Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Albert Sydney Johnston "The Best"

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Albert Sydney Johnston "The Best"

    Please note - do not flame me. This question is posed in all earnestness and without sarcasm.

    It seems every account of Shiloh refers to General Johnston as "possibly the best general in the Confederate Army," or words to that effect.

    What is the basis for that opinion? I have not been able to learn much about him, but that little bit does not seem to mark him out as head and shoulders above his peers.

  • #2
    Jefferson Davis himself said "If Sidney Johnson is not a general, we do not have a general." Davis said that out of friendship, not out of a fair assessment of ability. Johnson made many mistakes before the battle; not concentrating before Ft. Henry, then sending troops to Donaldson rather than concentrating everyone. The books on Shiloh and Fts. Henry and Donaldson and Connelly's Army of the Heartland v. 1 all discuss Albert's generalship without overpraising him.

    Comment


    • #3
      McLush,

      I believe it was based on the prior working relationship that Johnston and Davis had with each other. Johnston commanded the Mormon Expedition while Davis was Secretary of War. They were old and dear friends, they had a tremendous amount of respect for each other.

      As for whether the reputation was deserved, please allow me to suggest that it wasn't. Just one look at the battle plan for Shiloh will indicate that such is the case; the complex Napoleonic battle plan of three major lines of battle was far beyond the abilities of largely inexperienced troops at that early stage of the war.

      Johnston then made things worse by acting not like an army commander but instead like a regimental commander by riding around personally placing troops. That's the job of a regimental colonel, or perhaps a brigade commander. However, even in an emergency, an army commander has no business doing what Johnston was doing that day at Shiloh, and it cost him his life.

      Eric
      "If you want to have some fun, jine the cavalry"

      Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart

      Comment


      • #4
        It's a fair question - was Sidney Johnston so good? Certainly, prior to Shiloh, he made his share of mistakes as others have noted. However, in his favor, he did manage to hold part of Kentucky for several months with inadequate resources, and he drove Tecumseh Sherman mad (ok, perhaps not much of an accomplishment). After the disaster at Donelson, he did effect a rather nifty convergence of the available forces.

        The alignment of the troops at Shiloh was certainly improper, but the Victor of First Manassas come up with that bit of genius. Certainly, Johnston should have overruled his deployment, but Beauregard did have high prestige at the time.

        I agree that Johnston made plenty of mistakes. It is most likely that had he not been killed at Shiloh he would have been found wanting, which is the case of most of the generals of the War Betwixt the States (certainly, he would have been superior to Bragg), but glimpses of competency can be espied in his performance.

        I am a little leery of putting too much weight on those early war actions. Not even Winfield Scott had commanded such large forces - everyone was trying to figure out how to command and deploy so many troops. (Consider Lee's sorry performance in western Virginia.) The question is whether Sidney Johnston would have learned from his mistakes. The ability to so learn is what distinguishes Grant, IMHO, who did learn, from Lee, who is essentially the same commander on April 9, 1865 as he was on June 1, 1862 (and I yield to no one in my estimation of Lee).
        Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by guthrieba View Post
          It's a fair question - was Sidney Johnston so good? Certainly, prior to Shiloh, he made his share of mistakes as others have noted. However, in his favor, he did manage to hold part of Kentucky for several months with inadequate resources, and he drove Tecumseh Sherman mad (ok, perhaps not much of an accomplishment). After the disaster at Donelson, he did effect a rather nifty convergence of the available forces.

          The alignment of the troops at Shiloh was certainly improper, but the Victor of First Manassas come up with that bit of genius. Certainly, Johnston should have overruled his deployment, but Beauregard did have high prestige at the time.

          I agree that Johnston made plenty of mistakes. It is most likely that had he not been killed at Shiloh he would have been found wanting, which is the case of most of the generals of the War Betwixt the States (certainly, he would have been superior to Bragg), but glimpses of competency can be espied in his performance.

          I am a little leery of putting too much weight on those early war actions. Not even Winfield Scott had commanded such large forces - everyone was trying to figure out how to command and deploy so many troops. (Consider Lee's sorry performance in western Virginia.) The question is whether Sidney Johnston would have learned from his mistakes. The ability to so learn is what distinguishes Grant, IMHO, who did learn, from Lee, who is essentially the same commander on April 9, 1865 as he was on June 1, 1862 (and I yield to no one in my estimation of Lee).
          Very well said.
          The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.

