Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

A.S. Johnston

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

  • A.S. Johnston

    Was he as good as he was reputed to be?

    Why or why not?
    "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

    "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

  • #2


    ASJ was given a task that any commander would have failed at. With a thousand mile front to defend, and too feqw troops to defend it with. Johnston had a rail network that relied on just a few vital stretches of trackspace, and once those were gone, no way of replacing it. He had no riverine fleet to either transport troops, support his operationas, nor oppose the copious amounts of Union river boats.

    His subordinate commanders were either incompetent (Bragg), or more interested in retreating (Joe Johnston, Beauregard). His theater divisional commanders were hardly the pick of the South, and his supply network was ramshackle.

    Johnston came under fire for retreating elements of his command from Kentuckey. The state of Kentuckey was hardly sympathetic to the confederacy, and recruits for the army few and far between, as Bragg discovered to his dismay when he tried to invade the state.

    In response to growing and unjustified criticism from the always hard to please southern newspapers, Johnston took it all personally and behaved at Shiloh like a brigade commander, leading charges against Union positions, rather than staying back and directing as he should have been.

    It was a hard ask for any commander to shine under the circumstances.

    Once a commander was demoted or fired in the CSA, he generally did not regain his position.

    Like American said in another post, not everyone could be Robert E. Lee, a damned hard act to follow.

    Buit when Johnston died, Lee was still an unknown element to the nation at large.

    This is such a hard one to answer. The highest ranked soldier to die on the field of combat, and by some accounts, from fire mistakenly directed from his own units. Johnston had sent off his personal surgeon to treat other wounded, so when he lost consciousness, they couldn't find a tourniquet to apply, and he died.

    There was a tourniquet in his pocket the whole time.

    Drusus
    My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

    Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
    GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
    Lincoln-Douglas Debates

    Comment


    • #3
      Just from a bit of internet,,,,

      Johnstons task was practically impossible.

      Given the paucity of troops (approximately 20,000 odd, to defend all of Tennesee, a huge areafrom Island Number 10 to Cumberland Gap. Leonidas Polk is at Paducah, there are troops at Bowling Green, Forts Henry and Donelson, and in the Cumberland Gap.

      When Johnston aerrives to take control, the Southern press go as wild about it as the Southern people. The general feelling seems to be that "Now that we have Johnston, everything is under control.

      But, shortages prevail, right up until the concentration of resources and troops at Corinth, just before Shiloh. Johnston sends out emmisaries to niebouring state, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas. Only Mississipi reponds with a mere FOUR regiments, that promptly get a collective case of the measles, putting three of the four regiments out of action. Texas sends a few cavalry troopers under John Hunt Morgan, without any horses, and Tennesee itself, their horse soldiers are privately controlled and deployed by Bedford Forrest.

      Johnston now spends about three months moving his troops hither and thithwer, and sending cavalry back and forth, all in a maionly successful attempt to make it appear as if Tennesee jhas far more troops than it actually has.

      The situation of arming these troops is even worse, so bad that Johnston actually offers the people odf Tennesee to buy their privately owned guns from them, a call which gets few takers. He alsorequests, incredibly, as many FLINTLOCKS as people can spare, giving you and idea of not only how desperate he was for arms, but a subsequent request for as many flints as p[ossible shows exactly how poorly those that had arms were equipped to begin with.

      Johnston uses many press statements to also spread as much of the idea as possible that Tennesee is OK, with as many troops as it needs to take on the Yankees, who are sitting at Louisville and Paducah convinced that the Confederates are much larger than they actually are. Its particularly effective in the case of one William Tecumseh Sherman, who, like Maclellan, is totally convinced that Johnston has far more men than he actually does, just as "Little Mac" was totally convinced of the same thing during his "On To Richmond" advance. Sherman is packed off to a mental hospital, but eventually returned, but under a cloud, a cloud he removes with his conduct at SHILOH.

      While effective for a while, its only a matter of time before Yankee probes, cavalry and their many river vessels, probe forward and discover the truly appalling state of Johnstons command.
      The press statement also have a negative effect when it comes to Johnston's requests for more men and "ANY arms that you can spare"...
      Davis turns Johnston's emissarial request of January 9th 1862 down flat, telling Johnston that Tennesee has "enough men there", that they cannot spare any from Virginia, and managing to send only 3,000 modern enfield rifled muskets.

