The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993

Book Reviews

that Johnston grew remarkably forgetful with advancing years; tended to be
unimaginative and inflexible in his use of railroads; and was often uncommu-
nicative, stubborn, insensitive, and even insubordinate toward superiors.
From beginning to end, Johnston's use of the railroads was inconsistent and
contradictory. He might appreciate the tactical advantage which a railroad of-
fered for interior lines of defense by moving troops quickly, as at First Bull Run,
yet not take steps to prepare and coordinate such an effort. The general might,
as in the Atlanta campaign, use the rails effectively to transfer his troops from
Dalton to counter the Federals at Resaca when Sherman's move on Snake Gap
took him by surprise, but then take only feeble or nonexistent steps to protect
his vital rolling stock and tracks, as he destroyed a quantity of locomotives and
cars and burned the large trestle over the Etowah River near Cartersville. Within
a short time, Johnson decided to recross the Etowah, rebuilding the bridge, only
to reverse himself two days later, convinced that he held an advanced position
that was too vulnerable. Once more he withdrew and destroyed the "duplicate
bridge that he had just raised" (p. 144). Johnston's use of the railroads in the At-
lanta campaign leads Lash, unsurprisingly, to indict Johnston for his "obvious
vacillation and lack of aggressiveness" (p. 144), which certainly encouraged his
Union counterpart.
Perhaps the author is most critical of Johnston's lack of concern for the great
monetary and military value of the railroad stock which he destroyed in huge
quantities in Virginia and Mississippi. One of his six chapters is devoted to "rThe
Granada Disaster" in Mississippi, when Johnston sacrificed hundreds of pieces of
rolling stock because he failed, due to carelessness, recklessness, insubordina-
tion, or ignorance, to rebuild the bridge over the Pearl River, which would have
enabled the rolling stock to be removed to safety in Alabama.
This book builds a strong case, grounded in good sources, against Johnston.
In contrast to Johnston, the author interestingly refers several times to Leonidas
Polk as "easily the Confederacy's ablest railroad general" (p. 1). One wonders, in
view of Polk's inadequacies and blunders in other capacities, how substantial a
case can be made to support this assertion. However, that may be, Lash's indict-
ment of Johnston's railroad policy is impressive. The book is well organized,
straightforward, and should be of interest to anyone interested in Johnston and
the failure of the Confederacy. Perhaps the time has come for another full-scale,
and revisionist, biography of General Johnston. Would Jeffrey Lash be interested
in that undertaking?
Auburn University JAMES L. MCDONOUGH
Lee Considered: General Robert E. Lee and Civil War History. By Alan T. Nolan
(Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1991. Pp. xii+231.
Preface, black-and-white photograph, appendices, notes, bibliography, in-
dex. $22.50.)
After his death in i870, Robert E. Lee was depicted as an all-but-perfect man
and general. This view of Lee was challenged in 1977 by Thomas Lawrence Con-

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/. Accessed April 19, 2014.