Joseph E. Johnston

Joseph E. Johnston

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Joseph Eggleston Johnston was born at Farmville in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and was graduated from the U.S. Military Academy, in 1829. Like many other Civil War military figures, Johnston saw action in the Black Hawk War, the Seminole Wars and the Mexican War. He left the service for a number of years and worked as a civil engineer.Johnston later rejoined the U.S. Beauregard at First Bull Run in July 1861. Johnston was given command of the Army of Northern Virginia and faced the forces of George B. McClellan during the Peninsular Campaign in the spring of 1862. He was wounded at Fair Oaks and replaced by Robert E. Lee.After recuperating, Johnston was sent westward in 1863, to relieve Vicksburg; his effort was a failure due in part to a lack of soldiers and conflicting orders. Johnston was given command of the Army of Tennessee in late 1863, and he did an excellent job of training his disorganized force. However, Jefferson Davis was displeased by Johnson’s lack of initiative and replaced him with John B. Hood, in July 1864.Johnston was restored by Lee to a command in North Carolina in early 1865; shortly thereafter, he assumed command in Georgia where his efforts against the forces of William T. Sherman were described as “strategic retreat.” After learning of the surrender at Appomattox, Johnston surrendered his army on April 26, 1865, despite orders to the contrary from Jefferson Davis.In later life, Johnston worked in the insurance business and served a single term as a Congressman from Virginia from 1879 to 1881. He later was appointed a federal commissioner of railroads by Grover Cleveland.Johnston was a truly talented defensive military leader, but lacked the daring and innovation to become an offensive threat. The tension between Johnston and Jefferson Davis did little to further the Confederate cause.

General Joseph E. Johnston

The second bloodiest defeat in the 1864 Atlanta campaign devolved into a full frontal catastrophe.

The Road to Atlanta, Part. 2

In the November/December 2006 issue, “In Their Footsteps” covered the first part of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s ambitious advance through northwest Georgia to Atlanta—a campaign that, when combined with his subsequent.

No Hope of Success

Wasteful Federal attacks at New Hope Church during the Atlanta Campaign resulted in a lopsided Confederate victory.

How the West Was Lost

Joe Johnston’s feud with Jeff Davis spelled disaster. Early in 1864, Federal troops spread along the Western theater prepared to merge into one huge fighting force designed to quash the rebellious South once and for all. But the.

America’s Civil War- Letters from Readers May 2010

Teddy Roosevelt’s Rebel roots I enjoyed Ron Soodalter’s piece “Oh Shenandoah, you roiling raider!” in the March 2010 issue. The article briefly mentions James D. Bulloch’s role in procuring the CSS Shenandoah for the Confederate.

All or Nothin’: The surrender Sherman and Johnston crafted at Bennett Place

The surrender Sherman and Johnston crafted at Bennett Place was monumental. It very nearly never happened. .


Terms of a military convention at Bennett’s house, near Durham’s Station, N.C., between General Joseph E. Johnston and Major General William T. Sherman.

Collateral Damage: Bennett Place, Where the War Really Ended

The knock came around noon on a sunny spring day, April 17, 1865. When James Bennett and his wife Nancy opened their door, they saw Union Major General William T. Sherman and Confederate General Joseph Johnston, along with their staffs and.

Forced to the Cannon’s Mouth’: An Ohio Regiment’s Desperate Venture From Perryville.

John Marshall Branum knew about abolition and slavery in the South from an early age. His parents were both Swedenborgian, members of a Christian sect founded in the 18th century that followed the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, a.

Insight: Army in the Shadows

The Confederacy’s Western Theater fighters get little attention compared to their eastern counterparts The army of Tennessee has always lived in the shadow of the Army of Northern Virginia. During the war, it labored under a succession.

The War in Their Words: This Great Struggle

A Confederate Surgeon kept his faith in his cause during the war’s last days. Dr. Francis Marion Robertson was a prominent figure in Charleston, S.C., when the Civil War began. A politically active Whig and friend of Henry Clay.

Would P.G.T. Lead the A.O.T.?

Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard almost took command of the Army of Tennessee in 1864. Almost. “Atlanta gone,” Mary Boykin Chesnut wrote in her diary in early September 1864. “Well—that agony is over.” With that blunt statement.

CWT Book Review: Kennesaw Mountain

Kennesaw Mountain: Sherman, Johnston, and the Atlanta Campaign Earl J. Hess, University of North Carolina Press In the summer of 1864, two great armies engaged in a deadly, red-dirt minuet in the hills of northern Georgia.

