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AS Johnston and the Battle of Shiloh - The Battle of Shiloh - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 12:44 am
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ole
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But Davis argued that Lee and Joe Johnston had both served in the Militia first before joining the Confederancy which made the first issue not apply to them.  Of course Johnston disputed this . 

Which is what I was hinting at, Miss Susan. Johnston had ranked higher in the field Army than any of the others. Confederate law specified that officers should have the same rank in the CSA as they had in the USA so, according to my reading of the law (and Johnston's) JEJ should have been ranked first. But that's not how Jeff saw it. Through some admirably nimble jumping and twisting, he managed to give the top three spots to people he personally liked. Of course, Johnston and Beauregard did themselves no favor in their arguments.

Ole:shock:

Last edited on Thu May 10th, 2007 12:44 am by ole



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 01:02 am
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ole
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If ASJ had not been wounded, he might have insisted on more vigorous action than was actually taken to push the federals back against the river. He might even have continued after dark, I cannot say. If he could have produced a general rout, the end might have been different. However, once Grant survived the first day, with Buell's men now streaming in, I don't think that ASJ could have won on the second day.

Putting on my nitpicky hat, Texas (excellent post, by the way). It was Johnston's intention to peel the Yanks away from the river and mire them in the swampy ground near Owl and Snake Creeks. It was an excellent plan, but obstructing that plan was a severe lack of knowledge of the actual ground, ignorance of the real Yank positions, some overly ambitious marching plans, and Beauregard.

When he was killed, he was the only leader on the field who was working on the original plan -- the others had marched off to the sound of the guns. Although his drive was instrumental in surrounding the Yanks near the Hornet's Nest, he couldn't have known that the all-but-impassable Dill Branch would preclude accomplishing his goal (the bad map thing, lateness of the hour, and Grant's "Last Line").



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 02:11 am
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Texas Defender
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   I recently posted this link about the ranking of the CSA full generals on a thread relating to JEJ. Perhaps it will be of use on this thread as well.

 

Ranking is everything


Ranking is everything - My Civil War Essays Homepage

  (Link added 13Feb12 due to a problem with the previous one ).

 

Last edited on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 04:41 pm by Texas Defender



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 02:53 am
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susansweet
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oops sorry Ole.  the hint  I guess went sailing over my head. 



 Posted: Thu May 10th, 2007 04:38 am
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ole
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By Ned, Texas, that's surely the site I was referencing. Have saved that to CD and paper. A most important, highly recommended reference, for which I'm grateful.

Should've remembered that you posted it and given you credit. Sorry about that. Everyone interested in Davis, the Johnstons, and the basis of Davis' quarrels with his generals should have that document in his/her notes.

Ole



 Posted: Sat Jul 28th, 2007 06:42 pm
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Wrap10
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Hi folks,

Good discussion about Johnston. I used to believe that had he lived, the Confederates might have won at Shiloh. Over time though, that opinion has pretty  much about-faced. Basically speaking I think by the time the Confederates reached the third and final Union defensive line on April 6th, the odds were just too much against them. The terrain, the chaotic and exhausted condition of their own army, the strength of the Union position, and the tiny window of remaining daylight all combined to thwart any realistic chance of victory. That's the way I view it anymore.

My overall take on Johnston as a commander is that his report card has to remain incomplete. As Texas Defender wrote earlier, Johnston did in fact display great determination on the eve of Shiloh, even when some of his senior officers favored calling off the attack. He also displayed great personal courage during the battle, often exposing himself to danger. He is both praised as criticized for this, oddly enough, but I think on the whole it was the right course of action, even though it eventually led to his death.

His record prior to Shiloh was not so good. The collapse of the entire Confederate defensive line in Kentucky took place on his watch, and his initial response was not exactly inspired. His indecision regarding Fort Donelson helped seal the fate of more than 12,000 Rebel troops there, and deprived Johnston of these valuable troops at Shiloh less than two months later.

His deference to Beauregard in the days leading up to Shiloh has been a major source of controversy ever since. Was it from lack of confidence in himself following the disaster in Kentucky, or from overconfidence in Beauregard's military abilities? And could he have conducted the battle better than he did in reality?

