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Albert Sidney Johnston's Staff

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It is said that we are "known by the company we keep."  Following the death of General Albert Sidney Johnston on April 6th, members of his staff were involved in the respectful-as-possible removal of his body from the Battlefield to the HQ Camp of April 5/6. These staff officers then offered their services to General Beauregard and were engaged with essential activities during the remainder of the day.

On April 7th -- Monday morning -- seven of General Johnston's staff officers set off at 6am as escort to the General's body, bound for Corinth, with ultimate destination of New Orleans. These staff officers were:

  • Colonel William Preston of Louisville, Kentucky; Volunteer Aide-de-Camp (VADC) who was present with his brother-in-law, A.S. Johnston, at the time of his death (and one of the first to present the view that "Shiloh was lost with the death of General Johnston.") After Shiloh, William Preston was promoted to Brigadier General. In 1864 he was appointed Confederate State's "Ambassador" to Mexico (Maximilian's Government.)
  • Lieutenant Thomas M. Jack, Aide-de-Camp (ADC) who witnessed General Johnston being struck in the thigh by an earlier spent ball; but was away delivering orders to General Breckinridge at the time Johnston was hit behind the knee... only to return in time to witness the General's death. After Shiloh, Thomas Jack served Leonidas Polk as Assistant Adjutant General (AAG); in 1864 he became General Polk's Chief of Staff.
  • Captain Nathaniel Wickliffe, Asst Adj General (AAG).Originally from Bardstown, Kentucky, Nathaniel Wickliffe was serving in the 9th U.S. Infantry out West when the Secession Crisis erupted. Wickcliffe resigned from the U.S. Army, made his way to southern California, and joined the pro-Confederate Los Angeles Mounted Rifles... and accompanied Albert Sidney Johnston on his trek from California to Texas. After Shiloh he became Brigadier General William Preston's AAG; and later became BGen W.W. Mackall's AAG. After the war, Nathaniel Wickliffe returned to Bardstown.
  • Captain Theodore O'Hara (Assistant Inspector General) was involved in raising the 12th Alabama Infantry in 1861. A poet and professional soldier (who saw service during the Mexican War) following General Johnston's death he became Acting Assistant Adjutant General to General Breckinridge... but he had an argument with Braxton Bragg, and his career sputtered. After the war, O'Hara was involved in the cotton business in Georgia.
  • Major Edward W. Munford of Clarksville, Tennessee; VADC (who is sometimes recorded as Dr. E.W. Munford) reported that General Johnston was struck four times at Shiloh: in the boot heel; back of the hip (shell fragment); right thigh (spent ball); and fatal wound to back of right knee. A lawyer in Clarksville and Memphis before the war, Munford served briefly on the staff of General Hardee in 1864; and was afterwards appointed Judge of the Confederate Military Court -- with the rank of Colonel -- and served in that capacity until the end of the war. [Colonel Munford provided an Address to the Confederate Association of Memphis on November 21st 1871 which details Albert Sidney Johnston as a man, and as a leader. A major portion of that "Historical Address" is included in Wm. P. Johnston's Life of Albert Sidney Johnston (1878) pages 719-722.]
  • Calhoun Benham (sometimes recorded with rank of Major) VADC. Calhoun Benham was in California before the war, where he served as State Attorney General. Late in 1861 Benham got caught up in his own rendition of the Trent Affair (taken into custody with two other prominent men in Panama while attempting the journey from San Francisco to New York, with intention to join the Confederate Cause. Benham and his companions were released in such a way -- on authority of President Lincoln -- that their "professional reputations suffered no damage."] After Shiloh he became Assistant Inspector General to General Breckinridge; then served as AAG to MGen Cleburne (and was Cleburne's Chief of Staff during Chattanooga.) He returned to California after the war.
  • Major Dudley M. Haydon (often recorded as D.M. Hayden) of Louisville, Kentucky; VADC to Albert Sidney Johnston, he joined the General's staff on September 26th 1861 at Fort Columbus. Following the General's death, he was offered a place on PGT Beauregard's staff... but declined. He accompanied General Johnston's body to New Orleans (and what happened next is subject of a future post.) Major Haydon is Mentioned in Despatches in Beauregard's report on Shiloh (page 390 of OR 10) and on page 405: Colonel Preston's report.

General Johnston's body and escorts arrived in New Orleans about April 9th, and the body was placed "In State" at City Hall (the Governor of Louisiana and General Lovell joined the escort party). Two days later, Albert Sidney Johnston was interred at St. Louis Cemetery (in a vault belonging to the Mayor, John T. Monroe.)



References:   http://archive.org/stream/lifegenalbert00johnrich#page/n5/mode/2up  Life of General A.S. Johnston

http://archive.org/stream/battleofshilohor00unit#page/40/mode/2up   D.W. Reed Battle of Shiloh page 40.

http://archive.org/stream/cu31924030921096#page/n9/mode/2up  List of Staff officers of the Confederacy

http://www.militarymuseum.org/LosAngelesMountedRifles2.html  California's Los Angeles Mounted Rifles and Johnston's trek

OR 10 (various pages)






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Always more to the story... so here's a bit more about Captain Theodore O'Hara, the poet-soldier. His most famous work is "Bivouac of the Dead," which is recognized as one of the iconic poems of the Civil War. The poem, although a bit morbid, became very popular (on both sides of the conflict) even before the War ended: it appears on many Confederate Memorials in Kentucky; and Montgomery Meigs (who lost a son to the War, and was no fan of the Confederacy) had a verse from O'Hara's poem installed at the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.

