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I am inclined to think that General Joe Johnston was the ablest and most accomplished man that the Confederate armies ever produced. He never had the opportunity accorded to others, but he showed wonderful power as a tactician and a commander. I do not think that we had his equal for handling an army and conducting a campaign… James Longstreet

It is almost impossible to study the War for Southern Independence and come to any conclusion other than that the union political leadership and many members of the military command would have wound up being charged as war criminals in the twentieth century – William Tecumseh Sherman – chief of the later group with Grant nipping at his heels. However context is everything and the last man to defeat Sherman, Joe Johnson, would become a great friend in late life.

Perhaps what turn Johnson’s opinion was the peace terms Sherman offered after Bentonville when Johnson, in spite of his victory, felt obliged to surrender to spare his troops who could still fight and win even if the Confederacy could not. Of course we know the peace was sabotaged by the politicians in Washington, the South was subjected to a dozen years of military occupation and all of the hot air and hosannahs expended on the brotherhood of man were exhausted and forgotten as the Transcontinental Railroad abetted by the Homestead Act expanded America westward.

Lt. Genl. A. P. Stewart

Lt. Genl. A. P. Stewart

This is an excellent book and read in conjunction with the author’s This astounding close : the road to Bennett Place [also reviewed at this blog] the reader will have a good grasp of the close of the war in the mid-Atlantic states.

Last stand in the Carolinas : the battle of Bentonville Campbell, Calif. Savas Woodbury, c 1996 Mark L. Bradley Bentonville, Battle of, Bentonville, N.C., 1865 Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xxii, 575 p., [8] p. of plates: ill., maps, ports.; 24 cm.  Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG   

The Battle of Bentonville, in which Gen. Joseph E. Johnston bunched a massive assault against one wing of Gen. William T. Sherman‘s army, was the military climax of the long overlooked but critical Carolinas Campaign. It was the Confederacy‘s final hurrah. Never again would the once vaunted Army of Tennessee deploy and deliver a grand charge against the enemy. Never again would the major rivals of the Western Theater of the war. William T. Sherman and Joe Johnston, lock themselves in combat. The war that had dragged on year after bloody year drew to a close for these armies just thirty-six days later when Johnston surrendered his men at thee Bennett farm house on April 26, 1865

benton02

Confederate General William Joseph Hardee

Bradley has written the definitive account of not only thee Bank of Bentonville, but Sherman’s entire Carolinas Campaign. Breadley weaves a compelling and thorough chronicle of the men, marches and engagements that swept through the Tar Heel State. His penetrating biographical sketches of the principal commanders on both sides introduce the reader to the fascinating cast of characters who found themselves deeply involved in one of the war’s final dramas.

Ultimately, however, this book is about the fighting at Bentonville. In sweeping detail. Bradley examines the intense connbnt of March 19-21,1865. Readers will find themselves carried along wnh thee wind-whipped flags the Amry of Tennessee’s final charge; in the muddy, hastily-dug trenches full of fighting and dying union soldiers attempting to stem the tide of the bitter Southern attacks; and around both union and Confederate campfires for a personal look at the war from the perspective of men in thee ranks.

 

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