Thursday, September 20, 2018

Whatever happened to Joshua O. Johns?

On April 9, 1865, Pvt. Joshua O. Johns rode into the village of Appomattox Court House. He was one of three Confederates on the grounds of the McLean home as Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. Johns held the horses, his, Lee's favorite mount Traveler, and that of Col. Charles Marshall, as the details were worked out. Following the surrender, Johns rode out of the village, and pretty much out of the pages of history. What happened to Johns after the war?

Joshua O. Johns was a member of Company C, 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry. His compiled service record from the National Archives is really short. It states he joined the Battalion on December 21, 1863, at Orange Court House. He was present in September and October 1864 and November and December 1864. On April 9, 1865, Johns was paroled at Appomattox Court House.

It appears that Joshua Johns was born in Mississippi, and then enlisted on July 11, 1861, at Camp Perkins, Virginia, in Company E, 8th Louisiana Infantry. He was present or accounted for (sometimes sick) until January-February 1862, when he was "Detailed as Courier for Genl. Jackson." In August 1863, that detail changed to "Courier for General Ewell." Johns was reported present in September-October 1863. Was he back with the 8th Louisiana Infantry? The next card in his file states that on December 11, 1863, he was  "Transferred... to Capt. Taylor Co. C. Bat of S. G., and C. [Scouts, Guides, and Couriers]". Who is Captain Taylor? Yet another card, this time stating that he was 23 years old when he enlisted, that he was born in Mississippi, and living near Winnsboro, Louisiana, adds that he was "Transferred to Richardsons Batt. of Cavalry Dec 1863." Johns was captured on May 2, 1863, sent to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D. C., and paroled in June 10, 1863. It also appears that when he was captured, he was also wounded - "Flesh R. side of scalp battle minie..." On the hospital card it sates "Rank: Courier, Co. For Stonewall Jackson." Many believe he was with Jackson the night he was wounded.

The grave of Joshua O. Johns in Mississippi? 
Looking at the 1860 US census, there is a Joshua Johns, age 22, living with the R. J. Pricket family in Franklin County, Louisiana.  This Johns was born in Mississippi, is unmarried, an overseer, and quite wealthy: $2,400  in real estate and $13,475 in his personal estate (probably a slave owner, but I've not researched that out yet).

Looking at the 1870 census, there is Joshua O. Johns, Franklin County, Louisiana. He is 26 years old, a farmer with $100 real estate and $369 in his personal estate, and he is now married to Susannah E., who is 27 years old.

In 1880, it appears that Johns has returned to Mississippi. He is (I believe) listed as living in Meadville, Franklin County, age 47, and married to Sousanna Johns. He is listed as J. O. Johns, and as a farmer. There is a black man living with them as a servant. (First name Harry?, last name Beal.) The 1880 census states he was born in Mississippi, his father was born in Alabama, and his mother was born in Mississippi.

Rooting around on ancestry (I don't usually trust ancestry), I find a Joshua Oliver Johns, born 1834 in Wilkinson, Mississippi. His mother was Rebecca Harriet Wilkinson and his father was James Johns. Joshua married Susannah E. McDaniel.

Looking at newspapers, there was a J. O. Johns appointed the first sheriff of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1891. (Hattiesburg American January 31, 1982.) As an aside, there was a decision rendered by the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1883 - J. O. Johns v. John McDaniel. It seems that Johns was leasing property from McDaniels (in Franklin County) since 1867 and was later kicked off that property. (Cases Argued and Decided in the Supreme Court of Mississippi, Vol. 60, page 486-7). (It also appears this case first started in 1872)

I lose track of Joshua O. Jones about 1890 - no 1890 census, and I can't not find him in the 1900 census, or beyond. I also do not see a pension application for him. There is a J. O. Johns buried in the Oaklawn Cemetery in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The stone has no dates, and I cannot find a wife nearby.

So did Joshua O. Johns, private, Company C, 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry return to Mississippi after the war, get married, and lease land in Franklin County? Did he marry Susannah McDaniel, and then get into a legal battle with a member of the McDaniel family? Did Johns lose his land and move to Hattiesburg where he became chief of police? Is he buried in Oaklawn Cemetery in Hattiesburg? Got any details you can add?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Who Rode with Lee at Appomattox?

Lee, Marshall, and Johns. 

   I'm not sure of the source of this scene that is floating around in my head. Maybe it is a painting, or some clip from a movie or show (Civil War Journal?). It shows General Lee at Appomattox, with an officer and courier in tow, leaving the McLean house. Lee we all recognize. But who were the others?

   The common story is that Lee was accompied by Col. Charles Marshall, of his staff, and Sgt. George W. Tucker, A. P. Hill's former chief of couriers. That is the way that Charles Marshall wrote the story many years after the war, and it is a story often repeated. Charles Marshall was present, and why shouldn't his account have credence? But maybe the years were catching up to Marshall when he wrote. There is no doubt that Lee was present, as was Marshall, but what about that courier?