Johnston In The Civil War

When Civil War broke in 1861 and after Virginia seceded, Johnston resigned from the army. He was the highest ranking officer to leave the U.S. army for the Confederacy. He became a brigadier general and took over command of troops from Colonel Thomas Jackson. He was promoted to general in August 1861, but was angry that he was junior to three others. He felt he should have been the senior officer.

He was placed in command of the Army of the Potomac. He fought and was forced to surrender in numerous battles and gained more injuries. He did realise that there were very little resources and tried to protect these assets. Johnston had to evacuate Jackson, Ms as he had very few men, and the city was burned and destroyed.

At the end of the war, Johnston negotiated surrender with Major General William T. Sherman from the Union on April 26th 1865. After this Sherman gave Johnston’s men 10 days of ration food. Johnston never forgot this gesture of goodwill.

Joseph E. Johnston

Joseph E. Johnston, the most underrated Confederate commander in either theater of the Civil War and the only man to command armies in both, was born at Farmville, Virginia, in 1807. A classmate of Robert E. Lee at West Point, Johnston rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general in the U.S. Army before resigning his commission in April 1861, to join the Confederate forces. Johnston was made a brigadier general in the Southern army and given the command of Harper's Ferry, Virginia. From there, Johnston moved his command by rail to Manassas, where he won the first major battle of the Civil War. Promoted to full general, Johnston commanded the army in Virginia during the Seven Days battles. Though outnumbered, his army halted General George McClellan's advance on Richmond. Johnston was wounded during the battle of Seven Pines. While he convalesced, Davis replaced him as commander of the Virginia army with a friend, Robert E. Lee.

When he returned to duty, Johnston received the command of the western military department. After General Braxton Bragg's fiascoes in Middle Tennessee, Kentucky, and northern Georgia, Johnston was placed in command of the Army of Tennessee. In contrast to Bragg's strict discipline, “Uncle Joe” Johnston's relaxed and gentle character instantly won the respect and confidence of the Tennessee soldiers. During the Atlanta campaign, Johnston retained the trust of his army despite its desperate campaign against overwhelming odds. Some critics viewed Johnston as unaggressive for his decision to fight from entrenched defensive positions rather than grant his opponent, General William T. Sherman, the choice of battleground. Johnston was relieved of his command and replaced by General John Bell Hood.

Following Hood's near destruction of the army during his late 1864 campaign in Tennessee, Johnston again assumed command. From February to April 1865 Johnston led the remnants of the Army of Tennessee to North Carolina, where he successfully blocked his old antagonist Sherman from combining forces with Grant against Lee. On April 26, 1865, two weeks after Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia, Johnston capitulated to Sherman at Greensborough, North Carolina.

Johnston, the commander of the Army of Tennessee, never led that army in a battle on the soil of the state. Nevertheless, he remained the most respected and beloved leader of that army to the soldiers, he was always “Uncle Joe.”

Joseph E. Johnston - History

Most often viewed as a prelude to Robert E. Lee's Civil War victories of 1862, Joseph E. Johnston's campaign in Virginia early that year has been considered uninspired at best, catastrophic at worst. Steven Newton now offers a revisionist account of Johnston's operations between the York and James Rivers to show how his performance in the "Peninsular War" contributed to a crucial strategic victory for the Confederacy.

Newton acknowledges the limitations usually attributed to Johnston by other historians but suggests that assessments of the general's performance in Virginia have been colored by later controversies. He argues that contemporary sources portray Johnston as conducting his operations competently and within the strategic framework laid down in Richmond, even when he personally disagreed with those decisions. By holding his outnumbered army together and delaying the advance of Union forces, the general bought critical time for the Confederacy to recruit, organize, and arm the expanded army that would drive the Federals away from Richmond soon after Johnston himself was wounded at Seven Pines.

