WI: Joseph Johnston takes command of AoT in 1863

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Marse Lee, Jan 11, 2019 at 7:56 AM.

  1. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    In 1863 General Joseph E. Johnston was ordered to survey the Army of Tennessee under General Bragg. Johnston ultimately decided not to take command, but was later commanded by Davis to assume command. Before he could, Bragg's wife fell dangerously ill and Johnston's old wound began acting up. Ultimately Bragg remained in command until after the CSA was pushed out of Tennessee. What if General Johnston had taken command of the Army of Tennessee in 1863 rather than remaining under Bragg's command? Could he have faired better since his subordinates wouldn't have despised him like they did Bragg?
     
  2. Old1812 Reactionary Monarchist Twit

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    I think it's possible Johnston could blunt Rosecrans' movements in the Tullahoma Campaign, making it more closely resemble the Atlanta Campaign. If Johnston is forced to withdraw all the way to Chattanooga, Rosecrans could be forced to lay siege to the city around the same time Grant is at Vicksburg. As the Confederates found out IOTL, Chattanooga is not so easy to lay siege to.

    James Longstreet thought highly of Johnston's abilities, writing him a letter in 1862 expressing his desire he command the ANV instead of Lee, even offering him command of his corps if he would accept.
     
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  3. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    What is this letter you talked about? From my understanding, Lee and Longsteet had a good relationship. I find it hard to believe that Longstreet would actively seek to virtually overthrow Lee for Johnston. Unless I misunderstood what you said...
     
  4. Old1812 Reactionary Monarchist Twit

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    It came up in conversation on CWT on one occasion. I can't find the specific date, the closest thing I found was this mention of the letter (go to post #16): https://civilwartalk.com/threads/in...d-johnstons-efforts-and-effectiveness.151045/
     
  5. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer Donor

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    “I command the 1st Corps in this Army, if you will take it you are more than welcome to it and I have no doubt but the command of the entire Army will fall to you before Spring.”

    Longstreet, James

    Oct 5, 1862

    Longstreet to Joseph Johnston while near Winchester VA

    Pryor, Elizabeth Brown. Reading the Man – A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters. New York: Penguin Group, 2007 pg334

    https://jarosebrock.wordpress.com/c...thern-virginia/robert-e-lee/james-longstreet/

    This was in the aftermath of Antietam
     
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  6. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Huh, that's interesting. Personally I still find it hard to believe, but interesting still. I've always felt like Johnston deserves a better rep. Under slightly different circumstances I think he could have been labeled as a very good and able general.
     
  7. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Why did Longstreet want Johnston to command the army? It's not as if Lee was losing or hated like Bragg.
     
  8. Old1812 Reactionary Monarchist Twit

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    I'm certainly not the best on Longstreet, but as I understand it, he respected Lee and usually worked well with him. However, it seems he also thought well of his original commanders as well.
     
  9. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Hmm, very interesting. Anyway, I don't want to derail the thread anymore so let's try to get back to the original topic. Thanks though for the information.
     
  10. Derek Pullem Butterfly Killer Donor

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    Lee had failed to win at Antietam and lost more than 30% of his army. Lee's appointment was not universally popular and although he won in the Peninsula and at Second Manassas, Longstreet was the subject of what he considered to be unjust criticism of his failure to attack on the second day at Manassas. He did disagree with Lee on the timing of the attack.

    Perhaps he thought Lee too reckless in the attack?
     
  11. Kerney defender of low probability atls everywhere

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    More Johnston on the defensive, earlier slows the war down, which is good for the Confederates.

    It also cuts down on the intriguing that made the AoT a dysfunctional solid bodily waste show. Putting Bragg in charge of relieving Vicksburg might be a better use of him.
     
  12. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    It'd be interesting if instead of OTL having the Atlanta Campaign be the pinical campaign for Lincoln's election, it was an alternate Chattanooga Campaign with Johnston defending against maybe Grant? That would leave Lee facing Meade most likely. Lee would have a much better time operating against Meade than Grant.
     
  13. Arnold d.c Well-Known Member

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    Joe Johnston certainly benefits from the less toxic relationships with his corps commanders. The main problem here is that Bragg lost the Tullahoma Campaign on the failure of the Confederate mounted arm. Bragg’s cavalry arm had been weakened by the transfer of one division to Mississippi and the destruction of another during John H. Morgan’s idiotic raid into Kentucky and Ohio. The left was guarded by N.B. Forrest’s cavalry division while the right was guarded by Wheeler’s 2 divisions. Just a day before Rosecrans’ advance Wheeler transferred most of his cavalry from the right to the left where, in conjunction with Forrest, raid the rail line north of Nashville. This left Bragg blind to Rosecrans’ left hook on Bragg’s right. Johnston cannot possibly know of Wheeler’s utter irresponsibility just as he did not know of this during the Snake Creek Gap affair during the opening phase of the Atlanta Campaign. I would, however, think that the Army of Tennessee would benefit from the fact that Johnston wasn’t going to just shuffle and reorganise units in the army while the campaign for Chattanooga was ongoing.
     
  14. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Also Johnston was the theatre commander of the West. Thusly he is able to shift troops around and possibly reinforce his position in Tennessee. Also, what do you guys think would happen to Bragg now that he is removed from command? Is he simply cashiered?
     
  15. Old1812 Reactionary Monarchist Twit

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    I'm guessing he would become Davis' military advisor as OTL. He actually wasn't that bad as an administrator.
     
  16. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Except for the fact that he pushed for Hood to become commander of the Army of Tennessee. We know how that went...
     
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  17. Marse Lee Well-Known Member

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    Anything else anybody wants to add before this thread dies?
     
  18. eltf177 Well-Known Member

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    I agree that with Johnson in charge the AoT will do what the Confederacy should have done all along; fight on the defensive and bleed the Yankees rather than lose irreplaceable manpower in the offensive. I don't see a win in the end but the war will be drawn out longer, this might allow a political decision at some point. But militarily the South is doomed, nothing can change that...
     
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  19. Galba Otho Vitelius Well-Known Member

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    There were 14,000,065 alternative decisions the CSA leadership could have made during the Civil War, only one of which would have enabled them to win.
     
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  20. Marc reformed polymath... Donor

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    An interesting proposition is that Johnston suffered angst about throwing in with the Confederacy, more so than Lee apparently. One could easily see a scenario where he doesn't; with some major consequences.