All the best



References:  http://www.cem.va.gov/history/bivouac.asp  Use of O'Hara's poem "Bivouac of the Dead"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bivouac_of_the_Dead   wikipedia details of O'Hara's poem


N.B.  O'Hara's poem is also featured on plaques at Shiloh National Cemetery:






Edited by Ozzy
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William Preston was brother-in-law to Albert Sidney Johnston, and cousin to General John C. Breckinridge. He joined the Confederate Cause in 1861, and wrote the following Letter of November 28th 1861 to his 11-year old son, Robert Wickliffe Preston, explaining his rationale for "going with the South." [Original on file with University of Kentucky.] Contained with this transcript is a summary of activities Colonel Preston engaged in prior to joining the Staff of General Albert Sidney Johnston.

http://www.uky.edu/~dolph/HIS316/sources/why.html   William Preston Letter of November 28th 1861



N.B.  On April 17th 1862 General PGT Beauregard issued Special Orders No.29 which included the direction for newly-promoted Brigadier General William Preston to report to MGen Breckinridge at Corinth [OR 11 page 426]. BGen Preston had accompanied the body of Albert Sidney Johnston to New Orleans (burial service on April 11th) and was probably still in New Orleans on April 18th when he wrote a letter to General Johnston's son, Wm. Preston Johnston -- who was then at Richmond -- providing details of his Father's death at Shiloh. BGen Preston reported to Corinth shortly afterwards; and Preston's Letter of April 18th was received by William Preston Johnston before May 3rd 1862.

Question:  With the M & C R.R. no longer operating under Confederate control after April 11th (due Ormsby Mitchel in Huntsville) how did this letter get from New Orleans to Richmond?


Edited by Ozzy
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An overlooked duty provided by Lieutenant Thomas Jack...

After Albert Sidney Johnston evacuated Bowling Green, he passed through Nashville, Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Fayetteville, Huntsville... and arrived at Decatur, Alabama about March 17th, where he remained a few days and established temporary HQ (and conducted communications via telegraph with PGT Beauregard and Braxton Bragg.). At Decatur, General Johnston drafted a letter to President Jefferson Davis, in which he acknowledged his recent military reversals; and laid out his plans for the future -- including the joining of his Army to Beauregard's at Corinth. The Letter was dated March 18th and sent via courier (Lieutenant T. M. Jack ADC), who arrived at Richmond March 26th [OR 11 page 365].

Upon reading the letter, President Davis drafted a quick reply, in which he expressed support for General Johnston; approved the planned junction at Corinth; suggested (or supported) the idea of "attacking the Federal force on the Tennessee before the Force from Nashville accomplished its join."  

Before Lieutenant Jack departed on March 27th Jefferson Davis gave Jack a dictionary (one of a pair, of which President Davis would possess the other copy) for use in sending "coded messages" (and provided instruction on how to construct/decipher the code.) Jack completed his return journey, arriving at Corinth just before General Johnston departed that place for his March on Pittsburg Landing [Life of General Johnston pages 521-2].



References:  OR 11 pages 331, 340, and 365.

http://archive.org/stream/lifegenalbert00johnrich#page/522/mode/2up/search/Davis  Life of General Johnston page 521

http://archive.org/stream/cu31924030921096#page/n9/mode/2up  List of all Staff Officers in CSA Army


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The importance of the Staff officers accompanying General Johnston's body back to New Orleans (and subsequent role of two men in providing information regarding the Battle of Shiloh directly to President Jefferson Davis) is to be found below:




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Albert Sidney Johnston’s Staff Officers

The following lists the Staff Officers of General Albert Sidney Johnston at Shiloh:

AAG                                        Capt. H. P. Brewster (replaced W. W. Mackall)

AAG                                        Capt. Nathaniel Wickcliffe (or Wickliffe or Wyckliffe)

Chief of Staff                          MGen Braxton Bragg

Chief of Engineers                 Major Jeremy Gilmer

Asst Engineer                         Lt. Joseph Dixon (killed at Fort Donelson)

Chief of Commissary             Capt Thomas K. Jackson

AQM                                          Capt W. L. Wickham

AQM                                          Major Albert Smith

Asst Inspector General          Capt. Theodore O’Hara

Chief of Artillery (acting)        BGen James de Berty Trudeau

Medical Director                      Surgeon D. W. Yandell

Aide-de-Camp                          Lt. George Baylor

Vol. Aide-de-Camp                  Lt. Thomas M. Jack

Vol. Aide-de-Camp                  Major D. M. Haydon (or Hayden)

VADC                                         Governor Isham Harris

VADC                                         Col. William Preston

VADC                                         Dr. E. W. Munford

VADC                                         Major Calhoun Benham


Scout/ intelligence                  xxx

Telegraph operator                  (unknown)

Bodyguard/ orderly                 (mentioned Life of ASJ page 615, but not named)      

Clerk                                           xxx



In addition to the above (found in D. W. Reed’s Battle of Shiloh, page 41, and Preston Johnston’s Life of Albert Sidney Johnston, there are other possible Staff and support officers to consider. Major General Bragg, in his role as Chief of Staff, may have made use of members of his own staff to conduct activities in support of the Army of the Mississippi (Captain S. H. Lockett, Engineer, is mentioned as “responsible for finding the other Federal Division (Stuart’s Brigade) further to the east,” Captain H. Oladowski likely performed the role of Chief of Ordnance (acting) and Surgeons Foard and Nott and Lyle were employed to the benefit of all.) General Beauregard also had Staff officers who performed functions for the Army of the Mississippi: BGen Trudeau was actually attached to Beauregard as VADC; Captain E. H. Cummins performed the role as Signals Officer; and Colonel B. H. Helm seems to have coordinated Scout and reconnaissance activities to the east (observing Buell) while “civilian volunteers” are mentioned as providing valuable intelligence of the terrain and camps in vicinity of Pittsburg Landing. And, of course, Governor George W. Johnson was attached to the Army of the Mississippi and “acted in support of Kentucky troops.”

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