&ldquoIn this well-written and engrossing revisionist interpretation of Johnston’s command in the Army of Northern Virginia from February to May 1862, Newton presents Johnston as an able administrator and strategist who conducted operations in conformity with the directives of Jefferson Davis.&rdquo

&mdashJournal of Military History

&ldquoWhat gives Newton’s book a special niche is his exhaustive research and blend of narrative historiography.&rdquo

&mdashThe Virginia Magazine

&ldquoThis treatment of Johnston is a work whose time has come.&rdquo

&mdashSouthern Historian

&ldquoA well-researched, well-argued, and well-written book that challenges the long-held view that Johnston was a failure as commanding general in Virginia. Newton's analysis of Joseph E. Johnston during the peninsular campaign is excellent history.&rdquo

&mdashJournal of American History

&ldquoStudents of the intricacies of Civil War strategy and the Byzantine world of the Confederate high command will welcome Newton’s assessment of the war in Virginia in the first five months of 1862.&rdquo

&mdashJournal of Southern History

&ldquoA challenging new assessment of Joe Johnston’s conduct of the defense of Richmond and an important contribution to the scholarly debate about Civil War military leadership. No serious student of the war can overlook Newton’s careful research and provocative conclusions.&rdquo

&mdashCraig L. Symonds, author of Stonewall of the West

&ldquoThis is by far the best thing I know of on the war in Virginia in the first five months of 1862. I have learned a lot from Newton’s work and I recommend it very strongly.&rdquo

&mdashRichard M. McMurry, author of Two Great Rebel Armies

&ldquoAn impressive, invaluable, and bracingly revisionist account of Johnston’s service in Virginia.&rdquo

&mdashSteven E. Woodworth, author of Davis and Lee at War

Focusing on the period between mid-February and late May 1862, Newton examines in detail the high-level conferences in Richmond to set strategy and the relationship of the Peninsula campaign to operations in the Shenandoah Valley and the western Confederacy. What emerges is a portrait of a general who was much more complex in thought and action than even his advocates have argued. By examining what Johnston actually accomplished rather than speculating on what he might have done, Newton shows that his overall conduct of the campaign holds up well under scrutiny.

Marked by painstaking research and analysis, Newton's reconsideration of Johnston is a key account of Confederate operations in the pivotal eastern Virginia theater in 1862. It provides an important new look at an episode in the war that until now has received little attention and helps rescue an unduly maligned leader from the shadow of Lee.

About the Author

Steven H. Newton is associate professor of history at Delaware State University and the author of The Battle of Seven Pines.

Joseph E. Johnston, Confederate General

There seem to be varied appraisals of the Confederacy's Joseph Johnston, a cautious and rather serious-minded character who surrendered one of the last major Confederate armies to William T. Sherman. He doesn't appear to be especially easy to categorize - I've seen some books speak of him with respect, others something approaching scorn.

As of yet I haven't studied him in much detail, though the following title (I'm about a third of the way through) has been enlightening thus far:

[ame=""] Worthy Opponents: William T. Sherman and Joseph E. Johnston: Antagonists in War-Friends in Peace: Edward G. Longacre: B[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@5192CMPA6EL[/ame]

Anyways, what's your appraisal of Joe Johnston?


Another one of Salah's Civil War general-threads.

There seem to be varied appraisals of the Confederacy's Joseph Johnston, a cautious and rather serious-minded character who surrendered one of the last major Confederate armies to William T. Sherman. He doesn't appear to be especially easy to categorize - I've seen some books speak of him with respect, others something approaching scorn.

As of yet I haven't studied him in much detail, though the following title (I'm about a third of the way through) has been enlightening thus far:

Anyways, what's your appraisal of Joe Johnston?

Joe Johnston, I think was probably one of the Confederacy's unluckiest generals. Not in the sense that he lost a lot of battles, because I think his record was actually pretty good during the American Civil War. The part where he was unlucky comes from his relations with the Confederate government.

According to the sources I have. I think that Johnston was distrusted at best and hated at worst by Jefferson Davis. The prime motive for this hatred was a lack of aggression on Johnston's part. And so, when Johnston was wounded at Seven Pines, and was forced to step down, Davis eagerly placed Lee in command and let Johnston go.

Following that and his taking over the Confederate armies in the west just before Sherman's Atlanta campaign, I don't really have anything on what Johnston was up to. I don't know if he was shuffled to a post that had less pressure or less "action" or was simply fired and was in "retirement" as it were.

His actions in the Atlanta campaign were fairly decent. He recognized that his forces didn't have the numbers to stand up to Sherman's army in a straight up fight, and tried to take defensive positions to lure Sherman into making an attack on him. To my knowledge, Sherman only did this at Kennesaw Mountain, but yet, that still wasn't enough to destroy Sherman's army and the advance to Atlanta continued.

