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tv   The Civil War Confederate General Joseph Johnston  CSPAN  March 5, 2021 6:58pm-8:01pm EST

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on their grandparents, winston churchill and harry truman. and at 4 pm, real america futures an audio recording of winston churchill's entire march 5th 1946 iron curtain speech, accompanied by images and brief a motion picture segments. exploring the american story. watch american history tv. this weekend on c-span 3. author craig simon talked about the life of confederate general joseph johnston, highlighting his difficult relationship with the confederate president, jefferson davis. this top was part of the symposium called generals we love to hate, looking at some of the more controversial military leaders of the civil war. >> welcome back to our next speaker, our next session. we will go right into the introduction.
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our next speaker is craig simons. craig was the retired professor and chairman of the history department at the united states naval academy. but he told me that his retirement failed. [laughs] [laughs] he was no good at it at all. so he is now the earnest jay king distinguished professor of maritime history at the united states naval war college in newport, rhode island. he has listen -- civil war. his book lincoln and his admiral's received the lincoln prize in 2009 and the abraham lincoln book award. he also has just done a biography of joe johnston and that's with the talk is about today. let's welcome craig simon. [applause]
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[applause] >> thank you everyone. good morning. i will start by putting our subject up on the screen here. here is old joe. i will happily acknowledge to this audience and the speakers who come before me that controversy and dispute hovered about the civil war careers of both ambrose burn side and don't carlos. i will also argue that few general officers of the civil war on either side of oak more controversy than joseph e. johnston, with a possible exception of george mcclelland. johnston's critics argue that his timidity with the enemy and combativeness with the confederate government in richmond so undermined southern war effort as to make him a contributing factor in
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confederate defeat. to these critics, johnston was the real mcclelland of the west. [laughs] [laughs] a man who lacked the moral will to commit troops to battle, unless he could be absolutely certain of victory. since those circumstances never obtained, he seldom, if ever, sought battle at all. also, johnston feuded with his own government and therefore became a rallying point for enemies of the administration. johnston does have his defenders in the civil war community, as well as now. but their support is often a product of their admiration for johnston, less a product of that than the utility of using johnston as a blunt instrument with which to assail jefferson davis. davis's determination to defend
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the confederacy everywhere, they argue, made it impossible to defend it anywhere. and the confederate president's tendency to promote and protect personal favorites weakened the army and, therefore, also made a contribution to confederate defeat. because johnston favored acting on the defensive end concentrating forces on a few vital points, his view, that view, they insist, was the more realistic one and the effectiveness in the field was less his fault then davis's interference and lack of support. those are the arguments on the two sides and there's plenty of ammunition for either of those positions. unquestionably, johnston often seemed a reluctant warrior. he voluntarily evacuated manassas junction in 1861. he gave ground repeatedly on the peninsula in 1862, almost to the proverbial gates of
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richmond, before finally counter attacking. that attack was marked by confusion, and misdirection, and he was severely wounded. after his recovery, he went west, where he delayed too long before trying, and not very hard, to rescue john c pemberton in pittsburgh 1863, and of course, where he fell back repeatedly before william tee sherman in the crews event decisive 1864 atlanta campaign. of all these events, the one that is at the heart of most of the controversy is the 1864 campaign from dalton to atlanta. let's do that first. it was johnston's failure to stop sherman that led davis to dismiss him of his command in
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july of 1864 and replace him with john bel hood. that did not work out so well for the confederacy, as sam hood will explain to us this afternoon. it allowed johnston's defenders, both at the time and sense, to say that hoods campaign in tennessee and the virtual destruction of the army of tennessee proved that the strategy had been superior. of course, it's impossible to know what might have happened. we all do this. all civil war students say if this, than that, and we can never know for sure what would have happened had davis stuck with joe johnston. my friend richard mcmurray is often claiming that johnston would have turned and fought the decisive battle of key west. which is possible.
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. but part at least of johnston's justification for avoiding open slugfest wish chairman was based on his insistence that he was greatly outnumbered. now, that of course was also mcclelland's excuse in virginia. but at least in johnson's case, it was true. sherman, according to the official records had something in excess of 100,000 men, hundred and three, hundred and five, depending on how you count in three armies, though only about 80,000 of those were where we call, effectives. that is a good hole and musket and stand and wine. and how big was johnston's argument? all that turns out to be a bit of a controversy, to. his official returns in may of 1864 at the outset of the campaign showdown aggregate total of 55 to 60,000 men and all branches, infantry, cavalry, artillery and an effective total of about 42,000. now in richmond, jefferson davis looked at these returns
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and the number that popped into his mind was that 60% figure, which is roughly the size of robert e. lee's army in virginia. johnson of course emphasized the smaller number, the number of affective, 42,000. of course, using either number, the odds were about two to one between sherman and johnson. of course, as davis noted, the confederacy faced long odds everywhere. li also face long odds, so johnson's if you are already fishermen was not significantly greater to least a grand. johnston certainly knew what davis expected of him in this campaign. from his base that dalton in northern georgia, he was supposed to advance northward to recover chad naaga, lost the previous fall and then move into central tennessee. well, johnston was certainly willing to try but he insisted that he simply didn't have the assets to do it. in particular, he complained that he was short of cavalry.
