An 1829 West Point classmate of Robert E. Lee, Virginia-born Joseph E. Johnston ranks as one of the most skillful Southern commanders. With Beauregard, he led Confederate forces to a resounding victory at First Bull Run (Manassas). In sole command on the Virginia Peninsula, Johnston dropped back steadily before McClellan's forces. Wounded near Richmond, he yielded command to Lee and never returned to the eastern army.
In command of the Army of Tennessee in 1864, Johnston retreated toward Atlanta before Sherman's superior force. President Davis relieved him on July 17, charging that he had failed to bring Sherman to battle. He was replaced with John Bell Hood, whose impulsive and ill-advised offensives proved disastrous for the Army of Tennessee. Johnston returned to the field in February 1865 and surrendered to Sherman on April 26th.
Johnston's partisan's claimed, rightly, that he never lost a decisive battle. On the other hand, this cautious commander never actually won one on his own, either.