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Joe Johnston and John Bell Hood - John Bell Hood - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Sat May 5th, 2007 11:14 pm
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susansweet
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I need some input.  I am reading Craig Symonds book on Joe Johnston as I said before.  I have another question for everyone.  I am now to the Army of Tennessee chapter .  Hood has been sent to join Johnston.  He writes the letters to Davis that seem to undermine Joe Johnston on every issue.  I know he wants Johnston's position but  what a way to get it.  What do you all think of what went on.

 

Then from the get go it seems Johnston could not ever do anything to please Davis.  There problems seem to go all the way back to West Point.   BUT I just read two men were sent to report on the true conditions of the Army of Tennessee .  Both reports tended to lean toward Johnston's position on what Johnston needed .  I couldn't beleive it when I read, "neither report had any impact on Davis who continued to believe that the primary obstacle to western offensive was Johnston himself" 

What do the rest of you think about this one. 



 Posted: Sun May 6th, 2007 01:26 am
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ole
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Every Johnston defender invariably brings up Hood's letter-writing campaign and Davis' seemingly blind distaste for Johnston.

Johnston's advance-to-the-rear strategy may have been the only thing he could have done against Sherman's armies. Davis and his government, on the other hand, could only see the territory being gobbled up. It isn't easy to see where Davis' dislike leaves off and his military frustration begins/

Ole



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 Posted: Sun May 6th, 2007 02:31 am
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susansweet
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JD this book is pretty much pro Joe.  I have read about Braggs having Davis' ear.    I am glad I talked the book group into read this book although in talking to some of the others they have not read it for various reasons.  Oh well.  I didn't read the book a couple of months ago.  I don't like the author , he is slow sloggy and it was all politics.   Lincoln Douglas Debate.  I had read his other book when I first joined the book group and swore I would never read another one.

Thanks Ole for the input I am amazed that in the days of no modern transportation , telephones , computers etc, that Davis sitting in Richmond thought he knew more than the man in the field about what was going on and was managing the battles everywhere.  That he would just hop on a train and go to the site and just show up to give orders. 

It also amazes me in this Campaign how the Confederates had to travel to get from point a to point b.  Unlike in Virginia . 



 Posted: Sun May 6th, 2007 03:04 pm
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ole
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I generally fall on the pro-Johnston side -- not heavily, mind you, but with a bit more favor than disfavor. He wasn't as loony as Bragg, and he wasn't as careless with his army as was Hood. His was not an easy place to be in -- Grant, Sherman, and a uniquely qualified CnC on one side; Davis, the Confederate Congress, and fractious governors on the other.

It wasn't that Johnston was not competent, it's that his opposition was more competent.

Ole

 



 Posted: Sun May 6th, 2007 03:45 pm
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susansweet
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Ole I agree with you.  I just finished the chapter on the battles at Dalton and Resaca .  It's amazing he did as well as he did.  Wheeler was off trying to find a cavalry fight so he could be as famous as Jeb Stuart, Sherman and Hooker hitting hin one way and then all of a sudden there is McPherson to the south at Recesa . 

It is interesting how Symonds points out how Lee always got praise from Davis and Johnston disappointment.  Johnston just can't get a break. 

I was amazed at how they used the railroad during these battles going up and down the state to meet and move troops.

Just think what if . . . Johnston had had the ability to see the troop movement from above the ground.  He would have seen McPherson's movement. 



 Posted: Sun May 6th, 2007 10:19 pm
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My son wrote his Master's thesis on the Johnston-Hood question. I have always been pro Johnston, so Dennis The Younger, perhaps just to oppose dad was always somewhat negative about Johnston but he claimed that he went into the project with an open mind.

Open minded or anti Johnston he concluded, and makes a very convincing case that Hood, was not only sabotoging Johnston, through back channel routes to the President, but, much worse, delibertley sabotoged the campagain in the field.

Dennis Conklin



 Posted: Sun May 6th, 2007 10:23 pm
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susansweet
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Interesting  conclusion .  That is the way  I am feeling reading this book. that Hood was doing all he could to get the command and get rid of Johnston.  Johnston didn't have a chance. 

Back to the book I am almost finished.  Going to read the rest of the afternoon. 

Thanks Dennis for the information.

Susan

Last edited on Sun May 6th, 2007 10:24 pm by susansweet



 Posted: Sun May 6th, 2007 11:05 pm
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ole
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Thank you, Dennis. Haven't heard it put quite so strongly. Don't recollect any historian even intimating that Hood went out of his way to screw up Johnston's plans. I've seen it mentioned that he was frequently inept and occasionally an impediment, but I've never seen anyone claim, flat out, that Hood intentionally sabotaged Johnston.

Would there be any way to access this thesis? Sounds like an interesting read.

Ole

 



 Posted: Sun May 6th, 2007 11:12 pm
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susansweet
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Was thinking the same thing Ole. Would love to read more about this idea. 

Susan



 Posted: Mon May 7th, 2007 01:04 am
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Hey Dennis,

Why not see if Younger has any interest in seeing his hard work reach a wider audience (unless of course he has plans on publishing it). We'd love to run it.

J.A.



 Posted: Mon May 7th, 2007 12:55 pm
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I don't have a copy, not sure I would be at liberty to share if I did. He does plan on publishing (all of his advisors are enthusiastic about publishing it) right now his entire focus is on completing his Phd. I will discuss it with him.
Dennis



 Posted: Tue May 8th, 2007 01:48 am
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Susan,

Have you, or anyone else out there, read Wiley Sword's "The Confederacy's Last Hurrah" (originally published as "Embrace an Angry Wind")? 

