Johnson Ancestors in the Civil War

Submitted by: Stevie Hughes

James A. Johnson and his father, Christopher C. Johnson, enlisted together on August 12, 1861 in the Illinois 40th Volunteer Infantry, Co. "A". James was born on January 7, 1843 and Christopher C. was born in 1822. Both were born in Greene County, Tennessee. Around 1855, the family moved from Greene County to Hamilton County, Illinois, where they farmers near Macedonia. Patriotic service ran long in this family. Christopher's grandfather, Zopher Johnston, SR, had been a soldier in the Revolutionary War, serving tours of duty both at Williamsburg, Virginia and at Yorktown, Virginia, culminating with the surrender of Lord Cornwallis.

Both Christopher and James fought side-by-side at the battle of Shiloh. James was injured and "left for dead" on the battlefield on the first day of fighting. He was able to rejoin his unit for the second day of fighting. While Company "A" was under heavy fighting, Christopher, an expert marksman, "shot a rebel sharp shooter out of a tree."

The war would not be kind to this family. The 40th moved into their winter quarters in Memphis, Tennessee during the later part of 1862. Both father and son became very ill with dysentery. Christopher's wife, Kathryn (Kerbaugh) Johnson, along with their infant son, Ellsworth, went to Memphis to visit, and, presumably, to nurse them back to health. Kathryn then became ill and died at Memphis on October 4, 1862. Baby Ellsworth succumbed to the disease also. Father Christopher lived until November 27, 1862, when he too died. He is buried at the National Cemetery at Memphis, Tennessee.

With the death this father and mother, three minor children became parentless. Their oldest daughter, Elizabeth Jane and her young husband, Enoch Johnson, took custody of the minor children, Zopher A., Phebe A. and Sarah A. Johnson.

James A. recovered from the disease, but it is unlikely he ever fully recovered from the heartbreak of loosing his parents and infant brother.

James A. was seriously injured at the battle of Missionary Ridge in 1863, being shot in the foot. He was sent to the field hospital for a while, but was eventually able to rejoin his unit. Although no longer fit for active field duty, he continued to participate in the war effort by being assigned to guard baggage. At age twenty, James A. was crippled and would have to walk with a cane for the rest of his long life.

As though the sacrifice by this family was still not enough, James' younger brother, Zopher A. Johnson, also joined the war effort when be became of legal age. Zopher A. joined the 13th Illinois Cavalry, Company "H" in 1863. He, too, became sick with dysentery and measles. Younger brother Zopher never fully regained his health. The effects of this war caused his death in 1887.
James A. went home to Macedonia on furlough to recover from his injury. He married Minerva Adeline Carney on March 31, 1864 before rejoining his unit. To this marriage eleven children were born, eight of whom survived to adulthood.

James A. Johnson was discharged from the Illinois 40th, Company "A" near Atlanta on August 14, 1864. He later joined the Illinois 49th, Company "G" on March 13, 1865, and was mustered out of this unit on September 9, 1865. He returned to Macedonia, Illinois where he resided with his ever growing family until 1900. At that time, he and his wife, Minerva Adeline, and their younger children moved to Jefferson County, near Mt. Vernon, Illinois. James died at his home near Mt. Vernon on October 21, 1927.

The descendants of Christopher C. Johnson and James A. Johnson are grateful for the patriotic service and the great many sacrifices this family made to keep the Union forever together.

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