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The following represents a sample report from a Full Investigative Search involving Civil War General Richard W. Johnson.  Due to the amount of public information available on this individual, this report is considerably longer that that of an average person not in the public eye . . .


A Genealogical and Historical Study

Major General R. W. Johnson, U.S.A.

(1827 - 1897)

© 2003-2006 Family Research Library - All Rights Reserved

Gen. R.W. Johnson, photograph 1889

Maj. Gen. R. W. Johnson
St. Paul, Minn. (1890)

Richard Johnson was born "near the mouth of the Cumberland River" in Livingston Co., Kentucky, 7 Feb 1827, the son of Dr. James Johnson and Louisa Luna Bingham. [1]   He died of pneumonia, 21 Apr 1897, at the Hotel Metropolitan in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota, at 70 years of age. [2]   His body is interned at Oakland Cemetery of that city. 

The family lived near Smithland, Kentucky, the county seat of Livingston County, where the Cumberland River meets the Ohio.  Richard was only 10 when both parents died in 1837, and he went to live with his older, half-brother, Dr. John Milton Johnson.  Doctor Johnson was about 25 at the time and newly-married to the former Elizabeth P. Earle. He was active politically, served in the Kentucky Senate, and was later instrumental in obtaining Richard's appointment to West Point.

Richard received an appointed to the United States Military Academy at West Point in March 1844.  He was nominated by the Hon. Willis Green, 2nd Congressional District for Kentucky, on 4 March 1844, upon the written recommendation of four State Senators and nine Representatives, dated January 25, 1844. Richard was an unremarkable student at West Point and was set back his first term due to deficiencies in mathematics.  He graduated 30th in a class of 43 on 23 Jun 1849. [3]

He went by name of "Richard" until 1848 at West Point, after which he preferred to be called "R. W."  All records reflect the name of Richard Johnson until that time, when class records at West Point begin to reflect the middle initial "W."[4] His son, Major Richard Woodhouse Johnson, writing in 1929 to Gen. C. D. Rhodes of the Army Navy Club, Washington, D.C., states that the "W" in General Johnson's name was strictly an initial and stood for no middle name.  Major Johnson states his father once told him he started using it at West Point because he though it sounded better.  Indeed, most references to General Johnson use his initials "R. W." which appeared more comfortable to him.  His admission papers to the Military Academy at West Point are without the "W," as is his signature.  It is not until the midterm of 1848that the initial "W" first appears on their records. [5] 

After graduation, he served as company commander of the 6th Infantry, Company C, 1 Jul 1849, and served on frontier duty at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota,[6]the same year that Minnesota became a part of the Northwest Territories of the United States.  It was here on the frontier that a lonely, young lieutenant first met the Steele girls.

He eventually married Rachael Elizabeth Steele; with ceremonies conducted in the parlor of the Sibley house of St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota, on 30 Oct 1850. [7]   Rachael was born in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania about 1826,[8]the sister of Franklin Steele, one of the early settlers of Minnesota and famous sutler of Ft. Snelling, and sister-in-law to General H. H. Sibley, the first governor of Minnesota. Her father was a residence of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and died there before the family moved to Minnesota.  Her mother died in St. Paul in 1863 at 84 years of age.

Thirteen days after his marriage to Rachael, the young soldier was sent south to Texas.  With the exception of short family visits, it would be fifteen years before he returned to Minnesota.  He left Rachael in St. Paul, but she soon joined him as he served at San Antonio, Bexar Co., Texas, 11 Nov 1850, [9] assigned to Fort Duncan, Texas.  He escorted recruits, traveling via Kentucky by boat to New Orleans, and from there aboard the steamer "Galveston" for Indianola, Texas.  He was assigned between Ft. Terrett and Ft. Duncan, Texas from 1852-53; and as Adjutant to the 1st Infantry, 3 March 1853 to 3 March 1855.

