Joseph Eggleston Johnston was born in Virginia in 1807 into a powerful and respected family. His father was Peter Johnston, a judge and congressman who had fought in the Revolutionary War on behalf of the rebellious American
Johnston "was loved, respected, admired; yea, almost worshiped by his troops. I do not believe there was a soldier in his army but would gladly have died for him."
One of Johnston's soldiers
Joseph E. Johnston.
(Reproduced by permission of the National Portrait Gallery.)
colonies. The Revolutionary War—also known as the War for Independence—was waged from 1776 to 1783 and eventually resulted in American independence from British rule. Joseph Johnston's mother, meanwhile, was the niece of Patrick Henry (1736-1799), one of the most famous American heroes of the Revolutionary War.
Johnston grew up in Abingdon County, Virginia, attending classes in the state's finest schools. In 1825, he left home for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York. Johnston excelled at his studies at the prestigious military school. He also became friends with a group of fellow cadets (military students) that included a young Robert E. Lee (1807-1870; see entry) during his stay at West Point.
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