Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Marion’s Two Confederate Generals (One, Superintendent of The Citadel)

The town of Marion boasted at least two general officers who fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War: Brigadier Generals George D. Johnston and Isham W. Garrott. Johnston later became Superintendent of The Citadel.

A North Carolinian who graduated from Howard College here in Marion, George D. Johnston (1832-1910) received his law degree from Cumberland University in Tennessee, and practiced law here in Marion. In 1856 he served as Mayor of Marion before going to the State Legislature from 1857-1858.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Johnston enlisted as a second lieutenant, 4th Alabama Infantry, eventually rising to the rank of Brigadier General in the Army of the Tennessee. BG Johnston fought in every battle from Shiloh to Bentonville.

After the war, Johnston served as Commandant of the University of Alabama Cadet Corps, a position held previously by COL James T. Murfee, founder and first president of Marion Military Institute. From 1885 to 1890, Johnston served as Superintendent of The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Following service as the U. S. Civil Service Commissioner, Johnston returned to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he was elected to the State Senate. BG George D. Johnston died in 1910.

The Greek Revival home of BG Johnston here in Marion, Myrtle Hill, was built in 1840 and now serves as a Bed and Breakfast. LTC Gerry and Wanda Lewis are the present owners.

Another North Carolinian who graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1840, Isham Warren Garrott (1816-1863) practiced law here Marion. Active in the community, Garrott was member of the Whig political party, a Mason, a member of the Siloam Baptist Church, an incorporator of the Marion and Alabama River Transportation Company, and President of the Board of Trustees of Howard College here in Marion. He was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 1845 and 1847.

With the outbreak of war in 1861, Isham Garrott formed the 20th Alabama Infantry Regiment, serving as its Colonel. After his brigade commander was killed at Port Gibson, Mississippi, Garrott took command of Tracy’s Brigade in the defense of Vicksburg. COL Garrott was killed by a Union sharpshooter on June 17, 1863, shortly before being promoted to Brigadier General. Fort Garrott near Vicksburg was named for him. The fort never fell to the enemy. Hastily buried in Vicksburg during the siege, his remains have been lost.

A stone marker for Garrott stands in Soldiers Rest Confederate Cemetery, located in the Cedar Hill (Old Vicksburg City) Cemetery.

BG Garrott’s home in Marion later burned to the ground. The smokehouse with office was saved and was later moved to the Roy Johnson property next to MMI.
The building is now the property of Anita Johnson who has used it as a Bed and Breakfast. It currently serves as my humble abode.