About March 1853, Rachael gave birth to a son, Alfred Bainbridge Johnson in Texas, "near the headwaters of the Llano River.  Johnson reached the fort by march from San Antonio."  Alfred would later become a Captain in the U.S. Army. [10]

Richard and Rachael's second child was named after his father, Richard Woodhouse Johnson, Jr.  He was born in Texas, about 1855, and would later become a physician and a Major in the U.S. Army. [11] 

Johnson was reassigned to Jefferson Barracks, Missouri, 3 Mar 1855, [12] as Quartermaster to the 2nd Cavalry.  At Ft. Mason, Texas, 27 Sep 1855, [13] Robert E. Lee (later the Commanding General of the Confederate Armies) served as second in command of his regiment and they became good friends. [14]   The regiment arrived on 27 December 1855, its primary duty being to patrol the Concho River area for renegade Comanche Indians.  Scouting against the Comanche's, Johnson engaged them in a skirmish on the Rio Concho River, 22 December 1856. He was assigned to Camp Colorado, Texas, 1856-57, and scouting at Ft. Mason, 1857-58.

R. W. was promoted to captain and assigned as company commander of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, Co. F, at Ft. Belknap, Young Co., Texas, 31 Sep 1856. [15]  The Company was transferred from Ft. Belknap to Ft. Mason and back again.  On 19 Sep 1858, they were assigned patrol duty in the Wichita Mountains, and on October 1st took part in the Wichita Village Battle with the Comanche in the Indian Territories. He served 1858-59 at Camp Radziminski, Texas and again at Ft. Mason from 1859-60. 

It appears at some point Rachael, his wife, returned to St. Paul, for she was there when she gave birth to Henry Sibley "Harry" Johnson about December 1859, while R. W. was still assigned to duties in Texas. [16]

Johnson's troops were engaged in the surprise of an Indian camp near Brady Creek, Texas, 13 February 1860. [17]

R. W. was assigned as a company commander at Ft. Belknap, Young Co., Texas during 1861. [18]  It was here he had a series of personal debates with Robert E. Lee, concerning an officer's responsibilities and loyalty to the United States and whether one or both of them would remain loyal to the Union.  Those conversations are recorded in his own work as well as a later publication by Burke Davis. [19]When Lee left the regiment for Virginia, Johnson assumed command of two companies of cavalry and the Regimental Band. Under orders, he abandoned Ft. Belknap for Indianola.  As soon as the Union forces left the fort, it was burned, and Johnson writes that he believed it was burned by his own men in order to keep it out of Confederate hands. Upon arrival at Indianola, they were ordered to New York City, via Havana; from there to Carlisle Barracks and then to Washington, D.C., in defense of the city.

The family returned to Kentucky where they stayed in Louisville for a short period.  By Act of Congress, the 2nd Cavalry had become the 5th Cavalry and due to the unrest within the city, the entire Johnson family removed from Louisville, to the Jones Hotel in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. [20]

He was assigned to guarding the Upper Potomac, 17 April to 1 September 1861, being engaged in the action of Falling Waters, Virginia on 2 July 1861.  In Washington during August of 1861, R. W. received an appointment to the Kentucky Volunteers and a released from the Regular Army.  But it did not come easily.  As Johnson later tells it, he met with the Honorable James S. Jackson, who had been commissioned to establish the Kentucky Volunteers.  During this meeting, R. W. was offered command and a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel in the Kentucky Volunteers.  But the Regular Army was desperate for seasoned officers; many having already resigned their commissions to join the Confederate Army, others to join the various State Volunteers with promotion.  Thus it was that the Adjutant General of the United States, George H. Thomas refused Johnson's leave of absence from the regular army, and upon reporting back to Mr. Jackson, a meeting with President Lincoln was arranged:

 "At the designated hour I was on hand, and soon we were ushered into the presence of the President.  Jackson stated the case, and Mr. Lincoln said, 'Come up in the morning at ten o'clock, and I will go over with you to see Mr. Thomas.'  But I said, 'Mr. President, I have seen him, and he objects on the grounds that so many regular officers are leaving their commands that it will break up the army.'  'Well, well,' said Mr. Lincoln, ' we will go to see him any way.'  Promptly at ten o'clock we were again at the Executive Mansion.  As I approached the President he extended his hand and said, 'Good-morning, my Confederate friend.'  For a moment I wondered why he had addressed me as his Confederate friend, but soon learned that as Kentucky was balancing between the United States and the Confederacy, and as both of us hailed from that State, we were naturally 'Confederate friends.'  We proceeded at once to General Thomas's office, where the President became spokesman.  He said, 'General Thomas, I would like to have a leave of absence granted to my Confederate friend, Captain Johnson, to enable him to accept the position of lieutenant-colonel of a Kentucky cavalry regiment.'  'It cannot be done,' said Thomas.  'But,' said Mr. Lincoln, straightening himself up until he looked to be fifteen feet high, 'I have not come over to discuss this question with you, General Thomas, but to order you to give the necessary instructions.'"

