Few women had the good fortune in the war between the States to have such opportunities for good as the subject of this memoir, and no one ever improved them as she did.
She was of distinguished ancestry.
Her father, Romulus M. Saunders
, of North Carolina
, was a member of Congress from 1819 to 1844; from 1845-49, Minister Plenipotentiary
, authorized to offer $100,000,000 for the Island of Cuba
He had really nominated James K. Polk
for the Presidency by devising and securing the adoption of the two-third rule at the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore
A majority of the delegates had come instructed to vote for Van Buren
But, in the meantime, Van Buren
had taken position in opposition to the annexation of Texas
, and the Southern Van Buren
man wanted him defeated, hence the two-third rule, which required two-thirds of all the members to make the nomination.
The mission to Spain
, then the most important diplomatic position in the Government
, was a recognition of his service to the party, to the cause of Texas
, and to the President elect
The mother of Mrs. Johnson
was Anna Hayes Johnson
, daughter of the Hon. William Johnson
, of South Carolina
of the Supreme Court of the United States
, appointed by Mr. Jefferson
in 1804, and who married the brilliant young member of Congress from North Carolina
when she was quite a young woman.
She was a splendidly handsome, brilliant, and intellectual woman,
with great artistic talent, and a painter far beyond mediocre amateur ability.
Her grandfather, William Johnson
, of Charleston
, was a patriot of prominence and force, and was deported by Sir Henry Clinton
to St. Augustine
with other distinguished patriots of South Carolina
During the siege of Charleston
, his wife, Sarah Johnson
, nee Nightingale
, used to quilt her peticoats with cartridges, which she thus conveyed to her husband in the trenches.
With such traditions, the great-granddaughter of Sarah Nightingale Johnson
and William Johnson
, soldier and exile, could only be imbued with patriotism, with courage, with sentiment.
She spent the four years of her father's residence in Spain
with him and her mother, and entered society there by her presentation at Court.
There she became intimate with Eugenie di Montijo
, who afterwards became Empress of the French
The attachment between the young girls was such that on the marriage of the Countess
to the Emperor
she sent her portrait to her American friend, which, though only a print, was and is, considered the best likeness of her ever made.
was a success at the Court of Isabella
, the Catholic
, and of Louis Napoleon
of the French
, where she and her sister and mother spent the winter.
In December, 1849, General Saunders
was recalled and came home.
In 1851, Miss Saunders
was married to Bradley T. Johnson
, who had just been admitted to the Bar, and to whom she had been engaged for the preceding six years.
She was not 18, he just 21, and they went to live in Frederick, Maryland
, where he rapidly acquired a good position at the Bar.
In 1857, in the great struggle to save the State
from the Know-Nothing faction, he was placed at the head of the State
ticket as the Democratic
candidate for Comptroller of the Treasury, but was defeated by the Plug Ugly
and Blood Tub Clubs, and fraudulent votes, and stuffed ballot-boxes, of the city of Baltimore
In 1859, he was made the head of the Democratic
organization of the State
, as Chairman
of the Democratic State Committee
, and was a delegate from the State
to the Charleston
National Convention of 1860.
There he acted, spoke and voted with the extreme Southern wing of the Democratic party, and when the convention adjourned to Baltimore
, joined with a majority of the Maryland Delegation
withdrawing from the convention, and uniting with the States Rights
members, North and South, in the Democratic National Convention, which nominated Breckinridge
The members who remained as the National
Democratic Convention nominated Douglas
The result is history.
In all this exciting time Mrs Johnson
was always with her husband, heart and soul, and sustaining his every act, with soul stirring sympathy and chivalric courage.
When it became clear that the issue of arms was to be made and tried, her husband, with her constant support, enlisted a company of boys at Frederick
, which he armed and clothed, very poorly—but the best that could be done—at his own expense, and prepared to lead them to Virginia
, she entirely consenting and assisting.
She had a fine house, well furnished, with every comfort and convenience.
She left that just as it was, to the care of S. Teakle Willis
, John Hanson Thomas
, Ross Winans
, John C. Brune
, and the rest of the Baltimore Delegation
in the legislature, which was in Frederick
, in session.
On May 7, 1861, she went to Chestnut Hill, Va.
, the residence of a friend, Mrs. Mason
, and the next day her husband followed her with his company—the Frederick Volunteers
—to Point of Rocks
There, in a few days, he was joined by a company from Baltimore
, Capt. Edelin
, and other companies were rapidly collected at Harper's Ferry
They were all mustered into the service of the Confederate States
on May 21-22, 1861, the object being to form them as a nucleus for the Maryland
Line, which was to be the representative of Maryland
in the Southern Confederacy and to win for their State a place in the new government.
But a crisis soon confronted the Marylanders.
Of the 500 men at the Point of Rocks
and Harper's Ferry
, Company A, from Frederick
only were armed, and that only with Hall
's Carbines, the original antiquated and useless breechloader, long since discarded by the army of the United States.
The men had nothing, no arms, no clothes, no tents, no camp equipage, axes, hatchets, skillets nor camp kettles.
They could draw rations, but did not know how to cook them, even if they had had the utensils.
Utter and entire disorganization faced them.
On every side were cordial invitations to join Virginia
, North Carolina
, South Carolina
or Mississippi Companies.
But the men all knew that the disappearance of that battallion from the army would mean the death of Maryland
's hopes to join
, as well as their own justification, in taking arms against their native State.
They held and believed that their mother State had been betrayed by treachery, and was then bound and manacled, hand and foot, by the ‘Vis Major
’ of the United States
, and they were performing a pious duty in organizing with arms to redeem her. But they had no arms, nor any one to whom to apply, and they faced the horrors of disintegration and extermination.
Hence forward let the Chronicler Scharf
tell the story.
In his third volume of the History of Maryland
, he says:
In this trying exigency Mrs. Bradley T. Johnson volunteered to go through the country to North Carolina, her native State, and there appeal to her countrymen for assistance.
She, as the daughter of Hon. R. M. Saunders of that State, formerly minister to Spain, was amply qualified by graces of person and mind and the force of her will, to accomplish an enterprise which required the daring gallantry of a man with the persuasive power and perseverance of a woman.
Accordingly, on the 24th of May she left the camps of Companies A and B, at the