Island 10
, which he immediately did. Upon returning to the Island
, he found the enemy engaged in cutting a canal across the Bend
, on the Missouri
side, from a point three miles above the Island
to Bayou St. John
, for the purpose of communicating with New Madrid without having to run our batteries.
From this time up to the 30th, the enemy continued to shell at long range, but without effect.
, in the mean time, made a full reconnoissance of the Bend
In his despatches he expressed confidence in his ability to repel the enemy's boats, if they should attack his batteries, but strongly intimated his doubts as to his being able to stop them if they attempted to run by. He was also busily engaged in building flatboats and collecting canoes on Reetford Lake, ostensibly with the view of bringing over reinforcements, but actually for the purpose of securing his retreat, should the enemy force a crossing in numbers sufficient to overwhelm his command, now reduced to less than two thousand effective men.
On the 1st of April, Gen. McCown
was relieved, and Gen. Mackall
assigned to the defence of the Island
In the mean time the enemy had busily progressed in his herculean enterprise of digging a canal twelve miles long, across the peninsula formed by the winding of the river.
This work was fatal to the defence of the Island
, for it enabled the enemy to take it in its rear.
On the night of the 6th of April, Gen. Mackall
moved the infantry and a battery to the Tennessee
shore, to protect the landing from anticipated attacks.
The artillerists remained on the Island
enemy's gunboats had succeeded in passing the Island
in a heavy fog; he had effected a landing above and below the Island
in large force; and the surrender of the position had become a military necessity.
But never was an evacuation so wretchedly managed.
None of the means of retreat prepared by Gen. McCown
were used; everything was abandoned; six hundred men were left to their fate on the Island
; and the force transferred to the mainland was surrendered, except the few stragglers who escaped through the cane-brakes.
The enemy captured Mackall
himself, two brigadier-generals
, six colonels, several thousand stand of arms, two thousand rank and file, seventy pieces of siege artillery, thirty pieces of field artillery, fifty-six thousand solid shot, six steam transports, two gunboats, and one floating battery carrying sixteen heavy guns.
The Southern people had expected a critical engagement at Island No.10
, but its capture was neatly accomplished without it; and, in the loss of men, cannon, ammunition, and supplies, the event was doubly deplorable to them, and afforded to the North
such visible fruits of victory as had seldom been the result of a single enterprise.
The credit of the success was claimed for the naval force under the command of Commodore Foote
The Federal Secretary of the Navy
had reason to declare that “the triumph was not the less appreciated because it was protracted, and finally bloodless.”
The Confederates had been compelled to abandon what had been fondly entitled “the Little Gibraltar” of the Mississippi
, and had experienced a loss in heavy artillery Which was nigh irreparable.
Meanwhile, Gen. Beauregard
was preparing to strike a decisive blow on the mainland, and the movements of the enemy on the Tennessee River
were preparing the situation for one of the grandest battles that had yet been fought in any quarter of the war.
The battle of Shiloh.
In the early part of March, Gen. Beauregard
, convinced of the enemy's design to cut off his communications in West Tennessee
with the eastern and southern States, by operating from the Tennessee River
, determined to concentrate all his available forces at and around Corinth
By the first of April, Gen. Johnston
's entire force, which had taken up the line of march from Murfreesboroa, had effected a junction with Beauregard
, and the united forces, which had also been increased by several regiments from Louisiana
, two divisions of Gen. Polk
's command from Columbus
, and a fine corps of troops from Mobile
, were concentrated along the Mobile and Ohio railroad, from Bethel
, and on the Memphis
and Charleston railroad from Corinth
The effective total of this force was slightly over forty thousand men.1
It was determined with this force, which justified the offensive, to strike a sudden blow at the enemy, in position under Gen. Grant
, on the west bank of the Tennessee River
, at Pittsburg
, and in the direction of Savannah
, before he was reinforced by the army under Gen. Buell
, then known to be advancing for that purpose, by rapid marches from Nashville
The great object was to anticipate the junction of the enemy's armies, then near at hand; and on the night of the 2d of April, it was decided that the attack should be attempted at once, incomplete and imperfect as were the preparations of the Confederates
for such a grave and momentous adventure.
The army had been brought suddenly together, and there had been many difficulties in the way of an effective organization.
The enemy was in position about a mile in advance of Shiloh church
— a rude, log chapel, from which the battle that was to ensue took its name --with the right resting on Owl Creek
and his left on Lick Creek
The army collected here was composed of the flower of the Federal
troops, being principally Western men, from the States of Illinois
, and Iowa
It was expected by Gen. Beauregard
that he would be able to reach the enemy's lines in time to attack him on the 5th of April.
