Joseph Eceleston Johnston, an American soldier, born in Prince Edward co., Va., in February, 1807. He graduated at West Point in 1829, and served mainly in garrison duty till 1834, and afterward in the Seminole war, in which he was aide to Gen. Scott. He resigned in May, 1837, and became a civil engineer, but in July, 1838, reentered the army, with the rank of first lieutenant of topographical engineers, and was brevetted as captain for gallantry during the war with the Florida Indians. He served in the topographical bureau, and in 1843 on the survey of the boundaries between the United States and the British provinces. From 1844 to 1846 he was engaged on the coast survey. During the Mexican war he served as captain of topographical engineers under Gen. Scott in all the important actions, was twice wounded, and successively brevetted as major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel. The regiment of voltigeurs, of which he had been made lieutenant colonel, was disbanded in 1848, but he was replaced in his former rank as captain in the army. From 1853 to 1855 he was in charge of western river improvements. He was subsequently employed in various duties in Kansas and elsewhere, and in 1858 was acting inspector general in the Utah expedition.
In June, 1860, he became quartermaster general, with the rank of brigadier general of staff. He resigned his commission April 22, 1861, entered the confederate service, and commanded at the battle of Bull Run, and subsequently at Yorktown and Richmond. During the battle of Fair Oaks (May 31, 1862) he was severely wounded, and was for some months disabled for service. In November he reported for duty, and was assigned to the command of the departments of Tennessee and Mississippi. During Grant's Vicksburg campaign he made an attempt with a feeble force to extricate Pemberton, but was repulsed, May 14, 1863, at Jackson, and retreated to Canton. After Bragg's defeat at Chattanooga in November, he took command of his army, occupying a position at Dalton, Ga., which was turned by Sherman early in May, 1864; whereupon Johnston fell back successively to Resaca, Alla-toona pass, Kenesaw mountain, and Atlanta, in turns fighting and flanked. Failing to satisfy the expectations of the authorities at Richmond, he was on July 17 ordered to turn over the command to Gen. Hood. Near the close of February, 1865, Sherman having marched from Atlanta to Savannah, and thence into South Carolina, Johnston was directed to assume the command of the army of Tennessee and all troops in the department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, and to " concentrate all available forces and drive back Sherman." The force which he could concentrate was wholly inadequate, and he was unable to check the march of the victorious army, though he fought a part of it at Bentonville, N. C. (March 18). Having learned that Lee had surrendered the army of Virginia to Grant, Johnston surrendered the forces under his command to Sherman, April 26, at Durham's Station, near Greensboro, N. C. In his farewell order to his troops he said: "I earnestly exhort you to observe faithfully the terms of pacification agreed upon, and to discharge the obligations of good and peaceful citizens as well as you have performed the duties of thorough soldiers in the field." Since the close of the war he has been actively engaged in the industrial reconstruction of the South, especially in connection with its agricultural, commercial, and railroad enterprises, residing at Savannah, Ga. He has published a "Narrative of Military Operations " directed by him during the war between the states (New York, 1874).