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Atlanta 1864: Last Chance for the…
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Atlanta 1864: Last Chance for the Confederacy (Great Campaigns of the Civil War) (urspr publ 2000; utgåvan 2000)

av Richard M. McMurry (Författare)

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The author presents the situation "as federal armies under William T. Sherman contended with Joseph E. Johnston and his successor, John Bell Hood, and moved steadily through Georgia to occupy the rail and commercial center of Atlanta."--Jacket.
Medlem:Beckester
Titel:Atlanta 1864: Last Chance for the Confederacy (Great Campaigns of the Civil War)
Författare:Richard M. McMurry (Författare)
Info:University of Nebraska Press (2000), Edition: First Edition, 236 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
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Atlanta 1864: Last Chance for the Confederacy av Richard M. McMurry (2000)

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General Joseph E. Johnston, according to an account I read somewhere, was a crack shot. Yet when invited to go on a hunting trip, one of his companions recorded that he never took a shot -- he would sometimes prepare to fire, but he never pulled the trigger. Apparently he was so determined to never miss that he never actually made the attempt.

That anecdote is sometimes taken as a sort of microcosm of Johnston's career as an army commander. Certainly it has applicability to the Georgia campaign of 1864. In the aftermath of the Battle of Chattanooga in 1863, in which the Confederate armies were utterly routed, the Union had called Ulysses S. Grant to Washington to be General in Chief, and Grant had put his close friend William Tecumseh Sherman in charge of operations west of the Appalachians. Braxton Bragg, who had commanded the Confederates at Chattanooga, clearly had to go, and Jefferson Davis -- having no obvious alternative -- had put Johnston in charge of rebuilding the shattered army and defending Georgia.

Johnston did a fine job of rebuilding the Confederate army, but he committed to a strategy of mostly passive defense, hoping that Sherman would attack him head-on and get so badly hurt that Johnston could counter-attack. Sherman -- who had something like a 3:2 advantage in manpower, and a much greater advantage in the area of logistics -- was unwilling to play Johnston's game. He followed a strategy of threatening to go around Johnston's fortified lines and out-flank him. Johnston never seemed to anticipate those moves, and had to constantly retreat. Eventually Johnston found himself on the outskirts of Atlanta -- and out of a job. Jefferson Davis, tired of retreats and fearful that Johnston would give up Atlanta itself, promoted John Bell Hood to take over from Johnston. Hood, brand-new to army command, made a few attempts to attack Sherman, failed consistently, and was eventually forced to pull out of Atlanta. With that, this account ends.

Overall, it is an enlightening telling, showing (e.g.) just how bad Johnston's relations with Davis were, and how that contributed to to problems of the Confederate army. It reminds us that Sherman, although the first great proponent of so-called "modern war," was no great shakes as a tactical commander; he never planned a successful battle, and didn't really try -- he just kept maneuvering, and Johnston let him get away with it. Also, Sherman was a man of cliques, like his boss Grant, and often followed his prejudices, even when it meant promoting a pious nitwit like Oliver O. Howard over Joseph Hooker (pushing Hooker out of the army) or ignoring George H. Thomas, the best Union general of the war -- as McMurry points out, it was Thomas, not Sherman, who finally destroyed Hood's army. Not that Sherman was the only one; Johnston had inherited a clique-ridden army from Bragg, and while he improved things somewhat, he definitely didn't cure the problem, and it would be one of the reasons -- though hardly the only one -- for eventual Confederate defeat.

Finally, McMurry also gives us a look at Hood's command of the army. Most historians describe Hood as being basically mindlessly aggressive, attacking at every chance he had until his army was so ruined that it could do no more. McMurry shows that, in fact, Hood located genuine opportunities that might have allowed a Confederate victory if Hood's subordinates had been able to manage a real, coordinated attack. But they always ended up fighting piecemeal and getting lost, and so being defeated in detail. The Atlanta campaign was a story of failures all around, but the Yankees, who started with the strategic initiative and managed to hold it, doing somewhat better.

As a history of the battles, this is somewhat lacking; few details are given, and while there are helpful maps, they are all large-scale maps of the general theater -- there isn't a single detailed map of the areas where Johnston wanted to fight his battles, or of his and Sherman's positions, and Hood's attempts to save the city don't earn any maps at all. If you want to understand the actual fights, you'll need to consult another source. As a history of the campaign, it is much better, discussing strategy, logistics, and the political situation on both sides. I have a few quibbles -- I think McMurry is a little harsh toward Confederates Johnston and Hardee, his second in command, and perhaps doesn't do enough to look at the machinations of Union corps commander John M. Schofield. I disagree with his conclusion that putting Hood in charge of the army rather than Johnston actually let the Confederates hold Atlanta longer. But on the whole, I think this a very useful overview of the Atlanta campaign that is free of the usual biases. The Atlanta campaign rarely gets the coverage it deserves. This is a useful counterweight. ( )
  waltzmn | Jun 18, 2023 |
The author approaches the Atlanta campaign from both military and political aspects. He does not provide detailed information on the actual battles only summary information. For details on the battles see Decesion in the West by Castel. McMurry does provide perspectives that shed new light on the campaign. He evaluates the players and shows both their strengths and weaknesses. He addresses many of the what-ifs that would later be part of the Lost Cause theories. The book makes the reader doubt the perspectives outlined in many of the autobiographies written by the players. ( )
1 rösta dhughes | Nov 14, 2009 |
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Late in the afternoon of Tuesday, the eight of March 1864 -- almost at the beginning of the fourth year of the American Civil War -- Major Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, his fourteen-year-old son, and two of the general's staff officers arrived by train in Washington D. C.
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The author presents the situation "as federal armies under William T. Sherman contended with Joseph E. Johnston and his successor, John Bell Hood, and moved steadily through Georgia to occupy the rail and commercial center of Atlanta."--Jacket.

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