Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Albert Sidney Johnston

Albert Sidney Johnston: Soldier of Three Republics

Charles P. Roland
With a new foreword by Gary W. Gallagher
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 400
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Albert Sidney Johnston
    Book Description:

    " With a new foreword by Gary W. Gallagher Selected as one of the best one hundred books ever written on the Civil War by Civil War Times Illustrated and by Civil War: The Magazine of the Civil War Society A new, revised edition of the only full-scale biography of the Confederacy's top-ranking field general during the opening campaigns of the Civil War.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4337-8
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. List of Maps
    (pp. x-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Gary W. Gallagher

    Charles P. Roland’sAlbert Sidney Johnston: Soldier of Three Republicshas stood for more than thirty-five years as an essential title on the military history of the Confederacy. The only full-scale biography of Johnston undertaken since publication of his son’s massiveThe Life of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnstonin 1878, it unites an important subject with a gifted historian. Although Johnston is best known as a notable Confederate figure, Roland addresses the Kentuckian’s entire life and professional career as a high-ranking officer serving the United States and the Republic of Texas as well as the Confederacy. The book not only...

    (pp. xiii-2)
  7. Prologue
    (pp. 3-5)

    Albert Sidney Johnston must have been touched to the heart. Before him was the letter of a Texas mother petitioning that her son, a young Confederate officer, be transferred from Virginia to Johnston’s Confederate Army in the west. “I wish him,” she said, “to be near the moulding influence of such a Texan, such a soldier, and such a gentleman.”¹ In a single poignant line she gave Johnston the three titles most befitting his career.

    Johnston was a Texan. Almost three decades before the Civil War, he went to Texas from his native Kentucky to help the young republic in...

  8. 1. Origins of a Soldier
    (pp. 6-19)

    Albert Sidney Johnston was born on February 2, 1803, in Washington, Kentucky. He came of a blending of two powerful, conflicting strains in American culture: he was a New Englander by ancestry and a Southerner by birth and association. New England left its trace on Johnston’s life; of his Puritan antecedents he once said, “Notwithstanding their follies, their fantastic & ludicrous mental constitution, we no doubt owe [to them] nearly all that is valuable in our glorious form of government. . . . There is not much in them to love, but a good deal to laugh at & pity & much to...

  9. 2. Garrison and Fireside
    (pp. 20-30)

    As a cadet, Johnston sometimes dreamed of a career in the west. He had once hoped to join a proposed American expedition to the Oregon country. Even if fortune should place him in the top five of his class, he said, and thereby in line for the elite Corps of Engineers, he would choose artillery or infantry, as the duties of these combat arms would permit him to lead a more active life but at the same time give opportunity for reading and improvement.¹ Finally he turned to infantry, for he preferred service in the field to the sedentary existence...

  10. 3. Chastisement of Black Hawk
    (pp. 31-46)

    In the spring of 1832 a call to arms broke the placid rhythm of barracks life. Black Hawk and his faction of the Sauk and Fox Indian warriors invaded the north-western frontier, and panic was upon the settlements. For the nation this was the most serious Indian outbreak since the overthrow of Tecumseh’s Confederacy during the War of 1812. For Johnston it was a test of personal fortitude and professional skill and his apprenticeship in warcraft.

    Ancient hatred among the northwestern tribes had struck the spark of conflict; during the preceding summer some of the Sauk and Fox had made...

  11. 4. Family Tragedy
    (pp. 47-52)

    With the successful ending of the Black Hawk War, Johnston looked forward to a period of sunshine in his own life. His conduct in the struggle had earned the praise of superior and subordinate alike, and he had weathered the campaign without a wound. Afterward, at Fort Crawford, according to his son’s narrative, he survived both an onset of cholera and the barbarous drenchings and dosings prescribed to cure it.¹

    A joyous family awaited his return from the field; his wife felt grateful relief that he had been spared in the lottery of war; his young son was growing rapidly...