   Marshall writes that "early on the morning of April 9, General Lee... directed me to come with him and go down on the Lynchburg road to meet General Grant... An orderly by the name of Tucker, a soldier from Maryland and one of the bravest men that ever fought,--he was with A. P. Hill when he was killed and brought Hill's horse off... accompanied us. The flag of truce was a white handkerchief, and Tucker road ahead of us carrying it." The three rode ahead, passing through the Confederate battle and skirmish lines. They eventually rode to the Federal skirmish line and halted. "As soon as Tucker was halted, General Lee directed me to go forward and seek the Federal commanding officer," Marshall wrote. For the next four paragraphs there is a discussion between Marshall and a couple of different Federal officers. After agreeing to a suspension of hostilities, Lee heard artillery, mounted, and rode  toward the sound of the guns. Arriving at the section of the lines where Fitz Lee was in command, Lee ordered them to cease firing.  Lee then retired to an apple orchard to await word from Grant. An hour later, word arrived that Grant was on his way. Marshall continues: "General Lee... at last called me and told me to get ready to go with him... I mounted my horse and we started off - General Lee, Colonel Babcock, Colonel Babcock's orderly, one of our orderlies, and myself." Notice that this time, Marshall does not use Tucker's name, simply, "one of our orderlies." (268)

   Freeman, in volume four of his biography of Lee, picks up this story. The party heading to see Grant is composed of Col. Walter Taylor, Charles Marshall, George Tucker, and Lee. This is based upon a letter that William H. Palmer wrote to Taylor on June 24, 1911. Palmer was on Hill's staff until the latter's death, and was now serving under Longstreet. (124)  Later that morning, while still waiting for word from Grant, Taylor was sent with a Federal Assistant Adjutant General with a message. When word arrived from Grant, according to Freeman, Lee, Marshall, and Tucker set off. (133, using Marshall as his reference.) Then, according to Freeman, Marshall and an orderly rode off to Appomattox to find a place suitable for a meeting. When the McLean house was selected, Marshall sent the orderly back to inform and guide Lee. (134) Eventually, Grant showed up, and the terms were worked out.

   Then Freeman turned to an account by George A. Forsyth, a Federal general and witness to the proceedings at Appomattox, who published his account in April 1898. Forsyth recalled seeing "a soldierly looking orderly in a tattered gray uniform, holding three horses..." (708) Eventually, Lee emerged from the McLean parlor. According to Forsyth, Lee, not seeing his horse, called out "Orderly! Orderly! "Here, General, here," was the quick response. The alert young soldier was holding the General's horse near the side of the house..." (710)  Forsyth never mentions the name of the "orderly," or courier.
McLean House 

   Was it Sgt. George W. Tucker? Probably not, or, probably not by the time they arrived at the court house. On April 14, 1865, the New York Daily Herald  ran an account of the surrender proceedings. This account was written and published thirty years before the others. According to this account, "General Lee was accompanied only by Colonel Marshall... at present an aid-de-camp on his staff, and Orderly Johns, who has served him in that capacity for fourteen months." There is only one member of the 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry with the last name of Johns: Joshua O. Johns.  While he did not officially join the 39th Battalion Virginia Cavalry until December 1863, he was reportedly with Jackson, and wounded by the same volley that mortally wounded the General on May 3, 1863, at Chancellorsville. He also surrendered at Appomattox. Lewis B. Ellis, also a member of the 39th Battalion, wrote another account in 1876. In his article, Ellis is refuting the idea that Lee surrendered under an apple tree. Instead, Lee was in the apple orchard awaiting word from Grant. When word arrived, Lee "called for his horse, and attended by Col. W. H. Taylor and Special Courier Johns, rode away in the direction of Appomattox Court house. He returned in about two hours and told us he had surrendered. I was a courier on duty with him at the time." (The Coffeyville Weekly Journal March 11, 1876)

   My two cents’ worth on who rode with Lee: When the group started off the first time on the morning of April 9, 1865, the party consisted of Lee, Marshall, and Tucker. At some point after returning from the first attempt to meet Grant, Tucker is ordered away. On setting out a second time, Tucker is not present, and Johns carries the white flag through the lines. Marshall mentions Tucker by name in the first attempt, but does not in the second ride to Appomattox. We know that other officers were present, like Colonel Taylor, at various times, and it is likely that other couriers were milling around.

Sources: Maurice,  An Aide-De-Camp of Lee (The writings of Charles Marshall. The Appomattox piece was originally published in 1894)
Freeman, R. E. Lee, Volume 4 (1935)
Forsyth, Harper's Magazine, Volume 96, 1898
New York Daily Herald   April 14, 1865
The Coffeyville Weekly Journal March 11, 1876

Monday, September 10, 2018

Stonewall Jackson's Requiem

Attending church services was one of the activities Confederate soldiers could choose to break the monotony of their day-to-day lives. At the peak of the revivals in the Army of Northern Virginia (and to an extent, the Army of Tennessee), soldiers could attend services almost every evening (and probably twice on Sunday).  There were never enough chaplains or colporteurs to meet the needs of the soldiers. Truly, the harvest was great, and the workers few.