   In less than an hour, Johnson had his orders and was making arrangements to return to Kentucky. He reported to Louisville and commanded the "home guards," establishing camp 35 miles south of Louisville at Lebanon Junction.  He was shortly ordered to proceed to Owensboro to Jackson's 3 rd Kentucky Cavalry. [21]

He received news of his nomination as a flag officer while in Harrisburg, Dauphin Co., Pennsylvania, 11 Oct 1861. [22]  He had returned to Harrisburg to move the family back to Kentucky.  While there, he was informed by General Sheridan that he had been recommended for promotion to Brigadier General.  The promotion was effective 11 October 1861, and he accepted the commission on 14 October.  Johnson asked for, and received the appointment of Henry Clay, grandson of the immortal Statesman, as his Assistant Adjutant General and Captain.  The Johnson and Clay families had been and remained friends for many years.  He reported to Gen. Sherman in Louisville, commanding the 6th Brigade, made up of the 15th and 49th Ohio Volunteers and the 32nd and 39th Indiana Volunteers.

He commanded the 14th U.S. Corps on 26 Dec 1861, at the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the 14th Corps, 2nd Division, at the Battle of Stone River, Murfreesboro, Tennessee.  His command was composed of: 1st Brigade - 49th Ohio, 15th Ohio, 39th Indiana; 32nd Indiana, 89th Illinois, and Goodspeed's 1st Ohio Battery; 2nd Brigade - 38th Indiana, 29th Indiana, 77th Pennsylvania, 79th Illinois, 34th Illinois, and Edgarton's Battery, 1st Ohio Artillery; 3 rd Brigade - 6th Indiana, 5th Kentucky (Louisville Legion); 1st Ohio, 93 rd Ohio, and Simonson's Indiana Battery. [23]

Contrary to some reports, Johnson was not present during the Battle of Shiloh . [24] Sherman had been replaced by General Buehl and the Army headed south.  According to General Johnson's own account, when they reached Columbia, he was hit with a violent attack of typhoid pneumonia and was forced to return to Louisville for treatment and rest. The Battle of Shiloh was fought on April 6th and 7th , while Johnson was still bedridden.  When he heard the news of the battle on April 10th , although still ill, he immediately boarded a steamer for Pittsfield Landing, arriving on 14 Apr 1862.

General Johnson was captured and taken prisoner near Gallatin, Tennessee, on 22 Aug 1862, by Confederate forces under the command of General Morgan. [25] He was paroled and later released in a prisoner exchange, 22 Dec 1862. [26]

He commanded at the Battle of Chickamauga on 19 Sep 1863, [27] and later at Missionary Ridge, November 1863, [28] where he commanded the 14th Corps, 1st Division during the Battle of Chattanooga.

He wrote to his wife, Rachael on 7 Dec 1863 from Chattanooga, Hamilton Co., Tennessee. [29] 

Chattanooga, Tenn. Dec. 7, 1863

  My dear Wife           

  Yesterday I devoted to an inspection of the Hospitals containing the wounded men of my Division, wounded in the late battle.  I have three - 2 churches & one Hotel.

      The Churches contain the wounded and the Hotel the ordinary sick.  To see and really know what war is, it is necessary to visit an Hospital - Poor fellows away from home and friends, many lingering between life and death, with none of the comforts - under the influence of which many might recover, is truly a sight calculated to melt the hardest heart, yet they seem cheerful.  I spoke with each one, and said a cheering word to each of them.  Oh the horrible wounds!  -In all parts of the body, some with legs off, others with arms off, while others wounded thro' the chest and their sands fast passing away -- Duty only could call me to such a place.

     I enclose $1.00 for each of the boys for Christmas.  I would recommend some other kind of investment in lieu of white rabbits!