  12. 5. Texas Command
    (pp. 53-80)

    On March 3, 1836, in Louisville, Johnston first heard the summons that was to give new purpose to his life—the appeal of Stephen F. Austin, Commissioner from Texas, in behalf of his embattled people. The day before Austin spoke in Louisville a Texas convention had declared the land independent of Mexico; Mexican dictator Santa Anna was at that moment besieging the Alamo with six thousand troops to coerce the Texans into submission. Austin asked for men and money for the support of Texas and found the entire Mississippi Valley ablaze with sympathy. Residents of Louisville shared this emotion; Austin...

  13. 6. Scourge of the Red Man
    (pp. 81-103)

    Johnston and his supporters believed their impatience with the passivity of the Houston Administration to be common to the people of Texas. The Constitution prohibited Houston from succeeding himself in office, and as the Texas presidential election of 1838 approached, the anti-Houston forces resolved to appeal to the popular urge for action. Johnston himself was the choice of some for the Presidency, with General Thomas J. Rusk for the Vice Presidency,¹ but Johnston did not respond to overtures that he become a candidate. If he felt political aspiration at this time, it quickly vanished when his friends Mirabeau B. Lamar...

  14. 7. Invasions, Politics, and Romance
    (pp. 104-123)

    Johnston left the Texas War Department, but he could not free himself of anxiety over the security of the Republic. For years after quitting office he clung to the vain hope of striking a blow at Mexico. Relations between Texas and her foes remained unsettled as invasions and rumors of invasion by Mexicans and Indians continued to disturb the tranquillity of Texas officials and private citizens. For the next three years Johnston was torn between his desire to be with loved ones in Kentucky and his urge to assist Texas in establishing security against Mexico.

    In April of 1840 he...

  15. 8. Valor at Monterrey
    (pp. 124-139)

    Few men welcomed the coming of war with Mexico as heartily as did Albert Sidney Johnston. For years he had yearned to smite the Mexicans over what he deemed their perfidy and brutality toward Texas. Perhaps his only regret now was that a Democratic President would reap the glory of the conquest, for Johnston still clung to the Whiggish bias of his youth. Yet as it seemed that retribution was about to be visited upon Mexico, the prospect of marching upon the long-sworn enemy stirred his blood.

    War was probably fated to occur between the United States and Mexico as...

  16. 9. Texas Planter and Oracle
    (pp. 140-154)

    Johnston returned to a hero’s welcome by wife and friends in Galveston. Expressing their “high sense of Johnston’s distinguished service,” a group of the city’s most prominent men sought to honor him with a testimonial dinner.¹ Unable to attend because of personal business, he thanked his admirers with these words: “Honor ... has always been, in my opinion, the most powerful incentive to action and should be esteemed ... the highest reward that can be accorded for public service. For my own part I neither seek nor desire any other.” He spoke as one who had received no reward save...

  17. 10. Frontier Paymaster
    (pp. 155-167)

    United States troops guarding the Texas frontier held a line of posts almost identical to that Johnston had planned years before as Secretary of War of the Republic of Texas. Now he was to be paymaster for the posts from the upper Colorado to the upper Trinity—Austin, Fort Croghan, Fort Gates, Fort Graham, and Fort Worth. In July of 1850 he reported to San Antonio for duty. He was at liberty to live wherever he pleased, and the presence of friends in Galveston made him prefer it, but it was too far from the garrisons to be convenient for...

  18. 11. The Second Cavalry Comes to Texas
    (pp. 168-184)

    Fate smiled upon Johnston just when his spirit was at the ebb. On March 9, 1855, he was appointed commander of the newly formed Second United States Cavalry Regiment, with the rank of colonel. After five years of drudgery in the paymastership, his fondest wish had suddenly come true.¹

    His good fortune came from various sources. It came from an expansion of the Army that required additional line officers; it came from Johnston’s reputation as a competent and courageous soldier; and it came from the influence of friends and kinsmen in high places within the United States government.

    Victory in...

  19. 12. Federal Authority and Mormon Resistance
    (pp. 185-214)

    An extraordinary mission awaited Johnston. Upon reporting to Secretary of War John Floyd, he received orders to take command of an expedition already on the march for Utah, in the far west, where the Mormon population was deemed to be in rebellion against federal authority.¹ That Johnston should be chosen for such a task was a measure of his rising prestige in the Army. “I consider it highly complimentary to you to be selected for this service over others more convenient & accessible,” wrote Robert E. Lee, who knew of the assignment before it was announced to the public.² It was...