The men, however, for the most part, were unused to marching, the roads narrow, and traversing a densely-wooded country, which became almost impassable after a severe rain-storm on the 4th, which drenched the troops in bivouac; hence the Confederate forces did not reach the intersection of the road from Pittsburg
, in the immediate vicinity of the enemy, until late in the evening of the 5th; and it was then decided that the attack should be made on the next morning, at the earliest hour practicable.
The Confederate plan of battle was in three lines — the first and second extending from Owl Creek
on the left to Lick Creek
on the right, a distance of about three miles, supported by the third and the reserve.
The first line, under Major-Gen. Hardee
, was constituted of his corps, augmented on his right by Gladden
's brigade, of Major-Gen. Bragg
The second line, composed of the other troops of Bragg
's corps, followed
the first at the distance of five hundred yards, in the same order as the first.
The army corps under Gen. Polk
followed the second line at the distance of about eight hundred yards, in lines of brigades, deployed with their batteries in rear of each brigade, moving by the Pittsburg
road, the left wing supported by cavalry.
The reserve, under Brig.-Gen. Breckinridge
, following closely on the third line, in the same order, its right wing supported by cavalry.
In the early dawn of Sunday, the 6th of April, the magnificent array was moving forward for deadly conflict, passing easily through the thin ranks of the tall forest trees, which afforded open views on every side.
But the enemy scarcely gave time to discuss the question of attack, for soon after dawn he commenced a rapid musketry fire on the Confederate
The order was immediately given by the commanding General
, and the Confederate
Such was the ardour of the second line of troops, that it was with great difficulty they could be restrained from closing up and mingling with the first line.
Within less than a mile, the enemy was encountered in force at the encampments of his advanced positions, but the first line of Confederates brushed him away, leaving the rear nothing to do but to press on in pursuit.
In about one mile more, he was encountered in strong force along almost the entire line.
His batteries were posted on eminences, with strong infantry supports.
Finding the first line was now unequal to the work before it, being weakened by extension, and necessarily broken by the nature of the ground, Gen. Bragg
ordered his whole force to move up steadily and promptly to its support.
From this time the battle raged with but little intermission.
By half-past 10 o'clock the Confederates
had already captured three large encampments, and three batteries of artillery.
Their right flank, according to the order of battle, had pressed forward ardently, under the immediate direction of Gen. Johnston
, and swept all before it. Batteries, encampments, storehouses, munitions in rich profusion, were captured; and the enemy was falling back rapidly at every point.
His left, however, was his strongest ground and position, and was disputed with obstinacy.
Mile after mile the Confederates
rushed on, sweeping the camps of the enemy before them.
was in advance, before the troops of Breckinridge
He had addressed them in a few brief words, and given the order to “Charge!”
when, at two o'clock, a minie-ball pierced the calf of his right leg. He supposed it to be a flesh wound, and paid no attention to it; but the fact was that the ball had cut an artery, and as the doomed commander rode onward to victory, he was bleeding to death.
Becoming faint from loss of blood, he turned to Gov. Harris
, one of his volunteer aides, and remarked, “I fear I am mortally wounded.”
The next moment he reeled in his saddle and fainted.
received the falling commander in his arms, and bore him a short
distance from the field, into a ravine.
Stimulants were speedily administered, but in vain.
One of his staff, in a passion of grief, threw his arms around the beloved commander, and called aloud, to see if he would respond.
But no sign or reply came, and in a moment or two more, he breathed his last.
Information of the fall of Gen. Johnston
was not communicated to the army.
It was still pressing on in its career of victory; and but little doubt remained of the fortunes of the day. As the descending sun warned the Confederates
to press their advantage, the command ran along the line, “Forward!
Let every order be forward I” Fairly in motion, they now swept all before them.
Neither battery nor battalion could withstand their onslaught.
Passing through camp after camp, rich in military spoils of every kind, the enemy was driven headlong from every position, and thrown in confused masses upon the river bank, behind his heavy artillery, and under cover of his gunboats at the landing.
He was crowded in unorganized masses on the river bank, vainly striving to cross.
And now it might be supposed that a victory was to be accomplished such as had not before illustrated the fortunes of the Confederacy
The reserve line of the Federals
was entirely gone.
Their whole army was crowded into a circuit of half to two-thirds of a mile around the landing.
They had been falling back all day. The next repulse would have put them into the river, and there were not transports enough to cross a single division before the Confederates
would be upon them.
It is true that the broken fragments of Grant
's army were covered by a battery of heavy guns well served, and two gunboats, which poured a heavy fire upon the supposed position of the Confederates
, for they were entirely hid by the forest.
But this fire, though terrific in sound, and producing some consternation at first, did no damage, as the shells all passed over, and exploded far beyond the Confederate
At last, the order was given to move forward at all points, and sweep the enemy from the field.
The sun was about disappearing, so that little time was left to finish the glorious work of the day. The movement commenced with every prospect of success.
