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In Their Own Words

July 18, 1864

Confederate Generals Communicated

From north of Atlanta, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston telegraphed Confederate Adjutant and Inspector General Samuel Cooper, who the day before had relieved Johnston of command of the Army of Tennessee:

“Your dispatch of yesterday received and obeyed. Command of the Army and Department of Tennessee has been transferred to General Hood. As to the alleged cause of my removal, I assert that Sherman’s army is much stronger compared with that of Tennessee than Grant’s compared with that of Northern Virginia. Yet the enemy has been compelled to advance much more slowly to the vicinity of Atlanta than to that of Richmond and Petersburg, and has penetrated much deeper into Virginia than into Georgia. Confident language by a military commander is not usually regarded as evidence of competency.”

Also on this day, Gen. John Bell Hood, now commander of the Confederate defense of Atlanta, issued the following message to soldiers and officers of the Army of Tennessee:

“Soldiers: In obedience to orders from the War Department I assume command of this army and department. I feel the weight of the responsibility so suddenly and unexpectedly devolved upon me by this position, and shall bend all my energies and employ all my skill to meet its requirements. I look with confidence to your patriotism to stand by me, and rely upon your prowess to wrest your country from the grasp of the invader, entitling yourselves to the proud distinction of being called the deliverers of an oppressed people.”

Source: U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), Vol. 38, Part 5, pp. 888-889.