“The revolution begun was justified by the maxims so often repeated by Americans, that free government is founded on the consent of the governed, and that every community strong enough to establish and maintain its independence has a right to assert it.”—Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
On this February 3rd let us remember it as the birth date of General Joseph E. Johnston who was one of the Confederacy’s top rated Generals. While some historians pick him apart for his failure to relieve the besieged city of Vicksburg or to stop Sherman’s capture of Atlanta, it is of note that he was feared and respected by his adversaries and held above esteem by his Army. The private recollections and diaries of many Confederate officers and enlisted men who served under Johnston show there is very little negative to say about the Hero. His men loved him and he in turn loved his men. On many occasions he didn’t even march or fight battles in reverence for Sunday. Although he lacked the “aggressive” or “offensive” nature to please those above him his method of warfare was one of deep calculation and contemplation. When he did field his Army the invaders felt the pain. From the first battle of the War at Manassas to the last major Battle of Bentonville, he dealt stinging blows to his foe. Even when outnumbered at times four to one he still managed to repulse the enemy. If he was not relieved of command at Atlanta in favor of the more headstrong John Bell Hood, then the battle of Atlanta and ultimately Sherman’s entire march to the sea would have been to a much different tune.
Sheman himself admitted, “No officer or soldier who ever served under me will question the generalship of Joseph E. Johnston.”
Also yankee Major Gen. Joe Hooker testified, “The news that General Johnston had been removed from command of the army opposed to us was received by our officers with universal rejoicing.”
The well acclaimed autobiography “Company Aytch” was written by a noble Tennessean, Sam Watkins, who fought throughout the Southern War for Independence as a basic infantrymen. From his words there is no doubt that the Army of Tennessee fared the best while under the command of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston.
From his brilliance in tactics, to his careful consideration of the morale, supply and well being of the Army entrusted him, and to his Christian humility and piety, Gen. Johnston is a true Southern Hero who we should respect and teach others to honor.
“You will return to your homes with the admiration of our people, won by the courage and noble devotion you have displayed in this long war. I shall always remember with pride the loyal support and generous confidence you have given me.”—Gen. Johnston’s farewell address after his surrender in 1865