The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000 Page: 454
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
1837, he had become the senior brigadier general, replacing the
Kentucky-born Felix Huston. With his pride hurt, Huston challenged
Johnston to a duel. Johnston chose pistols. In the duel on the banks of
the Lavaca River both men fired and missed, reloaded, and fired again
up to six times. Finally Johnston was hit in the right hip whereupon
Huston apologized and eventually pledged his loyalty to his new com-
mander. Johnston served as secretary of war from 1838 to 1840, consis-
tently urged a strong military for the republic, and promoted Texas
In October 1843, Johnston married Eliza Griffin, a cousin of his first
wife, and after dividing their time between Texas and Kentucky, the cou-
ple and their baby son moved to Galveston. They later settled on a plan-
tation, China Grove, forty miles from Galveston in the center of Brazoria
County just north of present-day Angleton, where they lived in a double
log cabin for about three years and had two children. Unable to meet
mortgage payments, Johnston eventually lost China Grove, moved back
to Kentucky, and the plantation was sold at auction.
When war broke out between the United States and Mexico in 1846,
Johnston rushed back to Texas, where he was elected colonel of the First
Texas Rifle Volunteers and was given command of the supply base at the
hellhole of Camargo, Mexico. At that base on the banks of the San Juan
River not far from the Rio Grande, in stifling and oppressive 11 o-degree
heat, Johnston lost many men to disease.4 Death became so common at
Camargo that song birds were said to have imitated the mournful strains
of the death march. Despite his fierce objections, the regiment voted to
disband. Nevertheless, Johnston went on to serve as inspector general in
the division of Gen. William O. Butler and fought bravely at the bloody
battle of Monterrey.5
In December i849, Johnston became paymaster in the United States
Army and was assigned to the Texas frontier. From Fort Belknap and
Phantom Hill in the north to Forts Chadbourne and McKavett in the
west and south to Fort Croghan and his headquarters at Austin,
Johnston made the 62o-mile circuit six times a year in a mule-drawn
wagon, often cooking, eating, and sleeping under the open sky. Specie,
secured three times a year from New Orleans, required another round
trip of 1,1 oo miles.6
In March 1855, after five years of drudgery and boredom in the pay-
mastership, Johnston was appointed commander of the newly formed
' Ibid., 129-130.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 103, July 1999 - April, 2000, periodical, 2000; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101220/m1/510/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.