Joe Johnston and Jefferson Davis

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terchris

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It seems Joe never got along with Jefferson Davis and was close to insubordnation on at least one occasion.Of course eventually Davis relieved him before Atlanta and put Hood in his position.
Now Grant and Sherman as well as Johnston's men it seems had alot of respect for him.Grant was relieved Davis put Hood in command at Atlanta as was Sherman.
Do you guys think Davis replaced him for personal reasons or strictly military reasons?
Was Joe wrong in your opinion of being disrespectful of Davis (not telling him any of his plans)?
 
O

oldreb

Guest
Here is a response that may shock a few folks who have been reading my postings...

Jefferson Davis was a jerk when it came to running the army. He thought because he commanded some troops in Mexico he was the greatest commander to walk to face of the earth. In truth, Joe Johnston was a good, if not ****ed good, general. Davis and Johnston went logger-heads too many times and Davis got rid of Joe because he did not like being told he didn't know his hiney from a hole in the ground when it came to troop movement.
Joe did not need to tell Davis all his plans. Davis was (at the get-go) responsible for a front over 2200 miles long, starting at Alexandria Virginia and extending to El Paso Texas. The very fact that he had this front, limited troops and a President who thought he was Alexander the Great made for a bad position.
As it was, after Johnston's wounding and Lee replacing him, Davis really only concentrated on the EAstern theatre of the War and with exceptions did not mess much or worry much about the Western Front, Otherwise, he would never have let the Yankees invade Mississippi his home state.
Just my opinion, of course,
Regards, friends
Ron
aka OldReb
 
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terchris

Guest
Yes Joe did a pretty good job and did what he had to do it seems.
Interesting that Davis really liked Braxton Bragg when most of the other officers detested him,including Nathan Forrest.
 
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oldreb

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Braxton was all Bragg and no fight. With the exception of Franklin (the Confederacy's Fredricksburg) Bragg did nothing right throughout the war.
And in my opinion, if Nathan Bedford Forrest disliked Bragg, that is good enough. Forrest was a brilliant general. It is a shame that his name is now so thoroughly integrated into the formation of the Klan and not enough people will look up his history to realize that in the end even he detested what the Klan had become, and urged, almost ordered its demise.

best, my friends
 

ewc

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To answer terchris's questions- first, were Johnston and Davis mutually disrespectful of one another? I answer yes. (Sorry, terry, I paraphrased.) 2nd, did Davis sack Gamecock Joe for personal or military reasons? I answer yes to both. (I paraphrased less that time.) I, like Oldreb, Grant, Sherman, and all old Joe's associates, like and admire him. He is, indeed, one of my favorite generals. That he was edgy, (and that to superiors,) is a trait not uncommon to Confederate leaders of all kinds, (RE Lee being a notable exception.)

That said, General Johnston's and President Davis's philosophies on how to prosecute this war were markedly divergent and not particularly compatible. Johnston believed in massing and husbanding his troops, not to take unnecessary risks with this very valuable commodity. Yield territory, save the troops, fight only to advantage, be vigilant to opportunity. Is this not a worthy war aim? I can only answer to the affirmative. Was his strategy not proven at First Bull Run and the measured withdrawal before Sherman's hordes? Again, I say yes.

What was Davis's philosophy and the practical realities he was facing? President Davis felt the necessity to maintain dispersed forces, to possess territory, to appease local political forces, and to use inner lines to rapidly move troops to meet contingencies. He also meant to face the foe wherever he threatened Confederate territory and use whatever means to knock his block off. Given the fractious nature of Confederate politics, that Davis tried to maintain a military presence throughout the South and support localities can be seen perhaps as a concession to political necessity and an attempt to maintain Southern cohesion. Can he be faulted for this? I say no. How to manage the war was his purview, so ultimately, things needs be done his way. How to manage the war was his decision until the task be given unto another. Davis took this prerogative VERY seriously. Besides, it was for this consideration, (war with the North,) that made him particularly attractive to place in the Presidency in the first place. That he is a good administrator and could see and execute what must be done are, I think, matters he is almost uniquely in the South at the time able to manage. However and regrettably, Davis is also not a conciliator nor one particularly able to comprehend some another position, worthy be it or not; he can only see his own side to matters and considers anyone in an anti position, especially one who remains opposed, as being obnoxious, inimical, and malignant. So defined his relationship with General Johnston, who would call a spade a spade, even if that spade were the Confederate president with the force and the will to exercise malevolence in his (Johnston's) regard. Unfortunately for the Confederacy, Gen Joe made matters worse for himself by perniciously maintaining a bad relationship with Davis, who would never relent. Furthermore, the two made almost no attempt to cooperate or unbend toward one another for the good of the Confederacy. The blame lies on both sides. Removing Johnston before Atlanta was assuredly a poor move. We know that now, (although debated by some authorities,) and many at the time believed likewise, (except the Yankees advancing on Atlanta.) Hood, once put in command before Sherman, i believe felt it too. (Though Hood of course would never admit as much. I think he resented Johnston for being gone and he put in Johnston's place right when that was the worst possible time for him.)

