Johnston has been faulted for poor judgment in selecting Gens. Tilghman and Floyd for those crucial positions and for not supervising adequate construction of the forts.
Spharv2 wrote:I agree with much of your post, but a "fire brigade" type of defense simply wasn't possible for the CSA. Not only did they lack sufficient rail lines, they lacked the engines and cars to transport a significant number of troops anywhere, especially in the west where lines were even more thin. Remember at this time, the west's rail network was sadly lacking because the rivers were used for the majority of transport, and, unfortunately for the CSA, the rivers all ran the wrong way for them to be much use as transport. One of the biggest advantages the Union had in this region was that they were attacking downstream so to speak.
Jabberwock wrote: Because he failed in an almost hopeless situation?
Brochgale wrote:But I agree with some of the other writers about AS Johstone - would history have been so kind to him if he had survived Shiloh?
berto wrote:Looking at this the other way around:
Would history have been so kind to Lee if he had not survived the Seven Days? (A strategic victory, yes, but poorly run tactically. Also, Lee's track record was lackluster before the Seven Days.)
Would history have been so kind to Jackson if (instead of at Chancellorsville) he had died from friendly fire at the Seven Days (lethargic to the point of being comatose; maybe he was just really, really, really tired)?
Would history have been so kind to Grant if he had not survived the first day of Shiloh? Or if, after Shiloh, Lincoln had reflexively sacked him like he did so many of the Army of the Potomac commanders?
Let's not forget that Shiloh was the very first truly serious, large scale, high intensity, high casualties engagement.
In the early stages of the war, in the earliest battles and campaigns, everyone was kind of lost and learning as they went along. Some never learned from their mistakes. Some were faster learners than others. Some never got the chance to make their mistakes, learn from them, and give a better account of themselves in later battles and campaigns.
A.S. Johnston is one of the war's big question marks. Given his contemporaries' universal high regard for the man, given his early demise at the point of near victory against a general (Grant) who over time eventually had the chance to prove himself, I'd give him (Johnston) the benefit of the doubt. IMO, Johnston's default 4/2/1 rating is too low.
Brochgale wrote:He also had Grant to contend with for some of it and he was relentless - But I agree with some of the other writers about AS Johstone - would history have been so kind to him if he had survived Shiloh?
runyan99 wrote:I've had a bit of time to consider Sidney Johnston's entire record.
I don't see anything in his prewar career that we need to worry about. Years spent as an army paymaster, and as the organizer and commander of a cavalry regiment, which only saw service in something called the Utah War, which I had never even HEARD of until today, can pretty much be ignored, I think.
Johnston and Jeff Davis were West Point classmates, where Jeff Davis seems to have developed a sort of hero worship attitude towards Johnston. In my opinion, Davis held Johnston in an esteem far suprassing Johnston's actual abilities.
Possibly due to Davis' personal respect for Johnston, he gave him a general's rank and full control of the Department of the West.
In the West, Johnston's situation was almost hopeless. He had a huge front to try and hold, and he was outnumbered at every point along the line. In some cases his subordinates failed him in holding this line, as in Zolicoffer's defeat at Mill Springs, or the stupid engineers who decided to build Fort Henry below the floodwater level. You could certainly argue that defeat in the west was certain, for which Johnston should not be blamed.
However, I feel that Johnston could have done more. While Johnston used all of his troops for frontal defense, a more cunning general might have seen the futility of this approach. Johnston missed the opportunity to use the rail system to his advantage. He might have set some troops aside for a mobile 'fire brigade' which would remain on the rails as a reserve to counterattack at any threatened point on the line. He might have attempted such a strategy at Henry and Donelson, but he seems to have lacked the imagination or daring to try such a plan.
Strategically, Johnston strikes me as a man who was promoted beyond his capacity, and who was somewhat out of his element in high command.
When losses of ground finally did force him to concentrate his forces, he concieved the attack which led to the battle of Shiloh. Here, the general concept of advancing and crushing Grant's army and suprising it in an unimproved position was his. Beyond that, he seems to have passed on all responsibility for the details to Beauregard, who actually designed the march and attack orders. Shiloh could as easily be said to be Beauregard's brainchild as Johnston's.
At the battle of Shiloh, Beauregard stayed in the rear for overall battle management while Johnston went forward. Johnston spend the day of the battle going from unit to unit to encourage the men and push the attack. It has to be said that almost total suprise was achieved on the first day, and the rebels attacked very hard. Johnston himself was almost personally responsible for organizing the final assault on the Hornet's Nest, which finally got the right wing of the Confederate army advancing to the Tennessee. Then Johnston was shot dead.
The Confederates at Shiloh attacked an army about the same size of their own, in very difficult terrain, attacked very hard and pushed Grant's men back quite a ways. It just might have worked. The confederates just might have been able to renew the attack the next day and destroy the remnants of Grant's 4 divisions, if only Buell did not arrive on the scene right as the battle began, bringing another 15,000 or so soldiers to the battlefield.
On the other hand, Johnston's tactical plan was just to push straight ahead. His tactical plan didn't encompass any attempt to outflank or surround his opponent. It was a simple tactical plan, and pushed hard, but totally without finesse.
So what to make of all this? I suggest:
CSA Albert S. Johnston ldr_CSA_ASJohnston3 $Supriser NULL NULL NULL 20 30 3 1 General 1 NULL 4 2 1
I reduced the strategic value from 5 to 4, based on his lack of success in the West. I increased the political value from 20 to 30 to reflect Davis' unusual loyalty to Johnston, added the $Supriser trait and increased his attack value to 2, both based solely on his one day performance on the first day at Shiloh. That's all we have to judge him by, tactically.
RebelYell wrote:Reading eye witness accounts from Shiloh i have to say he needs the trait Charismatic.
Im not going to argue for this stats, i would like 4-2-2, but this is a trait he deserves!
He rallyed his men when others could not and he took over that field of battle with his presence, he was a general that men looked up to and followed.
I hope this is possible, almost seems wrong towards him if does not get some recognition for his leadership in this game.
Ol' Choctaw wrote:The amount of time he actually lead, it is hard to say largely mediocre.
Remember that Lee didn’t show much in Western Virginia either, and was recalled to Richmond and Jackson didn’t fair well there either.
However Johnston’s raiding tactics took a toll on Union forces and convinced them that he had a much larger force. He commanded for only 7 months before Shiloh with Generals under him that would make anyone cringe. Polk, Crittenden, Floyd, and Pillow. Add Bragg into the mix and you can see he had more difficulty with his politically appointed generals than he should have had with the enemy. Generals no one else would have on their staff, let alone the idea of allowing them to command.
He ordered Floyd and the forces from Ft. Donelson back to Nashville but none of the forces moved until it was too late. I would say that it is near miraculous that he managed to get his forces concentrated at Corinth and launch an attack at Shiloh and that he had to have outstanding leadership skills to accomplish it.
Ol' Choctaw wrote:Bragg had an excellent and devoted staff of his own. They got his troops up there in a short amount of time from the Gulf Coast, but had little to do with getting everyone else there.
Bragg was good at self promotion and a master of the backstab. None the less, he did seem to be a good staff officer, under Johnston, at least. His handling of a corps at Shiloh was less than stellar but he seemed competent at retreat, as he would repeatedly demonstrate.
Long piece on Bragg: http://www.cincinnaticwrt.org/data/ccwrt_history/talks_text/smith_bragg_quarrel.html
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