      By the way how many of these little animals have they got now?-

      Long 'ere this you have received my dispatch to you announcing our victories and my safety.  It was my wish to be ahead of the papers so that should any report get put again that I had been killed you could contradict it yourself. [30] I have written nearly every day since the battle and I suppose my first letter has reached you.

      Yesterday, again, the mail failed us and I am without my expected letters from you.  Gen. VanCleve has arrived and taken command of Murfreesboro.  I have not seen him.  To assign him to the command of that place retires him, virtually, from command. Poor old fellow he is too old to be in the field tho' his good lady thinks there is no body like "the General."

      Maj. Genl. Negley came on to Nashville with me and telegraphed to Genl. Thomas to know where his command was -- To this Genl. Thomas replied "you cannot have a command under me until your conduct at Chickamauga has been fully investigated" -- Negley is one of Rosecrans' appointments as MajGeneral.

      Probably it would have been better to have appointed some one else.  I understand that there are no vacancies among the MajGenls unless Congress increases the number -- If this be true, my chances would seem quite slim, but possibly it will come some day.  I am informed that I am promoted to be Lt. Col. in the regular Cavalry -- If I am not, I cannot be far from it. I do not remember to have told you that McArthur has been placed on the retired list. The only reason must be his utter worthlessness -- He has done nothing during the war -- has not been in a single battle -- yet I suppose he thinks he has been badly treated by being retired on half pay -

      In my last I sent you a check for $100.  Don't forget to acknowledge its receipt -- Have you heard anything definite about the marriage of Gassie?  Putnam came to see me the other day and I think he has heard something about it, as he seemed to be well posted on St Paul gossip and news generally.  You must always give my love to all the Kin.

      Tell Sarah that Richard is the name.

      With oceans of love to you and boys.  I am your devoted husband

R. W. Johnson


  On 28 May 1864, during the Battle of New Hope Church, Georgia, [31] General Johnson was wounded by a spent, 12-pound artillery shell just over the liver, and was relieved from duty. Amazingly, he recovered from his wounds and returned to duty on 18 Jul 1864, just in time for the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain. For a short time after the resignation of General Palmer, he assumed command of the 14th Corps.  Sherman ordered him to Nashville as the Chief of Cavalry of the Military Division of the Mississippi to "superintend the equipping and forwarding of all cavalry . . ." until October, when he assumed command of a Cavalry Division at Pulaski, under General J. H. Wilson, in the campaign against Confederate General J. B. Hood, which culminated with the Battle of Nashville.

He wrote another letter to his wife, Rachael on 25 Jul 1864 from Chattanooga, Tennessee. [32] 


Chattanooga, Tenn.  July 25, 1864

My dear Wife           

Last night I made up my mind to go to church, but the bell began to ring before sundown and by the time I was through my tea the sermon was nearly over.  As long as we remain here we are to have preaching every Sunday so now I will have no excuse but will, if blessed with health, be found a regular attendant.

I was astonished to find that Starling would not go, for he seems to be a very pious, good man.  He says he always hears the same thing which makes him mad, and therefore he will not attend, in the Army.

McClelland's long looked for report is now being published in some of the papers and he is making friends every day.  I expect Abraham will find a "foeman worthy of his steel" in the next election.  My opinion is that we must elect him in order to save this country. While I have unbounded confidence in the honesty and integrity of Mr. Lincoln I believe he is subject to bad influences and is governed by tricky politicians.  Let us then change our programme and try a new man for four years.

This state is ready to return to the Union but some how she is prevented from doing so as the conditions of her return are that she must come in a free state and forever dispense with slavery. The people have not progressed sufficiently for that, and it will be some time before they will consent to give up their negroes. The strength of the rebellion is crushed and all that is wanting to restore peace is a conservative course on the part of the Administration. Of the latter, I have given up all hope, and my prayer now is, for a change of Administration and then the "broad stripes and bright stars" will wave over a happy people - a free persons government will again be ours - Under the present rule we are becoming more and more in debt and I see nothing ahead of us except utter ruin -

You make no mention of having received the Enquirer which I directed to be sent to you.  It is a strange paper for one to take to praise up a Federal officer, but some kind of friend complimented me very highly in it.

