Albert Sidney Johnston


Albert Sidney Johnston : biography

February 2, 1803 – April 6, 1862

Johnston also reinforced Fort Donelson with 12,000 more men, including those under Floyd and Pillow, a curious decision in view of his thought that the Union gunboats alone might be able to take the fort. He did order the commanders of the fort to evacuate the troops if the fort could not be held.Woodworth, p. 80. The senior generals sent to the fort to command the enlarged garrison, Gideon J. Pillow and John B. Floyd, squandered their chance to avoid having to surrender most of the garrisonMcPherson, pp. 400–401. and on February 16, 1862, Brig. Gen. Simon Buckner, having been abandoned by FloydFloyd was able to ferry his four Virginia regiments out of the fort with him but left his Mississippi regiment behind to surrender with the rest of the garrison. Pillow escaped only with his chief of staff. Woodworth, p. 83. Long, p. 171. and Pillow, surrendered Fort Donelson.Woodworth, pp. 82–84. Colonel Nathan Bedford Forrest escaped with his cavalry force of about 700 men before the surrender.Woodworth, p. 84.McPherson, pp. 401–402.This included about 200 men not in Forrest’s immediate command. Weigley, p. 111 The Confederates suffered about 1,500 casualties with an estimated 12,000 to 14,000 taken prisoner.Long, p. 172.Weigley, p. 111. Union casualties were 500 killed, 2,108 wounded, 224 missing.

Johnston, who had little choice in allowing Floyd and Pillow to take charge at Fort Donelson on the basis of seniority after he ordered them to add their forces to the garrison, took the blame and suffered calls for his removal because a full explanation to the press and public would have exposed the weakness of the Confederate position.Woodworth, pp. 84–85. His passive defensive performance while positioning himself in a forward position at Bowling Green, spreading his forces too thinly, not concentrating his forces in the face of Union advances, and appointing or relying upon inadequate or incompetent subordinates subjected him to criticism at the time and by later historians.Weigley, p. 112.McPherson, pp. 405–406.Davis defended Johnston, saying: "If Sidney Johnston is not a general, we had better give up the war, for we have no general." McPherson, p. 495. The fall of the forts exposed Nashville to imminent attack, and it fell without resistance to Union forces under Brig. Gen. Buell on February 25, 1862, two days after Johnston had to pull his forces out in order to avoid having them captured as well.Woodworth, p. 86.Long, p. 175.McPherson, p. 402.

Concentration at Corinth

Johnston had various remaining military units scattered throughout his territory and retreating to the south to avoid being cut off.Woodworth, pp. 85–86. Johnston himself retreated with the force under his personal command, the Army of Central Kentucky, from the vicinity of Nashville. With Beauregard’s help,McPherson, p. 406. Johnston decided to concentrate forces with those formerly under Polk and now already under Beauregard’s command at the strategically located railroad crossroads of Corinth, Mississippi, which he reached by a circuitous route.Woodworth, pp. 86–88. Johnston kept the Union forces, now under the overall command of the ponderous Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck, confused and hesitant to move, allowing Johnston to reach his objective undetected.Woodworth, p. 88. This delay allowed Jefferson Davis finally to send reinforcements from the garrisons of coastal cities and another highly rated but prickly general, Braxton Bragg, to help organize the western forces.Woodworth, pp. 90, 94. Bragg at least calmed the nerves of Beauregard and Polk who had become agitated by their apparent dire situation in the face of numerically superior forces before the arrival of Johnston on March 24, 1862.Woodworth, p. 95.Long, p. 188.

Johnston’s army of 17,000 men gave the Confederates a combined force of about 40,000 to 44,669 men at Corinth.McPherson,p. 406.Eicher, The Longest Night, p. 223. On March 29, 1862, Johnston officially took command of this combined force, which continued to use the Army of the Mississippi name under which it had been organized by Beauregard on March 5.Long, 190.Eicher, Civil War High Commands p. 887 and Eicher, The Longest Night p. 219 are nearly alone in referring to this army as the Army of Mississippi. Muir, p. 85, in discussing the first "Army of Mississippi" includes this army as one of three in the article with that title but states: "Historians have pointed out that the Army of Mississippi is frequently mentioned in the Official Records as the Army of the Mississippi." Contemporaries, including Johnston and Beauregard, and modern historians call this Confederate army the Army of the Mississippi. , Volume X, Part 1, index, pp. 96–99; 385 (Beauregard’s report on the Battle of Shiloh, April 11, 1862, from Headquarters, Army of the Mississippi) and Part 2, p. 297 (Beauregard’s announcement on taking command of Army of the Mississippi); p. 370 (Johnston General Orders of March 29, 1862 assuming command and announcing the army would retain the name Army of the Mississippi); pp. 405-409. Beauregard, p. 579. Boritt, p. 53. Connelly, Army of the Heartland: The Army of Tennessee, 1861-1862. p. 151. ("The Army retained Beauregard’s chosen name…") Connelly, Civil War Tennessee: Battles And Leaders. p. 35. Cunningham, pp. 98, 122, 397. Engle, p. 123. Hattaway, p. 163. Hess, pp. 47, 49, 112 ("…Braxton Bragg’s renamed Army of Tennessee (formerly the Army of the Mississippi)…"). Isbell, p. 102. McDonough, pp. 60, 66, 78. Kennedy, p. 48. Noe, p. 19. Williams, p. 122.