The military career of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, which began over sixty years ago, was marked by conspicuous gallantry at the outset and by masterly generalship against overwhelming odds at the close.
In Florida and in Mexico he exhibited a daring courage, which was proved by the number of his wounds, and at the same time demonstrated that his military abilities were of a very high order.
Inheriting a martial spirit from his father, who, when a mere lad, became a revolutionary soldier, he was wedded to his profession, which was for him, as it was for Lee, a noble science, to which he dedicated all his energies.
With Lee, he was one of the most notable of a group of young officers who before the war were regarded as "coming men" in the army - a group that included several Marylanders, with whom both Johnston and Lee were on terms of affectionate intimacy.
When the war began, he, like Lee, resigned his commission rather than fight against his native state, Virginia, and it was on Virginia's soil that he contributed so largely to the first brilliant victory of the Confederacy - the first Bull Run or Manassas. While the credit for that remarkable triumph must be shared by him with Beauregard, it cannot be denied that but for his strategy in rendering Patterson's forces inoperative and marching to the assistance of Beauregard, the latter would probably not have been able to crush McDowell and to put his army to so demoralizing a rout as that which followed the battle.
Unfortunately, General Johnston's ideas as to the proper method of conducting operations came into conflict with those of the authorities at Richmond, and it has been claimed, and probably with justice, on his behalf, that he was not permitted to work out to their full fruition the plans he had formed for battling Sherman.
His value to the Confederacy was seen however, in the disasters that followed his removal from command, and his military reputation was fully vindicated when President Davis and his advisors turned to him in their extremity as the only man capable of repairing the damage that had been done. But it was then too late, and although General Johnston loyally exerted himself to the utmost of his powers, the doomed Confederacy toppled to its fall.
Johnston stands with Lee and Jackson among the great commanders of the Confederacy, and Virginia, which may be called the mother of generals as well as the mother of Presidents, has every reason to be proud of her distinguished son.
A pure, high-minded gentleman, an intrepid soldier, a master of the art of war, whom the greatest of his enemies respected and feared, he presents to us and those who come after us a noble type of the cultured American. The closing years of his life were spent in the service of a reunited country - that country for which he had fought and bled in his earlier years, and in peaceful and friendly intercourse with those whom he had confronted as enemies on the field of battle.
It was singularly appropriate that his last notable appearances before the public should have been as the central figure at the unveiling of the Richmond monument to Lee, the comrade and friend of his youth and his fellow-hero of the Confederacy, and as one of the chief mourners at the bier of his old adversary, Sherman, who preceded him by only a few short weeks to the grave.
SKETCH OF THE DECEASED.
A Soldier of Three Wars - A Great Tactician and a Brave Fighter.
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a son of Peter Johnston, of Prince Edward county, Va., who was a soldier in Lee's Legion in the Revolutionary war, which legion he joined in the early part of the year 1779. He served in this legion to the end of the war with zeal and distinction, when he adopted the profession of law, in which, too, he acquired distinction as well as in political life. He was a judge of the Court of Appeals of Virginia. In 1788 he married Mary Wood, the daughter of Valentine Wood by his wife Lucy Henry, sister of Patrick Henry.
Joseph Eggleston Johnston, the eighth son of this couple, was born February 3, 1807, was graduated at the United States Military Academy in 1829 in the same class with Robert E. Lee, and was commissioned second lieutenant in the fourth artillery.
He served in garrison at Fort Columbus, N.Y., in 1830-'1; at Fort Monroe, Va., in 1831-'2; was in the Black Hawk expedition in 1832; in garrison at Charleston, S.C., in 1832-3; at Fort Monroe in 1833-'4; at Fort Madison, N.C., in 1834; and on topographical duty in 1834-'5; he was made first lieutenant fourth artillery 31st of July, 1836; was aide-de-camp to Gen. Winfield Scott in the Seminole war in 1836-'8, and resigned on 31st of May, 1837.
He was a civil engineer in 1837-'8, and was appointed first lieutenant in the corps of topographical engineers 7th of July, 1838, and brevetted captain for gallantry in the war with the Florida Indians.