War of the Rebellion: Serial 099 Page 1309 Chapter LIX] CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. -CONFEDERATE.

Search Civil War Official Records

out fear of being assailed, even when exposign weakness and affording opportinities of which a vigalant adversary would avail himself for attack. I came to the conclusion, therefore, that it would be imprudent to intrust General Johnston with another independent command for active operations in the field. Yet I yielded my convictions, and gave him a third trial, under the following circumstances:

General Bragg, at his own request, was relieved from the command of the Army of Tennessee after the battle of Missionary Ridge, and was succeeded by Hardee, his senior lieutenant-general. This officer, distrusting his own ability, earnestly requested the selection of another commander for the army, and a most urgent and general solicitation waas made that General Johnston should be assigned to that duty. After relieving General Bragg, of our five generals Lee and Beauregard were the only officers of that grade in the field except General Johnston. Neither of the first two could properly be withdrawn from the position occupied by them, and General Johnston thus remained the only officer of randk superior to that of lieutenant-general who was available. The [act of Congress] authorizing the appointment of general officers with temporary rank had not then been passed. There seemed to be scarcely a choice left, but my reluctance to risk the disasters which I feared would result from General Johnston's assignment to this command could with difficulty be surmonted. Very pressing request were made to me by members of Congress. The assignment of this commander was said to be demanded by the common voice of the army, the pess, and the people; and, finaly, some of my advisers in the Cabinet represented that it might well be the case that his assignment with the disasters apprehended from it would be less calamitous than the injury arising from an apparent indifference to the wishes and opinions of the officers of the State governments, of many members of Congress, and of other prominent citizens. I committed the error of yielding to these suggestion against my own deliberate convections, and General Johnston entered upon his third impportant command-that of the army designed to recover the State of Tennessee from the enemy. In February, 1864, he was informed of the policy of the Government for his army. It was proposed to re-enforce him largely, and that he should at once advance and assume the offensive for the recovery of at least a part of the State of Tennessee. For this purpose he was advised to accumulate as rapidly as possible sufficient supplies for an advnce, and assured that the re-enforcing troopsshould be sent to him as soon as he was prepared for the movement. Until such time it was deemed imprudent to open the country to incursion of the enemy by withdrawing from other positions, or to delay accumultion of supplies by incerasing the number of consumers at the front. The winter was dry and mild. The enemy, as it was reported, not expecting any active movement ou our part, had sent most of his horses back to Kentucky to be recruited for the spring campaign.

General Hardee had, just before relinquishing the command, reported our army as fully rested and recovered from the effect of its retreat from Missionry Ridge. He represented that there was effectiveness and sufficient supply in the ordnance, quartersmaster's and commissary departments; that the artillery was in good condition, the spririts of the troops excellent, and the army ready to fight. General Bragg sent to General Johnston all the information deemed, valuale which had been acquired during his continuance m command. The Government spared nothing of men and materials as its disposal. Batteries made for General Lee's army were diverted and sent to General Johnston, and he was informed that troops would be sent to re-enforce him as