When General Albert Sidney Johnston
Came Home to Texas: Reconstruction Politics
and the Reburial of a Hero
IN THE DENSE WOODS OF SOUTHWESTERN TENNESSEE, GEN. ALBERT
Sidney Johnston, the highest ranking field officer in the Confederate
Army, was awakened by his staff before dawn on Sunday, April 6, 1862.
His second in command, Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard,
had urged a retreat to Corinth, Mississippi, rather than advance on the
Federal army that was known to be camped around Pittsburg Landing
on the Tennessee River. But at 5 A.M., as the general and his staff hud-
dled around a small campfire, the sound of gunfire interrupted the
discussion. Johnston mounted his horse, Fire-eater, and rode off
toward the sound of muskets. White dogwood blossoms, fresh-leaved
oaks, and the soft pink of farmhouse peach orchards shone in the
early morning light as the general approached the fighting.' By that
fateful day in April 1862, fifty-nine-year-old Johnston had already led a
half a dozen lives.
Albert Sidney Johnston was born at Washington, Kentucky, on
February 2, 1803. He attended Transylvania University before entering
the United States Military Academy at West Point in June 1826. Three
years after graduation, he married Henrietta Preston and resigned his
commission. Following Henrietta's death a few weeks later, he took up
farming near St. Louis, Missouri, but came to Texas in 1836 to enlist as a
private in the Texas Army.2 Johnston rose like a rocket and by January
* Jerry Thompson, Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Texas A&M International
University-Laredo, is author or editor of seventeen books and monographs. Among the best and
most prohfic historians of the Southwestern campaigns of the Civil War, Thompson is also an
authority on the history of the Texas-Mexico border. Part of this paper was presented at the Fellows
Luncheon at the Texas State Historical Association's annual meeting in Dallas, March 1999.
' Charles Roland, Albert Sidney Johnston: Soldier of Three Republics (Austin: University of Texas
Press, 1964), 326-327.
2 Ibid., 64
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/. Accessed September 2, 2015.