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ton went back to his old employment of map-making and surveying, taking part in 1843 in the survey of the boundary line between the United States and Canada, and afterwards in the work of surveying the sea-coasts of the country.
His quiet labors over maps and with surveying instruments were again broken into in 1846, when hostile relations with Mexico called our armies once more into the field. Johnston took part in the war that followed as a captain of topographical or mapmaking engineers in General Scott's army, but his time seems to have been devoted more to fighting than to office work, he taking an active part in the various battles of the campaign, and receiving two wounds in the engagement at Cerro Gordo. It may be said here that during his years of fighting Johnston received no fewer than ten wounds, a fact which goes to show that he did not, like so many generals, keep safely in the rear while the bullets were flying. Few of the leaders in the service succeeded in stopping as many bullets as he.
All we need to say further of his Mexican service is that his skill and courage were so marked as to bring him distinction and promotion, he being gradually raised in rank until he was made colonel. In 1860 he was appointed quartermaster-general of the army, with the rank of brigadier-general. During the years that followed the Mexican war he had been engaged in his old engineering duties, surveys and river improvements occupying him until he was given the work of quartermaster-general. This was shortly followed by the outbreak of the Civil War, when Johnston, like nearly all the Virginia officers of the army, sent in his resignation and offered his services to his State. In the true Southern spirit of State-rights partisanship, the State was to him the nation.
He began his work in the war as brigadier-general in command of the Confederate army of the Shenandoah. As such he was opposed in May, 1861, at Harper's Ferry by General Patterson, who had been sent there with a numerous Union command. Being not strong enough to hold the Ferry, he did his utmost to destroy the canal and railway by blowing up the cliffs and hurling large masses of stone upon these works. Stonewall Jackson was one of his subordinates and saw his first active service in the Shenandoah Valley in the sharp little fight at Falling Waters that quickly followed the Harper's Ferry affair.
But Johnston's and Jackson's first notable service came in July, when Beauregard was facing McDowell at Bull Run and sent hasty word for aid from the army of the Shenandoah. Johnston was then in face of Patterson, whose force had now been much weakened, troops being taken from him for the defence of Washington. Johnston adroitly eluded him, marched a considerable part of his force in all haste to the field where the first important battle of the war was then in progress and the Confederate forces were in peril, and by his timely reinforcement helped Beauregard to drive back the Union forces in a defeat that soon became a panic. Johnston was superior in rank to Beauregard, but he waived his right of command and permitted that officer to finish the fight he had so well begun.
During the months that followed Johnston remained on the field of Manassas, threatening Washington and holding the Union troops there for its defence. After the experience of Bull Run no inclination was felt to interfere with him. In March, 1862, Union movements caused him to retire beyond the Rapidan, and when McClellan began his movement to the peninsula to make a sort of back-door attack on Richmond, Johnston hastened there to oppose him. He was now full general, with command of the army of Virginia, and the safety of the Confederate capital depended on him and his men.
He succeeded in holding McClellan for a month at Yorktown, but was forced out of Williamsburg on May 5 and retreated to a position covering Richmond. McClellan's army followed rapidly, and on reaching the Chickahominy a portion of it crossed this small and easily forded river. Hardly had they done so when the conditions changed. Heavy rains poured down, the stream was suddenly swollen with the rushing waters, and the Union army found itself cut in twain. A happy accident for his cause it seemed to Johnston, who was falling back on Richmond. He immediately turned in his tracks, marched on the isolated Union brigades, and charged them with vigor. Only stubborn courage saved them from a disastrous defeat.
The supposed happy chance proved in the end a most unhappy one for the Confederate commander. At about the hour of sunset, when his men were severely pressing their enemies, who were tenaciously clinging to their position, Johnston was struck by a fragment of a shell, and received so serious a wound that he had to be carried from the field. During the night and early in the morning the Unionists were reinforced, the stream having shrunk into its old channel, and the next day's fight left them masters of the field. Thus ended the battle of Fair Oaks, or Seven Pines, as it has been variously named. It was a desperate affray, with heavy loss, each side losing about seven thousand men.
This battle proved very unfortunate for General Johnston. It removed him from command at a critical stage in the central field of operations, General Lee taking his place and winning the honors which might have come to him. He remained disabled for several months, it being Noveinber before he was able to assume a new command, that over Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. As late as April, 1863, he reported that he was still unfit for active service in the field.
Very active service was before him. Grant, tired of being held at bay north of Vicksburg, was now making his memorable swing round that city to the soil of Mississippi south of the stronghold. The plan he had in view was first to deal with the forces in the open field and then take the city by siege or assault.
Johnston's army was a small one, quite unfit to deal with Grant's heavy forces, but he marched to the relief of the beleaguered stronghold, reaching Jackson on May 13. He tried to hold this place against heavier forces under Sherman, but was unable to do so, and during the month that followed he sought in vain to aid Pemberton, in command at Vicksburg. As Pemberton held on to the place against Johnston's advice until Grant had him closed tightly in, the case soon became hopeless.
On May 29 Johnston wrote to Pemberton, “I am too weak to save Vicksburg," and this proved to be the case. He gave Grant what trouble he could, but was not able to stand before the quick and heavy blows dealt him, and on July 4 the campaign ended in the fall of the strong Confederate city and the surrender of Pemberton and all his men. If Johnston's advice had been taken the latter disaster would have been avoided, but President Davis had other views and Pemberton was induced to hold on until escape was impossible.
We take up the fortunes of General Johnston again six months later, in December, 1863, when he was put in command of Bragg's army after the disastrous defeat of the latter before Chattanooga. In the following May Sherman began his famous advance towards Atlanta, Johnston opposing him with an army of about fifty-five thousand men, then strongly fortified at Dalton, Georgia.
It was an interesting game of war that followed. Johnston's army was much smaller than Sherman's, but the country the latter had to march through was mountainous and full of deep gullies, woods, and ravines, its difficulties going far to equalize the strength of the forces engaged. Sherman found it easier to flank than to attack the strong position at Dalton, and Johnston was quickly obliged to fall back to Reseca, where Sherman attacked him. Here he showed a bold front, but finding himself outmatched he retreated during the night and made his next stand in a strong mountain pass, where Sherman again outflanked him.
Thus fighting and flanking, the two armies kept at it until the vicinity of Atlanta was reached, Johnston steadily on the defensive, as Lee was in the North. Yet by this time one-fourth of Johnston's army was gone. He had done splendidly with his inferior force, saving it wherever he could, for he knew that the Confederacy was then too poor in able-bodied men to replace its losses, but fighting wherever he thought a chance for victory existed. Atlanta, which he had now reached, was already well fortified, but he set his