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Joseph Johnston-A Great Civil War General? - Joseph Johnston - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Sat Jul 18th, 2009 12:28 pm
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Naim Peress
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I read in the Civil War Interactive a description of Johnston as a great Civil War general.  I think the facts do not bear up to this characterization.  It took Lee to fix the mess during McClellan's Peninsular campaign.  I also think the fall of Vicksburg was largely due to Johnston's unwillingness to relieve Pemberton.  What do you think? 



 Posted: Sat Jul 18th, 2009 11:03 pm
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ole
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I wouldn't say he was the worst, but he will do until that one comes along.

Ole



 Posted: Sun Jul 19th, 2009 04:03 pm
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Naim Peress
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Well, I would say Ambrose Burnside competed for that title.



 Posted: Mon Jul 20th, 2009 06:25 am
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Johan Steele
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He was the best CS commanding general in the West and frankly he was the best the CS had after Lee. Look at his peers in the CS, the reality IMO is that only Lee beats him out. That said I don't think the CS had a big pool of good commanding generals to choose from.



 Posted: Tue Jul 21st, 2009 11:48 am
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Naim Peress
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If you mean senior commanders, then perhaps you're right. However, there were AP Hill, Stonewall, Albert Sidney Johnston. Perhaps those guys could have been promoted before they died. These are what-ifs, of course.



 Posted: Tue Jul 21st, 2009 12:39 pm
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javal1
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"....AP Hill, Stonewall, Albert Sidney Johnston. Perhaps those guys could have been promoted before they died."

What is it that ASJ did that would have earned him a promotion? Demotion I could understand, but promotion...not in my opinion.



 Posted: Tue Jul 21st, 2009 02:47 pm
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barrydancer
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Plus, Albert S. Johnston was already a full general.  He couldn't really have been promoted any further. :P

That being said, I think Joseph Johnston was quite good. 



 Posted: Tue Jul 21st, 2009 09:04 pm
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TimK
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I hate "what ifs". I have a hard enough time keeping track of facts. The infinite possibilities caused from one action would fill up too much of what limited brain space I have.

However, contrary to what I just said, I often wonder what would have been at Shiloh and beyond had AS Johnston not taken that (possibly friendly) shot to the back of the knee. I have the feeling that he would have tightened up his role and become the general Davis thought he could be. I can only guess that he would see that the way he delegated wasn't working and taken more control of situations. Of course, I'll never know, and therefore should concentrate my thoughts on what actually happened.

Sorry to take this thread from one Johnston to another.



 Posted: Tue Jul 21st, 2009 11:22 pm
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Naim Peress
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I'd be curious to know why you feel that way.  He carried out P.T. Beauregard's orders rather competantly at Shiloh and showed great personal courage when he led that charge that led to his death. 



 Posted: Tue Jul 21st, 2009 11:24 pm
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Naim Peress
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Why do you think he was good?  I'm interested to know. 



 Posted: Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 12:39 am
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javal1
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ASJ was not supposed to be carrying out PGB's orders. Johnston was superior - it was supposed to be the other way around. ASJ was a weak commander, more content to hand off his responsibilities to others.



 Posted: Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 12:51 am
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barrydancer
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A.S. Johnston was the commanding general at Shiloh, and for most of the Confederate west. While we can argue as to who was actually directing the campaign, it was Johnston who was technically in charge.

Javal is correct, though.  I think ASJ let Beauregard overpower him.  Much of ASJ's fame comes from him being fortunate enough to die in battle, while the day was still going fairly swimmingly for the Confederates.  Hence the "If Johnston had lived" school of thought as to the end of the first day at Shiloh.

As for Joe Johnston, I honestly haven't studies him much. Longstreet thought he was superb, however, and that's good enough for me. :)

Last edited on Wed Jul 22nd, 2009 12:54 am by barrydancer



 Posted: Sun Jun 12th, 2011 04:06 pm
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pender
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Joe Johnston, I have liked Johnston, I have disliked Johnston. I would have to say, I am influenced very strongly, By one of my favorite writers and historians, Shelby Foote. I would have to agree with Mister Foote, When he wrote Johnston kept retreating and retreating. At some point you have to stop and fight. I also believe if Lee had not took command in 1862. McClellan would have probably have taken Richmond.But in Johnstons defense, I will say I thought he done pretty good at Bentonville. As Lee was given overall command of the confederate armies. I think Johnston would have been better as a divison commander.Not at the head of an army.



 Posted: Sat Aug 27th, 2011 08:35 am
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sgtredleg
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Iv'e got to agree with many here, Joe Johnston was questionable in many areas. But, if I recall correctly at one point later in the War General Lee reco'd that J. Johnston be the commander of the Army of Tennessee. Can anybody confirm that?
I think it was a matter of who was available for Command at that time.
I know General Longstreet had a few iffy independent commands, but I would have liked to see him come to full stature as an Army Commander in the West with Corps Commanders such as Cleburne.
Totally off topic (and I do apologize), under these circumstances: Longstreet Commanding in the West and General Lee becoming Commander in Chief of ALL Southern Armies, who should Command the ANV, J. Johnston?
Oh the what if's!