But just at this time the astounding order was received from Gen. Beauregard
to withdraw the forces beyond the enemy's fire I The action ceased.2
The different commands, mixed and scattered, bivouacked at points most convenient to their positions,
and beyond the range of the enemy's guns.
All firing, except a half-hour shot from the gunboats, ceased, and the night was passed in quiet.
Of this extraordinary abandonment of a great victory — for it can scarcely be put in milder phrase-Gen. Beauregard
gives, in his official report of the action, only this explanation: “Darkness was close at hand; officers and men were exhausted by a combat of over twelve hours without food, and jaded by the march of the preceding day through mud and water.”
But the true explanation is, that Gen. Beauregard
was persuaded that delays had been encountered by Gen. Buell
in his march from Columbia
, and that his main force, therefore, could not reach the field of battle in time to save Gen. Grant
's shattered fugitive forces from capture or destruction on the following day.
But in this calculation he made the great errour of his military life.
When pursuit was called off, Buell
's advance was already on the other side of the Tennessee
A body of cavalry was on its banks; it was the advance of the long-expected Federal reinforcements; an army of twenty-five thousand men was rapidly advancing to the opposite banks of the river to restore Grant
's fortune, and to make him, next day, master of the situation.
Alas! the story of Shiloh
was to be that not only of another lost opportunity for the South
, but one of a reversion of fortune, in which a splendid victory changed into something very like a defeat!
As night fell, a new misfortune was to overtake Gen. Beauregard
His forces exhibited a want of discipline and a disorder which he seems to have been unable to control; and with the exception of a few thousand disciplined troops held firmly in hand by Gen. Bragg
, the whole army degenerated into bands of roving plunderers, intoxicated with victory, and scattered in a shameful hunt for the rich spoils of the battle-field.
All during the night thousands were out in quest of plunder; hundreds were intoxicated with wines and liquors found; and while scenes of disorder and shouts of revelry arose around the large fires which had been kindled, and mingled with the groans of the wounded, Buell
's forces were steadily crossing the river, and forming line of battle for the morrow.
About an hour after sunrise the action again commenced, and soon the battle raged with fury.
The shattered regiments and brigades collected by Grant
gave ground before our men, and for a moment it was thought that victory would crown our efforts a second time.
On the left, however, and nearest to the point of arrival of his reinforcements, the enemy drove forward line after line of his fresh troops.
In some places the Confederates
repulsed them by unexampled feats of valor; but sheer exhaustion was hourly telling upon the men, and it soon became evident that numbers and strength would ultimately prevail.
By noon Gen. Beauregard
had necessarily disposed of the last of his reserves, and shortly thereafter
he determined to withdraw from the unequal conflict, securing such of the results of the victory of the day before as was then practicable.
As evidence of the condition of Beauregard
's army, he had not been able to bring into the action of the second day more than twenty thousand men. In the first day's battle the Confederates
engaged the divisions of Gen. Prentiss
, of 9,000 men each, or at least 45,000 men. This force was reinforced during the night by the divisions of Gens. Nelson
, and Thomas
, of Buell
's army, some 25,000 strong, including all arms; also Gen. L. Wallace
's division of Gen. Grant
's army, making at least 33,000 fresh troops, which, added to the remnant of Gen. Grant
's forces, amounting to 20,000, made an aggregate force of at least 53,000 men arrayed against the Confederates
on the second day.
Against such an overwhelming force it was vain to contend.
At 1 P. M. Gen. Beauregard
ordered a retreat.
was left with his command as a rear guard, to hold the ground the Confederates
had occupied the night preceding the first battle, just in front of the intersection of the Pittsburg
and Hamburg roads, about four miles from the former place, while the rest of the army passed in the rear, in excellent order.
The fact that the enemy attempted no pursuit indicated his condition.
He had been too sorely chastised to pursue; and Gen. Beauregard
was left at leisure to retire to Corinth
, in pursuance of his original design to make that the strategic point of his campaign.
The battle of Shiloh
, properly extending through eighteen hours, was memorable for an extent of carnage up to this time unparalleled in the war. The Confederate loss, in the two days, in the killed outright, was 1,728, wounded 8,012, missing 957; making an aggregate of casualties 10,699.
Of the loss of the enemy, Gen. Beauregard
wrote: “Their casualties cannot have fallen many short of twenty thousand in killed, wounded, prisoners, and missing.”
was unwilling to admit that the experience of the second day had eclipsed the brilliant victory which he so unfortunately left unfinished on the banks of the Tennessee
He declared that he had left the field on the second day “only after eight hours successive battle with a superiour army of fresh troops, whom he had repulsed in every attack upon his lines, so repulsed and crippled, indeed, as to leave it unable to take the field for the campaign for which it was collected and equipped at such enormous expense, and with such profusion of all the appliances of war.”