Ultimately, though Davis was admirably placed as the Confederate president early in the war, as the war wore on, his intransigence in his military views became more and more another burden upon the Confederacy.

As to the divergent war philosophies, is that not very evident in Johnston's maneuvring before Sherman's mighty army and in his handling of the Vicksburg siege? He wanted desperately for Pemberton to get the heck out of there before the Army of Mississippi AND the city were lost. I see his viewpoint of this matter as founded. Davis wanted the fortress maintained, it fit his view of the matter. So it proved to be lost. And Johnston, he could bear no longer not engaging Sherman before he reached Atlanta. A matter of philosophies.

Regards all. It gives me great pleasure to discuss General Johnston. ewc
 
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terchris

Guest
Ewc I too also respect General Joe Johnston and believe that he never should have been replaced by Hood at Atlanta.
It does seem that Joe had a legitimate reason to be angry with Jeff over the various ranks in the Confederate Army.Joe claimed that he should be the highest ranking officer in the CSA since he had been the highest ranking officer in the U.S army that went south.Yes I would feel the same way Joe did if my ranking was overlooked and others were suddenly promoted above me.
Back to Johnston's campaign abilities,he did a masterful job with the delaying tactics in the campaign against Sherman.That was probably the best plan considering there was not much hope for a southern victory at that point.No,Joe was not aggressive and in some instances such as this that was a good thing.Johnston showed a good fight against Sherman at Kennesaw Mountain though!
Some would argue that Joe did hardly anything with his troops outside of Vicksburg though(not me just an overview of some other opinions)and just waited for Grant to come marching in.Again I admire Johnston and think he was a good leader I hope I didn't give the impression that I didn't.
As for the on going feud with Davis I think Davis from what I've read was indeed a tough man to get along with to no end.It is amazing Lee could do it.As for Jeff putting Hood in Joe's place in retrospect a pitiful move.It is interesting to note that the same thing happened with Lincoln/McClellan and later in the 20th century with Truman/MacArthur.I am not saying those were for the same reasons as Davis/Johnston,but that sometimes it shows the commander in chief has their own plans.
Anyhow I will end this up now.It is good to have some good discussion here abut Joe that was what I was hoping for when I posted this thread and Ewc I certainly enjoyed your post.Welcome aboard!
smile.gif

Btw, here is a quote from General Joseph E Johnston from "A Different Valor The Story Of General Joseph E Johnston"
<blockquote><hr size=0><!-quote-!><font size=1>quote:</font>

Grant was the best fighter,but Sherman was the genius of the Federal army........but never forget Robert E Lee was their superior in any capacity.<!-/quote-!><hr size=0></blockquote>
 
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ewc

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Terry, thank you for the kind words and the kind welcome. I've come upon this magnificent site just recently and have been mostly reading, (until i get a few beers in me!) A soul thinks he knows something tolerably well and then he reads these arguments only to learn that one's synthesis is not complete and goldang, there are several sides to this issue that never even occurred to me! These boards have been a great learning experience; this is a mighty fine board. Some very fine thinkers and expostulators here. Very fine.

It's a shame that Johnston and Davis (or Beauregard and Davis) could not work together. Lee had a master's touch, (thankfully for the Confederacy.) Bragg had an excellent relationship with Davis as well. That really explains why Bragg lasted in command so long! Bragg also was a very fine strategist! That is why I stated somewhere that he served the Confederacy best as Davis's military advisor. A shame for all that he couldn't have fallen into this job sooner. One of Davis's virtues, though not always accruing to the Confederacy's benefit, was his marked sense of loyalty. He showed this with Bragg, Pemberton, AS Johnston,Kiby Smith, Judah Benjamin, Hood, and Lee- anyone who displayed loyalty to him. He was a fiercely devoted friend, and that's a good thing to know about this otherwise so seemingly cold, aloof, stern personage.

And he was quite willing to stick it to anyone he held a grievance against, like Gen. Johnston, Gen. Beauregard, and Alec Stephens. Of course, Davis always allowed the other to determine how the relationship would unfold. All got on Davis's bad side not because of whim.

Terchris, it is a true pleasure to converse with fellow admirers of JE Johnston. The more I read of him, the more sometimes I shake my head at his brutal honesty and sometimes ill-conceived convictions. But, like all who knew him and who served with him, I come out with a higher regard for this man than before. Again, a pleasure.
 
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