      The Souith is, in fact, having difficulty arming recruits EVERYWHERE but Virginia, where all their resources atre concentrated against Maclellan.

      Johnston is appalled. There is literally nothing he can do, and niebouring states like Georgia flatl;y refuse to send any help at all, as does Alabama. Arkansas did have arsenals available, but the greater majhority of those weapons were spirited northward, as was most of Tennesee's riverboats, which are mostly northern owned, and Tennesee has no means to build it own river craft.

      Johnston even goes to Forts Henry and Donelson, and seeing the poor state these forts are in, orders that more work be undertaken to get them up to scratch, but this ordwr is blocked by Leonidas Polk, a roommate of Johnstons, but he will do the same thing to Bragg as well.

      There are approximately 14,000 confederate troops at Henry and Donelson, under the command of Floyd and Tillman. But both these generals are also "retreaters", and when Grant arrives with overwhelming force, they are told to make a stand by Johnston, but surrender almost all of their command after grants river fleet launches a very demoralizing bombardment. Forrest escapes with his 700 man cavalry unit, but Floyd and Tillghman hand the Confederates a defeat that Johnston is not personally responsible for in any way, yet, good soldier that he is, he publically takes responsibility for the loss of the forts.

      Now the Souithern troops at Bowling Green MUST retreat or be trapped in Kentuckey. Cumberland Gap is the only position to hold, by virtue of the fact that no Northern attack is present.

      So, that is the situation just before the concentration of troops, (where the men will finally be properly armed, but still short of food and horses)

      ANY commander, not even Robert E. Lee, would have been faced with a no win situation.

      The Jury for
      Johnston's performance is still out....next I'm going to look at his pre war record....Sam Houstons Chief of Staff (Houston had no time for incompetants, but they were facing Lopez De Santa Anna in Texas after all. Texans generally have no time for bad commanders, and Johnstons military service pre war was a ;lot of time spent in Texas. He came to think of himself as a Texan, even though he was born in Kentuckey.

      Hope you like thiss post, Mr American!
      My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

      Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
      GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
      Lincoln-Douglas Debates

      Comment


      • #4
        something I forgot as well....

        A breakout by the confederates at Donelson had failed.
        Grant asked for support, but was refused, probably from pure jealousy by Buell
        Donelson surrendered anyway, and Grant became famous.
        But Buell now wanted a piece of the action, and with Nashville wide open, he used his influence with Halleck to specifically forbid Grant from advancing on the city.
        Grant did anyway, sending Nelsons division by riverboat down the Cumberland and into the city.
        Nelson arrived to find the city evacuated, and occupied it.
        Buell was already negotiating the surrender of the city with the confederate mayor of Nashville, but Nelson beat hi, to it.
        Grant arrived, to be greeted by cheering crowds of union soldiers, eager to get a glimpse of the most successful Union commander of the moment.
        Buell, in a jealous fit, complained to Halleck, reminding him that Grant had been expressly forbidden from approaching the city, let alone capturing it.
        Buell must have had some influence with Halleck, for Grant was relieved of command for this very reason.
        Buell must have thrown in accusations of drunkenness as well, but whatever the case, it does show that Grant, for all his fame as "Unconditional Surrender" from Donelson, was still firmly in the crosshairs of other Union commanders that wanted him removed, Halleck merely the superior acting to remove a popular hero of the moment, before he could do something better.

        As I said before elasewhere, Grants position as commander of an Army was by no means secure from the political machinations of army politics in 1862 and pure jealousy from his fellow generals.

        But Shiloh would change all that....

        the fall of Nashville was hardly attributable to anything that Albert Sidney Johnston may or may not have done.

        Drusus
        My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

        Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
        GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
        Lincoln-Douglas Debates

        Comment


        • #5
          Based on his short longevity, due to his death at Shiloh, I don't think we can make an adequate comparison with any of the other stellar generals who had independent army commands in the conflict.

          His position at the onset of the war could certainly be due to ability, but also, significantly, due to the fact that he ranked R.E. Lee.

          Regards,
          Dennis
          If stupid was a criminal offense Sea Lion believers would be doing life.

          Shouting out to Half Pint for bringing back the big mugs!