I wrote to the paper and asked the proprietor to send you the copy of Dec. 18.-- Have you received it?-- The train is coming and I will stop and await the opportunity of hearing from you possibly several letters will be my share.

I have rec. and read yours of the 15th in which the painful accident to Alfred is given - Oh how sorry I am that he should this have to suffer yet how much better than to have lost him.  You will have to nurse him well and it will be a long time before he will be able to use it.

His young bone will soon unite but time only will strengthen it.  I will treasure up his book mark.  I am glad he suffers so little - Kiss him for me and with oceans of love I am truely thine own.

R. W.Johnson


The General commanded on 15-16 Dec 1864, at the Battle of Nashville. [33]   After the first night of battle, he stayed in the house of Mrs. Bass, on the extreme right side of the line, and pushed the Confederates back eight miles.  The next day, they pushed into the town of Franklin, the first Division to reach Franklin. This claim is disputed by other accounts and claims by other units.  However, Johnson's units were closest and moving fast and it appears highly likely that they were indeed the first to enter Franklin.  Johnson stayed in Pulaski as commander of the district known as Middle Tennessee, with offices and quarters in the house of Mr. Jones, an attorney and a member of the Confederate States Congress. He was transferred to Murfreesboro on 1 Jul 1864, arriving on July 3 rd where he served as Provost Marshall on General Thomas' staff and shortly afterward as Judge Advocate General under Thomas. He was brevetted a Brigadier General in the regular army and a Major General in the volunteers.

He was released from active duty in Kentucky, 15 Jan 1866. [34]   Johnson was mustered out of volunteer service as a Brigadier General and reverted to the rank of Major in the regular Army.

He applied for a pension due to his wounds, was brevetted Major General for "gallant and meritorious service," in the regular army, and retired 11 Oct 1867, under disability for wounds received in battle.  Eight years later, his pension was reduced to that of a Brigadier General by Act of Congress.

R. W. was ordered by the Secretary of War back to duty as Military Professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Boone Co., Missouri, in November 1867 . [35]  This was during a period after the initial establishment of the Land Grant Universities by the Congress; one requirement being to establish a course in Military Science, which exists at these schools today as R.O.T.C.  Johnson resigned his position in June 1869 due to the lack of interest shown by the University and its president.  The family moved back to Minnesota, where he was asked to serve as the Professor of Military Science at the State University, St. Paul, which had become his adopted home. He held this position for a short period before stating that he was not cut out to be a teacher, and he subsequently retired to private life in 1871.

Although a native of Kentucky, he dearly loved his adopted home of Minnesota.   He served as a county commissioner and was one of the Winter Carnival's fir Fire Kings.

R. W. formally retired from the military in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota, 3 Mar 1875. [36]  He was honored when the state celebrated the bicentennial of Father Louis Hennepin's discovery of St. Anthony, Minnesota, on the Fourth of July, 1880.  Together on that day were General Johnson, Governor John S. Pillsbury, Alexander Ramsey, Henry M. Rice, Dr. Edward D. Neill, and General William T. Sherman.

Johnson ran an unsuccessful campaign as a candidate on the Democratic ticket for the Governorship of Minnesota in 1881, but was defeated in the primary. [37]

By 1880, R. W. Johnson had established the family in a respectable position within the community of St. Paul, largely based on his success in real estate.  Although not rich, the family was nevertheless well to do and active in community affairs. His unsuccessful candidacy for governor of Minnesota began a long road of financial hardship for the family.  A number of his business ventures turned sour, and he had difficulty finding regular employment, due in large part to the depressed state of the American economy following the Civil War.  He had borrowed money about 1885 from both public and private sources, in order to invest $25,000 in partnership with three other gentlemen, for ownership of the Imperial Gold Mining Company, located outside of Denver, Colorado.  As it later turned out, one of the partners was a known confidence man, and whether for this, or other reasons, the company collapsed in 1890, leaving Johnson broke and still heavily in debt. He sold his house and other property to pay debts, but continued to borrow "new money" to pay back old debt.

