Narrative of Military Operations during the Civil War

Narrative of Military Operations during the Civil War

Narrative of Military Operations during the Civil War

Narrative of Military Operations during the Civil War

Excerpt

Was Joseph E. Johnston a genius or a marplot? This question almost splintered the Confederacy, and still intrigues students of the Civil War. His partisans regard him as a brilliant strategist and sound field commander whose talents were stifled by a rancorous Chief Executive. They feel that had Jeffersoi Davis given Johnston proper opportunity and support, he would have rivaled Lee in achievement. Foes point to constant retreating, absence of victories, and a petty punctilio to illustrate an almost pathological unwillingness to make decisions and a basic personal insecurity. He was, they argue, temperamentally unsuited to be a general.

The enigma of Johnston has both attracted and repelled biographers. In 1891 Bradley T. Johnson, an old military associate, edited A Memoir of the Life and Public Service of Joseph E. Johnston. A polemical book, it accepted Johnston's prejudices and assumed his ability. The panegyric tone of Johnson Memoir was imitated in Robert M. Hughes' General Johnston, published in 1897 as one of the Appleton "Great Commanders" series. After Hughes' book, sixty-five years were to pass before the publication of another biography. The long silence was prompted more by the difficulty of the subject than by lack of interest.

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