A Civil War Biography

Bushrod Rust Johnson

Johnson was born 7 October 1817 in Belmont County, Ohio. He graduated 23rd in the West Point class of 1840 and fought in the Seminole and the Mexican wars. He resigned from the army in 1847 to teach, first at the Western Military Institute in Georgetown, Kentucky then at the University of Nashville.

Although Ohio born Johnson sided with Tennessee. He first joined the Confederate cause as a colonel of engineers being assigned 28 June 1861 as chief engineer of the Provisional Army of Tennessee. On 24 January 1861 he was commissioned a brigadier general in the Confederate army.

Following the surrender of Fort Henry on 6 February 1862 Johnson was sent to reinforce Fort Donelson. Upon his arrival on 7 February he took command of the fort. Donelson would have several commanders in the following days before being surrendered on 16 February, nine days after Johnson arrived. Johnson remained in command only until the arrival of Gideon J. Pillow on 9 February. Pillow would command the fort only until John B. Floyd took command on the 13th. With Union forces commanded by Ulysses S. Grant preparing to assault the fort, Floyd turned command back to Pillow on the 15th. Pillow, also not wishing to be responsible for surrendering the fort turned command over to Simon B. Buckner on the 16th. Buckner surrendered the fort. Johnson, although surrendered with his division, slipped through enemy lines and was wounded while commanding the 1st brigade in Benjamin F. Cheatam's division at Shiloh.

Johnson rejoined the army for the Kentucky campaign and commanded the 3rd brigade in Patrick R. Cleburne's division at Perryville and Murfreesboro. Johnson commanded a division in John Bell Hood's Corps at Chickamauga spearheading the breakthrough of the Union line. Johnson commanded Buckner's division attached to James Longstreet's Corps at Knoxville. When Longstreet returned east in the spring of 1864 Johnson went too. He was promoted to major general on 21 May 1864. He commanded a division at Bermuda Hundred fighting at Drewry's Bluff then his division was part of the early defenses at Petersburg. When Pennsylvania miners set off the mine under the Confederate lines on 30 July 1864 it was part of Johnson's command that was blown up. During the retreat to Appomattox his division was badly cut up at Sayler's Creek and Johnson was relieved two days later. He was still with the army when it was surrendered the following day.

Following the war Johnson became chancellor of the University of Nashville but funding problems caused the school to close. Johnson relocated to Brighten, Illinois and farmed until he died 12 September 1880.

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