A number of creditors alleged that he sold the house only so that it could not be attached to pay their own claims.  There is little evidence to support those allegations, and there is little doubt from the various investigations, of his failing financial condition. For some time he lived in a spare room with his son.  There is evidence from the Adjutant General files that his suits were well worn and out of style; and his financial statements, reviewed by the Army investigators, indicated that he was living on little or no income after payments were made to his creditors. At that time, it was estimated that his outstanding debt amounted to approximately $20,000.00.  He refused to have the Army Paymaster make his debt payments, insisting that he knew how the funds should best be disbursed.  Against better judgment, he continually claimed if his creditors would leave him alone, he would pay back every dime with full interest.  He absolutely refused to discharge his debt in the courts, stating that people had loaned him money in good faith and they had the right to expect to be paid back in full. By 1889, several judgments had been filed against him in civil court.  This simply further exasperated an already bad situation.

A number of creditors, knowing his past ties to the Army, appealed to the Secretary of War, for assistance in obtaining payment. The U.S. Supreme Court had already ruled that federal pension benefits could not be attached by creditors, but the Army continually requested that he allow the Paymaster to discharge his debts and make payment directly to his creditors.  For a short period of time Johnson allowed this, but when the Army pressed for a more permanent solution, he withdrew his authorization.  He was adamant about maintaining control over his military pension and paying his creditors in a manner acceptable only to himself. After long and protracted investigations and correspondence, on 23 Dec 1890, the Acting Judge Advocate General recommended charges and specifications against General Johnson for "Conduct Unbecoming and Officer and a Gentlemen," based upon an Army regulation requiring military personnel to maintain their personal finances in acceptable order. This action was approved by the Secretary of War on 29 Dec 1890, and the trial of General Johnson was ordered for 4 Jan 1891, in St. Paul, Minnesota . [38]

The file from the Adjutant General indicates that here had been on-going discussions within the Attorney General's office concerning the ability to successfully prosecute retired military personnel with violations of the Military Code of Conduct.  On the whole, the record reflects considerable skepticism as to the ability of the government to return a guilty verdict against General Johnson. Whether that played a role in the eventual outcome is unknown.  However, on 3 Jan 1891, the Assistant Secretary of War directed that the order for General Johnson's trial would not go forward without further instructions.  General Johnson never stood trial and further negotiations and discussions continued. [39]

Rachael, his wife of more than forty years, died 7 Apr 1891 of pneumonia, in St. Paul, Minnesota.  She was 64. [40]

R. W. Johnson married next Julia A. MacFarlane Carson, in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania, on Valentines Day, 14 Feb 1894. [41]  The Rev. David Harbison officiated.  Julia was born in Delmont, Westmoreland Co., Pennsylvania, 1 Mar 1862, [42] the daughter of James Clinton Carson and Julia Ann MacFarlane.  She died on the Fourth of July, 1934, in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota, as a result of a "carcinoma of the head of the pancreas, with the attending physician listing malnutrition as a "contributing factor."  She was 72 years of age. [43]   Her body was laid to rest 6 Jul 1935, at Oakland Cemetery, next to her husband. [44]  Dampier-Baird Mortuary, made the arrangements.

Julia Carson graduated from Mt. Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts , in 1885. [45]   She took post-graduate work at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Minnesota, where she received her Masters in Arts.  She was the Head of the Latin Department at Coates College from 1891 to 1894 in Terre Haute, Vigo Co., Indiana. [46]  

Julia gave birth to a son in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota, 25 Jan 1895. [47]  John MacFarlane Johnson was named after R. W.'s older, half-brother, Dr. John Milton Johnson, who died in Atlanta in 1886.  Julia was 32 years old and the General was 67 at the time of John's birth.

