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Johnston's plan

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  • taurus37@hotmail.com
    Bob s post about the fall of Atlanta, and its impact on the election of Lincoln, reminded me of something I d heard before. Apparently Joe Johnston, shortly
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 2, 2001
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      Bob's post about the fall of Atlanta, and its impact on the election
      of Lincoln, reminded me of something I'd heard before.

      Apparently Joe Johnston, shortly after Sherman entered Georgia,
      suggested turning Forrest and the bulk of the cavalry in the west
      loose on Sherman's rear to destroy his supply and communication
      lines. This always seemed like an interesting plan to me that never
      received adequate attention.

      Given Forrest's successful record with raids like this it seems
      reasonable that, with an entire cavalry corps under his command, he
      would have posed a large problem for Sherman. While Sherman did
      eventually cut away from his base with the March to the Sea, this was
      with the fertile fields of Georgia below Atlanta in front of him,
      with Thomas watching Hood from Nashville, and with no army directly
      in front of him. This would not have been the case before Johnston
      was relieved.

      Sherman, in short, would be stuck between two forces, Johnston's army
      of the Tennesse and Forrest's cavalry command, with only the supplies
      and rations his men and wagons carried with them. He would have no
      railroad, no telegraph, and no communication whatsoever with Grant,
      Halleck, Lincoln or anyone outside his immediate command. The
      garrisons that manned isolated outposts throughout his department
      would have been left entirely on their own. Again Forrest had proven
      his ability to quickly defeat regiments and brigades guarding supply
      depots and railroad bridges. Is it not feasible, given Forrest's
      ability overwhelm forces larger than his own (think A.J. Smith and
      Mower, Streight and Sturgis) Sherman would have had to detach a
      sizeable force (at least a corps) to stop him.

      The final reason this plan had a chance to succeed, was Sherman's
      almost fanatical interest in Forrest's operations. At one point he
      remarked killing Forrest was worth ten thousand lives and bankrupting
      the entire treasury. He offered a major generals commission to the
      first brigadier able to carry out this mission. After the war Sherman
      called Forrest the most remarkable man either side produced during
      the conflict, including Grant and Lee. My point here is not to sing
      Forrest's praises but to point out that Sherman always reacted
      vehemently and loudly to Forrest's actions. Read his dispatches.
      Throughout most of the war Forrest commanded a force of between 3000
      and 5000 men. Imagine what effect Forrest, at the head of most of the
      cavalry in Johnston's department, would have had on Sherman.

      Unfortunately, for the Confederacy, several of Johnston's dispatches
      were routed through Bragg who wasn't exactly fond of Forrest, dating
      back to Chickamagua. When Jeff Davis finally did hear the plan he
      dismissed it. All the Confederacy needed was to delay Sherman a few
      more months, until the northern elections. Without the capture of
      Atlanta, and with Grant paying a heavy cost in lives for his campaign
      against Lee, Lincoln's reelection would have been in serious
      jeopardy. A defeat for Lincoln meant a defeat for the Union. Just
      some thoughts.
    • Dave Smith
      ... election ... snips of an interesting post. A couple of things come to mind. First, like a lot of Joe Johnston s strategies (see Vicksburg and Theophilus
      Message 2 of 4 , Sep 5, 2001
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        --- In civilwarwest@y..., taurus37@h... wrote:
        > Bob's post about the fall of Atlanta, and its impact on the
        election
        > of Lincoln, reminded me of something I'd heard before.
        >
        > Apparently Joe Johnston, shortly after Sherman entered Georgia,
        > suggested turning Forrest and the bulk of the cavalry in the west
        > loose on Sherman's rear to destroy his supply and communication
        > lines. This always seemed like an interesting plan to me that never
        > received adequate attention.
        >
        snips of an interesting post.

        A couple of things come to mind.

        First, like a lot of Joe Johnston's strategies (see Vicksburg and
        Theophilus Holmes), the solution to his problems lay in the use of
        someone else's troops (in this case, Forrest). Not that this was
        insurmountable, but like most efforts that crossed departmental
        boundaries for the Confederacy, it was likely doomed to failure.

        Second, Sherman had been very concerned about such actions, and
        worked feverishly with the Federal supply system to secure adequate
        supplies to make such a break more of a nuisance than a show
        stopper. By the start of the campaign, a huge depot in addition to
        Nashville was located at Chattanooga. A break in the rear of
        Chattanooga would cause Sherman to draw on the Chattanooga supplies,
        and allow the campaign to continue. By the time Atlanta was
        invested, a huge depot was established at Allatonna as well (moving
        the depots closer and closer to the action.

