Albert Sidney Johnston


Albert Sidney Johnston

What: General in the Confederate Army

Where: Born Washington, Kentucky; died Hardin County, Tennessee

Why: Highest ranking soldier on either side to die in the Civil War

When: Born February 2, 1803; died April 6, 1862

“Morale is faith in the man at the top.” – Albert Sidney Johnston

Albert Sidney Johnston was born in Kentucky in 1803. He attended West Point two years after his friend Jefferson Davis, graduating 8th of 41 in 1826. He fought in the Black Hawk War before moving to Texas and joining the Texas Army in their War of Independence. In 1837 he fought a duel with General Felix Huston over command of the army; Johnston refused to fire. He was wounded in the pelvis and lost. He fought with distinction in the Mexican-American War in the US Army. In 1861 he resigned his commission when his adopted state of Texas seceded, despite his opposition to secession. He was appointed commander of the Confederacy’s western armies, and mounted stinging raids that convinced opposing General William T Sherman that Johnston’s force was much larger than the 40,000 ill-equipped soldiers he had. Johnston’s massively understrength forces were defeated at the Battle of Mill Springs in January 1862, which led to Johnston receiving a brigade and crucially, a competent subordinate in P.G.T Beauregard. However, Johnston could do little against Ulysses S Grant’s superior numbers and strategy. By April he had lost Forts Henry and Donelson and had been pushed back to southern Tennessee. He launched a surprise attack on Grant at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6, 1862. Johnston personally led the troops in their initial successes, before taking a bullet behind the right knee, probably friendly fire. The bullet had clipped his popliteal artery and his boot filled up with blood; he bled to death around an hour later. His body was wrapped in a blanket to protect morale, and he was eventually buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. He was not related to Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston.

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