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Hamilton Johnston Knight McKinnon

A Tribute To Bill Johnston By Posey Hamilton, Pleasant Hill, Alabama.

When I joined the Confederate army, I found Bill Johnston a member of the same company-viz., Company D, 10th Confederate Cavalry Regiment. Thomas A. Knight was captain. Bill Johnston was then about thirty-five years old, of a sallow complexion, thin visaged, with an eagle gray eye. He did not appear to have good health, but was always ready for duty. I have been on duty with him in the most dangerous places, and I never saw him shirk or falter. I never saw a gamer or braver soldier. On one occasion there was a call for four volunteers to go on the firing line from our company. As soon as the call was made, he stepped out as game as any game cock ever went into a ppit. The manner and the brave spirit he manifested was so grand that I could not resist stepping out and taking my place beside him; We were the only volunteers. The others were detailed. The skirmish line was put under Lieutenant McKinnon, and we moved forward. We did not go far before we came in sight of the enemy's picket line. The undergrowth of timber was so thick we could not see far ahead, but Bill Johnston's eagle eye saw his man and threw his gun to his shoulder, and was pulling the trigger when our lieutenant called out: "Don't shoot." The Yank heard the order and lost no time in getting away. Old Bill was sure mad when not allowed to shoot. I never knew why our lieutenant did not allow him to shoot, unless the aim was to capture the picket. Well, that mistake of our lieutenant produced the wildest commotion in the Yankee camp-nothing short of a stampede of wagons, ambulances, artillery, and cavalry. You could hear them getting away for miles. The whole thing was panic stricken. If Bill Johnson had been allowed to fire his gun there would have been one less of the Yankee army, as he was taking deliberate aim at a distance of about 50 yards.

Bill Johnston died several years ago near Fort Deposit, Ala. He was one of the brave soldiers that Lowndes County furnished to the Confederacy. Rest to his soul!

SOURCE: Confederate Veteran Magazine, August, 1922.

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