|Gen. Joseph E. Johnston (courtesy of Library of Congress)|
We are not now in a strong defensive position either to fight a battle or to hold the enemy in check. The position was occupied for a different purpose. It is now necessary to decide definitely whether we are to advance or fall back to a more defensible line. There are very grave and serious objections to the latter course, and the idea even should not be entertained until after it is finally determined to be impracticable to place this army in such condition as would justify its taking at an early day the active offensive. (OR, 1:5, 882.)The general took aim at the Confederate government's ability to organize for an advance:
The difficulty of obtaining the means of establishing a battery near Evansport and length of time required for the collection of those means have given me the impression that you cannot at present put this army in condition to assume the offensive. (OR, 1:5, 882.)Johnston, for all his doubts, gave the Secretary a chance to prove him wrong:
If I am mistaken in this, and you can furnish those means, I think it important that either his excellency the President of the Confederate States, yourself, or some one representing you, should here upon the ground confer with me in regard to this all-important question. (OR, 1:5, 882.)The response from the War Department could not come soon enough. Johnston's anxieties about the state of Confederate preparedness troubled him, and it was only a matter of hours before Johnston would take action to deal with his army's vulnerabilities.