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now, according to popular culture, the cavalry is supposed to be confederate strength and that was probably true in 1862 and it may still have been mostly true in virginia as ladies 1864, but it was not true and the western theater, and certainly not by 1864. johnston cavalry force was headed by a young 28 year old major general named joe wheeler. and on paper, he had about 10,000 horse would. but it did, so each official numbers were suspect. the amount of troopers that could actually take field was less than a quarter of that number, around 2400. it's not that wheeler and johnson lacked for volunteers to join the cavalry, lots of infantry men were willing, even eager to transfer to the mountain arm. there is that old in for treatments genevieve, who ever saw dead cavalrymen?
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so this was a good deal. you've got to ride places and you could run away faster. but the confederacy did not have enough horses to carry them. chairman two had problems with his cavalry, but he had some 12, 500, so about five times the number of mounting forces. the problem was, for sherman that he parcel his cavalry out among the various divisions and core and even armies. three different armies working together, rather than a single army, as johnston did. so wheeler thought, given those circumstances, those 2400 horsemen against one of the pockets of federal cavalry, he could win a decisive victory. and the vision so tempted him that he often issued his primary duty of scouting and
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reporting seeking a clash with his counterpart. and that proved clip rippling. for an army on the offensive, needs a capable screen to advance and johnston quite simply did not have one. so instead, johnson decided to defend his position and that left the initiative to chairman. but johnston hoped that once sherman attacked him, and was repulsed from strong defensive positions, he could then counterattack and launch that offensive into tennessee that davis expected. at least this is what he said in his in frequent reports to richmond. now, its critics, both an and later insisted that johnson never really plan to do this. navy was constitutionally incapable of mounting an offensive. that all he did was begin, hope that sherman would attack him where he was strongest so that the disparity numbers could be minimized.
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one of his famous quotations following the bottle of fredericksburg, which george wrote about, was that when johnston read about this in papers, he said what left some people have, nobody will ever attack me in a position like that! johnston positioned his 40,000 men along a ridge allowing daunting lee inappropriately named, rocky face ridge, north and west of dalton. this was going to be the wall against which sherman broke his armies before johnson supposed counterattack. sherman of course was not so obliging, as to follow johnston script. he took one look at the rebel lines, actually several looks and decided instead to go around. much like lee had chancellorsville, sherman left a strong force on johnson's front to hold him in place and sent james be make versus army of the tennessee, named for the river, not to state, on the
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long run about march to find johnston's exposed flank. through snake creek gap and make for since men slithered through that gap, he liked that? never mind, okay. to find themselves on johnston 's left flank near receptacle on the railroad line in the first week of may in 1864, which is the same week by the way, that lee and grant are slugging it out in the wilderness in virginia. now, it was the job of wheeler's cavalry to alert johnson this kind of move but wheeler was busy north of dalton, with the other side of all this for summer is nearly to raqqa on the western and atlantic railroad, south of johnson dalton before johnston appreciated the threat to his
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left and sent a number of brigades marching southward of the quick step to block him. they got their trust in time. mike first and hesitated the battle of versace fought three days and made made, johnson's army held on to russia and therefore to the line to the railroad. but of course, he also had to give up those strong defensive positions on rocky face ridge. that railroad, by the way, western and atlantic, the single trackline from chad nougat to atlanta was the fibers core of this entire campaign. both armies needed it for supply and support, sherman needed to advance, johnson needed it to keep his soldier supplied and fed. it was an iron thread, it was critical to both sides and johnson knew that if sherman got around behind him and broke that thread, he would have to give up all of north georgia. so over the next two weeks, chairman employed his flanking ploy, again and again moving
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always to the right around johnson's left, seeking to get a hold of that railroad, he never broke through, he never got to johnson's rear but he forced johnson to fall back again and again until he had fallen back 100 miles. incidentally, the distance from dalton to atlanta, roughly 100 miles, about this same from the rapid and river petersburg so it was easy for davis, watching all of this terrible blood graphically enrichment to make a comparison with how his two generals were performing, when in virginia, one in georgia. now johnston never lost the battle and all this. with the exception of camisole mountain, where he once again acted on that tactical defensive, he didn't win any either. more importantly, by mid may, he had fallen back over the chat which he river, which was the last natural barrier before atlanta hit south. so to davis, watching this from richmond, it looks like johnson simply wasn't trying very hard
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his. casualties were less than tenth of least losses in virginia over the same period, these move the way through the measure -- the mule issue, fighting the presage to what happened in the trenches in 1914, 1915 in europe. the casualty lists in virginia where positively horrifying. and in the 19th century, and perhaps particularly in the 19th century south, heavy casualties served as evidence that the men were trying. johnson, it seemed to davis, had forgotten how to do that. for jefferson davis, johnson's retreat south of the chatter who she was the last straw. the confederate president believe that he had practiced patients with johnston until
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there was no longer the virtue. and the highly-charged political environment of wartime richmond, the news of johnston's repeated withdrawals sharp and the antagonism between the champions and the critics of the administration. davis is political enemies and the confederate congress were led by this fellow. a lewis tee whip fall, senator from texas and close friend of joe city johnson. they put all of the blame for the bad news from georgia on davis, who they said failed to provide johnson with the support he needed. davis is defenders insisted that johnson's long retreat through georgia was irrefutable evidence the general simply lacked the will to fight. meanwhile, the disinfection that he provoked and even encouraged as a mary chestnut put it in her diary ate into the very vitals of our distracted country.
