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JOSEPH EGGLESTON JOHNSTON (1807-1891)

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Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 475 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOSEPH EGGLESTON JOHNSTON (1807-1891), American Confederate general in the Civil War, was born near Farmville, Prince Edward county, Virginia, on the 3rd of February 1807. His father, Peter Johnston (1763-1841), a Virginian of Scottish descent, served in the War of Independence, and afterwards became a distinguished jurist; his mother was a niece of Patrick Henry. He graduated at West Point, in the same class with Robert E. Lee, and was made brevet second lieutenant, 4th Artillery, in 1829. He served in the Black Hawk and Seminole wars, and left the army in 1837 to become a civil engineer, but a year afterwards he was reappointed to the army as first lieutenant, Topographical Engineers, and breveted captain for his conduct in the Seminole war. During the Mexican war he was twice severely wounded in a reconnaissance at Cerro Gordo, 1847, was engaged in the siege of Vera Cruz, the battles of Contreras, Churubusco, and Molino del Rey, the storming of Chapultepec, and the assault on the city of Mexico, and received three brevets for gallant and meritorious service. From 1853 to 1855 he was employed on Western river improvements, and in 1855 he became lieut.-colonel of the 1st U.S. Cavalry. In 186o he was made quartermaster-general, with the rank of brigadier-general. In April 1861 he resigned from the United States army and entered the Confederate service. He was commissioned major-general of volunteers in the Army of Virginia, and assisted in organizing the volunteers. He was later appointed a general officer of the Confederacy, and assigned to the command of the Army of the Shenandoah, being opposed by the Federal army under Patterson. When McDowell advanced upon the Confederate forces under Beauregard at Manassas, Johnston moved from the Shenandoah Valley with great rapidity to Beauregard's assistance. As senior officer he took command on the field, and at Bull Run (Manassas) (q.v.) won the first important Confederate victory. In August 1861 he was made one of the five full generals of the Confederacy, remaining in command of the main army in Virginia. He commanded in the battle . of Fair Oaks (May 31, 1862), and was so severely wounded as to be incapacitated for several months. In March 1863, still troubled by his wound, he was assigned to the command of the south-west, and in May was ordered to take immediate command of all the Confederate forces in Mississippi, then threatened by Grant's movement on Vicksburg. When Pemberton's army was besieged in Vicksburg by Grant, Johnston used every effort to relieve it, but his force was inadequate. Later in 1863, when the battle of Chattanooga brought the Federals to the borders of Georgia, Johnston was assigned to command the Army of Tennessee at Dalton, and in the early days of May 1864 the combined armies of the North under Sherman advanced against his lines. For the main outlines of the famous campaign between Sherman and Johnston see AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (§ 29). From the 9th of May to the 17th of July there were skirmishes, actions and combats almost daily. The great numerical superiority of the Federals enabled Sherman to press back the Con-federates without a pitched battle, but the severity of the skirmishing may be judged from the casualties of the two armies (Sherman's about 26,000 men, Johnston's over 1o,000), and the obstinate steadiness of Johnston by the fact that his opponent hardly progressed more than one mile a day. But a Fabian policy is never acceptable to an eager people, and when Johnston had been driven back to Atlanta he was superseded by Hood with orders to fight a battle. The wisdom of Johnston's plan was soon abundantly clear, and the Confederate cause was already lost when Lee reinstated him on the 23rd of February 1865. With a handful of men he opposed Sherman's march through the Carolinas, and at Bentonville, N.C., fought and almost won a most gallant and skilful battle against heavy odds. But the Union troops steadily advanced, growing in strength as they went, and a few days after Lee's surrender at Cameroon and in the Niger delta, and he became in 1887 acting consul for that region. A British protectorate over the Niger delta had been notified in June 1885, and between the date of his appointment and 1888, together with the consul E. H. Hewett, Johnston laid the foundations of the British administration in that part of the delta not reserved for the Royal Niger Company. His action in removing the turbulent chief Ja-ja (an ex-slave who had risen to considerable power in the palm-oil trade) occasioned considerable criticism but was approved by the Foreign Office. It led to the complete pacification of a region long disturbed by trade disputes. During these three years of residence in the Gulf of Guinea Johnston ascended the Cameroon Mountain, and made large collections of the flora and fauna of Cameroon for the British Museum. In