Then, Johnston was fired again as either Davis or the people around him wanted more offensive action to take place. Johnston was replaced by John Bell Hood, who failed to hold onto Atlanta and ultimately broke off defending the city to invade Tennessee. By the time Johnston got command of the army back, Hood had destroyed the army at Nashville and Franklin. And that left him trying to confront Sherman's men on the "March".

Because of this, I think he was rather unlucky, and it would have been interesting to see how the war would have gone had the government had greater faith in Johnston.

Lawrence Helm

Cautious Joe Johnston

Joe Johnston, as many generals were, was extremely sensitive about rank and rankings. He thought he should have a higher rank based on his rank when he joined the confederate cause and it was Davis who denied his claim -- Davis who would never admit that he was wrong. However, it was Johnston, in this case who held the grudge. Davis was perfectly willing to hold grudges but he didn't have one against Johnston as soon as Johnston had one against him.

It wasn't just Johnston's slowness against an enemy that bothered Davis, it was Johnston's unwillingness to tell Davis what he was up to, and that may have been at least partly because Johnston held a grudge and didn't trust Davis but he didn't especially like communicating with anyone. If he had a job then leave him alone and let him do it. Davis, who had constant political pressure from several sources couldn't really afford to let him do that.

Johnston was a superb "defensive" general. He fought war the way a lot of post-war second-guessers thought the South should have fought it all along so it is difficult from our vantage to condemn Johnston for that. Longstreet was a disciple of Johnston in this regard. He had a different reputation while taking orders from Lee, but he preferred Johnston's approach and might very well have used an army just as Johnston did if he'd been given the opportunity.

Men loved aggressive generals like Jackson, Lee and Sheridan because they won battles, but other men loved defensive Generals like Johnston and McClellan because they kept their men safe far more often than the aggressive generals did. (IMO)

[I have said I would have preferred fighting under Johnston to Jackson or Lee, but if I were a young man caught up in the Southern cause I might have thought otherwise. But Sheridan seems much more to my liking in this regard. Yes he was an aggressive general, but he also took great care of his men. They were better clothed, fed and supplied than the men under other generals, and he wouldn't use up his men without good reason.

I'm imagining now seeing a resemblance between Johnston and Sheridan. They both took good care of their men and wouldn't use them up without good cause, but Sheridan had an "overdrive" (to use an automobile metaphor) and Johnston didn't. In terms of actual battle, Sheridan had the "berserker rage" that the Norse ancestors of the Irish and Scots were noted for. Lee and Jackson both had it. Those who were with them in battle would remark about their eyes lighting up fiercely during battle. These men, Hood was another, would gladly lead their men into charges against defensive emplacements when the battle-rage was upon them. These men were at their best during battle.

Other generals were praised for their coolness under battle. I sometimes wonder if Grant, noted for his coolness, valued Sheridan so highly because he could see something in Sheridan, that berserker battle rage perhaps, that he didn't have.

What You Need to Know about Bull Run:

At the end of the battle, President Jefferson Davis rode to Henry Hill, where Confederate wounded, including Jackson, were being treated, and ordered: “I am President Davis! All of you who are able follow me back to the field!” Davis, who always preferred to ride to the sound of the guns, wanted to take his commander in chief responsibilities rather more literally than most presidents. The wounded “Stonewall” Jackson was game. He said: “Give me ten thousand men and I will take Washington tomorrow.”

But rain began to fall, mud began to form, and cooler—and wronger— heads thought that the dispersed and tired Confederates needed to rest and reform, not harry the retreating Yankees. In one way, it didn’t matter. If shocking the North was the intention, the North was well and truly shocked. The Northern war of aggression would be no picnic. In another more important way it did matter. What would have been the outcome had Stonewall Jackson ridden into Washington and captured Honest Abe at gunpoint? One can only wonder whether the North wouldn’t have said to the Southern states, “Er, gosh, sorry for the invasion of Virginia. Why don’t we call this whole war thing off? Oh, and may we have our president back?”

Abraham Lincoln believed that the Civil War would be over in a few months, with the Union Army marching on Richmond by late 1861. Both sides hastily assembled armies and Brig. Gen. Irvin McDowell led his unseasoned Union Army across Bull Run against the equally inexperienced Confederate Army of Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard. The Confederates won a surprise victory, particularly due to the efforts of Stonewall Jackson, and routed the Union. Both sides dug in their heels for a long war ahead.