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so here are the real combatants in the atlantic campaign and through much of the war in the west, i would call this the dual of goatees. there amnesty, strategical, political and even personal began well before the atlanta campaign in 1964, being and actually in the first summer of the war in 1861. in a dispute about rank. now, we might think this is a silly little argument and in fact, it was from the 21st century perspective but in the 19th century rank effected honor and honor was at the center, at the core of many officers who were uniforms of both blue and gray. early on, the confederate congress passed a law, authorizing the president to name five full generals and the confederate army. only five. and he was to rank them
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according to law in order of their seniority in the old army. of those five, the only one of them who had been a general in the old army was joseph e. johnston. he was a brigadier general by -- but that was a staff rank. and davis ranked them in order of their graduation from west point. first, cooper for maintain 15 and then leave from 1827 -- lea and johnson were to classmates, so that's a hardwood. -- bradley graduated second, johnston graduated 17, so lee was ranked ahead of. so johnston ends up in this being ranked fourth out of five. and he says wait a, minute the law says and yet you demoted me. this affects my honor. so he wrote a long letter about how my honor and my family -- all this kind of 19th century
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stuff, who is just absurd and is rebecca dismissive note. and from then, on the two of them simply never work compatible. they were not partners, they were on the same side, but barely allies. davis might have been willing to tolerate johnston speak, as long as he won battles but now it seem to him, especially after the atlanta campaign that he was unwilling even to fight one, much less to win one. johnson's explanation all sounded like excuses and they grew more labored every day. and all the while, johnston's allies in richmond, his friends like louis tea would fall, attack the administration and congress and used to joe johnson has an instrument to do it. if he were a decent president, he would get the support to joe sous vide johnson that he
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deserves. well, this didn't help launch. in terms of the relationship between the two men. and then johnson's enemies in the confederacy, and there were many including brexit and brag, maybe especially breaks than brag, more about him in a minute. we're in davies is elbow insisting that johnson -- you know if you took all the numbers in the western theater nodded them all, he's got 150,000 men out there. he's got absolutely no excuse not to be attacking sherman and driving him back to ohio. the man in the ranks, bragg insisted, and brag had commanded this army before so he had some justification for saying what he did. that the men in the ranks were eager to fight if, only johnston would unleash them, he just wouldn't do it. he wouldn't strike a blow. davis could see for himself that johnston had be come as mary chestnut said, johnson is the core around which all restless and halfhearted disappointed people concentrate.
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davis decided that johnston was a liability he could no longer afford, so on july 17th, 1864, he sent a telegram to johnston dismissing him from command and ordering him to turn the army over to john bel hood. how do we assess joe johnston in this pivotal campaign? he himself argued at the time and later in a self serving memoir that his defensive moves were carefully calculated to compel sherman to use up his army by beating his head against these defensive lines to extend his own lines of communication. sherman would grow weaker as he moved south. johnston would get stronger falling back on the base until the moment came. the moment never came. some observers have argued that johnston was one of the few who recognized warfare was changing into what essentially emerged
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at flanders in belgium in 1914. johnston himself made the argument in his post war memoir, yet contemporary evidence suggests that this was at least partly and maybe even mostly a hindsight. his initial instinct, he was a 19th century general, so his instinct was to attack. it was only after sherman's various moves around his flank had forced him to fall back that he reconsidered this and said it's kind of working out okay. sure men had to leave troops behind to guard the railroad all the way back to chat nougat. meanwhile, i am using it up as he tries to attack my defensive position. this is a good strategy. it's not the one that he had in mind from the beginning. it was forced on him by william
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tea sherman. the other error that johnston made, and this may be even more serious than his behavior, was his unwillingness to write letters to jefferson davis. the men did not particularly like each other. johnston wrote monthly because he had to do a monthly report, but he didn't do what robert lee did in virginia. if you look at the letters firmly, he wrote davis nearly every day. they are really kind of hard to read these days because they say things like, dear mister president, i desperately crave your advice and guidance, because you are a brilliant strategist and the most wonderful man, and handsome to. they are a little thick, but davis loved this. i think that heard him.
