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In memoriam. General Joseph Eggleston Johnston.

The last but one of the six full generals of the war for Southern Independence (General Beauregard now alone remaining), General Joseph Eggleston Johnston, died at his residence in Washington, D. C., on the night of March 21st, 1891. His death excited profound emotion, and throughout the Southern States the testimony of regard in which he was held was touchingly manifested.


In Richmond, Lee Camp of Confederate Veterans led in the initiative. At a meeting of this body, held March 23d, a committee [159] of which Colonel Archer Anderson was chairman, was appointed to prepare resolutions to the memory of General Johnston.

The following chaste and touching tribute from the pen of Colonel Anderson was submitted by him in a meeting of Lee Camp, held March 27th, and was unanimously adopted by a rising vote:

A great soldier has passed from among us.

The death of General Joseph Eggleston Johnston has filled every southern veteran's heart with sorrow, and we have met to give utterance to the deep and abiding feelings of respect and veneration which must ever be associated with his honored name.

His career will occupy a great space in the military annals of his country. It illustrates almost every species of military excellence.

As a youth he had stored his mind with all the lessons to be drawn from the great campaigns of history and the deductions of military science. This exact knowledge was supplemented and adorned by a general culture unusual in the training of a soldier. But his love of books never impaired his eagerness for action. The records of the past kindled in his whole nature a passionate ardor to emulate the great deeds of the heroes celebrated by poet and historian. He was essentially a man of action, and on the very first occasion when he confronted a force of hostile Indians he signalized his fitness to lead men in battle.

Second only to Lee.

Distinguished in the Florida war he showed himself at each step of his career equal to every call of duty. No officer, save only Robert E. Lee, emerged from the Mexican war with a more brilliant reputation for vigor, forecast, and valor. But the war between the States furnished the arena on which he was to display the great qualities of head and heart and soul, which alone fit men for the command of armies.

The secrecy and rapidity of his movement from Patterson's front to Beauregard's support secured victory at Manassas. During the next eight months his bold countenance concealed his paralyzing inferiority of numbers and resources, and held in inglorious inactivity the grand army of McClellan.

Quickly changing his line of operations to confront the Federal army in its advance upon the Peninsula he now illustrated that distinguishing quality of his genius which led him always—even at the cost of distrust and reproach—to sacrifice everything subordinate [160] and unessential to bring about the substantial and necessary conditions of decisive military success. He withdrew his army skilfully from a faulty position to bring McClellan to battle at a distance from his base, where, after the concentration of all our resources, a Confederate victory might determine the issue of the campaign.

In the act to win the rich prize of his strategy he was stricken down at the head of his columns at Seven Pines by two severe wounds—always, like Hannibal, the first to go into battle and the last to come out.

Campaign against Sherman.

But his campaign against Sherman will furnish the imperishable justification of his fame. The most brilliant military critic of our time, the English officer, Chesney, has declared that it places him by the side of Turenne in the roll of the world's great generals. Those who followed Robert Lee in what was perhaps the grandest of his campaigns, the campaign of 1864, will understand the greatness of Johnston's leadership when they consider how nearly Lee's campaign resembled in method and results Johnston's fighting march from Dalton to Atlanta. But there was this striking difference. When Lee reached Richmond and Petersburg, his adversary gained possession of a better base and a shorter line of communications than he ever before possessed. When Johnston reached Atlanta his army was in as high a state of vigor, cohesion, and military devotion as Lee's, and Sherman was dragging a lengthening chain of weak and attenuated communications. The opportunity long sought and prepared for a decisive stroke was snatched from Johnston's hand, as many think, by the Executive mandate, which deprived the Army of Tennessee of its beloved and trusted chief. The absolute devotion of that army to him established his possession of one of the prime characteristics of a general—the power to arouse enthusiasm in his followers. But he had done enough for enduring fame. The verdict of the skilful and vigorous soldiers who led the Federal army, including their brilliant chief, Sherman, declaring Johnston to have been a great and daring commander, is one of the most striking tributes to military merit know to the annals of the war. The men who felt his blows admired him most.