 Posted: Sat Aug 27th, 2011 12:44 pm
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Mark
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First off, yes, after Davis came to the belated conclusion that Bragg had to go after the Missionary Ridge disaster Lee recommended Johnson as a replacement instead of himself (Johnson and Lee were friends from the Mexican War). And I think you are correct when you say it was a matter of who was available at the time. Longstreet was usually a good subordinate and an excellent Corps Commander, but I cannot think of a single instance in which he excelled at an independent command. At Knoxville he got beat by Ambrose Burnside! As to your last question, it would depend on how early you see Lee getting reassigned. If he is moved after May 7, 1864 then Richard Ewell probably takes temporary command of the ANV because Johnson is out West and Longstreet is wounded. I think it would have been likely that General Sam Cooper would have been pulled out from behind his desk in Richmond to take permanent command of the ANV as he was the ranking general in the Confederate Army (his commission even predating Lee's).

Mark



 Posted: Sat Aug 27th, 2011 02:24 pm
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Texas Defender
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Mark-

  I don't believe that Samuel Cooper would have been a suitable choice to command the ANV, nor do I believe that he would have wished to. He was the ultimate :"Staff" type, greatly respected for his organizational abilities, not for leading troops in the field.

  Samuel Cooper was born in 1798. He was commissioned in 1815 at the age of 17. By the time that General Lee took over the ANV in 1862, Cooper was almost 64 years old. That is, in my view, too old to be packing and going off to the field. In fact, it is, I believe, the mandatory retirement age for U.S. Army generals today.

  General Cooper was an artillery officer by trade. He served in various artillery units until 1837, when he was appointed Chief Clerk of the War Department. The following year, he was made Assistant Adjutant General of the U.S. Army.

  The last time he was in the field, I believe, was in the Second Seminole War in 1842. Even then, it was a staff assignment. He was Chief of Staff for Colonel William Worth. By late 1842, he was back to Washington and staff duties.

  In 1852, Samuel Cooper was made Adjutant General of the U.S. Army. There he remained until 1861 (He did serve as Acting Secretary of War for a time in 1857). He resigned from the U.S. Army in March of 1861, and was made a brigadier general in the provisional Confederate Army the same month.

  General Cooper served the Confederacy as Adjutant General (and also as Inspector General), doing what he was famous for. He was very valuable to Jefferson Davis due to his organizational abilities. He was made the senior general in the Confederate Army, though it was understood that he would act as a conduit between Mr. Davis and his generals in the field.

  General Cooper was a genius in his own area of expertise, but his background was not of a general leading an army in the field. And by early 1865, he was almost 67 years old. I doubt that he would have wanted to take on the duties of an army commander at that time.

  Historians owe General Cooper a great debt for saving the CSA records and turning them over to the U.S. Government at the end of the war. They were incorporated into The Official Records. General Cooper became a farmer after the war. He was held in great respect and admiration by former Confederate officers for his wartime service.

 

Last edited on Sat Aug 27th, 2011 02:26 pm by Texas Defender



 Posted: Sat Aug 27th, 2011 03:03 pm
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Mark
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TD, all that is correct, but I'm just not sure who else could have taken over. I just can't see Ewell staying in command very long and AP Hill is constantly ill at the worst times (not to mention they are both outranked by numerous other officers). What do you think of E.K. Smith coming East or perhaps P.G.T. Beaureguard? There are really just not many excellent General officers available to the Confederacy in 1864.

Mark



 Posted: Sat Aug 27th, 2011 04:02 pm
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Texas Defender
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Mark-

  One obvious reason that there weren't a large number of excellent general officers available to the Confederacy by the end of 1864 was that a considerable number of them had been killed or disabled.

  As for the ANV, I don't think that any other officer could have had the ability to keep them together as long as General Lee did. E.K. Smith was an able general, but the eastern theater would have been completely new to him. I don't think that any western general could have commanded the respect that a Lee or a Longstreet could. (General Beauregard could not have in my opinion).

  We're into what ifs now. If I couldn't have had Lee or Longstreet, then the next best might have been A.P. Hill. The problem there, as you mentioned, was that you couldn't predict whether or not he would be fit at any future time. After him, my choice might have been General Ewell. All of this is, of course, just conjecture.



 Posted: Sat Aug 27th, 2011 11:35 pm
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GeorgeM
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Considering who was available on January 1, 1864, I would have gone with Beauregard as commander of the Army of Tennessee. He was not the best offensive general,but he was great on defense.



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