Facts, information and articles about Albert Sidney Johnston, a Civil War General during the American Civil War

Sidney Johnston Facts

Sidney JohnstonBorn

February 2, 1803 Washington, Kentucky


April 6, 1862 Hardin County, Tennessee


Brevet Brigadier General (USA) Brigadier General (Texas)
General (CSA)

Years Of Service

1826–1834; 1846; 1849–1861 (USA) 1836–1840 (Texas)
1861–1862 (CSA)

Battles Fought

Black Hawk War
Mexican-American War
Battle of Shiloh

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Sidney Johnston summary: Albert Sidney Johnston was born in Kentucky in 1813. He attended Transylvania University in Lexington, where he first met the future Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Later, they both attend the United States Military Academy.

Sidney Johnston In The Civil War

Johnston moved up the ranks from private to general during his military career. He fought in many wars and battles and travelled thousands of miles. He became commander of the US army department of the Pacific in California during the civil war. The Confederate President Jefferson Davis wanted to hold onto as much territory as they possibly could from the Union and deployed armies around its borders and coasts. Johnston often led victoriously, but did suffer some defeats, so Jefferson Davis would send in reinforcements to replace some of the men they had lost.

Johnston At The Battle of Shiloh

In 1862 the Confederates and Johnston combined their armies to over 40,000 at Corinth where Johnston became commander of this combined army. The battle of Shiloh began on April 6 1862, when Johnston launched a surprise attack on the Union forces at their camp. Johnston rode his horse alongside his men, back and forth, leading his charges into battle. As he continued to do this, he was shot in the back of his right knee. Without realizing how serious his wound was, he insisted that his personal physician should go to tend to some Union captured soldiers instead. Johnston was losing blood rapidly, his boot filling up with the blood. It wasn’t until he was slumped on his horse, Fire Eater, that one of his men Isham G. Harris, the Governor of Tennessee, ran to his aid and enquired “General are you wounded?” to which Johnston replied with his last spoken words “Yes and I fear seriously”. Harris with other officers carried Johnston to a nearby ravine, where he bled to death.



Articles Featuring Sidney Johnston From History Net Magazines

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The Fall Of A Confederate Commander

Notes on the Death of Albert Sidney Johnston

In the aftermath of the Battle of Shiloh a perplexing question arose and has continued to be asked. The death of General Albert Sidney Johnston on the first day of that fight created a void in the leadership of the Confederate armies in the Trans-Mississippi area; would the course of the Civil War have changed had Johnston lived beyond April 6, 1862? His loss was no less tragic than Peabody’s.

More immediate reactions to General Johnston’s death are provided in the following extracts from then Colonel William Preston’s pocket notebook. The first item is a letter scribbled in Preston’s notebook by Isham G. Harris, a former Governor of Tennessee and a volunteer aid on General Johnston’s Staff. Harris was right next to the general when he was wounded.

Colonel Preston’s diary entries pick up the story of Johnston’s demise. Colonel (later Major General) Preston also served on Johnston’s staff, and was, as well, the general’s brother-in-law.

Colonel Preston’s notebook forms part of the special collection of Records of the Adjutant General’s Office in the Custody of the National Archives in Washington, D.C.


Shilough Battlefield
Apl 6th 1862
Col Wm Preston

Dear Sir

In answer to your verbal inquiry as to the circumstances surrounding Genl. Albert Sidney Johnston immediately preceding his fall. As you are aware, I was acting as volunteer aid to Genl Johnston on the field.

He was upon the right wing where the enemy being strongly posted made an obstinate stand. As you remember, our troops, after a long and desperate struggle wavered for a moment when Genl Johnston rushed in front of the line of battle, rallied the troops ordered and led the charge. The enemy fell back between a fourth & one half mile, when the firing became very heavy on each side. Our advanced position exposed our troops to a raking fire of a battery of the enemy on our left. The last order the Genl gave was to direct me to “order Col Statham of Mississippi to charge that battery.” I immediately delivered the order and rode back to the side of the Genl, said to him “Genl your order is delivered and being executed” just at this moment the Genl sank down in his saddle leaning over to the left I instantly put my left arm around him pulling him to me saying “Genl are you wounded?” He said “yes and I fear seriously.” Capt Wickham being on his left & I upon his right we held him upon his horse until we guided his horse from the crest of the hill to the ravine, where we lifted him from his horse, laid him upon the ground. I took his head in my lap. He never spoke after answering my question though continued to breathe for 25 or 30 minutes. Immediately after dismounting the Genl Capt Wickham sent for the surgeon. I sent a soldier to bring any staff officers he could find to me. [After] some 10 or 15 minutes yourself and other members of the staff arrived. As to what occurred after this time you are as familiar as myself.

The country will mourn his death as a national calamity.

Isham G. Harris


[Extracts from Colonel Preston’s entries in his notebook]
[April 6, 1862]
2.30 P.M. Johnston fell at the head of Bowens & Breckinridge’s brigades after being wounded with a shell, & his horse wounded, he was shot in the ravine. . . . I found him in the arms of Gov Harris, wounded as I thought, but he did not recognize me, as he was dying & swallowing a little spirits, I thought he would revive but Govr Harris remarked it was all over. I saw it was so & wrote a note to Genl. Beauregard, instantly informing him. . . . from 3 to 5 Took Genl. Johnston’s dead body to headquarters, and after arranging it, left it in charge of Capt William Throckmorton & returned to Genl. Beauregards Head Qrs.


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