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In Their Own Words

July 14, 1864

Hood Undermined Johnston in Letter

Two weeks after Gen. Joseph E. Johnston had urged Confederate Sen. Benjamin Hill of Georgia to personally intervene to convince Pres. Jefferson Davis to divert other Confederate forces to attack Sherman from the rear, Hill sent Johnston a telegram with a pessimistic response:

“You must do the work with the present force. For God’s sake do it.”

Also on this day, from north of Atlanta, Gen. John B. Hood wrote Gen. Braxton Bragg - Jefferson Davis’ chief of staff - a letter that raised serious allegations against Hood’s commander, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston:

“During the campaign from Dalton to the Chattahoochee River it is natural to suppose that we have had several chances to strike the enemy a decisive blow. We have failed to take advantage of such opportunities, and find our army south of the Chattahoochee, very much decreased in strength. Our loss cannot be less than 20,000, without having fought a decisive battle. I deem it of the greatest importance that General Kirby Smith should be ordered at once, with at least half, if not a larger portion, of his army, on this side of the Mississippi River. Our success west of the Mississippi River has proved a disadvantage to us, since the enemy has re-enforced his army on this side, and we have failed to do so. The strength of the Army of Tennessee is such at this time as to render it necessary to have aid from General Kirby Smith - allowing that we should gain a victory over Sherman - to follow up our success and regain our lost territy. Our present position is a very difficult one, and we should not, under any circumstances, allow the enemy to gain possession of Atlanta, and deem it excessively important, should we find the enemy intends establishing the Chattahoochee as their line, relying upon interrupting our communications and again virtually dividing our country, that we should attack him, even if we should have to recross the river to do so. I have, general, so often urged that we should force the enemy to give us battle as to almost be regarded reckless by the officers high in rank in this army, since their views have been so directly opposite. I regard it as a great misfortune to our country that we failed to give battle to the enemy many miles north of our present position. Please say to the President that I shall continue to do my duty cheerfully and faithfully, and strive to do what I think is best for our country, as my constant prayer is for our success.”

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. 879-880.