Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14, 1864: The Diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut

Mary Boykin Chesnut's new home in Columbia, South Carolina was on the route between Richmond and Atlanta and show frequently entertained officers traveling back and forth between the two fronts, and in doing so, she got firsthand war news.
August 14th. - We have conflicting testimony. Young Wade Hampton, of Joe Johnston's staff, says Hood lost 12,000 men in the battles of the 22d1 and 24th, but Brewster, of Hood's staff, says not three thousand at the utmost. Now here are two people strictly truthful, who tell things so differently. In this war people see the same things so oddly one does not know what to believe.

Brewster says when he was in Richmond Mr. Davis said Johnston would have to be removed and Sherman blocked. He could not make Hardee full general because, when he had command of an army he was always importuning the War Department for a general-in-chief to be sent there over him. Polk would not do, brave soldier and patriot as he was. He was a good soldier, and would do his best for his country, and do his duty under whomever was put over him by those in authority. Mr. Davis did not once intimate to him who it was that he intended to promote to the head of the Western Army.

Brewster said to-day that this "blow at Joe Johnston, cutting off his head, ruins the schemes of the enemies of the government. Wigfall asked me to go at once, and get Hood to decline to take this command, for it will destroy him if he accepts it. He will have to fight under Jeff Davis's orders; no one can do that now and not lose caste in the Western Army. Joe Johnston does not exactly say that Jeff Davis betrays his plans to the enemy, but he says he dares not let the President know his plans, as there is a spy in the War Office who invariably warns the Yankees in time. Consulting the government on military movements is played out. That's Wigfall's way of talking. Now," added Brewster, "I blame the President for keeping a man at the head of his armies who treats the government with open scorn and contumely, no matter how the people at large rate this disrespectful general."

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