    (pp. None)
  21. 13. Military Occupation and Latter-Day Theocracy
    (pp. 215-237)

    Johnston rode out of Salt Lake City to begin one of history’s most unusual military occupations. Since the Mormons offered no overt resistance either to the new territorial officials or to the Army, his primary duty was to stand by on call. Leaving the troops encamped across the Jordan River from Salt Lake City, he, with a small group of officers, reconnoitered the surrounding countryside in search of a permanent camp site.¹ He sought a place with sufficient water for his thousands of men and animals, and with enough grass for his numerous mounts and herds. To prevent the occurrence...

  22. 14. Pacific Service and Desert Anabasis
    (pp. 238-257)

    After a separation of almost three years, Johnston joined his wife and children in Louisville in the spring of 1860. Granted an extended leave of absence from duty, he remained there for the next seven months. Little is known of how he occupied himself while on leave, but he must have found this one of the most gratifying periods of his entire career. Not only was he again with his own beloved immediate family; he was also reunited with his eldest son, William Preston, and his son’s wife and children, and with his own daughter Henrietta. Besides these, he was...

  23. 15. Confederate Command
    (pp. 258-278)

    Johnston tarried at Mesilla for more than a week in his effort to capture the oncoming Federal troops; all the while his eagerness grew to be on the way to Richmond. “Great events are transpiring,” he wrote to Eliza, “and we feel called on to hurry on.”¹ On August 8 he left Mesilla for El Paso. From there he traveled by stage coach to San Antonio, and then on to Houston. Unable to proceed by sea because of the Federal blockade on the Gulf, he continued to New Orleans by land, arriving in early September. Word of Johnston’s march out...

  24. 16. Defeat at the Rivers
    (pp. 279-297)

    By mid-November Johnston’s strategy of bold maneuver to conceal weakness was beginning to lose effect. The Union generals in the west—Henry W. Halleck, who had replaced Frémont in Missouri, Grant in Cairo, and Buell in Kentucky—were now certain that Johnston lacked the strength to attack with any hope of success, that he must wait for them to strike the first blow. This knowledge alone was an incalculable advantage to the Federal commanders, enabling them to choose the time and place for their stroke. Johnston had lost the tactical initiative in the west.

    The first Northern thrust against Johnston’s...

  25. 17. Retreat and Recovery
    (pp. 298-325)

    On the night of February 15, while the generals at Fort Donelson floundered in indecision, Johnston encamped his Bowling Green force at Edgefield on the Cumberland River opposite Nashville. At midnight he went to bed, heartened over Floyd’s message of victory. Before daybreak he was awakened to learn that Fort Donelson and its defenders were to be surrendered at dawn. Stunned by this somber intelligence, and aware that he and his troops Were in danger of being trapped north of the Cumberland, he declared, “I must save this army.” During the remainder of the night he moved his men across...

  26. 18. Shiloh and Fulfillment
    (pp. 326-351)

    Johnston arose before daybreak of April 6 and awakened the members of his staff. The woods about him teemed with men eating hasty breakfast and readying themselves and their arms for battle. It was a tense and solemn moment; for hundreds of them this would be the final meal. Soon the Confederate ranks were moving forward through the cool, clear dawn. Beauregard now joined Johnston at his headquarters. Johnston was buoyant with the hope of victory; Union prisoners taken the evening before confirmed that his adversary expected no attack. Still Beauregard doubted the wisdom of an offensive, and renewed his...

  27. Epilogue
    (pp. 352-354)

    After Johnston’s tragic death, Colonel Preston requested of General Beauregard that Johnston’s staff be permitted to carry his body from the little church on the Shiloh battlefield to New Orleans for temporary burial until the family could choose a permanent resting place. Beauregard consented, and that night Dr. Choppin injected whiskey into Johnston’s blood vessels to preserve the body during the long journey south.¹ The next morning Johnston’s staff placed his body in a wagon and rode in somber cavalcade from Shiloh’s field of death to Corinth, where the body was prepared for burial.² From there they went by train...

    (pp. 355-366)
  29. INDEX
    (pp. 367-387)