Not long ago, I began wondering what messages were being delivered about the time of Stonewall Jackson's mortal wounding. He was mistakenly shot by his own troops during the night of May 2, 1863. As the army was fighting the battle of Chancellorsville on May 3, there were no church services held in Confederate camps. Many of the chaplains were busy at various field hospitals. The next church service was held on May 10. We, of course, know that Jackson only had hours to live.

J. K. Hitner, a member of the Rockbridge Artillery, wrote a "Brief Compend[ium] of the Religious History of the Rockbridge Artillery." It appeared in Jones's Christ in the Camp: "It was the first quiet Sabbath after the battles [Chancellorsville and Second Fredericksburg]--Sabbath, May 10. The services were conducted by Rev. B. T. Lacy, who preached from the text, "All things work together for good to those that love God," etc.: Rom. viii. The attendance was very large--between 2,500 and 3,000--consisting of privates and officers of all grades, from General Lee down. I never witnessed such thoughtfulness and seriousness depicted on the face of any auditors. The preacher stated this was General Jackson's favorite text--then unfolded the doctrine and the peculiar comfort to be derived from it by those who were truly children of God. At the same time, the condition of General Jackson was very critical, and the men seemed to feel that much depended on his recovery. At the conclusion of the sermon, Mr. Lacy stated that it might be God's will to spare his life in answer to our prayers, and called upon all to join him in an earnest petition to the throne of grace that God would be pleased to spare him to us. I heard many broken utterances and ejaculations during the prayer, and some declared they tried to pray then, while they thought they had never tried to pray in earnest before. Deep and solemn earnestness appeared written on every countenance. At the conclusion, an impressive pause followed; then the preacher said a few words in application of the text--that if would be all for the best, whatever God would determine in reference to the event; and then the crowd quietly dispersed to their camps, ever to retain in their memories this impressive proceeding." (484)

Lexington Presbyterian Church
Jones adds that once the service concluded, Lee and Lacy met privately about Jackson's condition. Lacy had left Jackson's deathbed to lead the service. Lee inquired about Jackson's condition, and being told that Jackson would probably not live through the day, Lee exclaimed, "Oh! sir, he must not die. Surely God will not visit us with such a calamity. If I have ever prayed in my life I have pleaded with the Lord that Jackson might be spared to us." "And then his heart swelled with emotion too deep for utterance, and he turned away to weep like a child." (75-76)

Jedediah Hotchkiss, Jackson's topographical engineer, makes mention of the sermon in his diary, but did not seem to be present. However, he did attend service the following Sunday. Lacy was again present, and "preached the funeral sermon for General Jackson." Lacy's sermon was based on 2 Timothy 4:7-8: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." Hotchkiss goes on to add: "The audience was large, but it looked strange not to see the earnest face of General Jackson there..."(Make me a Map of the Valley, 144, 146)

Francis Kennedy, chaplain of the 28th North Carolina Troops, also preached both on May 10 and May 17. Members of Lane's brigade, to which Kennedy belonged, had been the troops who mistakenly mortally wounded their beloved Stonewall Jackson. The pain they felt was undoubtedly as great as that expressed by Lee. On May 10, Kennedy selected Psalms 103:2 as his text: " Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:" The following Sunday, May 17th, he selected Ecclesiastes 8:11: "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Unfortunately, Kennedy, a Methodist, does not elaborate upon the passages.

Last Tribute of Respect - Mort Kunstler
Turning toward Jackson's "official" funerals, we can examine the passages used at services where Jackson's remains were present. At a private service inside the Virginia Governor's mansion on May 13, the Rev. Thomas V. Moore, pastor of Richmond's First Presbyterian Church, used Isaiah 2:22: "Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" (Robertson, Stonewall Jackson, 758) Jackson's funeral train was soon on its way to the Shenandoah Valley. That evening, the train stopped in Lynchburg and a service was held in the First Presbyterian Church. Dr. James B. Ramsey officiated, and Miss Massey sang "Come, Ye Desolate." (Robertson, Stonewall Jackson, 759) On Thursday, the party boarded a canal boat and began traveling toward Lexington. On arriving, Jackson's remains were transported to the Virginia Military Institute and placed in his old classroom. On May 15, Jackson was taken to the Presbyterian Church, where Dr. William S. White preached on I Corinthians 15:26: "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." (Robertson, Stonewall Jackson, 761) Then, White read a letter that Jackson had written to him on the death of his son, killed fighting at Second Manassas: "The death of your noble son and my much esteemed friend... must have been a severe blow to you, yet we have the sweet assurance that, whilst we mourn his loss to the country, to the church, and to ourselves, all has been gained for him... That inconceivable glory to which we are looking forward is already his..." (Chambers, Stonewall Jackson, 2:457)

There are undoubtedly other passages used by other chaplains in the army. It would also be interesting to see what passages pastors of churches across the South were using on May 17. Did they mention the death of Jackson? Always something more to research....

(All Scripture passages used come from the Authorized Version[sometimes referred to as the King James Version].)