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his dismissal in the summer of 1864 might have been the end of the story, but much against his better judgment, davis was forced to give johnston another chance. in the spring of 1865, the spring of 65, the last months of the war, with confederate forces controlling only a small amount of territory and federal armies closing in on richmond, the southern public desperately sought a miracle, and a number of individuals called for johnston's restoration to command. they were grasping at straws. johnson's rivals within the confederate high command noted scornfully that things must be desperate indeed if the nation now looked to joe johnston as a savior. nevertheless, in a deliberate slap in the face, jefferson davis, the confederate congress in february 1865 passed a law naming robert e. lee by name as
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commander in chief of all confederate forces, even though the constitution said that jefferson davis was the commander-in-chief of all confederate forces. that same legislation recommended the assignment of joseph e. johnston to command of the army of tennessee. congress is telling davis, appointed. the congressional act didn't require it. but li did recommend it to davis, not merely because of congressional suggestion. they knew each other for four decades. despite all that had happened during the war, really -- particular, he knew that his name was almost a talisman to soldiers who knew he would not throw them into battle unless there was a good chance they would win. he was very popular among the troops in naming them to
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command. davis refused to do it. he prepared a lengthy and carefully argued bill of indictment, 15 pages long, which tediously outlined all of the generals shortcomings. that's why it had to be 15 pages long. [laughs] he concluded with this. my opinion of general johnston 's on fitness for command has ripened slowly, and against by intuitions, into a conviction so subtle that it would be impossible for me to feel confidence in him as the commander of army in the field. he composed that memo intending to submit to congress. but he didn't do it. lee convinced him that if nothing else, johnston's appointment would boost saving morale in the army. and it was a measure of davis's trust in lee and his commitment to the cause that he was willing to violate every personal instinct, swallow hard, and make the appointment. the news brought no pleasure to
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joe johnston. when he got the order to concentrate forces and drive back sherman, he replied these troops form an army too weak to cope with chairman. of course, davis had heard that before. the next day, the day after he wrote that response, johnston, who was then living in south carolina, chanced to run into mary chestnut who happen to be everywhere anything happened in the confederacy. she wrote in her diary that night, johnston was very angry to be ordered to take command again. he did not see this as a re-confirmation of his skill as a general. he believed he had been putting command to bear the program of being the guy who finally had to surrender.
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in spite of that, he did except it. it's interesting to speculate why. the militaries circumstances were so bleak it could hardly be imagined that he thought victory was still possible. in theory, he was in charge of all confederate forces east of the mississippi other than lee's beleaguered army here and saint petersburg. in reality, tack command consisted of isolated groups of soldiers scattered across the mid-atlantic and facing the most overwhelming and irresistible veteran army under johnston's old nemesis, william t-shirt man. if johnston believed that davis was setting him up for failure with military prospects so bleak, lighted he accepted?
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he was a soldier. this was his duty. a soldier didn't choose his assignments. he accepted the burdens given him by his government. perhaps to, he saw it as a chance to prove that he was a bigger man then davis, a chance to redeem himself before the court of public opinion, you folks. whatever it was, johnston followed into command on february 25th, 1865. the confederacy had less than two months to live. after the debacle of hood's campaign into tennessee, there were about 18,000 men from a once proud army of tennessee answering the roll call him tupelo, mississippi in january. after the long retreat from tennessee, only about half of them then made the difficult way east to find old joe and make the last stand of the
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confederacy. adding all his forces together, johnston claimed about 20,000 men on paper, but it was hardly an army. in any event, those men were scattered across three states. as wade hampton said, it scarcely would have been possible to disperse the force more effectively. johnston's first thought is to bring together these scattered forces so they could not be picked off one by one. his chances of doing so are problematic at best because by now, the transportation system in the south had completely broken down. for his part, lee wrote to johnston to suggest he should
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try to live off the land as sherman's men did. that only added to the hardship of the citizens of north carolina, for they would now have to fear not only yankee cavalry and sherman's so-called bombers, but confederate cavalry as well. joe wheeler's horsemen were now as likely to strip them of their last pig or chicken as the blue coats. johnston ordered the far flung elements to fayetteville, north carolina. he moved the headquarters there on march 4th. the problem was that sherman was advancing so swiftly, it was soon evident the federal army would get to fayetteville before the southern troops could. he shifted the rendezvous site 60 miles north to raleigh. he was acutely aware of how this would look enrichment. his first order was to retreat 60 miles. there was nothing for it. in addition to the logistical problem he inherited, johnston also had to deal with all the personal baggage, and there is a lot of it by now, including
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his own, that several generals in his command brought with him, including this guy. i am really astonished that at a conference that's about generals we love to hate we've got nobody talking about brexit braxton bragg. let me take a few kicks. back in 1864, brixton brig had written several letters to jefferson davis attacking joe johnston. johnston had replaced him in command and break resented it. johnston didn't know about these letters and learned about them only later. now braggs found himself under johnston's command. that's embarrassing.
