Richard W. Johnson
A Union officer noted for “gallant and meritorious services in the field during the war,” Richard W. Johnson (1827–1897) was born at Smithland, Kentucky. Orphaned at age ten, he was able to secure an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1844 with the assistance of his brother and guardian, Dr. John M. Johnson. Following his graduation in 1849, his postings included Mexico and Texas, where his wife Rachel and their young sons often shared with him many of the hardships of frontier service. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Johnson was made a lieutenant colonel in the 3rd Kentucky Cavalry Regiment but rose to the rank of brevet major general by the close of the war. Remaining in the Western theater of operations throughout the war, Johnson served with distinction at the battles of Murfreesboro (Stones River), Corinth, and Atlanta. During the 1863 struggle to break the Confederate siege of Union forces in Chattanooga, he commanded one of the divisions that made the celebrated charge up Missionary Ridge. Despite being severely wounded at the Battle of New Hope Church on May 28, 1864, Johnson returned to command in time for the Battle of Nashville in December 1864. After resigning from the army in 1867, Richard W. Johnson taught military science and published A Soldier’s Reminiscences in Peace and War (1886).