Julia was the Dean of Women at Macalester College in St. Paul from 1897 to 1917. [48]   According to the affidavit of Rev. David Harbison, filed on the behalf of Julia Johnson, Julia was his "'ward' during her minority, and a member of my own family for several years."  Rev. Harbison performed the marriage ceremony between Julia and R. W. [49]

Julia was as liberal-minded as her husband. She wrote for various newspapers and magazines and contributed to the proceedings of the State College Associations of Indiana and Minnesota.  She worked for equal suffrage at Macalester College and served on the boards of various suffrage organizations throughout Minnesota.  She was a member of numerous committees, including the St. Paul's Welfare League, International Peace Association, the Christian Association, the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, the Mt. Holyoke Alumnae Association, the Civic League and the New Century Club. [50]

      Richard W. Johnson was a liberal before his time.  In 1886 in his A Soldier Reminiscences, R. W. writes:

     "The habit of requiring clerks to work 16 and 18 hours out of every 24 is cruel.  We have societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals.  Why not one for the prevention of cruelty to young men and young women who have earned their daily bread in our stores, shops and factories?  Again, a woman who does a man's work should receive a man's pay."  

After retirement from the Army, he had a successful career as author, producing several books, military manuals and treatises.  He and his family settled in a house at the corner of Laurel Avenue and Arundel Street in St. Paul.  He made a small fortune in real estate and then lost it as a combined result of poor investments and the countries depressed economic conditions.

Richard W. Johnson and Rachael Elizabeth Steele had the following family:


          i. Johnson Alfred Bainbridge was born in Texas, about March 1853, [51] near the headwaters of the Llano River. Alfred died 18 Mar 1897, at 44 years of age. [52]   Alfred served in the U.S. Army with the rank of Captain. [53]

         ii. Johnson Jr., Richard Woodhouse was born in Texas, about 1855. [54]   He died sometime after 1929, possibly in Palo Alto, Santa Clara Co., California, where [55]he resided in 1929, at 727 Cowper Street. [56]  He served as an Assistant Surgeon with the U.S. Army and retired to Palo Alto with the rank of Major.

        iii. Johnson, Henry Sibley "Harry" was born in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota, about 1859. [57]  He died in Cleveland, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio. [58]

Richard W. Johnson and Julia A. MacFarlane Carson had only the one son:  

        iv. Johnson, John MacFarlane was born in St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota, 25 Jan 1895. [59]   John died July 1980, in St. Paul, at 85 years of age. [60]

R. W. worked until his death in 1897 in a vain attempt to pay off his debts.  He succeeded in paying them down to a workable amount, and died just as it appeared he might reach his goal. [61]  However, it was left to his widow, Julia M. Johnson to continue to struggle with his debts after his death.  Like her husband, Julia refused to discharge the debt and insisted on paying every dime back.  She was eventually successful, but both she and her son John suffered as a result.  Remember that a contributing factor in her death in 1935 was malnutrition.

There are indications that R. W.'s marriage to Julia created rifts among his sons by Rachael Steele.  That the unpaid debts exasperated any family split between R. W.'s children and Julia is uncertain.  However, family tradition holds that Alfred, Richard and Harry refused to assist Julia in paying off the debt.

Supposedly, Richard was a prolific letter writer, during his years on the frontier and during the Civil War, writing to his first wife often.  However, few of these letters remain and some believe Julia destroyed them in a fit of anger and jealousy.  Others believe that they may have been sold or donated to one of the local universities.

      There are other letters to and from the General's second wife Julia currently in the possession of the family. However, they consider them too personal to release and it is unlikely we will ever know their contents.

