previous next

House of Representatives. Monday, April 7, 1862.
The House met at 12 o'clock, and was opened with prayer by Rev. Mr. Crumlry. Journal of Saturday read.

Mr. Wilcox, of Texas, introduced the following joint resolution:

Resolved, That Congress have learned with feelings of deep joy and gratitude to the Divine Ruler of Nations the news of the recent glorious victory of our arms in Tennessee.

Resolved. That the death of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, the Commander of our forces, while leading his troops to victory cannot but temper our exultation with a shade of sadness at the loss of so able, skillful, and gallant an officer.

Resolved That, in respect to the memory of Gen. Johnston--the Senate concurring — Congress do now adjourn until 12 o'clock tomorrow.

Mr. Penkins of La., thought that we could best evince our regret for the fall of our across by imitating their examples in discharging the duties which devolve upon us. He had no disposition to oppose the appropriate resolutions introduced by the gentleman from Texas, but there were many important matters demanding the attention of the House.

Mr. Foote.--I would ask the gentleman from Louisiana to withdraw his objection to the consideration of these resolutions.

While I agree with the gentleman as to the necessity of speedy action upon the subject to which he refers, it seems to me that such a mark of respect to the gallant dead is peculiarly appropriate, and should be offered regardless of the consideration which the gentleman presents. Notwithstanding that we all feel rejoiced over the glorious victory which has been achieved, we cannot but feel deeply saddened at the fate of the gallant Johnston.

It seems to me sir, that we cannot be to day sufficiently composed to perform our duties here, and we would, in my opinion, best with the feelings of respect and gratitude which we all for the distinguished and patriotic chieftain as well as the officers and soldiers who participated with him in this conflict; adopt these resolutions and adjourn over until to-morrow.

I am as anxious as any man to perform the duties devolving upon us here; but I am satisfied that we cannot do so to day with that degree of composure which is necessary to give force and efficiency to our action.

I trust the gentleman will withdraw his objection, and allow the resolution to pass.

Mr. Perkins.--I withdraw my objection.

Mr. McQueen of S. C.--I desire to suggest to the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Wilcox) that this battle may have been fought in Mississippi. If so it would be proper for him to change that part of his resolutions which locates the fight in Tennessee.

Mr. Davis of Miss.--That battle was fought in Tennessee, were near the Mississippi line.

Mr. Moore, of Kentucky said:

M. Speaker — I do not arise for the purpose of detaining the House in any protracted remarks in support of the resolutions offered by the gentleman from Texas, but rather to express my gratitude to that gentleman for presenting those resolutions. I trust, however, that I may be indulged in the request that this House will unanimously adopt the resolutions, and bear their testimony of regard to the memory of that great and good man. Until our recent reverses at Forts Donelson and Henry, no cloud of darkness had rested on his fair name, no shadow had passed along to obscure the bright sunshine of his matchless military tame. But I must not call up the memory of the past I do not wish to refer to any reflections which may have been indulged either here or elsewhere towards Gen. Johnston in reference to those reverses but it only remains now for me to ask this tribute to his memory since he has given the highest evidence of devotion to his country which the soldier been offer. He has fallen at the head of his army, in the midst of the conflict, in the full tide of a glorious and brilliant victory over his country's foe.

’ This crowing act of devotion to that country which he had so long loved and served, has dissipated every cloud which momentarily marred the splendor of his glorious and his memory passes into history, uncom by any word of condemnation, unclouded by any shadow of reproach. Nor, indeed, Mr. Speaker, would any cloud of suspicion ever have rested upon his name had the circumstances with which he was surrounded at Bowling Green been known by the country. No man can know the facts save these of us who were personally cognizant of his condition at that place. I have seen and witnessed the terrible responsibility pressing upon his great heart, as, reposing on his couch of straw, he contemplated the unmeasured degree of hope and expectation with which the country looked to him, while he had an army too small to advance, and almost too small to hazard a retreat. But, Mr. Speaker. I am happy to witness already demonstrations in this House which mark the unanimity with which the resolutions will be adopted — the unanimity with which this House, here in the Capitol, will offer a nation's gratitude as a tribute of respect to the memory of the illustrious dead.

While I have felt justified, under all the circumstances, in alluding particularly to Gen. Johnston, I would by have it understood that I feel less grateful to the memory of all the officers and soldiers who may have fallen in the same conflict. God forbid that the humblest soldier who full on that glorious field where victory so crowned our arms, should fall to be remembered with the warmest affection and gratitude of our people. In this, in all revolutions, the officers and soldiers constitute our tower of strength. Upon their strong arms and brave hearts do we lean with all our hopes and expectations for ourselves and our country. And now, as they have in the dread hour of sanguinary conflict laid down their and thus borne the highest evidences of devotion to their country. I hope this House will unanimously adopt the revolutions, and pay that high mark of respect to those gallant soldiers who fell in defence of their country.