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braggs begged davis to get him out of it. davis refused. learn to work together, he says. johnston, rather than seek some measure of revenge for braggs backstabbing which he now knew about, instead ordered dhl to reinforce bragg. that led to another quandary, because hill hated brag as well. almost everybody dead. he asked to be excused from this. he has made me the scapegoat once, wrote johnston, and would do it again. johnston, to davis, and there is a phrase you don't hear very often, ordered them to put aside their grudges and learn to work together, and they did. with hill's support, johnston inflicted a sharp reverse, taking 1000 federal prisoners suffering only 134 casualties. a scratch force for another delaying action against sermons left-wing, and then johnston
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ordered bragg and hill to concentrate at smith field, halfway between golds burrow and raleigh. on march 19th and 20th, the small village of bentonville, north carolina, joseph e. johnston fought his last battle. it was the last full battle of the war. four years of war and especially the bitter retreat from tennessee had reduced the once powerful army of tennessee to a shadow of itself. the men do advanced. this is a confederate offensive and they advanced on a four division front, but if you looked at, it and evening in the paintings that survive, the regimental standards are only about ten yards apart. still, the attack had both surprise and momentum. for a moment, it was 1862 again, and with the yankees fleeing. it's a moment that didn't last. the federals brought up
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reinforcement, formed a defensive line. johnston's men bumped up against it and had to recoil. despite repeated assaults, the line held and near midnight, johnston pulled his men back to their original positions. here is the statue of joe johnston. i might just add as an editorial comment, in my personal opinion, this is where they belong, on the battlefield. here is joe johnston on ground he contested. although, a smart alec would say is he saying charge that way, or is he saying look, a line of retreat. [laughs] [laughs] [laughs] sorry. bentonville was not a confederate victory. in some respects, it was a satisfying day. johnston had surprised his old foe. his tactical plan had worked.
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sherman would have to advance more carefully now. he could not spread out over the countryside, spoiling the countryside. he would have to advance in concentrated units, fearing a possible counterattack. having accomplished that much, johnston should probably have moved off to fight another day. instead, he stayed at bentonville. while his army endured several federal probing attacks, one of which took the life of his 16 year old son, and johnston's official explanation was that he needed time to evacuate his wounded from the field. he also hoped that a cautious federal attack would wreck itself on his defenses. another factor may have been his reluctance to reinforce the criticism that he always was too ready to retreat.
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so he stayed, and then, on march 20th, having made his point and recovered his wounded, he ordered the army to fall back. johnston boasted to richmond that the courage and enthusiasm of the troops at bentonville disproved the scurrilous rise that he men had forgotten how to fight. yet, the battle of north carolina did nothing to relieve lee's beleaguered forces and the lines around richmond and petersburg. throughout the campaign in north carolina, johnston believed that lee was holding his own successfully outside richmond, and his responsibility, johnston's responsibility, was to protect lee's rear and keep open the vital railroad link between the two armies. in his view, it was possible to armies might yet combine and turn one on the other to defeat both grant and sherman. a pipe dream, of course. even as johnston fell back from bentonville, lee was planning a
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plan of his own. lee hope that the capture would compel grant to pull his forces back and buy time for the rebel defenders. like the grand charge of johnston's army at bentonville, the attack on march 25th was more than a hope and failed to achieve its broader strategical. afterward, grant accelerated his efforts, stretching the thin rebel lines even further. it was only a matter of time now before those lines broke. on april 10th, johnston learned that lee and his army had evacuated richmond. amidst his disappointment, there flared a new hope that with lee now on the move, perhaps the two armies could be unified somewhere and these two west point classmates could together still turn this thing around. he was thinking along those
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lines on april 11th, when he received an order from jefferson davis to meet with him at greensboro, north carolina. johnston dutifully turned the army over to hardy and went off to meet the president. after at all night ride, johnston arrived in greensboro. there, he learned that lee had surrendered his army three days before at appomattox courthouse. he did not record his feelings at the time, but he later asserted that from that moment, he assumed the war was over. consequently, he was astonished only minutes later when he arrived at the house where davis was still holding what would turn out to be the last cabinet meeting of the confederacy. davis greeted his least favorite general with what amounted to a pep talk.