          Comment


          • #6
            I believe that is an accurate assessment.
            We are not now that strength which in old days
            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

            Comment


            • #7
              He was overrated.
              "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

              "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

              Comment


              • #8
                Both Massena and I could do better.
                "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

                "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

                Comment


                • #9
                  how?

                  lets here some details.

                  What would anybody have done to keep Union forces from invading/occupying the state of Tennesee?

                  Seems to me that many Confederate states carried on in a fashion as if the other states did not exist.
                  And when most southern resources are being pumped into Virginia, did the CSA really have the resources to prosecute their war to a successful conclusion anywhere else?

                  And further, If all the CSA was capapble of was to keep the Union out of Virginia for as long as possible, and be dwfeated everywhere else, does that not indicate that even a military genius would have failed?

                  Again I ask, what in the world would you have done?

                  The CSA had no shortage of potentioal recruits in 1861, but little else?

                  4 years of war.....with no winning strategy possible other than invading the North. which they were plainly incapable of achieving?

                  I say that Southern politicians are to blame for sending the South to war to begin with, rather than simply invoking their Constitutional "states rights of succession" and leaving their newly created state intact?

                  Or was that not possible either?

                  What would you have done?
                  My Articles, ALMOST LIVE, exclusive to The Armchair!

                  Soviet Submarines in WW2....The Mythology of Shiloh....(Edited) Both Sides of the Warsaw Ghetto
                  GULAG Glossary....Who Really Killed The Red Baron?....Pearl Harbor At 75
                  Lincoln-Douglas Debates

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post
                    how?

                    lets here some details.

                    What would anybody have done to keep Union forces from invading/occupying the state of Tennesee?

                    Seems to me that many Confederate states carried on in a fashion as if the other states did not exist.
                    And when most southern resources are being pumped into Virginia, did the CSA really have the resources to prosecute their war to a successful conclusion anywhere else?

                    And further, If all the CSA was capapble of was to keep the Union out of Virginia for as long as possible, and be dwfeated everywhere else, does that not indicate that even a military genius would have failed?

                    Again I ask, what in the world would you have done?

                    The CSA had no shortage of potentioal recruits in 1861, but little else?

                    4 years of war.....with no winning strategy possible other than invading the North. which they were plainly incapable of achieving?

                    I say that Southern politicians are to blame for sending the South to war to begin with, rather than simply invoking their Constitutional "states rights of succession" and leaving their newly created state intact?

                    Or was that not possible either?

                    What would you have done?
                    Not have scattered my forces and conducted raids.

                    Not have sent 12,000 men to Fort Donelson when I believed the U.S. Navy could take it.

                    Concentrate my forces at strategic points and try a battle there.

                    (Which is exactly what Grant did).

                    Grant was right—Johnston was indecisive.
                    He didn't know what to do, so he scattered his forces and made rash decisions.

                    "I would fight them if they were a million."
                    -Albert Sidney Johnston
                    "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

                    "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Drusus Nero View Post
                      how?

                      lets here some details.

                      What would anybody have done to keep Union forces from invading/occupying the state of Tennesee?

                      Seems to me that many Confederate states carried on in a fashion as if the other states did not exist.
                      And when most southern resources are being pumped into Virginia, did the CSA really have the resources to prosecute their war to a successful conclusion anywhere else?

                      And further, If all the CSA was capapble of was to keep the Union out of Virginia for as long as possible, and be dwfeated everywhere else, does that not indicate that even a military genius would have failed?

                      Again I ask, what in the world would you have done?

                      The CSA had no shortage of potentioal recruits in 1861, but little else?

                      4 years of war.....with no winning strategy possible other than invading the North. which they were plainly incapable of achieving?

                      I say that Southern politicians are to blame for sending the South to war to begin with, rather than simply invoking their Constitutional "states rights of succession" and leaving their newly created state intact?

                      Or was that not possible either?

                      What would you have done?
                      Do you have sources for Johnstons pre-war career and sound military analysis to conclude that he would have made a great field commander or anything better than a good colonel?

                      It seems you're perpetuatiing the Johnston myth that he was a great general whose death cost the South a brilliant leader. It's a myth based on his peer's estimates of his pre-war career, which isn't much.

                      If anything, it seemed like he talked a good game—"I would fight them if they were a million—" and some gullible officers fell for it. He had nothing going for him professionally that would indicate a bright future in the Civil War.