After the conclusion of Mr. Moore's remarks the resolutions were adopted unanimously.

They were immediately reported to the Senate, but that body having adjourned, Mr. Jones moved for a reconsideration of the vote by which they were adopted, with a view to passing resolutions expressive of the sorrow of this House at the intelligence of the loss of one of our distinguished chieftains.

Mr. Barksdale, of Miss., obtained the floor, and alluded in a most beautiful and touching manner to the services of the gallant and lamented Johnston, and concluded his appropriate remarks by reading the following letter from Gen. Johnston, which he stated was perhaps the last penned by that devoted patriot:

Unofficial letter of Gen. A. S. Johnston to President Davis.

Decatur, Ala, March 18, 1862.
My Dear General:
I received the dispatches from Richmond, with your private letter, by Capt. Wickliffe, three days since; but the pressure of affairs and the necessity of getting my command across the Tennessee prevented me from sending you an earlier reply.

I anticipated all that you have told me as to the censure which the fall of Fort Donelson drew upon me, and the attacks to which you might be subjected, but it was impossible for me to gather the facts for a detailed report, or to spare time which was required to extricate the remainder of my troops, and save the large accumulation of stores and provisions after that disheartening disaster.

I transmitted the reports of Gens. Floyd and Pillow without examining or analyzing the facts, and scarcely with time to read them.

When about to assume command of this Department, the Government charged me with the duty, of deciding the question of occupying Bowling Green, Ky., which involves not only military but political consideration. At the time of my arrival at Nashville, the action of the Legislature of Kentucky and put an end to the latter by sanctioning the formation of companies menacing Tennessee, by assuming the cause of the Government at Washington, and by abandoning the centrality it professed, and in consequence of their action the occupation of Bowling Green became necessary as an act of self-defence, at least in the first step.

About the middle of September General Buckner advanced with a small force of about 4,000 men, which was increased by the 13 to 1,000, and though accessions of force were received, it continued at about the same strenth until the end of November, measles and other diseases keeping down the effective force. The enemy's force then was reported to the War Department 50,000, and an advance was impossible.

* * * * * *

Believing it to be of the greatest moment to protract the campaign, as the dearth otion might bring strength from abroad and discourage the North, and to gain time to strengthen myself by new troops from Tennessee and other States, I magnified my forces to the enemy, but made known my true strength to the Department and the Governors of States. The given was small. At length when General Beauregard came out in February, he expressed his surprise at the smallness of my force, and was impressed with the danger of my position. I admitted what was so manifest, and laid before him my views for the future, in which he entirely concurred and sent me a memorandum of our conference, a copy of which I send to you. I determined to fight for Nashville at Donelson, and gave the best part of my army to do it, retaining only 4,000 men to front, and giving 6,000 men to defend Donelson.

The at Donelson is stated in Gen. Proow's report at and I do not doubt correct, of his statement, for the forces Bowling Green, which a supposed to be 14,000 effective men, (the medical report snowing little over 500 sick in the hospital,) was diminished more than 5,000 by hose who were unable to stand the fatigue of a march, and made force on reaching Nashville, less than 10,000 men. I enclose Medical Director's report.

Had I wholly uncovered my front to defend Donelson, Buell would have known it, and marched directly on Nashville. There were only ten small steamers, in the Cumberland, in imperfect condition — only three of which were available at Nashville, while the transportation of the enemy was great.

The evacuation of Bowling Green was imperatively necessary, and was ordered before and executed while the battle was being fought at Donelson. I had made every disposition for the defence of the fort by means allowed; and the troops were among the best of my force. The Generals —— Floyd, Pillow and Buckner — were high in the opinion of officers and men for skill and courage, and among the best officers of my command.--They were popular with the volunteers and all had seen much service. No reinforcements were asked. I awaited the event opposite Nashville. The result of the conflict each day was favorable. At midnight on the 15th I received news of a glorious victory — at dawn of a defeat.