Sherman's Atlanta Campaign

In May 1864, Johnston faced his first major test as commander of the Confederacy's Army of Tennessee. At that time, a major Union army under the command of General William T. Sherman (1820–1891 see entry) marched into Georgia in order to destroy Johnston's sixty thousand-man army. The North believed that if the Confederate Army of Tennessee could be wiped out, Union control of the West would be complete, and weakening Southern support for the war might collapse altogether.

As Sherman's force of one hundred thousand troops began its pursuit of Johnston, Davis and Johnston once again quarreled about Confederate strategy. Davis and other officials wanted Johnston to strike against Sherman and recapture the state of Tennessee in an offensive campaign. Johnston, however, felt that his best course of action was to engage in a series of strategic retreats against his more powerful opponent. The general thought that if Sherman used up some of his troops in failed attacks, he might eventually be able to launch a counterattack. In addition, Johnston believed that if Sherman failed to gain a major victory during the summer of 1864, Northern voters might replace U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865 see entry) in the fall elections with a member of the antiwar Democratic Party who would grant independence to the Confederacy in exchange for peace.

Throughout the months of May and June, Sherman moved his army southward in an attempt to smash the Confederate Army of Tennessee. The two armies engaged in countless bloody skirmishes during this period, but Johnston quickly and skillfully avoided all efforts to trap him. Instead, he steadily retreated deeper into Georgia, even as President Davis and other Confederate officials urged him to turn and attack the Yankee (Union) invaders.

By mid-July, Sherman had seized large sections of Georgia. Johnston's Army of Tennessee had been pushed backward to the outskirts of Atlanta, one of the Confederacy's last remaining major cities. Johnston's defensive maneuvers had enabled him to keep most of his army intact, but Davis and many other Confederate officials were very unhappy with his performance. They openly worried that Johnston might give up Atlanta without a fight, and became very frustrated when the general stubbornly refused to tell them about his plans.

On July 17, Davis finally removed Johnston from command and replaced him with John Bell Hood (1831–1879 see entry), an officer with the Army of Tennessee who had a reputation as a fierce and aggressive fighter. The switch delighted Sherman, who had grown weary of pursuing Johnston. "I confess I was pleased at the change [in the Confederate command]," he wrote in a letter to his wife.

Hood promptly ordered a series of attacks on the Union Army, but Sherman and his troops smashed all of these attacks. Within a few months, Sherman had captured Atlanta and launched a devastating campaign deep into the heart of the South. Hood, meanwhile, took his army into Tennessee, where it was torn to shreds by Union forces.

Joseph Eggleston Johnston (1807-1891) and the Carolinas Campaign

Joseph E. Johnston. Image provided by the Library of Congress. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Joseph Eggleston Johnston was born near Farmville, Virginia on February 3, 1807. Johnston&rsquos father Peter was an officer under the command of &ldquoLight-Horse Harry&rdquo Lee, Robert E. Lee&rsquos father, during the Revolutionary War and he was a prominent Virginia planter and judge. His mother, Mary Valentine Wood Johnston, was the niece of Patrick Henry.

Johnston was appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1825 and was a classmate of Robert E. Lee. In 1829 Johnston graduated thirteenth in his class and was appointed second lieutenant in the United States Artillery. Johnston rose quickly through the ranks, and in 1860 he was promoted to brigadier general, the first West Point graduate to make general. During his rise he was involved in the suppression of Nat Turner&rsquos Rebellion in 1831, the Second Seminole War (1835-1842), and the Mexican-American War (1846-1848). During his service, Johnston was wounded multiple times.

Johnston opposed slavery and secession, but his loyalty to Virginia made him resign as general when the state seceded in 1861. Johnston became a brigadier general in the Provisional Confederate Army and was assigned all forces around Richmond, Virginia. Johnston&rsquos strategy differed greatly from Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Johnston believed that preserving the Army&rsquos ability to fight was most important while Davis preferred to hold territory. The philosophical difference in strategy would put Johnston at odds with Davis throughout the entire war. The first instance of strategic withdrawal was Johnston&rsquos retreat at Harpers Ferry (May 1861). Johnston deployed a cavalry screen that prevented the Union from knowing the direction of the retreat &ndash a technique Johnston became known for throughout the Civil War.

At the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861), Johnston took command of the field after P.G.T. Beauregard&rsquos plan began to falter. Thanks to Johnston, the Union was thoroughly routed and humiliated, but Beauregard received most of the credit for the victory. President Davis reprimanded Johnston and Beauregard for failing to pursue the fleeing Union army into Washington but refrained from publicly attacking Johnston Johnston was extremely popular with the people, his fellow officers, and the men under his command. In August 1861, Johnston was given the rank of full general.

