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Historian Richard McMurry told the August meeting of the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable that Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston gets too much credit for being a “miracle worker” in November 1863 when he too command of the Army of Tennessee south of Chattanooga.

Most of the things that happened to change the army during that winter, McMurry said, “would have happened anyway no matter who was the commander.”

Here’s a video excerpt of McMurry’s talk:


KCWRT-McMurry from Jim Stovall on Vimeo.

Historian Richard McMurry discusses the undue credit that Confederate Gen. Joseph Johnston receives for “turning the Army of Tennessee around” in the winter of 1863-64 when he took command. Many of the things that happened to re-invigorate the army would have taken place no matter who was in command. The speech was given on August 9, 2016, to the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable.


Johnston took over the Army of Tennessee in November 1863 when it was demoralized and in disarray. McMurry listed some of the things that Johnston did to get the army ready for its spring battles:

  • He reorganized the command and thus restored its morale.
  • He made useful suggestions for transporting food more efficiently.
  • The men built relatively comfortable shelters for the winter.
  • More railroad cars became available and thus more food, clothing and supplies were shipped tot he army.
  • Johnston reduced the number of mouths the army had to feed by granting furloughs.

Many of these things would have happened anyway, McMurry said, but Johnston gets credit for them. The reputation of Braxton Bragg, one of the army’s previous commanders, has suffered because these things had not happened on his watch.