Albert Sidney Johnston was a very great general, one of the best that the Southern Armies had. Before the war he was as well known as Winfield Scott militarily. Johnston was also the hightest ranking officer on both sides to be killed during the war. Once men like Robert E Lee and Thomas Jackson emerged he quickly felt out of the spotlight. An interesting fact about him is that he was the highest ranking officer on both sides to ever have been killed during the war (full General). He was killed during the Battle of Shiloh, that will come later in the article though.
Albert Sidney Johnston was born Febuary 2, 1803 in Washington Kentucky. He was the son of John and Abigail (harris) Johnston. He was the youngest son of John’s second wife. John’s first wife bore him 3 son but in 1793. John then married Albert’s mother Abilgail. She bore him 6 children. Albert was the 5th child. Abigail died when Albert was 3. Next, John married a widow with 9 children of her own.Though Albert was born in Kentucky most of his childhood was spent in Texas. This is why he claimed allegiance to Texas when the Civil War broke out.
The town of Washington was the picture of Southern serentity. Its pristine Federal style mansions and rich plantations helped to shape Albert into the man he would be. Not only the Southern atmosphere shaped him his schooling also played a large role in making him the memorable general that he now is today. Albert enrolled in Transylvania University in lexington Kentucky at the age of 15. While there he majored in Medicine but he soon found that he had a flair for the military arts. In 1821 Albert left Transylvania and enterd into the military academy at West Point along with a now close friend of his Jefferson Davis. In 1826 Johnston graduated 8th in a class of 41 from West Point, and in 1829 he married Henrietta Preston. She died of tuberculosis in 1836. They had one son together William Preston Johnston who also served in the Confederate Army.
In 1834 Johnston became a farmer in Texas, at the same time he also enlisted in the Texas Volunteer Army. Which at the time was fighting for their independance . He was promoted to major and appointed to the staff of General Sam Houston as an aide-de-camp. He served throughout the Mexican War in the army and at the end of the war he had risen all the way to the rank of Senior Brigade General in charge of the Army of Texas.In 1836 Johnston was in a duel with Felix Huston. Johnston refused to fire upon Huston and was wounded in the Pelvis.
In 1838,Johnston was appointed Secratary of War of the Second Republic of Texas . He was charged with the protection of the Texas border from Mexico. Johnston led a campaign against the Indians in 1849, and then retired back home to kentucky. While in retirement he married Eliza Griffin. They moved to a large plantation called China Grove.
Albert stayed in the army, but this time he transfered to the Regular Army of the United States. He served as a paymaster and a colonel in two regiments including the 1st Texas Rifle Volunteers, and the 2nd US Cavalry.
At the beginning of the Civil War, in 1861, Johnston was commander of the Department of the Pacific. Many of Johnston’s friends urged him to head back East and join the Union Army. He went against their wishes and joined the Confederate Army. Johnston decided to stay loyal to his childhood home of Texas. He was appointed to the position of full general by his old friend Jefferson Davis. This was the beginning of Albert Sidney Johnston’s service in the Confederate Army.
The biggest battle that Albert Sidney Johnston fought in while in the Confederate Army was the battle of Shiloh. Johnston and the rest of the Confederate Army knew that battle as Pittsburg Landing. Though this battle was not a complete loss for the Confederates, it did not end well for Albert Sidney Johnston.
The battle of Pittsburg Landing began on April 6, 1862. It was the first major Union victory in the West. The battle began for Johnston with a suprise attack on the Union Army of General Ulysses S. Grant. Johnston pushed the Federal Army back from their position in at Pittsburgh Landing, through Owl Swamp and to the banks of the Tennessee River. It was successfull. The Federal forces were pushed back until they were reinforced by the army of Don Carlos Beull.
That same day, April 6, Albert Johnston was leading a charge on the front lines. He was shot in the foot, but he thought nothing of it. He sent his personal surgeon to tend to some wounded Union prisoners. He was hit in the popliteal artery. Causing numbness in the leg, which in turn made him not notice the wound until a few minutes afterward. When fell off his horse and his officers came to his side.They brought him to a small ravine . When his aides asked him if he was wounded he said “Yes, and fear seriously.”. Johnston bled to death in a few moments. With that one of the highest skilled generals on both sides had been killed.
Memorial to Johnston