Saturday, December 28, 2013

December 28, 1863: Joseph E. Johnston in command in Georgia


Just one day after taking command in northern Georgia, Joseph E. Johnston had the telegraph wires humming with requests for more soldiers, firearms, food, and other supplies.
DALTON, December 28, 1863.

Hon. J. A. SEDDON:

Your instructions of the 20th [18th], unsigned, received. You are right as to the difficulty of feeding this army. Another chief commissary required. Lieutenant-General Polk and Hardee think that Moore is necessary here,and that the present officer is not equal to the place. Please inform me of the extent of my command.

J. E. JOHNSTON,

General.

DALTON, December 28, 1863.

Hon. J. A. SEDDON, Secretary of War:

SIR: I had the honor to receive your letter of instruction yesterday.

Having perused it carefully more than once, I respectfully inclose it herewith that you may do me to favor to affix your signature and return it to me.

Having arrived but two days ago, I have been able to obtain no information directly of the enemy's positions and strength, and the principal officers of the army can give me but little. It is believed by them that the army in our front amounts to about 80,000 men, occupying Chattanooga (now strongly fortified), Bridgeport, and Stevenson. I find the country until for military operations from the effect of heavy rains. Its condition prevents military exercises - most means of discipline. The duties of military administration which you point out to me shall be attended to with diligence. The most difficult of them will be the procuring supplies of food. Foreseeing this before leaving Mississippi, I applied for permission to bring Maj. W. E. Moore with me, to be chief commissary of the army. The reply of the Adjutant and Inspector General was that Major Moore has been collecting supplies in Mississippi so long that it was deemed inexpedient to transfer him. General Cooper was mistaken. Major Moore has not served long in Mississippi, nor collected large supplies there. He made his reputation in this army. Major Dameron directs the purchase and impressment of provisions in Mississippi, so that Major Moore's position is not an important one. Therefore Lieutenant-General Polk from interest in this army is anxious that he should be its chief commissary. I therefore most respectfully repeat my application.

This army is now far from being in condition to resume the offensive. It is deficient in numbers, arms, subsistence stores, and field transportation.

In reference to the subsistence of the army, you direct me to "use all means in my power to obtain supplies from the productive States around me." Let me remind you that I have little if any power to procure supplies for the army. The system established last summer deprives generals of any control over the offices of the quartermaster's and subsistence departments detailed to make purchases in different States. I depend upon three majors in each State, neither of whom owes me obedience. Having no power to procure means of feeding, equipping, or moving the army, I am also released, from corresponding responsibilities. I refer to this matter in no spirit of discontent, for I have no taste, personally, for the duties in question, but beg you to consider if the responsibility of keeping his army in condition to move and fight ought not to rest on the general, instead of being divided among a number of officers who have not been thought by the Government competent to high military grades.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. E. JOHNSTON,

General.

DALTON, GA., December 28, 1863.

Colonel J. GORGAS,

Richmond:

We want at least 6,000 small-arms. Please allow as many as you can of the rifles in Major Price's hands. It is not possible now to get half of them to their destination.

J. E. JOHNSTON,

General.

DALTON, GA., December 28, 1863.

Brigadier-General IVERSON,

Rome:

Can you inform where there are State troops liable to service in Savannah? General Jackson reports that those at Atlanta, Columbus, and Macon are not. If there are no others than those at Rome, it will be necessary to send them immediately. It is better to send others who are nearer if they can be found. General Cobb is said to be absent. Send a brigade accordingly, and report.

J. E. JOHNSTON,

General.

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