In early-1862, Johnston was given command of the Army of the Potomac (Army of Northern Virginia) and was tasked with defending Richmond. After initiating a series of strategic withdrawals during General McClellan&rsquos Peninsula Campaign, Davis presented Johnston with an ultimatum, to fight or be relieved of command. At the Battle of Seven Pines (May 31-June 1, 1862), Johnston attacked and, after a costly battle, forced the Union to retreat. Johnston was critically injured and unable to return to the field for six months. Robert E. Lee replaced Johnston as commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.

After recovering, Johnston was assigned command of all forces between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. Unable to secure reinforcements for the defense of Vicksburg, Mississippi, Johnston retreated from to preserve his army. Davis superseded Johnston and commanded the Mississippi Army to hold Vicksburg at all costs. The remaining garrison was overwhelmed, and the city was burned to the ground on July 4, 1863.

After General Braxton Bragg was defeated at Chattanooga in November 1863, Johnston was placed in direct command of the Army of Tennessee. Johnston resisted the advance of Union General William T. Sherman on Atlanta in early 1864. Sherman&rsquos force outnumbered Johnston&rsquos by nearly two to one, and Johnston tried fighting Sherman from fortified strategic positions. Johnston would hold a position as long as possible before retreating. Sherman, a brilliant tactician, forced Johnston&rsquos retreats by attempting to flank and encircle the Confederates. Unhappy that Johnston kept losing ground, Davis replaced Johnston with Lieutenant General John Bell Hood on July 17, 1864. Instead of tactically retreating, Hood continuously attacked Sherman&rsquos larger force and lost Atlanta on September 2, 1864. He then proceeded to lose much of the Army of Tennessee in November and December.

Sherman&rsquos &ldquoMarch to the Sea&rdquo created public outcry in the South, and Davis was forced to reinstate Johnston. Johnston accepted the assignment and returned to the field on February 25, 1865 as Sherman was approaching North Carolina as part of his Carolinas Campaign. Johnston fortified Charlotte, North Carolina, but Sherman instead pushed toward Fayetteville. Johnston&rsquos Cavalry, led by General Wade Hampton, battled Sherman&rsquos Cavalry at the Battle of Monroe&rsquos Crossroads on March 10 and the Battle of Averasboro on March 15 and 16. As the cavalry delayed Sherman&rsquos advance, Johnston repositioned his army at Bentonville blocking the road to Goldsboro, N.C. The Battle of Bentonville (March 19-21, 1865) was a morale victory for the Confederacy thanks to Johnston&rsquos leadership, the Southern forces outperformed the Union. However, Sherman claimed victory because the Confederate Army retreated, and he held the battlefield. Bentonville was the last major conflict in the Civil War. After the battle, Johnston retreated his forces to Raleigh and then to Greensboro.

Johnston planned to make his stand at Greensboro, but when he learned of General Robert E. Lee&rsquos surrender on April 9, 1865. Johnston met with Davis at a house in Greensboro and convinced the Confederate President to authorize ceasefire negotiations. Johnston and Sherman met at Bennett&rsquos Place outside of Durham&rsquos Station, North Carolina, on April 17 and 18 to negotiate the formal surrender of the Army of Tennessee as well as all forces still active in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The initial terms of surrender were generous Sherman offered complete amnesty to everyone in the South. However, Washington politicians felt Sherman overstepped his authority and rejected the terms. Davis ordered Johnston to disperse his army and reform later so that the war could continue. Johnston ignored Davis&rsquos orders and met with Sherman again on April 26, 1865 and officially surrendered the Confederate Army.

After the war, Johnston moved to Savannah, Georgia and in 1874 his Narrative of Military Operations, an analysis of the Civil War that criticized Jefferson Davis&rsquos poor strategic decisions, was published. Johnston returned to Virginia in 1877 and became a Democratic Virginian Representative in the United States Congress. He retired after a single term. In 1885 he was appointed as a United States commissioner of railroads and he served in the position until 1891. Johnston proudly served as a pallbearer in Sherman&rsquos funeral on February 19, 1891 and contracted pneumonia due to the poor weather. He died on March 21, 1891.


Alan Axelrod, Generals South Generals North: The Commanders of the Civil War Reconsidered. (Lyons Press: Guilford, Connecticut, 2011) 14-26.

