It would take a heart of granite not to feel sympathy for Joseph Johnston. A general regarded by his Union adversaries as having the highest abilities, he was fated after his moment of glory was cut short by his wounding at Seven Pines in 1862, and his replacement in command by Robert E. Lee, to spend the rest of the War being called upon by Jefferson Davis, a man he cordially hated and who returned his hate, to retrieve bad situations that were beyond retrieval. So it was when Davis on February 25, 1865 placed him in command of the Departments of Southern Virginia, and of North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Under his command to oppose Sherman he had the 12,000 men under General Hardee who had resisted the advance of Sherman across South Carolina, Wade Hampton’s 6000 cavalrymen and the 6600 men who made up the shattered remnant of his Army of Tennessee.
Johnston realized that militarily the situation was beyond hopeless, but hoped that he could delay Sherman in his invasion of North Carolina, and win enough tactical victories, that when the time came for his surrender, he and his army would receive decent terms from Sherman. With this sense of realism, Johnston once again began the task of attempting the military equivalent of making bricks without straw or mud.