Johnston, Joseph Eggleston

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Johnston, Joseph Eggleston,

1807–91, Confederate general, b. Prince Edward co., Va., grad. West Point, 1829. He served against the Seminole in Florida and with distinction under Winfield Scott in the Mexican War. Johnston was quartermaster general with the rank of brigadier general when he resigned (Apr., 1861) to fight for the Confederacy. In May he was made a brigadier general and assigned to command at Harpers Ferry. He evaded the Union army under Gen. Robert Patterson and marched to the aid of General Beauregard at Bull RunBull Run,
small stream, NE Va., c.30 mi (50 km) SW of Washington, D.C. Two important battles of the Civil War were fought there: the first on July 21, 1861, and the second Aug. 29–30, 1862. Both battlefields are included in Manassas National Battlefield Park (est. 1940).
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, where his part in the Confederate victory won him a generalcy and the command of the Army of Northern Virginia (July). Johnston opposed General McClellan in the Peninsular campaignPeninsular campaign,
in the American Civil War, the unsuccessful Union attempt (Apr.–July, 1862) to capture Richmond, Va., by way of the peninsula between the York and James rivers. The Plan

Early in 1862, Gen. George B.
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 until he was wounded at Fair Oaks in May, 1862. Upon resuming service in November, he was assigned to command the Dept. of the West. Although it seems certain that President Davis intended him to give orders to John Clifford PembertonPemberton, John Clifford,
1814–81, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Philadelphia. He served in the Seminole and Mexican wars and at various frontier posts. He resigned from the U.S. army in Apr., 1861, and in June became a Confederate brigadier general.
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 at Vicksburg and Braxton BraggBragg, Braxton,
1817–76, Confederate general in the U.S. Civil War, b. Warrenton, N.C. A graduate of West Point, he fought the Seminole and in the Mexican War was promoted to lieutenant colonel for distinguished service at Buena Vista.
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 in Tennessee, Johnston chose to interpret his position as merely nominal. When he finally did take command in the Vicksburg campaignVicksburg campaign,
in the American Civil War, the fighting (Nov., 1862–July, 1863) for control of the Mississippi River. The Union wanted such control in order to split the Confederacy and to restore free commerce to the politically important Northwest.
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, it was too late to save Pemberton. Johnston, placed in command of the Army of the Tennessee (Dec., 1863), adopted the policy of strategic retreat against William Tecumseh ShermanSherman, William Tecumseh,
1820–91, Union general in the American Civil War, b. Lancaster, Ohio. Sherman is said by many to be the greatest of the Civil War generals.
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 in the Atlanta campaignAtlanta campaign,
May–Sept., 1864, of the U.S. Civil War. In the spring of 1864, Gen. W. T. Sherman concentrated the Union armies of G. H. Thomas, J. B. McPherson, and J. M. Schofield around Chattanooga.
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—a policy that did not suit Davis, who appointed John Bell HoodHood, John Bell,
1831–79, Confederate general in the American Civil War, b. Owingsville, Ky. He resigned from the army (Apr., 1861) and entered the Confederate service 1862. He fought in the Peninsular campaign and at the second battle of Bull Run (Aug.
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 to succeed him. He was restored to command in Feb., 1865, by Lee, now commander in chief. He obstructed General Sherman's advance through North Carolina, but upon hearing of Lee's surrender to General Grant, he capitulated to Sherman on Apr. 26. After the war Johnston served (1879–81) in the House of Representatives from Richmond, Va., and by appointment of President Cleveland, was (1885–91) federal commissioner of railroads. Cautious as he was, Johnston was not a brilliant offensive commander but was probably the peer of Lee in defensive generalship. Davis's hostility to Johnston was widely known and seriously disrupted Confederate military organization.


See Johnston's Narrative of Military Operations (1874; new ed. 1959, repr. 1969).

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Johnston, Joseph Eggleston

(1807–91) soldier; born in Prince Edward County, Va. An 1829 West Pointe graduate, he fought in the Mexican War and was the army's quartermaster general when the Civil War broke out. He resigned when Virginia seceded, and commanded a wing of the Confederate army at 1st Bull Run; but he had feuded with Jefferson Davis and did not obtain the position he felt he deserved. Wounded on the Virginia Peninsula in June 1862, he had the distinction of being succeeded by Robert E. Lee. During the long months that followed, he held a series of senior commands but failed to win a major battle, and during Sherman's Atlanta Campaign, Johnston was effectively in retreat; he surrendered to Sherman in North Carolina on April 26, 1865. After the war, he went into the insurance business and then served in the U.S. House of Representatives (Dem., Va.; 1879–81) and as commissioner of U.S. railroads (1885–91). He died of pneumonia brought on by standing hatless in the rain at the funeral of Gen. Sherman.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.