Confederate Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston

Confederate Brigadier General Joseph E. Johnston was the son of Revolutionary War army colonel, Peter Johnston, and his mother was a niece of Patrick Henry. Johnston had a long and illustrious career in the service of the US army before Lincoln’s illegal war on the South. As a matter of fact he was a Brigadier General in the US army.

Johnston graduated from the US Military Academy in 1829, ranking 13th out of 46 cadets. He was appointed a second lieutenant in the 4th U.S. Artillery. Johnston was the first West Point graduate to be promoted to a general officer in the regular army, reaching a higher rank in the U.S. Army than did his classmate, Robert E. Lee. He was the first graduate of the Academy to be promoted to general in the United States Army.

Johnston resigned from the Army in March 1837 and studied civil engineering. During the Second Seminole War, he was a civilian topographic engineer aboard a ship led by William Pope McArthur. On January 12, 1838, at Jupiter, Florida, the sailors who had gone ashore were attacked and Johnston said there were “no less than 30 bullet holes” in his clothing, and one bullet creased his scalp, leaving a scar. Having encountered more combat activities in Florida as a civilian than he had previously as an artillery officer, Johnston decided to rejoin the Army. He left for Washington, D.C., in April 1838 and was appointed a first lieutenant of topographic engineers on July 7. That same day, Johnston received a brevet promotion to captain for the actions at Jupiter Inlet.

During the Mexican-American War, Johnston won two brevets and was wounded at both Cerro Gordo and Chapultepec. He had also been brevetted for earlier service in the Seminole Wars. He served in California and was appointed brigadier general and Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army on June 28, 1860.

When his native state seceded from the Union in 1861, Johnston resigned his commission as a brigadier general in the regular army, and he was the highest-ranking U.S. Army officer to do so. Initially commissioned as a major general in the Virginia militia on May 4, he was appointed a brigadier general in the Confederate Army on May 14.

After the war, there was a parade in Atlanta for Confederates and General Johnston attended. On his arrival, his men unhitched his horses to pull his wagon in honor of their general. Well too many men and not enough room for all to pull, so they honored the General they loved by picking up the wagon General and all and carried it thru the parade.

This is not surprising as the VAST majority of Confederate soldiers were the sons, grandsons, g-grandsons and family members of Revolutionary War citizen-soldiers, patriots, statesmen and heroes. They were taught to defend the Constitution by their fathers, who won it.
This is not so with the vast majority of Federal troops who were ignorant new “Americans”.

Credit: Southern Historical Society