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28958Re: [civilwarwest] JEJ and the Atlanta Campaign

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  • GnrlJEJohnston@aol.com
    Oct 5, 2004
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      In a message dated 10/5/2004 5:06:33 AM Eastern Daylight Time, DPowell334@... writes:
      The classic one of the best generals of history. In order to outflank Johnston, Sherman had to divide his army. Each time he does, he takes a grave risk of being defeated in detail or cut off himself. JEJ has the advantage of interior lines.

      Add to that the increase in Strength when Polk arrives, and suddenly, JEJ has 75,000 men, more like 3/4 of Sherman's army, without the need to divide forces or take nearly as grave risks as Sherman.
      Dividing his army would not have nor did it harm Sherman in any way.  The Army of the Cumberland alone equalled Johnston's strength so in no way did he risk anything.  Even when Polk arrived, he still would have been able and did use McPherson and Schofield for the flanking movements, leaving a force in front of Johnston equal to his own..  Each time that a flanking movement was used, it put Johnston's supply line in danger.  Without that supply line, the AoT was doomed.  Johnston was wise enough not to try to use the same tactics that Hood did.  Yes, Johnston did wait until Sherman made an error, but Sherman did not make many errors.  One golden opportunity was at Cassville, but then again, Hood screwed that up.  Sherman's biggest mistake was at Kennesaw, for he too, found out the fruitility of frontal assaults.
      Johnston faced two enemies.  One being Sherman., and the other, his subordinates Hood, Polk, and Wheeler, who were continually conniving with Jeff Davis behind his back.
      At Cassville, Johnston did divide his forces along two diverging roads below Adairsville anticipating that Sherman would divide his forces as well.  He planned to attack and destroy one column before the other column could arrive to assist as a reserve.  The plan was a sound one however it never came off on May 19th after Hood declined to attack.  That night at Polk's Headquarters, it was Hood and Polk that convinced JEJ not to hold his position for they felt it was too weak and that they should fall back across the Etowah River.  It was then that Johnston ordered a strategic withdrawl into the Allatoona Mountains.  By JEJ crossing the Etowah, Sherman himself called the Etowah the "Rubicon of Georgia."
      At New Hope Church, Sherman hastily ordered an attack of that intersection.  Hooker in tangled underbrush, advanced his three divisions abreast in column of brigades - one behind another.  In doing so, their front was narrow and A.P. Stewarts division (go get them Sam) supported by a 16 gun artillery battalion, poured devestating fire into the concentrated Union forces, even after a violent lightning and thunder storm erupted during the fighting with torrents of rain.  Hooker was defeated and Johnston's forces retained possession of the intersection.
      Once again at Pickett's Mill two days later, Howard used the same formation that Hooker had used at New Hope Church and the results were the same.  With Hazen's lead brigade advanced up the ravine, Confederates under Cleburn supported by a pair of howitzer's, tore the Union formation into pieces as it did two other Union brigades committed by Howard at 40 minute intervals.  With a horrendious defeat at Pickett's Mill, it is no wonder that Sherman any mention of that battle in his official report or later on as well. 
      Sherman then moved back to the railroad and an attack by JEJ's Bate's division and Confederate cavalry  was unsuccessful upon McPherson's troops at Dallas,  Despite several attacks to try to keep Sherman away from the railroad, they were to no avail and Sherman was able to occupy Acworth.
      Up to this point of time, JEJ had suffered relatively few casualties yet inflicted quite a bit of damage to Sherman's army.  He began to receive a few reinforcements and since May 5th, had continually blocked all Sherman's thrusts against his supply line, and more importantly, had turned back all of Sherman's assaults.
      One may fault JEJ that the withdrawls, and they were strategic withdrawls, not retreats in the face of the enemy,  resulted in consequent loss of territory.  However, to fault JEJ's generalship in doing so is flagrantly wrong.  The Confederacy had no other leader, except perhaps Lee, that could have delayed Sherman as long as Johnston did, with a minimal loss of troops.  Each time he made a withdrawl, JEJ made sure that defensive positions were begun before the withdrawl began by his pioneers.  JEJ continually held the high ground and could see every move that the Union army made.  As Sherman wrote to his wife Ellen, "These fellows fight like Devils and Indians combined and calls for all my cunning and strength."    It is no wonder that Sherman called Johnston his greatest adversary.  IMHO, during the Atlanta campaign, one can find generalship at its best both by Johnston and Sherman.

      Best Regards

      "I have realized in our country that one class of
      men makes war and leaves another to fight it out."
             - William T. Sherman

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