Monday, March 11, 2013

March 12, 1863 (Saturday): Johnston, The Querulous

General Joseph E. Johnston

MOBILE, March 12, 1863.
Honorable JAMES A. SEDDON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: I have had the honor to receive here, being on my way to Lieutenant-General Pemberton's headquarters, two dispatches (telegraphic) from you, by way of Chattanooga, to which I have briefly replied by telegraph.
     The first directs me to order General Bragg to Richmond for conference. I shall obey the order as soon as I can. I hope that most meritorious officer's removal is but temporary, and that the Government will adopt no course which might be regarded by the public as evidence of want of confidence in his generalship.
    The second asks if I have any resources under my control to meet the advance from Corinth, reported by Lieutenant-General Pemberton; if troops can be spared from Mobile or Mississippi, or from Middle Tennessee for the purpose; if Van Dorn's cavalry, at least, might not return.The infantry for defense on the land side of Mobile amounts to but 2,500.
      I reported to the President in December that nearly 20,000 additional troops were required in Mississippi. Since then Grant's army has been heavily re-enforced. Allow me to remind you also of what I have said of the length of time necessary for the transfer of troops in any considerable number from Mississippi to Tennessee. Those two departments are more distant from each other in time than Eastern Virginia and Middle Tennessee.
     In relation to detaching from General Bragg's army, permit me to remind you that I have been for the last two months asking the Department to strengthen it, and representing it as too weak to oppose the powerful army in front of it with confidence. On that account Major-General Van Dorn's cavalry was added. Dividing that army might be fatal to it. Major-General [Samuel] Jones reported some time ago that the enemy was sending troops from the Kanawha Valley. Soon after, our friends about Nashville informed General Bragg that Major-General Cox had arrived with his division from Western Virginia, and, a little later, that Major-General Sigel's division had also joined Rosecrans. I therefore suggested that the troops which had been opposed to those divisions in Virginia should be sent to General Bragg without delay. Allow me to repeat that suggestion.
      Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

     J. E. JOHNSTON,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 23, Part 2, Pages 684-685.

 At this point in the war Johnston was in overall command of the western theater.  Here he advocates removing forces from Virginia to meet the threat to eastern Tennessee.  It is likely Johnston still seethed at being sent West and his advocacy of shifting forces from Virginia to eastern Tennessee probably was an equal mix of a desire to use interior lines and a desire to inconvenience Richmond.

No comments:

Post a Comment