Albert Sidney Johnston

(1803-1862)

Albert Sidney Johnston was touted as one of the finest soldiers of the Civil War. He turned out however to be one of the greatest failures from either the North or the South. Born in Kentucky, Johnston led a life of failure at every conceivable level.

The Union commanders would sometimes send telegraphs to their Confederate rivals before the start of a battle proclaiming, “We Want Johnston”, the humor was lost to General Johnston as the battle grew closer. The psychological ploy by the Union seemed to work, as every army that General Johnston led into battle seemed to end up on the losing end.

As the second ranking general in the Southern army, Johnston was given the command of the entire Western theater in the Civil War.

From his home state of Kentucky, General Johnston tried unsuccessfully, to mount a defensive line that ranged across three states. The obvious ineptitude of this military blunder was that the length of territory General Johnston was attempting to defend was just too long.

His peers demanded that he withdraw a large portion of “The Wall of Shame” and deployed his army back into the Appalachian Mountains.

Albert Sidney Johnston

Albert Sidney Johnston (1803-1862)

General Johnston reluctantly accepted his marching orders and withdrew into the mountains. The Union army under General Grant was attacking south and the only army that stood in his way to Vicksburg was General Johnston’s.

The eventual mass of Union troops was too much for the army of the Confederacy under Johnston to withstand and in early 1862; General Johnston retreated from the Appalachian mountain region. This left the Southern states that used the mountain chain as a shield, to be wide-open for attack and attacked they were.

General Grant continued his victorious march to Vicksburg after defeating Johnston at Shiloh and escaping confrontation with General Lee in Virginia.

Albert Sydney Johnston’s military career, although nothing to write home about, did have one bright moment that should be mentioned. The general showed great military tactical capability when he outsmarted General Grant at Shiloh and fought the entire Union army to a virtual standstill until finally succumbing to the Yankees.

Although not a victory for the Confederacy, the battle did send a fair number of Union soldiers to their grave and spent precious time that the Union did not wish to lose. The Anaconda Plan was in full swing and Johnston, for one brief moment, derailed that mighty war-ending development.

During the battle of Shiloh Johnston was shot in the back of his knee. He did not think the wound was severe so continued to lead his men in battle. Johnston was losing a lot of blood and eventually fainted while riding his horse. He was removed from the field and died several minutes later. General Johnston is buried in New Orleans, Louisiana.

His body was later moved to Austin Texas, where it remains today.

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