John G. Barrett, Sherman&rsquos March Through the Carolinas, (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, 1956).

John G. Barrett, The Civil War in North Carolina, (University of North Carolina Press: Chapel Hill, 1963).

Sharyn Kane and Richard Keeton, Fiery Dawn: The Civil War Battle At Monroe&rsquos Crossroads, North Carolina, prepared for the U.S. Army, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, by the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Southeast Archeological Center, Tallahassee, Florida, 1999.

Mark L. Bradley, Last Stand in the Carolina&rsquos: The Battle of Bentonville. (Campbell: Savas Woodbury Publishers, 1996).

Community Reviews

Joseph E, Johnston: A Civil War Biography is another worthwhile effort by Craig Symonds. It is a straightforward, even-handed, and well-researched volume assessing Joseph E. Johnston’s storied military career. Symonds doesn’t gloss over Johnston’s numerous shortcomings, his bad judgment or lack of political sensitivity, and he examines well his successes as a battlefield tactician, a leader of men and a builder of armies. Symonds exposes Johnston’s crucial failure to grasp that war is politics b Joseph E, Johnston: A Civil War Biography is another worthwhile effort by Craig Symonds. It is a straightforward, even-handed, and well-researched volume assessing Joseph E. Johnston’s storied military career. Symonds doesn’t gloss over Johnston’s numerous shortcomings, his bad judgment or lack of political sensitivity, and he examines well his successes as a battlefield tactician, a leader of men and a builder of armies. Symonds exposes Johnston’s crucial failure to grasp that war is politics by other means. His purely tactical approach to campaigning on the Virginia peninsula and across Northern Georgia prevented his coming to appreciate the limitations imposed by geopolitical realities upon the prickly Jefferson Davis. Couple this failure with his unwillingness to placate Davis’ delicate ego, and Johnston’s tenure in command was shaky from the start.

The peak of Joseph E. Johnston’s career was his Fabian campaign across Northern Georgia in 1864. It was brilliantly executed in the face of enormous odds. Sherman’s forces dominated the field in manpower, war materiel, provisions, and livestock. Johnston adroitly maneuvered his inferior army so as to avoid pitched battles, minimize losses, and maintain his army in the field as a force in being. This is not at all dissimilar to the contemporaneous Overland Campaign conducted by R. E. Lee in Northern Virginia. The major difference was Lee’s willingness to engage in preemptive assaults (Battle of the Wilderness) in vain attempts to forestall Grant’s offensives. Lee was unsuccessful and, like Johnston, was eventually pushed back into his defensive works and inevitable defeat -- but Lee suffered considerable casualties en route to the same end. The campaigns were comparable, but Lee was hailed as a hero and Johnston was castigated for failing to fight.

With Joseph E. Johnston: A Civil War Biography, Craig Symonds makes a valuable contribution to Civil War history by providing a comprehensive portrait of a consequential, but often neglected, figure. “Old Joe” was flawed, but history has not allotted him the credit he deserves. Craig Symonds does. . more

I really wish Symonds had written more biographies. He is a fine writer and a fair judge, taking Johnston to task when needed but also calling attention to his good qualities. This is a hard task with the Confederacy&aposs most controversial soldier. In the old army Johnston was peerless. He was the first West Point graduate to ever become a general but he was jealous of Lee and McClellan. Johnston won few battles but was widely respected. Although he never owned slaves nor had much liking for the i I really wish Symonds had written more biographies. He is a fine writer and a fair judge, taking Johnston to task when needed but also calling attention to his good qualities. This is a hard task with the Confederacy's most controversial soldier. In the old army Johnston was peerless. He was the first West Point graduate to ever become a general but he was jealous of Lee and McClellan. Johnston won few battles but was widely respected. Although he never owned slaves nor had much liking for the institution, he was a loyal Democrat and Reconstruction era white supremacist (although to be fair so were most Northerners). He surrendered the South's last great field army, but wept when he resigned from the army. As Russell Reeder once wrote, he was an enigma.

Symonds explains this enigma with great skill. He argues that Johnston was a romantic at heart obsessed with honor. He desired success and promotion, but not at the expense of others. When he felt his honor and reputation questioned, he could become petty and in his later years even mean. The only question I felt unanswered was why Johnston was so indecisive. Symonds will give incidental reasons, but there was something in the man's core that proscribed decisive strategic action. . more

Watch the video: Confederate Gen Joseph E Johnston