…a connection to Bay St. Louis
The first bearer of the name Albert Sidney Johnston is well known to Civil War historians. He was a highly respected Confederate general who lost his life while leading his army at the battle of Shiloh. It was early in the war, April 6, 1862.
General Johnston had some connections with New Orleans, which became his burial place for the duration of the war. Also, his descendants became important and honored citizens of Louisiana. It has now surfaced that his great grandson apparently lived in Hancock County and practiced law in Bay St. Louis.
Probate records, again a source of information
In the probate records of 1926, file #2868 (Docket 4, p. 359), there are two documents. One is a statement by Albert Sidney Johnston, Jr. to the effect that he had passed the bar and was applying for admission to practice in Mississippi. It was further stated that he was a resident of Bay St. Louis. The other document evidences his admission by the Chancery Court.
General Johnston had a grown son at the time of the war. He was William Preston Johnston, a Confederate colonel and a confidential aide to President Jefferson Davis.
He graduated from Yale in 1852 and then studied law at the University of Louisville. Besides practicing law in Louisville, Johnston was a published poet and became an educator. He taught at Washington and Lee, where he wrote a biography of his father, and chaired the history department from 1867 to 1877. That appointment had been offered by Robert E. Lee.
In 1880, William Preston Johnston became president of LSU in Baton Rouge. Three years later, he became president of Tulane University and remained in that office for 15 years. Over time, he wrote several volumes of poetry. In addition, he served on the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian.
He was married twice, the second wife being Margaret Avery of Louisiana. By his first wife, Rosa Duncan of Natchez, he had six children, and named one son Albert Sidney. The latter died in 1885.
It is presumed that the Bay St. Louis lawyer was the son of the one who died it 1885. With more research, and the help of any who have information about this family, it is hoped that more of a biography can be pieced together of this resident with such an illustrious ancestry.
Death and burial of the General
Other information about the death and burial of General Johnston are not directly related to the presence of Albert, Jr. in Bay St. Louis. Nevertheless, it is such interesting history that it is good to retell it at this point. Moreover, the involvement with New Orleans is fascinating.
The news of his death was narrated in a dispatch, possibly written by his son. It read: “General Johnston fell yesterday, at half-past two o’clock, while leading a successful charge, turning the enemy’s right, and gaining a brilliant victory. A Minie-ball cut the artery of his leg, but he rode on until, from loss of blood, he fell exhausted, and died without pain in a few moments. His body has been entrusted to me by General Beauregard, to be taken to New Orleans, and remain until instructions are received from his family.”
Only days afterward, New Orleans fell when Farragut came up the Mississippi River past the forts that had defended the city. Almost immediately, the city became a Union occupation, and as a result, the general’s body remained in St. Louis cemetery until after the war.
Meanwhile, Texas had claimed his remains, and so on January 23, 1867 a large group of admirers witnessed the disinterment. The New Orleans Picayune reported, “No stranger could have supposed that the plainly-attired pall-bearers who walked beside the hearse were generals high in rank and in reputation….There was Beauregard, the favorite son of Louisiana, who immediately succeeded him in command of the army; there was Bragg, his energetic and indefatigable chief of staff; there was Buckner, who so gallantly fulfilled the chieftain’s orders by the heroic but fruitless defense at Donelson.”
An enormous crowd followed in procession, some mourners in carriages, others on foot. The Picayune continued, “The route taken was down Conti Street to Rampart, up Rampart to Canal, up Canal to Chartres, down Chartres to St. Peter, and thence to the ferry boat….Upon arrival of the remains at Algiers they were placed by the pall-bearers in the ladies’ parlor of the depot building of the Opelousas Railroad.” From there, the body went by rail to Brashear City (now called Morgan City), and then by steamer to Galveston.
Other generals served as pall-bearers beside those previously mentioned. These were John Bell Hood, Richard Taylor, James Longstreet, Randall Lee Gibson, and Harry Hays.