The Johnson-Hood-Davis(-Bragg) dynamic is explored in pretty good detail there - in a way that made me, well, just plain furious.  Not just for Johnston, whom I think was very poorly used, but much more for The Army of Tennessee, which was really poorly used by the results of this politicking.  I was sickened by the whole thing.  Anyway, the gist of it is covered in the first 30 pages, I think.

Personally, I think Joe Johnston was flawed, but still has not been given the credit he deserves, in general (no pun intended).

Was it JEJ who wrote the letter of wounded pride to Davis concerning the order in which 5 officers were promoted to general?

As I recall, even Varina Davis had some sharp words for Lydia Johnston, telling her something to the effect that, when it came to her husband, she should "beware ambition".



 Posted: Tue May 8th, 2007 03:55 am
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Joanie I have read Wiley Swords  book.  Also read Stonewall of the West which is Symonds book on Patrick Cleburne .  Also Shrouds of Glory which is also about the events leading up to Franklin and Spring Hill.  I need to reivew my Sword book before I go to Franklin next month. 

I am looking forward to the discussion tomorrow night at book discussion night at the Drum.  This Joseph Johnson book will bring out some good discussion.  This will be the last meeting I go to til September as we take the summer off.  I will miss next month's book on Little Mac , the book for September is one written by one of the members of the group.  It is very short and  reads like he talks .  (bad me)  So from now til October I can catch up on my other Civil War reading and other books. 

The more I read about Hood the more I don't like him.   The more I read about Johnston I notice he has something Hood doesn't have . . . He has a code of Honor. 

Susan



 Posted: Tue May 8th, 2007 04:47 am
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The more I read about Hood the more I don't like him.   The more I read about Johnston I notice he has something Hood doesn't have . . . He has a code of Honor. 

Susan, I fully agree with you.

Had he stopped short of the intrigues that led to his command of the Army of Tennessee, I would have held respect for Hood; there was much of the good soldier about him.  I like to read about his earlier exploits in the war, I find much about that man likable and admirable, and that JBHood has given me some big smiles.

I just feel that Hood, Bragg, and Davis got together in this one and made big fools of themselves together (or for those of us with children, they "went to The Big Dufus Convention") , with the outcome being the utterly wasteful distruction of the Army of Tennessee.

As I recall, General William Hardee was also a possibility for the position, and unlike Hood, had RE Lee's endorsement. But, Bragg thought that if he bad-mouthed Hardee to Davis, he might ultimately end up being reappointed himself, (besides, he had a grudge against the man, anyway), so, well, the rest is very sad history. 

I'm going to have to read this Symonds book soon.  I've got about four in front I want to work through;  but the more I read of JE Johnston, the more I like and respect him. 

 

Last edited on Tue May 8th, 2007 04:51 am by JoanieReb



 Posted: Tue May 8th, 2007 05:40 am
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Texas Defender
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Joanie,

   JEJ was indeed unhappy when he found out that Davis had ranked him fourth among the generals. He thought that he should have been first, based on having been appointed the Quartermaster General of the Army (a brigadier general) on 28 June 1860, making him senior to the others. (He was chosen over ASJ, Lee, and C.F. Smith).

   Davis chose to put Cooper first, to make administrative matters easier. For the generals destined for the field, he chose to use their old Army rankings as far as LINE positions went. The QM General was a staff position, and so it didn't count to Davis.

   Davis' enmity with JEJ is said to have gone back to a dispute over a woman in West Point days. A fistfight ensued, and JEJ won.

   Anyway, the link below explains it all very well, and even gets into the Davis-ASJ friendship which we had been discussing on another thread.

   Hopefully, this will go through this time, as so far I haven't been successful at getting it to post.

 

Ranking is everything



 Posted: Tue May 8th, 2007 05:58 am
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JoanieReb
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Texas Defender:

A clear, concise, informative, and veerry entertaining essay.

So, once again, my thanks!

Joanie

 



 Posted: Tue May 8th, 2007 06:45 am
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susansweet
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Davis and Joe Johnston had their first overt disagreement when Davis was Secretary of War and Johnston appealed his ranking .  He had been brevetted twice during the Mexican War .  He had skipped over major to become a brevet Lieutenant colonel at Cerro Gordo.  At Chapultepec he was he was brevetted again and he assumed he was a clolonel .  The war department said no he had entered service as a Captain so he was now Lieutenant Colonel .  He appealed and his appeal was denied. 

When Davis became Secretary of War he refused to even hear Johnson appeal . Davis said  Johnston was not a lieutenant colonel. This inspite of all the records and Johnston's orders after Cerro Gordo list him as a lietutenant Colonel. 

Then comes the ranking of the Confederate Generals and the feud was on. 

 



 Posted: Thu Jun 7th, 2007 06:28 am
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JoanieReb
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Doing some cross-referencing tonight (er, make that this morning) and ran across some observations of Johnston I thought might be worth sharing:

"Extremely conscious of his reputation, he dreaded taking risks.  One contemporary tells of the time Wade Hampton III, perhaps the wealthiest plantation owner in the South, invited Johnston to a hunting party: 'He was a capital shot, better than Wade or I, but with Colonel Johnston....the bird flew too high or too low, the dogs were too far or too near.  Things never did suit exactly.  He was too fussy, too hard to please, too cautious, too much afraid to miss and risk his fine reputation for being a great shot.'  Hampton and the others shot away, bringing down bird after bird.  Johnston never shot at all.  Explains one historian: 'If he did not fight, at least he could not lose, and to get him to fight or to make a movement that might prove unpopular, it appeared that first he had to be absolved of responsibility for the consequences.  It was a shame, for Johnston possessed as much tactical skill as any general in the Confederacy.' "

(George Walsh, "Damage Them All You Can")

Last edited on Thu Jun 7th, 2007 06:30 am by JoanieReb



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