When the deliberations of Congress were suspended on January 9, 1915, for the reading of memorial resolutions, many tributes were paid to the late Senator Joseph F. Johnston, of Alabama, whose "high and lofty ideals of duties and responsibilities" made his life that of an honorable and patriotic statesman.
Joseph Forney Johnston, the eleventh of twelve children, was born in Lincoln County, N. C., and was reared in his father's farm, near Charlotte. His forefathers, of sturdy Scotch stock, were among the pioneers of the State while it was yet a colony. Two of his kinsmen served as Governors of North Carolina-one, Gabriel Johnston, before the Revolutionary War, and the other, Samuel Johnson, during the war. Both of his grandfathers served with distinguished gallantry as colonels of militia in the war for independence.
With such an ancestry it is not strange that when the South took up arms in behalf of her independence he and his four brothers, Gen. Robert D., William H., Capt. James F., and Bartlett F., entered the Confederate service and were loyal and gallant soldiers. At the beginning of the war Joseph Johnston was living in Alabama, a boy in school. At the age of eighteen he enlisted in Company I, 18th Alabama Regiment, and as a soldier he was noted for his cheerfulness in the endurance of hardhips, for his soldierly bearing and manly conduct, and for his courage and coolness in battle. In the battle of Spottsylvania his gallantry was such as to attract the personal attention of Gen. R. E. Lee, who observed him, by the side of another young officer, dash forward in advance of their command to capture a flag posted on the breastworks of the enemy. It was an inspiring scene. They were so evenly matched in the race that it could not be told which would win the race. Just as they were reaching out to seize the flag one of the officers fell stricken by the bullet of the enemy-the gallant Johnston. His gallantry was so conspicuous on this occasion that General Lee made special mention of it in complimenting his command for its part in this battle.
Captain Johnston was wounded five times during the war. In the fighting near Winchester a fragment of shell passed entirely through his chest, so seriously wounding him that he made his way with great difficulty to his home in North Carolina, where he finally recovered and rejoined his command before the close of the war.
Returning to the State of his adoption, during the terrible days of reconstruction "he guided his people through the wilderness of woes and helped to bring them safely back to their rights and to restore their hopes. He helped to preserve their priceless honor, the sacred homes, and to restore their liberties." His State rewarded him with "the highest gifts she could bestow, and as Governor and Senator he gave Alabama the service of a devoted son. When the history of the great men of Alabama is written, his name will be recorded there.
SOURCE: Confederate Veteran Magazine, June, 1915.
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