the spring of 1889 he was sent to Lisbon to negotiate an arrangement for the delimitation of the British and Portuguese spheres of influence in South-East Africa, but the scheme drawn up, though very like the later arrangement of those regions, was not given effect to at the time. On his return from Lisbon he was despatched to Mozambique as consul for Portuguese East Africa, and was further charged with a mission to Lake Nyasa to pacify that region, then in a disturbed state owing to the attacks of slave-trading Arabs on the stations of the African Lakes Trading Company—an unofficial war, in which Captain (after-wards Colonel Sir Frederick) Lugard and Mr (afterwards Sir Alfred) Sharpe distinguished themselves. Owing to the unexpected arrival on the scene of Major Serpa Pinto, Johnston was compelled to declare a British protectorate over the Nyasa region, being assisted in this work by John Buchanan (vice-consul), Sir Alfred Sharpe, Alfred Swann and others. A truce was arranged with the Arabs on Lake Nyasa, and within twelve months the British flag, by agreement with the natives, had been hoisted over a very large region which extended north of Lake Tanganyika to the vicinity of Uganda, to Katanga in the Congo Free State, the Shire Highlands and the central Zambezi. Johnston's scheme, in fact, was that known as the " Cape-to-Cairo," a phrase which he had brought into use in an article in The Times in August 1888. According to his arrangement there would have been an all-British route from Alexandria to Cape Town. But by the Anglo-German agreement of the 1st of July 1890 the British sphere north of Tanganyika was abandoned to Germany, and the Cape-to-Cairo route broken by a wedge of German territory. Johnston returned to British Central Africa as commissioner and consul-general in 1891, and retained that post till 1896, in which year he was made a K.C.B. His health having suffered much from African fever, he was transferred to Tunis as consul-general (1897). In the autumn of 1899 Sir Harry Johnston was despatched to Uganda as special commissioner to reorganize the administration of that protectorate after the suppression of the mutiny of the Sudanese soldiers and the long war with Unyoro. His two years' work in Uganda and a portion of what is now British East Africa were rewarded at the close of 1901 by a G.C.M.G. In the spring of the following year he retired from the consular service. After 1904 he interested himself greatly in the affairs of the Liberian republic, and negotiated various arrangements with that negro state by which order was brought into its finances, the frontier with France was delimited, and the development of the interior by means of roads was commenced. In 1903 he was defeated as Liberal candidate for parliament at a by-election at Rochester. He met with no better success at Nest Marylebone at the general election of 1906. For his services to zoology he was awarded the gold medal of the Zoological Society in 1902, and in the same year was made an honorary doctor of science at Cambridge. He received the gold medal of the Royal Geographical and the Royal Scottish Geographical societies, and other medals for his artistic work from South Kensington and the Society of Arts. His pictures, chiefly dealing with African subjects, were frequently exhibited at the Royal Academy. He was the author of numerous books on Africa, including British Central Africa (1897); The Colonization of Africa (1899) The Uganda Protectorate (1902); Liberia (1906); Appomattox Johnston advised President Davis that it was in his opinion wrong and useless to continue the conflict, and he was authorized to make terms with Sherman. The terms entered into between these generals, on the 18th of April, having been rejected by the United States government, another agreement was signed on the 26th of April, the new terms being similar to those of the surrender of Lee. After the close of the war Johnston engaged in civil pursuits. In 1874 he published a Narrative of Military Operations during the Civil War. In 1877 he was elected to represent the Richmond district of Virginia in Congress. In 1887 he was appointed by President Cleveland U.S. commissioner of railroads. Johnston was married in early life to Louisa (d. 1886), daughter of Louis M'Lane. He died at Washington, D.C., on the 21st of March 1891, leaving no children. It was not the good fortune of Johnston to acquire the prestige which so much assisted Lee and Jackson, nor indeed did he possess the power of enforcing his will on others in the same degree, but his methods were exact, his strategy calm and balanced, and, if he showed himself less daring than his comrades, he was unsurpassed in steadiness. The duel of Sherman and Johnston is almost as personal a contest between two great captains as were the campaigns of Turenne and Montecucculi. To Montecucculi, indeed, both in his military character and in the incidents of his career, Joseph Johnston bears a striking resemblance. See Hughes, General Johnston, in " Great Commanders Series " (1893).
End of Article: JOSEPH EGGLESTON JOHNSTON (1807-1891)
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