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things were not so bad. southern soldiers could still be recalled and a new army could be formed. the war could still be one. johnston was appalled and replied that it seemed unlikely to him that men who left the army when the cause was not desperate would in the present desperate condition of affairs enter service upon mere invitation to do so. after this initial meeting, johnston met separately with several members of davis's entourage, the secretary of the navy, postmaster general, and even general beauregard, who has you know, was prone to most pie in the skies scenarios. even beauregard agreed that leaves surrender meant the war was over. continuation of the war, now they all asserted, would be nothing less than murder.
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mallory and beauregard told johnson it was his responsibility. he is the only serving general left in the confederacy. it's his job to make the presidt see reality. johnston agreed to try, telling mallory we must stop fighting and secure peace on the best terms we can. mallory replied it was johnston's duty as a soldier to make that clear to the president. it was in that frame of mind that johnston attended the final cabinet meeting with davis at 8:00 that night. according to the notes that were kept by postmaster reagan, davis began the meeting by addressing johnston directly. i have requested un general beauregard join us this evening that we may have the benefit of your views. before inviting them to give their views, however, he
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offered his own opinion. i think we can still whip the enemy if our people will turn out. everyone waited for johnston's reply. after a poignant pause, he said my views, sir, are that our people are tired, feeling am selves wept, and will not fight. our country is overwhelmed, while the enemies powers were never greater and maybe increased to any extent desired. since her surrender, they regard the war as at an end. while johnston finished speaking, it was quiet again. all the heads in the room turned to see how davis would respond to that. after a moment, davis turned to beauregard. what do you say, general? i concur in everything general johnston has said. davis looked down. his hands fidgeted with a piece of paper he had in his, lap folding and re-folding it. finally, he looked up. >> well, general johnston, what do you propose?
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>> johnston asked that he be given the authority to open negotiations with sherman to bring about an end to the war. davis doubted it would do any good, but he gave johnston permission to try. to try what exactly? but davis believed he had given johnston the authority to do was to negotiate the end of the war which meant giving sherman to agree to confederate independence. once again, as throughout their relationship, the two men failed or perhaps refused to understand one another. back with this army, johnston sent sherman a note suggesting
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that they need to negotiate an armistice which would permit the civil authorities to enter into need full arrangements to terminate the existing war. curious phrasing. the reference to civil authority implied that there was such a thing as the confederate government. still, sherman was unwilling to give up the chance to end the war on such a technicality and returned a polite, even conciliatory, note of acceptance. on april 17th, 1865, sherman and johnston met with james and nancy bennett, at durham station, north carolina. by then, each man had spent many hours, days, months thinking about the other. what plans might lurk in the mind of that foe of mine across the battlefield? they served in the military
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together for decades, yet had never met until this day. they went into the house, unlike at appomattox where you see paintings of staff members huddled around grant's large staff. the two of them went inside alone. once inside, sherman reached into his vest and wordlessly handed johnston a telegram that he had received upon leaving camp. johnston read it, turned white, and looked up at sherman in horror. it announced that abraham lincoln had been assassinated the night before. johnston said it was the greatest possible calamity to the south and expressed the hope that sherman did not think the south had a hand in such an act. sherman replied that he was confident the rebel army had no part in it, but he was less sure that davis's government had not played a role. to that, johnston made no reply. then they got down to business. sherman offered johnston the
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same terms that grant had offered lee at appomattox. johnson suggested they could go further than that and arrange the terms of a permanent peace. sherman asked johnston if he had the authority to make such an agreement. johnston said that breckenridge could represent the rebel government. sherman said i cannot enter into any negotiation with a member of the rebel government. but breckenridge is also a major general in the army. you can see him as a major general, even as he represents the cabinet. anxious for the bloodletting to end, sherman agreed. so sherman, johnson, and now breckenridge met in the same house the next day, april 18th. sherman had prepared a memorandum to use as a basis for agreement. it called not only for the disillusion of all southern armies, and also the
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restoration and recognition of state governments. after some conversation and a few inundations, the men agreed and signed the document. johnston left the meeting believing the war at last was over. but the political leaders in washington, especially in the wake of lincoln's assassination, were enraged by the deal. grant himself told him he had overstepped his authority in order to repudiate the agreement at once. immediately, sherman sent johnston a note saying the hostilities would resume in 48 hours. he also invited johnston to another meeting where they could discuss the surrender of the army alone without reference to political issues. johnston knew that the renewal of hostilities would have only one result for what was left of his army was rapidly disintegrating as men left for home in the belief that the war was over. 4000 of them had left just that
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day. seeking to share the burden of the decision, he knew he had to make he asked breckenridge for guidance. breckenridge told him that if he had to surrender, he should at least bring off the cavalry. of course, if he did that, the war would go on. for how long, week, a month? to what end? johnston was not willing to risk the blood of his soldiers so that jefferson davis could stay in office for another week. he notified sherman that he would meet with them again in order to surrender his army, which he did, on the 26th of april. given the long and often bitter relationship between jefferson
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davis and joseph johnston, he never forgave him. considered an abject and unnecessary surrender. to be sure, lee had also surrendered, but li had been surrounded. he fought as hard as he could for as long as he could until he could fight no longer and then accepted the inevitable. johnston, in davis's view, had just quit. today this, johnston's surrender was simply another manifestation of a defeatist and contrarian general who had from the first in a reluctant warrior. whatever maybe said of johnston's retrograde movements in 1862 or his trading space for time in georgia in 1864, his decision to lay down his arms in 1865 was surely the reasonable act of a man who knew when the time had come for the killing to stop. thank you very much. i'm told we have time for questions. there are a couple down here.