Recalled to his shattered command.

One crowning testimony to his worth was reserved to heal the hero's wounded pride. At the darkest hour of the war Robert E. [161] Lee recalled Johnston to the command of the shattered fragments of the Army of Tennessee. In the heroic spirit of the great of old, whose custom was ‘inadversis vultum secundae fortunae gerere, moderari animos in secundis,’ Johnston answered that call of duty. The audacity and fierceness of his attack, with a mere handful of Confederates, on Sherman's army at Bentonville showed what great aggressive strokes might have been delivered had adequate means been wielded by that daring spirit. Men who had stood near him in battle had long before read this in his flashing eye and grim, firm-set, lion-like mouth. Never was war-like temper more visibly stamped on feature, gesture, and bearing, than in the person of this grand leader in the crisis of action. To see him then was to receive a new impulse to battle.

A modest and faithful citizen.

But the soldier who had been so great in war was ready when peace returned to discharge with modesty and fidelity every duty of the citizen. For the last twenty-five years he has lived among us a life of quiet and unassuming fulfilment of public and private trusts. Crowned with honor, revered and cherished by his countrymen of all sections and parties, he has completed in peace and dignity the span of an existence prolonged beyond the ordinary limit, and comforted in its later years by an abiding conviction of a life beyond the grave, and by all the assurances of Christian faith and piety.

His fame is secure in the keeping of his countrymen.

Profoundly imbued with these sentiments R. E. Lee Camp, No. 1, of Confederate Veterans, has heretofore ordered its hall to be draped in mourning for thirty days in honor of the illustrious commander, a member of this camp, and now resolves that the foregoing minute be placed upon its records and communicated to the family of General Johnston.

Want the remains interred in Hollywood.

Mr. D. Smith Redford, Colonel F. A. Bowery, Colonel William P. Smith, Major James W. Pegram and Mr. E. C. Crump were appointed a committee to request Mayor Ellyson to call a mass-meeting of the citizens, at such time and place as he may designate, to pass resolutions requesting that the remains of General Johnston be interred in Hollywood. The committee was instructed to request the Mayor to invite such citizens as he may select to deliver addresses at the mass-meeting.


The mass meeting.

In pursuance of the request of Lee Camp, a meeting of the citizens of Richmond was held April 2d, in the hall of the Chamber of Commerce.

The meeting was called to order by Judge George L. Christian, on whose motion Mayor J. T. Ellyson was elected chairman.

Mayor Ellyson on taking the chair said he had called the meeting at the request of Lee Camp, Confederate Veterans, to take suitable action to secure the removal of the remains of General Joseph E. Johnston to Richmond. He did not hesitate to comply with the request and issue the call, for that he felt that in so doing he was but carrying out and, indeed, anticipating the wishes of the citizens of Richmond, who he knew would endorse any action of the meeting looking to the end in view.

On motion of Mr. W. L. White, Judge George L. Christian was elected secretary.

It was moved and carried that a committee on resolutions be appointed, and the chair announced the following: Major Robert Stiles, Colonel W. H. Palmer, Colonel Alexander W. Archer, Judge E. C. Minor and Mr. Joseph W. Thomas.

Resolutions reported.

The committee, after consultation, reported through Major Stiles the following:

Virginia mourns the last of her great Soldier Triumvirate, Jackson, Lee, Johnston—all stainless; each one as good as great.

Within a year after he drew aside the veil that hid the image of the God-like Lee, Johnston himself passed from us, and beyond that greater vale the three Christian heroes have entered upon immortal comradeship. Weeping Virginia, though Rachel-like lamenting her children because they are not, may yet lift her bowed head with this proud reflection: Even in these degenerate days have I borne peerless sons, and while in some sense I must give them up, yet are they mine forever.

More essentially perhaps than other great American, Joseph E. Johnston was the soldier—the trained, professional soldier. As such, he was less perfectly in touch with the mass of the people, and in proportion to his merit less appreciated by them than were most of the other heroes of the war. The christian civilization of to-day [163] rightly yearns for Peace, but wrongly refuses to estimate fairly the greatness that is born of the profession of arms alone. A quarter of a century ago, as the majestic figures of our great generals emerged from the smoke of battle, and moved out from the soldier life, from camp and march and field, into the unromantic walks of our selfish, scheming business world, men marvelled at them as anomalies and demanded ‘whence have mere soldiers these characteristics; this purity and consecration, this majesty and strength?’ Those of us who have to some degree lived and loved the life of the soldier make answer, ‘These men were cast in this mould; they are not anomalies, but the lofty yet normal outcome of a grand system of physical and mental and moral training.’ What, then, is the training and what are the formative elements of this life?

Essential character of the soldier life.

We answer: The essental character of the soldier life is ‘service’— its all pervading law is ‘duty.’ Its first lesson is obedience questioning—its last lesson command unquestioned. Its daily discipline Accountability unceasing-its final burden Responsi-Bility unmeasured. Its every-day experience hardships, perils, Crises unparalleled—its compensation fixed pay. Its inspiration promotion from above.

Here is the mould. Does it not prefigure the man we mourn and honor to-night? His purity, his loyalty, his directness, his robustness, his majestic simplicity, his devotion to duty, his heroism? Yes! God made him in body, mind, and soul a youth capable of responding to this noble training and absorbing these lofty influences; but they made him the man and the hero he was.

Thus was he soldier-trained to a great character and a grand career, to a majestic manhood and a mightyl ife; but his spirit soared even higer, because he was also God-created high-souled, and broadminded. It is noteworthy how his soldier-training and his soldier spirit entered into, inspiring or modifying, his almost every act and utterance, and yet how his personal elevation and breadth bore him up and away above and beyond the mere soldier.

Fought bravely under what he considered injustice.

Where will you find anything finer than his palliation of the failure of a gallant officer afterwards prominent upon the Federal side to espouse the cause of his native South upon the ground, as he said, [164] tha this friend was essentially a soldier and had failed to secure in our service the rank to which his worth and his position in the old army justly entitled him—all unconscious the while of the noble contrast which his own conduct presented in turning his back upon a higher position in the old service than any other southern officer sacrificed, and never sulking, but fighting to the bitter end under what he considered injustice like to that which repelled his friend?

His mere intellectual pre-eminence does not even require distinct assertion. Not only does his career throughout bear witness to it, but it is perhaps not too much to say that by the general consensus of competent opinion in the United States, North and South, Joseph E. Johnson is ranked as at least the peer of any officer upon either side during the late war, not in intellect only, but in all the learning and and skill of his profession.

He was even more than this. It is questionable whether there can be found, in all the annals of war and of defeat, a sublimer exhibition of imperturbable poise of soul and perfect command of the very utmost of one's supremest powers, than is furnished by Johnston's great double act of soldiership and statesmanship, in the battle of Bentonville and the convention with Sherman.

But not only did his comprehensive intelligence and his high-souled strength overlap and rise above the broad, high ideal even of the true soldier—if soldier only—but his heart and his affections were so rich and so loving that, even his lion-like masculinity could not banish from his intercourse with his family and his friends a tenderness that was absolutely womanly. General Dabney Maury says he kissed him upon both cheeks and then upon his lips when parting with him for the last time. It was one of his peculiar habits to embrace and kiss men whom he especially loved and trusted. He was not only affectionate and tender—‘he of the lion-heart and hammer-hand’ and body battle-scarred—but he was the most affectionate and the most tender of men.

We crave the noble body.

Let it be added, to complete the picture, and with devout gratitude to Almighty God, that he who, with such compelling will and such a mighty hand, controlled and led men, followed his Divine Master with the humility and the confiding trust of a little child; therefore be it

Resolved, 1, That in the life of General Joseph Eggleston Johnston Virginia recognizes with maternal pride the career of a great Christian [165] soldier, without fear and without reproach and full of well-earned honors.

2. That in his death she mourns the loss of one of the most noble and the most loyal of all her heroic sons.

3. That, so far as such final disposition of his remains can be harmonized with the wishes and plans of the General's family, the people of Richmond and, we are confident, the people of Virginia as well, crave the noble body, scarred with ten honorable wounds, and ask that they be permitted to lay it reverently to rest here, in his native soil, at such place in or near the city of Richmond as may hereafter be determined upon.

4. That the foregoing minute and resolutions be communicated to to the family of General Johnston, accompanied by our reverent sympathies.

Major Stiles' Remarks.

Major Stiles, in speaking to the resolutions, said that General Johnston was the grandest man he had ever known in respect of personal friendly relations. He was, however, so essentially a soldier that he was not in touch with the people and was not esteemed as other men were.

The speaker believed that if he could communicate with the old hero he would thank him for putting before the people the life of the soldier. Public sentiment, continued Major Stiles, does not do justice to the soldier. The whole force of modern society is given to the accumulation of wealth. The soldier never accumulates. It was contended that the time of the soldier had passed. This is not true. All civilization is born of the blood of the soldier and founded on the bullet and the sword. The Christian civilization is iron-bound and will be until the millennium. The contrary idea was a false representation of the Christian religion. The speaker showed how Sir Philip Sidney, Havelock, Chinese Gordon, Jackson, Lee, and others were not anomalies, but the development of the soldier-life, and drew a striking picture of General Johnston—the soldierly type.

Infinite and absolute courage.

He was, Major Stiles said, the embodiment of infinite and absolute courage. There was as much courage and nobility in his small frame as could have been packed in that of a man of six feet six inches. The [166] life of the soldier was, said Major Stiles, service. He was cut off from everything that others enjoy. It was a priesthood of consecration. He was separated from the people, from their aims, and from their ambitions, standing way off on the frontier protecting the State and the women and children.


As for duty the soldier had put that word where it never was before, and he obeyed because those above him had a right to command.

There was, asserted the speaker, no more important lesson for the people to learn than that of obedience. The centurion had given the best analysis of obedience.

Major Stiles then attested to the responsibilities of the military life, and showed how General Johnston measured up the full standard of all that combined to constitute the ideal soldier.

No politician.

The speaker's description of what difficulties he and others encountered in trying to make a politician of General Johnston was very amusing, and in this connection he told some anecdotes at the expense of himself and friends, which illustrated General Johnston's straightforwardness, that provoked bursts of merriment.

General Johnston, added Major Stiles, was one of the most charming conversationalists he had ever heard talk, and was the most affectionate and lovable man he had ever met. He had often kissed the speaker, and it was his habit whenever he parted from a family to kiss the younger members. Major Stiles' description of his last interview with General Johnston was so pathetic as to draw tears from the eyes of all present.

An eloquent and tender tribute.

Major Stiles spoke for half an hour, perhaps, and nothing short of a verbatim report of his remarks could convey anything like an adequate impression of his eloquence and tenderness in his reference to his old commander and friend.

At the conclusion of Major Stiles' remarks the resolutions were unamiously adopted.

After some remarks by Captain Louis F. Bossieux, the meeting adjourned.


Memorial meeting.

A Memorial Meeting was held at the Academy of Music, Sunday afternoon, April 26th. The commodious hall was filled to its utmost capacity.

Lee and Pickett Camps Confederate Veterans attended in a body. Governor McKinney and Colonel William E. Tanner and ladies occupied one of the proscenium-boxes, and on the stage were the gentleman who took part in the services, the Committee of Arrangements of Lee Camp, and the singers.

Opened with prayer.

Colonel Alexander W. Archer, commander of Lee Camp, was master of ceremonies and introduced in a few remarks Rev. Dr. W. E. Judkins, who opened the services with prayer.

Rev. Dr. Landrum read appropriate selections from the Scriptures, after which the whole assemblage, led by Captain Frank W. Cunningham, united in singing ‘Rock of Ages.’

A quartette consisting of Captain Cunningham, Mr. Lohman, Mrs. Rowe, and Mrs. McGruder chanted a hymn, at the conclusion of which Colonel Archer introduced Rev. Dr S. A. Goodwin, pastor of Grove Avenue Baptist Church, who delivered a beautiful oration on the life and character of General Johnston.

Dr. Goodwin's Address.

The eloquent speaker opened by saying that the vast audience had assembled to give utterance to the profound respect and ardent admiration which all had for General Johnston, whose unselfish patriotism and military prowess have enshrined his name forever in the hearts of the southern people, and who, the speaker said, struck the first stunning blow in their defence and gave the last in the hour of their despair. Then, after sketching General Johnston's early life and education, Dr. Goodwin said:

His knowledge of military science was, perhaps, the most accurate and comprehensive of any man of this age. This gave him that sweeping observation, that minuteness of detail, and that insight into the plan of his opponent that so pre-eminently distinguished him as a strategist and soldier. Time, space, and numbers were all present to him. The forming of every company, however distant, was mentally visible to his eye. And the movement of every squadron, however remote, was audible to his ear.


This aspect of his genius shone with resplendent brightness in his fighting march from Dalton to Atlanta.

Compared with Lee's last campaign.

‘The brilliancy of this campaign,’ the speaker continued,

will further appear by comparison with that of the last of General Robert E. Lee's, which is justly considered one of the most skilfully conducted in the annals of war. When Lee reached Petersburg Grant gained a better base of operation and a shorter line of communication than he had ever before possessed; but when Johnston reached Atlanta he was nearer his own base of supplies, while Sherman, in the language of a brilliant military critic, was dragging a lengthening chain of weak and attenuated communication.

Sherman, too, was greatly the superior of Grant. Sherman was a wily adversary, whose well-laid plans were difficult to forecast and hard to defeat. Grant, conscious of his overwhelming numbers and resources, and reckless of the lives of his followers, hurled them upon the daily diminishing ranks of Lee with the single object of destroying him by the mere force of attrition. With this one object in view his plans were not difficult to foresee, nor hard to defeat. Sherman, like a skilled pugilist, evaded every blow of his adversary that was possible, and effected by manoeuvre what he could not accomplish by force. His greatly superior numbers enabled him to flank Johnston with comparative ease and safety whenever he offered him battle.

His decision of character.

Referring to General Johnston's decision of character, the speaker said:

He formed his plans only after mature reflection and upon accurate knowledge, and once made he rarely changed them. Neither the smile of friends nor the scorn of foes could turn him from what he believed to be right. This decision of character, which is one of the essential qualities of a great commander, more than once subjected him to the mistrust of the Government and to the severe criticism of his friends. This trait of his character is strikingly illustrated in his retreat from Dalton to Atlanta. Both the Government and the people clammored for battle. But he knew better than either that the army which he confronted, three times that of his own in number, under a sagacious and resolute leader, and covered by entrenchments, was not to be beaten by greatly inferior numbers. He himself says: “I thought it best to stand on the defensive, to spare the blood of our [169] soldiers by fighting under cover habitually, and to attack only when bad position or division of the enemy's force might give us advantages counterbalancing that of superior numbers.” The wisdom of this course was subsequently clearly developed and fully justified.

Coolness and courage.

With great decision of character he combined unrivalled coolness and courage. He appeared absolutely insensible to fear. The roar of cannon, the rattle of musketry, the clash of squadrons, anti the shock and confusion of battle seemed to compose rather than to agitate him. His heroic courage and sublime composure enabled him in the greatest confusion of battle to readily discover the slighest weakness of his assailant and to promptly repair any mistake or disorder of his own. He watched the tide of battle with the same composure as that with which the expert chess-player watches the movements of his opponent. So calm was he amid every difficulty and so composed was he amid every danger, that what had been so eloquently said of the great Conde is eminently true of him, that those fighting around him declared that “if they had an affair of importance to transact with him they would have chosen for it that very moment when the fires of battle were raging around him, so much did his spirit appear elevated above them, and, as it were, inspired in such terrible encounters, like those lofty mountains whose summits rising above clouds and storm find their serenity in their elevation and lose not a single ray of the light by which they are enveloped.”

