Alleghany Johnson At Spottsylvania Courthouse


Few, if any, of Lee's division commanders held a warmer place in the hearts of the troops than he who was known as Alleghany Johnson. Without any vaulting ambition for fame or place, he yet fought as if the cause depended upon his single arm. His courage was equaled by his modesty, and, though his name seldom filled the speaking trump of newspaper fame, it was often mentioned in terms of affectionate admiration around the camp-fires of the rank and file. The following throws a beam of light upon his character, and is a pleasing tribute to the noble old Roman:

"In the chill, misty, first early dawn on May 12, 1864, I saw a fine-looking, stout-built officer, clad in a long gray military overcoat, rush on foot into the Horse Shoe salient, where General Hancock was making his terrific onslaught, and his men pouring into our works on all sides. As the officer would catch hold of and push away the bayonets of the storming enemy, I heard him repeatedly shout, 'Don't shoot into my men!' This was Major-General Edward Johnson, of Virginia, known in his command as 'Old Blucher.' And when, a day or two after, we landed at Fort Delaware as prisoners of war, and this same grim hero stepped from the steamer to the wharf, and passed up through a knot of handsomely-dressed officers of the post to take his place behind the iron bars, in his battle torn hat and war-stained coat, he looked every inch the soldier that he was.

"I had never before been upon General Johnson's front, and knew very little of him (being in another command), but this act of devotion and personal daring at Spottsylvania has ever been indelibly engraven on my memory. The incident should have been in print long ago to do honor to so gallant a man. He is dead now, and the harvest sheaf has ripened many times since then. Where his ashes rest, I do not know, but there upon some shaft or tablet should be written, 'No bolder soldier ever donned the Southern gray, or followed the storm-tossed colors of the immortal Lee.'

Carter, W.P., "'Alleghany' Johnson at Spottsylvania Courthouse." The Southern Bivouac, III(1885):272-73.

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