From Underground Railroad to Confederate General

The Civil War is often described as the North against the South.  That is somewhat inaccurate as plenty of Southerners fought against the Confederacy, and the Confederacy had a fair number of sympathizers in Union states.  Of the generals who led the armies, a few Southerners, George “Pap” Thomas is a prime example, fought for the North, and a few Northerners fought for the South.  Of those Northerners who donned rebel gray, none had a more unusual biography than Bushrod  Rust Johnson.

Born in Belmont County Ohio, on October 7, 1817, Johnson’s family were Quakers, pacifists and strongly opposed to slavery.  Prior to attending West Point, Johnson worked with an uncle on the Underground Railroad, smuggling slaves to freedom.

Graduating with the class of 1840 from West Point, Johnson served in the Seminole and Mexican Wars.  In 1847 his military career was cut short when he was dismissed from the Army for selling contraband.  Academia being less choosy usually than the military, Johnson taught as a Professor of Chemistry and Philosophy at the Western Military Institute in Georgetown, Kentucky and went on to be Professor of Engineering at the University of Nashville.  Throughout this time period Johnson was active in the Kentucky and Tennessee state militias. (more…)

Published in: on January 16, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments Off on From Underground Railroad to Confederate General  
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