        And third, wasn't the Brice's Crossroads campaign, although a Federal
        disaster militarily, designed to coop up Forrest and keep him from
        exactly that?

        Dave

        Dave Smith
        Villa Hills, KY
      • taurus37@hotmail.com
        All excellent points. Just wanted to point out real quick that yes the objective of the Brice s Crossroads campaign was to coop Forrest up, but one of the
        Message 3 of 4 , Sep 5, 2001
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          All excellent points. Just wanted to point out real quick that
          yes the objective of the Brice's Crossroads campaign was to coop
          Forrest up, but one of the reasons it was such a huge Union disaster
          was because it lasted only a grand total of 10 days. I think it's
          safe to say Sturgis utterly failed in this regard.

          As for the cross-departmental arrangement, I agree this might have
          caused some problems. I don't know much about Joe Johnston's
          operations around Vicksburg, so I'll take your word for it.


          --- In civilwarwest@y..., "Dave Smith" <dmsmith001@y...> wrote:
          > A couple of things come to mind.
          >
          > First, like a lot of Joe Johnston's strategies (see Vicksburg and
          > Theophilus Holmes), the solution to his problems lay in the use of
          > someone else's troops (in this case, Forrest). Not that this was
          > insurmountable, but like most efforts that crossed departmental
          > boundaries for the Confederacy, it was likely doomed to failure.
          >
          > Second, Sherman had been very concerned about such actions, and
          > worked feverishly with the Federal supply system to secure adequate
          > supplies to make such a break more of a nuisance than a show
          > stopper. By the start of the campaign, a huge depot in addition to
          > Nashville was located at Chattanooga. A break in the rear of
          > Chattanooga would cause Sherman to draw on the Chattanooga
          supplies,
          > and allow the campaign to continue. By the time Atlanta was
          > invested, a huge depot was established at Allatonna as well (moving
          > the depots closer and closer to the action.
          >
          > And third, wasn't the Brice's Crossroads campaign, although a
          Federal
          > disaster militarily, designed to coop up Forrest and keep him from
          > exactly that?
          >
          > Dave
          >
          > Dave Smith
          > Villa Hills, KY
        • taurus37@hotmail.com
          All good points. Just a few quick points. Yes the point of the Brice s Crossroads campaing was to coop up Forrest, but seeing as it only lasted 10 days Sturgis
          Message 4 of 4 , Sep 5, 2001
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            All good points. Just a few quick points. Yes the point of the
            Brice's Crossroads campaing was to coop up Forrest, but seeing as it
            only lasted 10 days Sturgis failed even in this.

            I'd forgotten about the Allatoona supply base, big mistake on my
            part. Still, with all of the cavalry at his disposal, why wouldn't
            Forrest just launch a massive raid on Chattanooga itself, while
            Sherman and Johnston manuevered around Dalton, Reseca and Cassville?

            Don't know much about Johnston at Vicksburg, so I'll take your word
            for it.


            --- In civilwarwest@y..., "Dave Smith" <dmsmith001@y...> wrote:
            > snips of an interesting post.
            >
            > A couple of things come to mind.
            >
            > First, like a lot of Joe Johnston's strategies (see Vicksburg and
            > Theophilus Holmes), the solution to his problems lay in the use of
            > someone else's troops (in this case, Forrest). Not that this was
            > insurmountable, but like most efforts that crosse the departmental
            > boundaries for the Confederacy, it was likely doomed to failure.
            >
            > Second, Sherman had been very concerned about such actions, and
            > worked feverishly with the Federal supply system to secure adequate
            > supplies to make such a break more of a nuisance than a show
            > stopper. By the start of the campaign, a huge depot in addition to
            > Nashville was located at Chattanooga. A break in the rear of
            > Chattanooga would cause Sherman to draw on the Chattanooga
            supplies,
            > and allow the campaign to continue. By the time Atlanta was
            > invested, a huge depot was established at Allatonna as well (moving
            > the depots closer and closer to the action.
            >
            > And third, wasn't the Brice's Crossroads campaign, although a
            Federal
            > disaster militarily, designed to coop up Forrest and keep him from
            > exactly that?
            >
            > Dave
            >
            > Dave Smith
            > Villa Hills, KY
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