“…calm and collected…” Confederate Boy Soldier


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David Johnston was 15 when Lincoln was elected.  By April of the next year he was a Confederate Private in a Virginia regiment, having just turned 16 and old enough to go off to war. That is his image above.

Private Johnston fought in the earliest battles, and all the way to Appomattox.  After the war, he wrote a book about his story.  He wrote something about General Beauregard, as his unit marched into the Battle of First Manassas, the first major battle of the war:

“He appeared calm, and collected, saying as we passed, in a quiet, low tone: ‘Keep cool, men, and fire low; shoot them in the legs.’”

It seems Beauregard, like so many, wanted to preserve lives, hoping for a short conflict.  It was not to be.

The Civil War was long and hard fought by both sides.  Johnston had his share of serious wounds and tough times. He turned 20 the day after Appomattox, no longer a boy. Of the end, he wrote:

“Four years before this company left Pearisburg, Virginia, with 102 men, the majority of whom were as promising and gallant young men as Virginia produced. During the time of service twenty recruits were added, making 122 in all, and now here we were with eighteen left.”

It was a hard war with many men lost, and it needs to be remembered to this day.

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