On the other hand, the North
as its most brilliant victory.
An order of the War Department at Washington
required that at meridian of the Sunday following the battle, at the head of every regiment in the armies of the United States
there should be offered by its chaplain a prayer, giving “thanks to the Lord
of Hosts for the
recent manifestation of His power in the overthrow of the rebels and traitors.”
But whatever may be the correct estimation of the battle of Shiloh
, there was one event of it which was a most serious loss to the Confederacy
, and an occasion of popular sorrow in every part of it. This was the death of Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston
, the man especially trusted with the Confederate
fortunes in the West
, esteemed by his Government as the military genius of his country, and so gifted by nature with dignity, and with power over men, that it was said he was born to command.
This illustrious commander had already figured in many historical scenes, and up to the period of his death had led one of the most eventful and romantic military lives on the continent.
He had served in the Black Hawk
war. In the Texan
war of independence, he entered her army as a private soldier Subsequently he was made senior brigadier-general of the Texan
army and was appointed to succeed Gen. Felix Houston
in the chief command.
This led to a duel between them, in which Johnston
In 1838, he was chosen Secretary of War
of the new Republic under President Lamar
; and the following year he organized an expedition against the Cherokee Indians
He subsequently settled on a plantation in Texas
, and for several years remained there, leading the quiet life of a planter.
When the Mexican
war broke out, he, once more, in 1846, and at the request of Gen. Taylor
, resumed his profession of arms, and sought the battle-field.
He arrived in Mexico
shortly after the battles of Resaca
and Palo-Alto, and was elected colonel of the first Texas regiment.
After that regiment was discharged, he was appointed aide and inspector-general to Gen. Butler
; and in that capacity he was at the famous battle of Monterey
, and, during the fight, his horse was three times shot under him.
After the Mexican
war, he obtained the appointment of paymaster of the regular army, with the rank of major.
When the army was increased by four new regiments, Jefferson Davis
, then Secretary of War
, gave him command of the Second Cavalry, with his headquarters at San Antonio, Texas
In the latter part of 1857, he was appointed by President Buchanan
to the command of the Utah
expedition, sent to quell the Mormons.
In the spring of 1858, he crossed the plains, and arrived at Salt Lake City
, where, in consequence of his services, he was brevetted brigadier-general, and full commander of the military district of Utah.
He was subsequently sent to California
, and assumed command of the Department of the Pacific.
There the commencement of the war found him; and on learning of the secession of his adopted State, Texas, he resigned his position in the United States army, and at once prepared to remove South, to espouse the cause of the Confederacy
The Federal authorities had taken measures to arrest him, or, at least, to intercept his passage by sea. But he eluded their vigilance by taking
the overland route.
With three or four companions, increased afterwards to one hundred, on mules, he proceeded by way of Arizona
, passed through Texas
, and arrived at New Orleans in safety.
This was in August, 1861, and, immediately proceeding to Richmond
, he was assigned to the command of the Department of the Mississippi.
In the early part of the western campaign, Gen. Johnston
had fallen under the censure of the newspapers.
It has been said that this censure preyed upon his mind; but if it did, he thought very nobly of it, for in a private letter, dated after the retreat from Bowling Green
, and the fall of Fort Donelson
, he wrote: “The test of merit, in my profession, with the people, is success.
It is a hard rule, but I think it right.”
But a few days before the battle in which he fell, he expressed a resolution to redeem his losses at no distant day.
No more beautiful tribute could have been paid to the memory of the departed hero, than that made by Jefferson Davis
himself; and no more choice and touching language ever came from the polished pen of the Confederate President
, than on this occasion.
He announced the death in a special message to Congress.
He said: “Without doing injustice to the living, it may safely be said that our loss is irreparable.
Among the shining hosts of the great and good who now cluster around the banner of our country, there exists no purer spirit, no more heroic soul, than that of the illustrious man whose death I join you in lamenting.
In his death he has illustrated the character for which, through life, he was conspicuous — that of singleness of purpose and devotion to duty with his whole energies.
Bent on obtaining the victory which he deemed essential to his country's cause, he rode on to the accomplishment of his object, forgetful of self, while his very life-blood was fast ebbing away.
His last breath cheered his comrades on to victory.
The last sound he heard was their shout of victory.
His last thought was his country, and long and deeply will his country mourn his loss.”
The remains were carried to New Orleans.
They were laid in state in the mayor's parlour, and the public admitted.
The evidences of the public sorrow were most touching.
Flowers, the testimonies of tender affection, encircled his coffin simply, but beautifully.
And, attended by all the marks of unaffected grief, with gentle hands and weeping eyes moving softly around him, the great commander, with his sheathed sword still b, his side, was borne to his final and eternal rest.