Where Johnston's continued presence might have made more of a difference was after the battle rather than during it. He may have had no greater success in stemming the Union advance than did his succesors after Shiloh, but when we look at their overall record, it's hard to see Johnston doing any worse. I think this is probably where his 'legend' comes from, such as it is, that he might have been the savoir of the Confederacy in the west, or the Western Theater's version of Robert E. Lee. Maybe, maybe not. That's the whole problem - there's no way to know, and his record up to his death is simply too mixed to give a clear picture. Plus, it's difficult for me to see anyone, Johnston included, managing to beat Grant once he replaced Halleck. Johnston might have had the best chance among those who actually faced Grant in the west, but again, there's just no way to know.

In any case, didn't mean to ramble on, but Shiloh is one of my favorite battlefields, and it's always fun to discuss the battle or the park. I recently started a discussion group on both, and I'd like to invite everyone to join. Here's a link -

http://www.getphpbb.com/phpbb/index.php?mforum=sdg

We're holding our first chat next Saturday evening, August 4th. Hope to see you there.

Perry



 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 02:37 am
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The Iron Duke
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My opinion of Johnston has lowered over time and here's why. He was in charge of a department stretching from the Mississippi River all the way to the Cumberland Gap. Instead of overseeing the entire department he split it up into thirds and mainly concentrated on his center portion located in Kentucky. He pretty much ignored what was going on with Polk's men near the Mississippi and the forces near Cumberland Gap. He also showed little interest in building up the defenses at Forts Henry and Donelson. When Henry final fell and Pillow and Floyd were looking for orders regarding Fort Donelson Johnston pretty much blew them off. He told them it was entirely up to them if they wanted to evacuate or not. And we all know their fate.

Once Donelson fell Johnston did show decisiveness in ordering all the Confederate forces to gather at Corinth for a counterattack. But once he got there it seems that Beauregard pulled all the strings. It almost seems to me to be like the Hindenburg and Ludendorff relationshp where Hindenburg was the face of the operation but Ludendorff was the brains. Even during the battle of Shiloh itself Johnston acted more like an impulsive regimental commander in leading a desperate infantry charge than as an army commander.

It's undeniable that Johnston had potential but I think Larry Daniel is entirely correct when he says that Johnston's reputation is based on what ifs. I do think he had an almost impossible job especially since he had no navy to parry Federal thrusts down the rivers but just looking at what Johnston did accomplish as a Confederate general it doesn't seem to me that he deserves such high praise.

In regards to Beauregard, I don't think his mind was always at ground level. Plus, he seems to have been sick a lot.

Robert.

Last edited on Fri Aug 1st, 2008 02:39 am by The Iron Duke



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 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 09:34 am
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gettysburgerrn
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AS Johnston seems very comperable to Union general John Reynolds, alot of potential, not a tremendous amount actually achieved on the battlefield and both permanently elevated to unearned places of stature due to their unfortunate demises...

ken



 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 12:57 pm
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Tom Wiehle
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A niece of Michel Ney, Napoleons Field Marshall
Love History!



 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 01:07 pm
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Tom Wiehle
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Sorry about that, got confused, was replying to Davids page 1 post about Elisabet Ney who did Johnstons tomb



 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 04:16 pm
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I also hate "what if" senarios.  Most history occurred as it did for good reasons and changing a factor, even one that seems important to us, would be unlikely to alter the larger flow of events. 

As for Johnston, whether or not he was given enough opportunities to prove his potential, he was still a failure at what he did.  I hope the ASJ loyalists will forgive me, but he was also a moron.  His death resulted from nothing short of foolishness, and frankly it amounted to irresponsibility toward his army he commanded.



 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 05:53 pm
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izzy
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"Foolishness" indeed.  Stonewall and Zollicoffer were also lost by getting too close to the action.  My question is, What was the philosophy of the time regarding where the commanders should be?  Wasn't that another aspect of the ACW, a change in philosophies (ie: demonstrating your courage, etc)?  I'm clueless about this topic so I am interested in what anyone has to say.  Perhaps this should be another thread but I wouldn't know what to call it.  I hardly know how to word the question.



 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 06:08 pm
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Texas Defender
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izzy-

  Perhaps the concept you are looking for is: "Leading from the front." This is not a new concept in military history.

Connelly, O.: On War and Leadership: The Words of Combat Commanders from Frederick the Great to Norman Schwarzkopf.

  Commanders who lead from the front do so in order to better control their operations, and to motivate their troops to achieve their objectives.