          Comment


          • #6
            Yes, well said, but I disagree about Lee not learning, but that's not the point of this thread.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by grognard View Post
              Yes, well said, but I disagree about Lee not learning, but that's not the point of this thread.
              Let me re-cast then. Certainly, the Lee of the 1864 Overland Campaign is not the Lee of the 1862 Seven-Days Battles. His movements are simpler and more economical. His "change in skill", though, is not nearly as great as Grant's.
              Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't think Grant changed more, he learned early that the enemy feared him as much as he feared the enemy and after Shiloh, learned not to take the enemy for granted--no pun intened. Grant was the same general in April 1862 as he was in April 1865. But there were changes before April 62.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think that ASJ was sort of the John Wayne of his day. He earned that rep by fighting Indians using squads, regiments, and other small units. This didn't prepare him for leading 100,000 men in guarding a front 1,000 miles long, not that anyone else could handle the hopeless task. Armies this size were new to North America.
                  So when the shooting started, he reverted to what he knew; lead from the front. There is speculation that he comimited suicde of sorts, by allowing himself to bleed to death from a very treatable leg wound, even if he hadn't sent his surgeon to treat enemy wounded.
                  Its hard to say what kind of general he would have been had he survived. While he probably wouldn't have been among the few greats, there's also no reason to suspect that he's on Bragg's level, either.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by grognard View Post
                    I don't think Grant changed more, he learned early that the enemy feared him as much as he feared the enemy and after Shiloh, learned not to take the enemy for granted--no pun intened. Grant was the same general in April 1862 as he was in April 1865. But there were changes before April 62.
                    Do you really think that Grant was the same General in 1862 as he was in 1865? No evolution???
                    Just like children sleeping, we can dream this night away... ~NY

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      ASJ was considered one of the best of the regular ole timers prior to the conflict inclusive of the aforementioned relationship enjoyed with Davis. As for mistakes; well hell folks they ALL made em... some early.. some late.

                      He remains forever enshirined on the roles of the legendary 2nd US Cavalry as their former commander.


                      best
                      CV


                      Toujor Pret


                      http://www.civilwarhome.com/ASJohnston.htm

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Lweber1978 View Post
                        Do you really think that Grant was the same General in 1862 as he was in 1865? No evolution???
                        I don't think was much evolution after Shiloh, he ran the Vicksburg and Chattanooga campaigns by hitting the flanks and keeping his opponents off-balance. he tried to do sdame to lee and it didn't work, but he was using the same bag of tricks and adapting as needed.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by grognard View Post
                          I don't think was much evolution after Shiloh, he ran the Vicksburg and Chattanooga campaigns by hitting the flanks and keeping his opponents off-balance. he tried to do sdame to lee and it didn't work, but he was using the same bag of tricks and adapting as needed.
                          How would you respond to the fact that Grant devised a coordinated strategy that would strike at the heart of the Confederacy from multiple directions: Grant, George G. Meade, and Benjamin Franklin Butler against Lee near Richmond; Franz Sigel in the Shenandoah Valley; Sherman to invade Georgia, defeat Joseph E. Johnston, and capture Atlanta; George Crook and William W. Averell to operate against railroad supply lines in West Virginia; and Nathaniel Banks to capture Mobile, Alabama.
                          Grant was the first general to attempt such a coordinated strategy in the war and the first to understand the concepts of total war, in which the destruction of an enemy's economic infrastructure that supplied its armies was as important as tactical victories on the battlefield. It would seem to me that Grant certainly took his core ideas and consistently evolved them into something effective (if not always successful) in defeating the enemy. I would have to disagree with your assessment of Grant.
                          Just like children sleeping, we can dream this night away... ~NY

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            We can agree to disagree. Grant had a sense of total war in Dec. of 1862 after he retreated from Vicksburg and he applied that sense in every subsequent campaign. he palnned to live off the land in the spring of 63 before he moved south of Vicksburg and kept it up as the campaigns allowed.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by grognard View Post
                              We can agree to disagree. Grant had a sense of total war in Dec. of 1862 after he retreated from Vicksburg and he applied that sense in every subsequent campaign. he palnned to live off the land in the spring of 63 before he moved south of Vicksburg and kept it up as the campaigns allowed.
                              Fair enough.
                              Just like children sleeping, we can dream this night away... ~NY

                              Comment

                              Latest Topics

                              Collapse

                              Working...
                              X