Re: [civilwarwest] AS Johnston
I too have been lurking. But what I think is that Richmond also should
be part of the blame for ASJ's failures. ASJ had troops all the way
from the Cumberland Gap to the Mississippi river, with too few troops
to adequately protect either defensively or offensively that vast
amount of territory. Granted, the locations of Henry and Donelson were
lousy, but then ASJ was too far away to individually supervise or know
of the geographical terrain. Again for Shiloh, it was an aide of
Beauregard that drew up the battle plan, and the start of the march
toward Shiloh also was botched up. Too often, plans went awry as a
result of subordinates. Between Grant's forces and ASJ's forces, they
acted more like the Katzenjammer Kids with foul ups every where.
While no fan of Jeff Davis either as a leader or a military strategist, I will give him this: He was faced with a nearly impossible position when it came to defending the new Confederacy.
Perhaps the wise thing would have been to to use the one weapon the South had plenty of --- space --- and turn the war into one of maneuver, overextended supply lines for your opponent and never ceasing quick strikes such as Fabian did against Hannibal and the Russians did against both Napoleon's and Hitler's forces.
But neither Davis nor the Confederacy could afford to give up anything without a fight. To have abandoned Tennessee would not have only given the North free use of the Mississippi, Cumberland and Tennessee rivers invasion routes but the manufacturing center of Nashville and the rich iron ore deposits of Middle Tennessee. Moreover, there was deep Union sentiment in the Volunteer State and abandoning it could swing it solidly into the Northern camp.
That first Polk and then ASJ (with able help of such generals as Pillow and Donelson) bungled what slim possibilities the strategy possessed was perhaps inevitable given the limitations each had as a commander. But then Davis picked them and the war proved he was good at choosing "yes" men, but, Lee excepted, showed a mark ability to choose the wrong man for the most critical command.
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