Johnston, Joseph Eggleston (1807–1891), a United States and Confederate army officer. Johnston was an outstanding defensive commander in the Civil War. General William T. Sherman called him “equal in all the elements of generalship to Lee.” Some critics, however, have described him as overcautious.
Johnston was born in Prince Edward County, Virginia. He graduated from West Point in 1829, and served with distinction against the Seminole Indians and in the Mexican War. Soon after the start of the Civil War, he commanded one of the two Confederate armies at the First Battle of Bull Run. Johnston was made a full general in August. 1861. He led the Army of Northern Virginia in the Peninsular Campaign of 1862. Johnston was severely wounded in the Battle of Fair Oaks (May 31–June 1, 1862) and replaced by General Robert E. Lee.
In 1863 Johnston commanded forces farther west. Vicksburg was lost in a campaign mismanaged by his subordinates. In 1864 Johnston commanded the Army of the Tennessee. He skillfully avoided battle with superior Union forces under Sherman, but had to retreat steadily, and was replaced in July for not making a stand. In February, 1865, he was again given command of the Army of the Tennessee. On April 26, he surrendered in North Carolina.
As a Virginia Democrat, Johnston served in the U.S. House of Representatives, 1879–81. He was United States Commissioner of Railways, 1887–91. Johnston was a pallbearer at the funerals of Grant and Sherman. He wrote Narrative of Military Operations (1874).