Tuesday, April 29, 2014

March 5, 1864 (Saturday): Longstreet and Johnston Confer

Richmond Customs House-Site of the Confederate War Department

March 5, 1864.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Dalton, Ga.:
   MY DEAR GENERAL: I have just finished an official letter setting forth the projected campaign of the President and General Bragg.* It does not look very inviting to me, and from here it looks very much less so to you. Your facilities for rapid movements may have been so much improved, however, since I was with that army, that you may be able to accomplish the object in view. There is one serious objection to the move, or it looks so to me. If the enemy should slip in behind you and fortify strongly, both armies (yours and mine) will be obliged to disperse in the mountains and many of us perish, or surrender to the enemy without a fight. It may be that this would be sport to some people, but I confess that I should not enjoy it at all. However, the idea may be beyond my comprehension. I shall wait, therefore, for your opinions upon the matter.
     I remain, very truly and sincerely, your friend.


*See VOL. XXXII, Part III, p. 587. 

HEADQUARTERS, Greenville, East Tenn., March 5, 1864.
General J. E. JOHNSTON,
Commanding Army of Tennessee:
    GENERAL: I have received a verbal message from the President, through General Alexander, to confer with you upon the propriety and practicability of uniting our armies at or near Madisonville, East Tenn., with a view to a move into Middle Tennessee upon the enemy's line of communication. There are two routes from this to the point mentioned-one by passing south of Knoxville and the Holston River, the other by passing Knoxville on the north side, about 90 miles by either route. On the former I should cross six rivers; the first has a bridge, however. The road is a single dirt road, through a mountainous country, and the road passes within 15 miles of Knoxville, where the enemy has a stronger force than I, but it is very much if you can meet me promptly at Madisonville with subsistence stores and forage for my army. My transportation is so limited that I cannot take more than enough to supply us on the road. There is nothing in the country though which I would pass, or so little that we could place no reliance upon the country for supplies. The other route north of Knoxville, and I should be obliged to cross the Holston and the Tennessee Rivers. The latter stream would require a bridge, which I cannot haul; but if you can meet me there, so as to prevent forces from Chattanooga molesting my march, I can make a bridge and unite my forces with yours. I shall be obliged to depend upon you for food and forage when we are united.
    From here your difficulties look to me greater than mine, except that you will have the railroad to depend upon for supplies, and yet I cannot see that you can count upon that, unless your army is much stronger than I have supposed it to be, and the enemy's much weaker. I had estimated his forces at 40,000 available men.
     Please give the matter that mature deliberation which it merits, and give me your views at as early a moment as may be convenient.
     I remain, general, very respectfully, your most obedient servant,


P. S.-I take the liberty to address you directly,in order that the matter may not be known by more parties than necessary.

J. L.

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 52, Part 2, Page 634.

Davis and Bragg wanted to unite Johnston's and Longstreet's commands for an offensive into Middle Tennessee.  Lee did not have a full understanding of the logistics involved, but was apprehensive there were not sufficient supplies for the movement.  If the operation offered no advantage, Lee wanted Longstreet returned to his command.  Longstreet preferred that his First Corp be reinforced and move into Kentucky to operate on Union lines of supply.  


No comments:

Post a Comment