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The W.E. Johnson Papers

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Biographical/Historical note

Scope and Contents note

Arrangement note 

Administrative Information

General note

Administrative information: Provenance, Preferred Citation note 

Bibliography

List of Letters and Links to digital copies 

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Repository:   The Littlejohn Collection at Wofford College
Creator  Johnson, W.E., 1827 - 1897
Title:   The W.E. Johnson Papers
Dates:   March 29, 1864 - December 28, 1864
Quantity:   0.5 Linear feet; 1 box, 23 folders.
Abstract:  The collection consists of 23 letters and a pocket diary from Confederate Army (i.e. C.S.A.) Lieutenant W.E. Johnson to his wife, father and other persons. Lt. Johnson and his wife appear to have been residents of Liberty Hill, Kershaw County, South Carolina. At the time of his writing these letters, Johnson and Ann, his wife, had two sons. All of the letters date from 1864 -- Johnson was in his late 30's when he wrote them. He was a private, then an officer in a South Carolina unit (Co. K, 7th SC Cavalry Regiment) and was captured in combat on May 30, 1864 at Cold Harbor, Virginia. He remained a prisoner-of-war until the end of the conflict (i.e., spring of 1865). As a prisoner-of-war, Johnson had the unfortunate honor of being a member of the group that has come to be known as the "Immortal Six Hundred," a group of about 600 captured Confederate officers. The Six Hundred were, by order of U.S. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, transferred to and held in a prison camp on Morris Island exposed to Confederate artillery fire (due to the camp's proximity to Federal batteries). The camp on Morris Island was subject to shelling by Confederate occupied Fort Sumter (directly to the north of the island, in the harbor's mouth). The deliberate placement of the Confederate prisoners-of-war in harm's way was an act of retaliation by the Federal administration, who viewed the placement of Federal POWs in Charleston (ostensibly unduly exposed to Federal fire) as highly improper.
Identification:   080124-01
Language:   eng

 

Biographical/Historical note

W.E. Johnson was born in Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina on March 27, 1827. On October 11, 1849 he married Ann A. Cunningham, with whom he had two sons, R.C. and W.E.

Following the outbreak of the Civil War, Johnson served as a non-commissioned officer in the company of Capt. W.M. Shannon, which, according to Johnson's obituary, was also known as the Kirkwood Rangers (7th South Carolina Cavalry Regiment, Company H). He subsequently returned home and was re-organized into another cavalry unit under the command of Colonel E.M. Boykin. This unit, in which Johnson was eventually elected to the rank of 2nd lieutenant, became Company K of the 7th S.C. Cavalry and was also known as "Boykin's Mounted Squadron of Rifles" and the "Wateree Mounted Riflemen." Johnson fought with the unit in Virginia until he was captured in combat at or near Cold Harbor, Virginia on May 30, 1864.

With approximately 600 other Confederate prisoners-of-war, Johnson was eventually transferred to Morris Island, South Carolina, where he and his fellow prisoners were held in a facility adjacent to a Federal artillery battery. The situation of their detention near the battery was meant to subject the prisoners to the "friendly fire" of the Confederate batteries that were firing upon the Federal emplacement. This strategy, ordered by the Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, was intended as retaliation for the perceived mistreatment and apparently similarly perilous situation of Union prisoners-of-war in Charleston. The prisoners were held at Morris Island throughout most of September and October of 1864, until they were transferred to Fort Pulaski, Georgia. Johnson remained in captivity until the end of the war. The group with which Johnson was held eventually came to be known as the "Immortal Six Hundred" - several of those who died in captivity with this group have been memorialized at the Fort Pulaski National Monument.

After the war Johnson was elected a member of the board of county commissioners. He died on or about May 13, 1897, apparently due to complications from a stroke he endured in 1894. He was survived by his wife and two sons.

Johnson's obituary, a source for this note, appeared in the newspaper "The State" on May 13, 1897.

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Scope and Contents note

This collection consists of 23 letters to and from 2nd Lieutenant (Confederate States Army) W.E. Johnson, Jr. dating from March 29, 1864 through December 28, 1864. The majority of the letters were written by Johnson to his wife Ann Johnson or his father W.E. Johnson, Sr. Johnson wrote to his wife and father in Liberty Hill, SC from western South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Morris Island, South Carolina, and Fort Pulaski, Georgia. The majority of the letters date from Johnson's period of captivity as a prisoner of war. The group with which Johnson was imprisoned later came to be known as the "Immortal Six Hundred," due to the conditions under which they were held.

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Arrangement note

Materials have been arranged in chronological order. The materials which were re-used as records/correspondence at a later date are filed according to the first occurring date.

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Cunningham, Robert J. -- Correspondence
Immortal Six Hundred
Johnson, Ann A., (wife of W.E. Johnson, 1827-1897) -- Correspondence
Johnson, W.E., (father of W.E. Johnson, 1827-1897) -- Correspondence
Johnson, W.E., 1827 - 1897 -- Correspondence
Littlejohn, Broadus R. , 1925 -
Prisoners of war -- United States -- History -- 19th century
South Carolina -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Prisoners and Prisons
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Prisoners and prisons

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General note

Transcriptions of the letters, inlcluding a brief introduction and a copy of Johnson's obituary, are available in PDF format here. Images of the letters accompanied by the transcriptions and ancillary material noted above are available here.

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Administrative Information

Provenance

Given to Wofford College by Broadus R. Littlejohn, Jr., 1925 - 2010, from his personal collection.

Preferred Citation note

Items from this collection should be cited as follows

[Item name, i.e. "W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, March 29, 1864"], W.E. Johnson Papers, The Littlejohn Collection at Wofford College.

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Bibliography

Joslyn, Mauriel Phillips. "Immortal Captives: The Story of Six Hundred Confederate Officers and the United States Prisoner of War Policy." Shippensburg, PA: White Mane Publishing Inc., 1996.

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List of Letters

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W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson (wife), March 29, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to W.E. Johnson (father), May 24, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, June 10, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Lt. R.J. "Robt" Cunningham (brother-in-law), June 18, 1864; R.J. Cunningham to Ann Johnson, August 1, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, July 17, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, July 24, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, August 29, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to W.E. Johnson (father), September 11, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, September 18, 1864  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, September 21, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, September 27, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, October 9, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to W.E. Johnson (father), October 16, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, October 26, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, November 6, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, November 10, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, November 20, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to W.E. Johnson (father), November 23, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, November 27, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, December 4, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, December 11, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, December 18, 1864.  

 

                       
W.E. Johnson to Ann Johnson, December 28, 1864.  

 

                       
"Pocket Diary for 1861" containing entries written by W.E. Johnson. Actual dates of composition are unclear. Both inside covers are marked (and dated both 1910 and 1912) with the name "Miss Henrietta McWillie Johnson," who was presumably a descendant of W.E. Johnson. 1861-1865?  
     

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