My column during the day and night was thrown over the river--(a battery had been established below the city to secure the passage) Nashville was incapable of defence from its position, and from the forces advancing from Bowling Green and up the Cumberland. A rear guard was left under Gen. Floyd to secure the stores and provisions, but did not completely effect the object. The people were terrified, and some of the troops were disheartened. The discouragement was spreading, and I ordered the command to Murfreesboro', where I managed, by assembling Crittenden's division and the fugitives from Donelson, to collect an army able to offer battle. The weather was inclement, the floods excessive, and the bridges were washed away, but most of the stores and provisions were saved, and conveyed to new depots. This having been accomplished though with serious loss, in conformity with my original design, I marched southward and crossed the Tennessee at this point, so as to co-operate or unite with General Beauregard of the defence of the Valley of the Mississippi. The passage is almost completed, and the head of my column is already with General Bragg at Corinth. The movement was deemed too hazardous by the most experienced members of my staff, but the object warranted the risk. The difficulty of effecting a junction is no wholly overcome, but it approaches completion — Day After to-morrow, unless the enemy intercepts me, my force will be with Bragg and my army nearly--thousand strong This must be destroyed before the enemy can attain his object.

I have given this sketch so that you may appreciate the embarrassment which surrounded me in my attempt to avert or remedy the disaster of Fort Donelson, before alluding to the conduct of the Generals.

When the force was detached, I was in hopes that such disposition would have been made as would have enabled the forces to defend the fort, or withdraw without sacrificing the army. On the 14th, I ordered Gen. Floyd by telegraph, "If he lost the fort to get his troops to Nashville" It is possible this might have been done, but justice requires to look at events as they appeared at the time, and not alone by the light of subsequent information. All the facts in relation to the surrender will be transmitted to the Secretary of War, as soon as they can be collected, in obedience to his order. It appears from the information received that Gen. Buckner, being the junior officer, took the lead in advising the surrender, and that Gen. Floyd acquiesced, and they all concurred in the belief that their force could not maintain its position — all concurred that it would require a great sacrifice of life to ex the command, Subsequent events show that the investment was not so complete as the information from their scouts them to believe. The conference resulted in the surrender. The command was irregularly transferred, and devolved on the junior General but not apparently to avoid any just responsibility, or from any want of personal or moral intrepidity. The blow was most disastrous, and almost without a remedy. I, therefore in my first report, remained silent. This silence you were kind enough to attribute to my generosity. I will not lay claim to the motive to excuse my course. I observed silence, as it seemed to be the best way to serve the cause and the country. The facts were not fully known; discontent prevailed, and criticism or condemnation were more likely to augment than to cure the evil. I refrained, well knowing that heavy censures would fall upon me but convinced that it was better to endure them for the present and defer to a more propitious time an investigation of the conduct of the Generals; for, in the mean time, their services were required and their influence useful. Forth as reasons Generals Floyd and Pillow were as signal to duty; for I still fell confidence in their gallantry, their energy, and their devotion to the Confederacy.

I have thus recurred to the motives by which I have been governed from a deep personal tense of the friendship and confidence you have always shown me, and from the conviction that they have not been withdrawn from me in adversity.

All the reports requisite for a full investigation have been ordered. Gens. Floyd and Pillow have been suspended from command.

[Here follow some allusions not necessary to an unders auding of the main objects of the letter, and a statement of the disposition of the forces in command, which it is not deemed necessary to publish.] The letter closes as follows:

I have troubled you with these details, as I cannot properly communicate them by telegraph.

The test of merit in my profession, with the people, is success. It is a hard rule, but I think it right. If I join this corps to the forces of Gen. Beauregard (I confess a hazardous experiment,) then those who are not declaiming me will be without an argument.

Your friend.

A. S. Johnston.

At the conclusion of the speech of Mr. and the reading of the letter from Gen. Johnston.

Mr. Smith, of Va., offered the following resolution:

Resolved, That this House, from respect to the memory of Gen. A. Sidney Johnston, and the officers and men who have fallen in the defence of their country in the hour of a great and glorious victory over our ruthless enemy, do now adjourn.

’ This resolution was adopted without opposition, and the House adjourned.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Albert Sidney Johnston (9)
Floyd (7)
Pillow (3)
House (3)
Buckner (3)
Beauregard (3)
Wilcox (2)
Moore (2)
Jefferson Davis (2)
Bragg (2)
Wickliffe (1)
M. Speaker (1)
John T. Smith (1)
Proow (1)
Perkins (1)
Penkins (1)
McQueen (1)
Kirk James Jones (1)
A. S. Johnston (1)
Foote (1)
Donelson (1)
Crumlry (1)
Crittenden (1)
Buell (1)
Barksdale (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 7th, 1862 AD (1)
March 18th, 1862 AD (1)
November (1)
September (1)
February (1)
14th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: