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Shiloh National Military Park

Johnston Monument

Johnston Monument (32K)

Image 1: Johnston Monument. This is the monument to Albert Sidney Johnston, located in the vicinity of where Johnston was wounded. This shot looks east.

At the outbreak of the war General Albert Sidney Johnston was considered by many to be the warrior who would lead the Confederacy to victory. He was awarded the rank of general, the highest in the Confederacy (roughly equivalent to the Union rank of lieutenant general), and was second in seniority only to Samuel Cooper, the adjutant general. The other three men of the same rank were, in seniority order, Robert E. Lee, Joseph E. Johnston, and Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard. Sidney Johnston was well thought of by Confederate President Jefferson Davis, whose life Johnston had saved during the Mexican War.

By the spring of 1862 many Southerners had lost confidence in Johnston. His defense of Tennessee had ultimately failed and the Union controlled most of the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers. The Tennessee congressional delegation had asked Davis to remove Johnston from command.

The Battle of Shiloh would be Albert Sidney Johnston's chance to prove himself. The early part of the battle seemed to prove Johnston's military worth. The Union was caught completely off guard. The Federal line collapsed, until a determined resistance was formed at the Hornets' Nest. For more than five hours the Rebels hammered at the Federal line. At the moment the Hornets' Nest line collapsed, Johnston was mortally wounded, dying shortly afterwards.

During the fighting for the Peach Orchard Johnston's assault on his right (the Union's left) was slow to develop. The inexperienced troops were proceeding cautiously through the dense woods. Johnston moved to the right to lead his men personally. In fact, the troops — of Statham's brigade — also had Brigadier General John Breckinridge, the former Vice President of the United States, and Tennessee Governor Isham Harris to lead them.

With Johnston urging them on, Stratham's brigade joined Bowen's and Jackson's brigades in a charge on the Peach Orchard around 2 p.m. The Union left flank crumbled before the attack. Johnston looked on, elated at the success. During the attack Johnston had been hit three times. His boot sole had been torn, a spent minié ball hit him in the chest, and a piece of shrapnel hit him in the right thigh. None of these hits even broke the skin. At the moment of his success, though, a minié bullet hit the popliteal artery in his right leg, behind the knee, and lodged against his shin bone. Johnston either didn't realize he was hit, or chose to hide the fact (he was a proud man).

The wound was serious, but not fatal. He had a tourniquet in his pocket. If he had used it, he could have possibly saved himself. He didn't use it, and he bled. After about ten minutes, he went pale and reeled in the saddle. Isham Harris was near Johnston at this time. He pulled Johnston upright in the saddle and asked, "General, are you wounded?" "Yes, and I fear seriously," answered Johnston. Captain W. L. Wickham of Johnston's staff arrived at this point. He and Harris led Johnston into a ravine and took him down from his horse Fire-eater. Johnston lay beneath a tree while Capt. Theodora O'Hara, also of his staff, went to get a doctor. By this time Johnston no longer spoke. Within about half an hour after being pulled from the saddle, General Albert Sidney Johnston was dead.
 

Reputed death site (44K)

Image 2: Reputed site of Albert Sidney Johnston's death. This photograph was taken at the marker near the site purported to be where Albert Sidney Johnston died.

These pictures were captured on Fuji ISO 200 film in March, 2000. They were taken with a Nikon F-601 autofocus SLR, using a Nikkor 24mm - 50mm f2.8 wide angle zoom lens.