[1] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier's Reminiscences in Peace and War, (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1886), 10.
[2] . Richard W. Johnson, Death Certificate April 23, 1897, St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minn., Vital Statistics Registry of St. Paul and Ezra J. Warner, Generals in Blue - Lives of the Union Commanders, (Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, La.), 254.
[3] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 30; and U.S. Military Academy Archives, R. W. Johnson Class of 1849 . West Point, New York.
[4] . U.S. Military Academy Archives and Student Archives, Association of Graduates of the U.S.M.A.
[5] . R. W. Johnson to C.D. Rhodes, April 19, 1929: Johnson Family Collection, Family Research Library, Boise, ID
[6] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 30; and Richard W. Johnson; Military Records; National Archives, Washington, D.C., Group 094, RLP 481455; 8W3/16/18/A/Box 708 and 709
[7] . R. W. Johnson, Jr. to C.D. Rhodes, Apr. 19, 1929; and R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 57.
[8] . Rachael Johnson, Mortuary Record, Jan. 21, 1904, St. Paul Department of Health, St. Paul, Minn.
[9] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 57-61; and R. W. Johnson Military Records
[10] . 1870 U S Census, 4th Ward of St. Anthony, Hennepin Co., Minnesota, National Archives T132_6, 689; and R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 76, 83.
[11] . ibid.
[12] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 88; and R. W. Johnson Military Records.
[13] . West Point, Register, II: 391-393 ( Association of Graduates of the U.S.M.A.)
[14] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 98-104; and R. W. Johnson Military Records.
[15] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 106; and R. W. Johnson Military Records.
[16] . 1870 U S Census, 4th Ward of St. Anthony, Hennepin Co., Minnesota, 689; and USMA, Johnson Papers.
[17] . West Point, Register, II: 391-393.
[18] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 133; R. W. Johnson Military Records; and Davis, Gray Fox, 8.
[19] . Burke Davis, Gray Fox - Robert E. Lee and the Civil War, (The Fairfax Press, New York) and R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences.
[20]   R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences , 162-177; and R. W. Johnson Military Records
[21] . Ibid.
[22] . Ibid. 178-189; and R. W. Johnson Military Records.
[23] . Ibid. 205-206; and R. W. Johnson Military Records.
[24] . Warner, Generals in Blue, 254; and R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 178-189.
[25] . Ed Huddleston, "The Civil War in Middle Tennessee," Nashville Banner, Nashville, Tenn.1962; reprinted (Parthenon Press, Nashville, Tenn., 1965), 33.
[26] . Steward Sifakis, Who Was Who in the Civil War, (Facts On File Publications, New York, 1988), 344
[27] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 228; and Ezra Warner, Generals in Blue, 254.
[28] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 240; and R. W. Johnson Military Records.
[29] . R. W. Johnson to his wife, Dec. 7 1863; (U.S.M.A. Archives)
[30] . Earlier in the War, newspapers erroneously had reported Johnson having been killed in action, and it had been several days before he could get word to his distraught wife.
[31] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 279; and Ezra Warner, Generals in Blue, 254.
[32] . R. W. Johnson to his wife, July 25. 1864; (U.S.M.A. Archives)
[33] . R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 288; and Ezra Warner, Generals in Blue, 254.
[34] . Ibid. 288-299 and Ezra Warner, Generals in Blue, 254.
[35] . Ibid. 360; and R. W. Johnson Military Records.
[36] . Ibid. 350-360; and R. W. Johnson Military Records.
[37] . Ezra Warner, Generals in Blue, 254.
[38] . Johnson Military Records.
[39] . Ibid.
[40] . Rachael Johnson, St. Paul Mortuary Record.
[41] . R. W. Johnson Pension Records: Affidavit of David Harbison, Minister, 25 Oct 1903; and "Daughters of America; or Women of the Century," The Biographical Cyclopaedia of American Women, Vol. 1, Julia Johnson Biography, 171.
[42] . R. W. Johnson Military Records; Julia M. Johnson; Certificate of Death, St. Paul, Minn.; Julia M. Johnson Pension Records, (National Archives Box 45230; Military Pension Records; Certificate No. 495026; Washington, DC NWDT1.
[43] . Julia M. Johnson Pension Records: Death Certificate #89499, 6 Jul 1935, St. Paul, Minn.
[44] . ibid.
[45] . Julia Johnson Biography, 171.
[46] . ibid.
[47] . John M. Johnson Birth Record, St. Paul Dept. of Health, St. Paul, Hennepin Co., Minn., Jan. 25, 1895.
[48] . Julia Johnson Biography, 171.
[49]  Julia Johnson Pension Records
[50]   Julia Johnson Biography, 171.
[51] . 1870 U.S. Census, St. Paul, Minn., 689; and R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences, 76, 83.
[52] . USMA, Johnson Papers.
[53] . ibid.
[54] . 1870 U.S. Census, St. Paul, Minn., 689; and R. W. Johnson, A Soldier Reminiscences
[55] . USMA, Johnson Papers.
[56] . ibid.
[57] . 1870 U.S. Census, St. Paul, Minn., 689; and USMA, Johnson Papers.
[58] . USMA, Johnson Papers.
[59] . John M. Johnson, Birth Record
[60] . ibid.
[61] . R. W. Johnson Military Records


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