                      And of course, he sucked.
                      "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

                      "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Before judging any Civil War senior commander it should be noted that none of them had commanded anything above a regiment before the war. And the prewar regiments were scattered across the country in different posts.

                        Some were promoted too quickly, such as McClellan (who failed). Some, like Grant, were given the opportunity to relearn their profession by beginning at a lower command level. Grant, I believe, began as a regimental commander.

                        Johnston began at the top and he had been a regimental commander in the 'old army.' And as he was killed in action leading from the front and ably backed by Beauregard, it is hard to fault him for that decision. Being killed early did not give him the opportunity to learn how to command a division, corps, and army. He didn't act like an army commander at Shiloh, and he was killed leading as he really was, a regimental commander. If you study different commanders in the first year of the war, especially those who would rise to high command later in the war, it is easy to see the inexperience displayed by Johnston at Shiloh. He was killed before he matured in command of large formation so we'll never know what he could have become.

                        To denigrate Johnston is disingenuous and illogical because of a lack of evidence.
                        We are not now that strength which in old days
                        Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                        Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                        To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Massena View Post
                          Before judging any Civil War senior commander it should be noted that none of them had commanded anything above a regiment before the war. And the prewar regiments were scattered across the country in different posts.

                          Some were promoted too quickly, such as McClellan (who failed). Some, like Grant, were given the opportunity to relearn their profession by beginning at a lower command level. Grant, I believe, began as a regimental commander.

                          Johnston began at the top and he had been a regimental commander in the 'old army.' And as he was killed in action leading from the front and ably backed by Beauregard, it is hard to fault him for that decision. Being killed early did not give him the opportunity to learn how to command a division, corps, and army. He didn't act like an army commander at Shiloh, and he was killed leading as he really was, a regimental commander. If you study different commanders in the first year of the war, especially those who would rise to high command later in the war, it is easy to see the inexperience displayed by Johnston at Shiloh. He was killed before he matured in command of large formation so we'll never know what he could have become.

                          To denigrate Johnston is disingenuous and illogical because of a lack of evidence.
                          I agree: he was a good colonel. As a General—the highest rank in the Confederate army—he scattered his forces, was in over his head ("I would fight them if they were a million"), and led his army as if it were a regiment (riding along the lines and encouraging his men). He showed no aptitute for high command and may have succeeded if given time to develop, but we'll never know.

                          Other generals, like McClellan in West Virginia, started off well and became war heroes.

                          Grant started off as a colonel and did well from the beginning; Sherman as a brigade commander and did well at First Bull Run; Lee's first official command was in South Carolina and Georgia, and he did well. His foray in West Virginia was as Davis' advisor, and he had no official field command. Jackson began as a brigade commander and did well at First Bull Run.

                          A.S. Johnston was in over his head and showed no promise.
                          "It is a fine fox chase, my boys"

                          "It is well that war is so terrible-we would grow too fond of it"

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by American87 View Post
                            Other generals, like McClellan in West Virginia, started off well and became war heroes.
                            It should be noted, as it has been in past threads on the subject, that McClellan excelled as an organizer and trainer, but was an abject failure as an army commander.

                            That evaluation cannot be said of Johnston as he was killed in his first battle as an army commander. At least he led from the front, where McClellan did not. And most of the battles that the Army of the Potomac fought with McClellan as the commander, were fought in the absence of McClellan from the field or if he was present, he was present merely as an observer.

                            Comparing the two, Johnston was the better soldier and I would suggest that if he had survived Shiloh he would have matured and grown as an army commander. But that is just supposition, but it is a logical one as Johnston was a soldier whereas McClellan was a 'personality boy' and a politician in uniform.

                            Union General Edwin V Sumner was another senior officer who had been a regimental commander and who became a competent corps commander through experience. To my mind he is the northern equivalent to Johnston and Sumner commanded the II Corps and never lost 'a gun or a color.'

                            Both Sumner and Johnston had combat experience before the Civil War and both had been department commanders as well as regimental commanders. Johnston was a brevet brigadier general in the prewar army.
                            Last edited by Massena; 31 May 20, 06:43.
                            We are not now that strength which in old days
                            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by American87 View Post
                              Both Massena and I could do better.
                              Please don't involve me in your suppositions.
                              We are not now that strength which in old days
                              Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                              Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                              To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                              Comment

                              Latest Topics

                              Collapse

                              Working...
                              X