  Those commanders who are willing to share the dangers and hardships endured by their men earn their respect and loyalty. Properly motivated, their troops will follow them anywhere, even unto death.



 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 06:14 pm
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March1 wrote: I also hate "what if" senarios.  Most history occurred as it did for good reasons and changing a factor, even one that seems important to us, would be unlikely to alter the larger flow of events. 


what if scenarios may be unlikely to alter the larger flow of event but they do help provide one with a view of what could have happened if things would have been done differently.



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 Posted: Fri Aug 1st, 2008 06:56 pm
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izzy
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Texas Defender,

Thanks for the lead on that book.  Looks interesting.



 Posted: Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 12:01 am
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Leading from the front is fine for smaller unit commanders and the smaller battlefields of earlier wars, but irresponsible by army commanders of the Civil War.  "Lee to the rear" only occurred late in the war and with the Army of Northern Virginia minutes from destruction.  No one ever heard "Grant to the rear" or "Sherman" or "Bragg" or "Beauregard to the rear."  They realized that a dead army commander is a poor commander.



 Posted: Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 12:56 am
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Texas Defender
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March 1-

  While a senior commander might not personally lead a cavalry charge or a large scale infantry assault, it behooves him to be well forward in order to better control his units in their conduct of operations.

  Obviously, commanders both during and after the American Civil War have seen the advantages of leading from the front. From World War II, I would cite examples such as George S. Patton, Jr. and Erwin Rommel.

  If a battle from World War II could be chosen to illustrate the contrast between forward leadership and a commander trying to control the battle from a headquarters far to the rear, I would select the Battle of Kasserine Pass.

Battle of the Kasserine Pass - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  In this battle, Field Marshal Rommel chose to accompany the division leading his attack on the American 2nd Corps, commanded by Major General Lloyd Fredenhall.

  Fredenhall at that time was in a headquarters eighty miles to the rear.  As American units recoiled from the assault, American commanders were unable to coordinate their actions, often receiving orders from the rear that made no sense relative to the situation breaking on the ground. American troops began an unorganized withdrawal, leaving the vital pass open to the German advance.

  It was only through heroic actions by some defenders that time was gained to slow the German advance. Eventually, a lack of supplies forced Rommel to discontinue the advance, averting a greater disaster for the allies.

  The Americans were badly mauled and demoralized. Obviously, a new type of leadership was required. General Fredenhall was justifiably sacked, and a different kind of leader was brought forward as his replacement. The name of the general chosen to replace Fredenhall was George S. Patton, Jr. Things began to change for the Americans in the theater after that.

  In the case of General A.S. Johnston at Shiloh, he apparently thought that it was vital to press the attack on the first day. If he had had his way, the attack would have been begun days earlier, but circumstances beyond his control prevented that. Now he had gambled all on defeating Grant before Buell could intervene effectively.

  ASJ thought it necessary to be forward to encourage his subordinates to press the assault vigorously. It is possible that he was unlucky enough to be hit by friendly fire. He had sent his surgeon away to attend to others, and he didn't realize the severity of his own situation until it was too late.

  As I have said on other threads, one element required of a commander making his mark in history is that he not be unlucky. Even after his attack had been delayed, ASJ still had a chance to win on the first day if the fortunes of war had been a bit different. There are always situations in battles that are beyond the control of a commander.

  ASJ died at Shiloh because he was unlucky. He might be criticized for deciding to launch the attack when all the elements weren't lined up favorably for him. But to call him: "irresponsible" or a : "poor commander" is in my view grossly unfair.

 

 

 

 

Last edited on Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 01:33 am by Texas Defender



 Posted: Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 01:14 am
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izzy
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Come to think of it, Grant was all over the battlefield at Shiloh too; if I recall correctly.  I'm hazy on that battle.  I was coming down with appendicitis at the time and wasn't paying much attention to the guide.  So Grant goes into the "lucky" category?



 Posted: Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 01:24 am
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Texas Defender
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izzy-

  He was certainly luckier than ASJ. So was Sherman on that day. Sherman received two wounds, but was not incapacitated.

  Both Grant and Sherman had already achieved prominence by April of 1862. However, their places in history would have been as minor figures if they had been killed that day.



 Posted: Sat Aug 2nd, 2008 01:34 am
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izzy
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Texas Defender,

Do you know of any instances in the ACW where the commanding officer was killed or incapacitated and the tactical battle plan was carried out without his presence?



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