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the microphones are on the way. whoever gets the microphone first. that's the rule. right here. >> did not joseph johnston propose a set of terms to sherman before sherman pulled out his alternatives? did not sherman kind of look at them and say these are not too bad? and it was johnston's proposals that kept state governments? >> johnston made the verbal recommendation to sherman. johnston thought to himself, the one problem we will have after the war is the instability and chaos. the war ends, and there is no authority in charge, people will run amok and there will be riding and looting and we need to have some authority in place and the state governments are already there.
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he made this argument to sherman or lee and sherman put it in the working document that he presented. but it was, i think john's than it was a little farsighted here, he knew that there had to be an authority of some kind in place. and if it wasn't the state governments, it would be the military occupiers. and he kind of wanted to avoid that if he could. so the argument has been made that johnson was looking at for the interest of the citizens of the south and the post war period. and that may be true. here. >> could you go over the ranking of the generals from one through five? >> i hope i can do this for memory. cooper, what's cooper's first name? samuel cooper from the class of 1815 was actually the highest ranking general in the confederacy. a lot of people overlook this because he had never served in the field. a little bit long in the two, three certainly for those days. but he did remain on active
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service in richmond. so he was ranked first, number two from the class of 24, so we help me. albert sydney johnston was number two and of course i have heard sydney johnston was jefferson davis his favorite general. he loved albert sydney johnston had been what they call the first captain. the commander of the core at west point when davis himself had been a cadet so. so he had reverence for albert sydney johnston each on ten in the beginning, and after albertson each and stunned had been killed and shiloh, he appointed his son on his staff in richmond to kind of keep that connection with him. so he was number two. number three was robert e. lee, class of 1827, graduating second. number four was joseph each on
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certain, 17 from the same class and the last of all was beauregard from class of i think 38, is that right? so there is of the five. in that order. so the two of them ever served in the same theater, one would have command jurisdiction over the other. and a west and the current man jurisdiction that bother johnston so much, because he did have command authority in the field in virginia, he was the top rank a field commander in virginia, but it was the idea that the law said, i should be number one and you made me number four. that requires an explanation. by the way, the argument against johnston's position here was that johnston was quartermaster general and therefore had a one star rank. but it was a brevity appointment, it was a rank that went with the job, anybody who was quartermaster general of the army became a one star general. but when he left that job he would revert to his statutory rank of lieutenant colonel. so a lot of people are saying, well that doesn't really count, yes he was in general but not a real general. so that was part of the mix as well. yes? will has a question. oh i'm sorry! the boss is going to ask a question. >> just based on the fact that a lot of people believe that johnston was just defensive
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minded on the way from dalton to atlanta, there was one instance a task phil, do you want to comment on that? >> well i will. task ville was -- he had planned carefully throughout. so he said, both at the time and later that when the time came, he would turn in strike. and there was a moment where the roads diverged, the railroad, the western atlantic went on this way and then there was a branch. well you can moved in our army of 80,000 men don't longer see this track. so sherman had divide his forces and they were separating themselves and johnston had taken up a good position on the flank of the easternmost prong of sherman's advance and he had it all set up. he was going to attack in and blocking with hardy, attack with hood, it was going to be the shield in the sword and the sword would strike and the flank, he had it all great.
