Joseph A Altsheler – Civil War 02 – Guns Of Shiloh. Chapter 13, 14, 15
CHAPTER XIII. IN THE FOREST
Dick spent a week or more in Nashville and he saw the arrival of one of General Grant’s divisions on the fleet under Commodore Foote. Once more he appreciated the immense value of the rivers and the fleet to the North.
He and the two lads who were now knitted to him by sympathy, and hardships and dangers shared, enjoyed their stay in Nashville. It was pleasant to sleep once more in houses and to be sheltered from rain and frost and snow. It was pleasant, too, for these youths, who were devoted to the Union, to think that their armies had made such progress in the west. The silent and inflexible Grant had struck the first great blow for the North. The immense Confederate line in the west was driven far southward, and the capital of one of the most vigorous of the secessionist states was now held by the Union.
But a little later, news not so pleasant came to them. The energy and success of Grant had aroused jealousy. Halleck, his superior, the general of books and maps at St. Louis, said that he had transcended the limits of his command. He was infringing upon territory of other Northern generals. Halleck had not found him to be the yielding subordinate who would win successes and let others have the credit.
Grant was practically relieved of his command, and when Dick heard it he felt a throb of rage. Boy as he was, he knew that what had been won must be held. Johnston had stopped at Murfreesborough, thirty or forty miles away. His troops had recovered from their panic, caused by the fall of Donelson. Fresh regiments and brigades were joining him. His army was rising to forty thousand men, and officers like Colonel Winchester began to feel apprehensive.
Now came a period of waiting. The Northern leaders, as happened so often in this war, were uncertain of their authority, and were at cross-purposes. They seldom had the power of initiative that was permitted to the Southern generals, and of which they made such good use. Dick saw that the impression made by Donelson was fading. The North was reaping no harvest, and the South was lifting up its head again.
While he was in Nashville he received a letter from his mother in reply to one of his that he had written to her just after Donelson. She was very thankful that her son had gone safely through the battle, and since he must fight in war, which was terrible in any aspect, she was glad that he had borne himself bravely. She was glad that Colonel Kenton had escaped capture. Her brother-in-law was always good to her and was a good man. She had also received a letter from his son, her nephew, written from Richmond, She loved Harry Kenton, too, and sympathized with him, but she could not see how both sides could prevail.
Dick read the letter over and over again and there was a warm glow about his heart. What a brave woman his mother was! She said nothing about his coming back home, or leaving the war. He wrote a long reply, and he told her only of the lighter and more cheerful events that they had encountered. He described Warner, Pennington, and the sergeant, and said that he had the best comrades in the world. He told, too, of his gallant and high-minded commander, Colonel Arthur Winchester.
He was sure that the letter would reach her promptly, as it passed all the way through territory now controlled by the North. The next day after sending it he heard with joy that Grant was restored to his command, and two days later Colonel Winchester and his men were ordered to join him at Pittsburg Landing, on the Tennessee River. They heard also that Buell, with his whole division, was soon to march to the same place, and they saw in it an omen of speedy and concentrated action.
“I imagine,” said Warner, “that we’ll soon go down in Mississippi hunting Johnston. We must outnumber the Johnny Rebs at least two to one. I’m not a general, though any one can see that I ought to be, and if we were to follow Johnston’s army and crush it the war would soon be ended in the west.”