Albert Sidney Johnston : biography
Albert Sidney Johnston (February 2, 1803 – April 6, 1862) served as a general in three different armies: the Texas Army, the United States Army, and the Confederate States Army. He saw extensive combat during his military career, fighting actions in the Texas War of Independence, the Mexican-American War, the Utah War, and the American Civil War.
Considered by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to be the finest (and the second-highest ranking) general officer in the Confederacy before the emergence of Robert E. Lee, he was killed early in the Civil War at the Battle of Shiloh and was the highest-ranking officer, Union or Confederate, killed during the entire war.Eicher, p. 322. Davis believed the loss of Johnston "was the turning point of our fate".Dupuy, p. 378.
In April 1834, Johnston took up farming in Texas and enlisted as a private in the Texas Army during the Texas War of Independence against the Republic of Mexico in 1836. One month later, Johnston was promoted to major and the position of aide-de-camp to General Sam Houston. He was named Adjutant General as a colonel in the Republic of Texas Army on August 5, 1836. On January 31, 1837, he became senior brigadier general in command of the Texas Army.
On February 7, 1837, he fought in a duel with Texas Brig. Gen. Felix Huston, challenging each other for the command of the Texas Army; Johnston refused to fire on Huston and lost the position after he was wounded in the pelvis. The second president of the Republic of Texas, Mirabeau B. Lamar, appointed him Secretary of War on December 22, 1838. Johnston was to provide the defense of the Texas border against Mexican invasion, and in 1839 conducted a campaign against Indians in northern Texas. In February 1840, he resigned and returned to Kentucky, where he married Eliza Griffin, his late wife’s first cousin, in 1843. The couple settled on a large plantation he named China Grove in Brazoria County, Texas, where they raised Johnston’s two children from his first marriage and the six children born to him and Eliza.
Johnston returned to the Texas Army during the Mexican-American War under General Zachary Taylor as a colonel of the 1st Texas Rifle Volunteers. The enlistments of his volunteers ran out just before the Battle of Monterrey. Johnston managed to convince a few volunteers to stay and fight as he himself served as the inspector general of volunteers and fought at the battles of Monterrey and Buena Vista. Johnston remained on his plantation after the war until he was appointed by President Taylor to the U.S. Army as a major and was made a paymaster in December 1849. He served in that role for more than five years, making six tours, and traveling more than annually on the Indian frontier of Texas. He served on the Texas frontier at Fort Mason and elsewhere in the West. In 1855 President Franklin Pierce appointed him colonel of the new 2nd U.S. Cavalry (the unit that preceded the modern 5th U.S.), a new regiment, which he organized. As a key figure in the Utah War, he led U.S. troops who established a non-Mormon government in the formerly Mormon territory. He received a brevet promotion to brigadier general in 1857 for his service in Utah. He spent 1860 in Kentucky until December 21, when he sailed for California to take command of the Department of the Pacific.
Johnston was initially buried in New Orleans. In 1866, a joint resolution of the Texas Legislature was passed to have his body reinterred to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin The re-interment occurred in 1867. Forty years later, the state appointed Elisabet Ney to design a monument and sculpture of him to be erected at his gravesite.
The Texas Historical Commission has erected a historical marker near the entrance of what was once his plantation. An adjacent marker was erected by the San Jacinto Chapter of the Daughters of The Republic of Texas and the Lee, Roberts, and Davis Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederate States of America.