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and orders went out and john bel hood, who was to execute the assault road back and said, can't do it. because my vets have just reported a strong federal force coming on my own flank. well it turned out not to be a strong federal force it was a loss brigade or something but in any case, it was hood who said no, we can do it, cancel. and so it was canceled. i would never bother to mention that in his letters back to richmond saying, this guy won the fight because this was the moment when he planned to. and didn't, but didn't because the person who was the execute the assault said it could not be done. so yeah, cast phil was the great one if of the georgia campaign, that's true. and some hood can explain all this this afternoon about why john bel hood did that. i've got another? one yeah, well. >> i have to confess, i've always been sympathetic to joe johnston but there's one case where i just can't find any way to excuse his behavior and that's during the -- campaign. after he retreats from jackson, he sends the orders to pemberton to come up from -- and perform a sandwich routine
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on grant. johnston coming from the east, him coming from the west, but johnston has apparently no intention whatsoever to act on those orders and pemberton comes out and gets beat on champion hill. can you explain what -- >> i can explain it the way joe johnston did. first of all, it's hard to know exactly what intentions anybody had. it looks from the way johnston positioned his army that he was not on the cusp of launching an assault to relieve pemberton. but i think if you back that up a couple of weeks, maybe even a couple of months, the problem is that johnston has command authority over two armies in the western theater.
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tennessee and the other -- he spoke to cornyn the movement of these two. and it's a command that he can't really understand because for a 19th century general like johnston, a general to command an army. if he shows up and tells brag what to do, will he superseding bragg in the command of that army and if you -- saw that problem existed from the beginning and finally, davis interferes that, sentiment ordinances, electric 3000 men and go rescue pemberton. and so, off he goes and uses look, 3000 men aren't going to do anything against grants 40 to 45,000 coming from the southwest up towards jackson. the only way this is going to work is if i combine my forces with pemberton's forces so he sends pemberton an order that says, evacuate vicksburg. now this is long before the vicksburg besieged. he still got -- and pemberton calls a council of war, what else would you do if your pemberton? cause the council of warren
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says, i've got orders to evacuate vicksburg and march to join with johnston so we collectively as an army can attack grant. this is before the battle of raymond. so would have been possible, perhaps. but he says, i don't want to do it because i know jefferson davis wants me to hold vicksburg at all cost. vicksburg is the key! we have to hold vicksburg, we can let it go. so he says, no! i won't do it. but he says, i can't just stay here because that's, you know, that's too passive. so what i'll do is all go out and fight sherman at the big black river. so pemberton was doing what he knew davis wanted him to do. johnston was trying to do what's according to the theories he'd been taught at west point told to do and that is concentrate your forces in the face of the enemy, don't let the enemy pick you off one by one in ghana between. and that's exactly what grant did. now, when you say johnston had no intention of attacking, he did not intend to attack after it was besieged from the outside. the moment was before it was
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besieged when pemberton could've come out into the field, join with johnson and collectively, i don't know what if again, collectively had an opportunity perhaps to turn back grant who would have been in pretty difficult position, in the south of vicksburg without a secure line of supply. so that's the way johnston would have explained it. and once pemberton refused to his orders. somebody said i won't do it, johnston was kind of trapped. i don't know if that is a satisfactory answer, but that's johnson side sir. there's somebody down here. right here. did i get everybody else? yes. >> prior to johnston's wounding in 1862, was he prepared with everything? was it his plan to give fight
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an offensive battle? >> so that's interesting. great question because johnston the few was always to fight an offensive battle. people who know john johnston including jefferson davis, i don't believe it. but his plan was to fight an offensive battle. but the way to do what, you see, was to hold the citadel withholding force. militia, smaller troops, artillery batteries for example. and then use a mobile field force to strike at the event saying of in me. so, he didn't want to fall back with enrichment and let himself be beseeched. he wanted to maintain that fluidity. but he was wanted to fortify the city so it could be held by a small group while he manoeuvred. but once the orders come back -- as he's falling back the peninsula, orders arrive enrichment, the fortifications around the city, what does that mean? that means you are going to fall back into the city and fortify yourself. that's only partly what he had in mind. but the fault here goes to joe
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johnston's inability or unwillingness to meet with davis., and to explain what he's doing and why he's doing it so that he might have gone the political support from the government to execute his strategy. instead of that, he allowed davis to draw his own conclusion. instead of fortifying the city, he must be giving it up. and i'll pair that with, as he's falling back over which he rigid were, he sends orders back to atlanta, fortify the city! right? so could be held by a small group so i can maneuver. and once again, davis concludes, well that's it, he's not going to fight about it. he's going to fall back into the city. are we done? everybody's hungry, it's time for lunch! thank you! march 5th in 1946, former prime minister winston churchill delivered would came to be known as his iron curtain speech at westminster college in fulton missouri. mr. churchill spoke about the relationship between the soviet union and its former world war ii allies in the west. it is considered one of the
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cold war's most iconic speeches. up next on american history tv. we'll hear from former soviet leader, mikaela gorbachev, speaking at westminster college in may of 1992 just months after the collapse of the soviet union. after that, former british prime minister margaret thatcher and then former secretary of state al madeleine albright talk about democracy in the cold war. later, remarks from former president ronald reagan and dedication ceremony for a sculpture made from pieces of the berlin wall, created by winston churchill's granddaughter.


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