Leaving the old Army.

His battles with the Indians and his service in Mexico demonstrated those qualities of coolness and courage, skill and strategy, that so pre-eminently distinguished him as a commander. He emerged from the Mexican war adored by the army and trusted by the Government. He had but to will it and the forces of the United States would ultimately have been placed in his hands. But his ambition yielded to patriotism. Leaving behind a brilliant post and sacrificing the possibilities of a glorious future, he offered to the South his life and his sword. He was made a general in the Confederate army. His unwillingness to exchange his plans for those of the Administration more than once brought upon him the censure of the Government and the criticism of his friends, but neither the doubt of one nor the mistrust of the other cooled his ardor nor [170] weakened his loyalty for the cause to which he had pledged his life and honor. This trait of his character shines out with conspicuous brightness and beauty in the closing days of the bitter and bloody struggle. The grand army of Lee was reduced to the last extremity. It had at last worn itself away by continuous victories. That of the Tennessee, snatched from the hands of Johnston at the very moment of giving its decisive blow, had been broken, beaten, and butchered at Franklin after sustaining against overwhelming numbers one of the bloodiest conflicts in the annals of war. So fierce was the conflict that the soldiers snapped their bayonets in each other's faces. The resources of the Confederacy were exhausted. Its armies were almost naked and starving. The spirit of the people was broken, and further resistance seemed madness. Defeat and disaster were certain. Gloom rested like a pall over the whole South. Under these distressing circumstances Johnston was recalled by Lee to the command of the army from which he had been arbitrarily removed. It would have been natural for him to have refused.

He threw aside pride.

But, throwing aside his wounded pride, he responded at once to the call of duty and devotion. Gathering the broken and scattered fragments of his once compact but now dispirited and depleted army, he infused into it once more his own indomitable will and energy, and hurled it again upon the strong and arrogant column of Sherman. The audacity, the fierceness, and the success of his attack at Bentonville is not surpassed by the heroes of Thermopylae nor the patriotic defenders of Lyons. Not until the heroic Lee had succumbed to overwhelming numbers and resources, not until the Confederate Administration was without organization or habitation, not until further resistance on his part would have been the murder of his brave followers, did he surrender the men who followed him with ardor and who would have died at his bidding.

Modesty as a citizen.

His courage as a soldier was only excelled by his modesty as a citizen. Great corporations sought him for his administrative ability, and the people of Virginia as an acknowledgement of his merit sent him to represent them in the Congress of the United States. He discharged with modesty and fidelity every public and private trust committed to his keeping. There is not a stain upon his honored name. [171]

But the crowning glory of General Johnston was his simple and sublime faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When he marched he acknowledged God as his guide; when he defended a line he knew that resistance was vain unless Jehovah formed around him a rampart; when he fought he sought from Heaven his force, and when dying he trusted the merits of the Saviour.

In conclusion Dr. Goodwin said:

‘Full of years and honor, he has gone from among us. As the Romans placed in the vestibules of their homes the images of their illustrious ancestors, that their children might be constantly reminded of their virtues, so let us place in our own Hollywood the body of General Joseph Eggleston Johnston, and over it place an enduring monument, that our children may be constantly reminded of his virtues and stimulated to copy his example. There beside the brave who followed him he will rest in peace, and the rushing river as it rolls to the sea will sing till the the resurrection his greatness and glory.’

Closing exercises.

At the close of Dr. Goodwin's address Rev. L. R. Mason, of Grace Episcopal church, offered prayer.

Captain Cunningham sang ‘Some Sweet Day Bye and Bye,’ and the audience sang ‘The Coronation’ and the ‘Doxology.’

The benediction was pronounced by Rev. George H. Ray, D. D.

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