Thursday, July 28, 2011

150-Years-Ago -- General Bee and Lt. Col. Johnson

The Richmond Daily Dispatch
July 27, 1861

The gallant dead.

[from the Charleston Mercury,]

General Barnard E. Bee
     Upon the wings of shining victory comes the dark shaft of death. And with the first impulsive leapings of the heart in the glad shout of triumph for our arms and our cause, the breath of Carolinians is stilled in mourning for our gallant dead. In that they lived, they were ours — in that they are dead, it was for us they died. Upon each heart they have levied a tribute. The bitter, bitter tears of those who loved them dearest in life, the little hands of pleading children, demand of us, even in the rush of life, and the fierce cry of victory, to pause in silence over their biers, and to mingle our sorrows with the unutterable grief of hearts that cannot be comforted And to-day South Carolina, like a Spartan mother, mourns her lost sons.
     Perhaps there was no man of his age in the Confederate service who had won for himself a fairer fame, both as an accomplished officer and high toned gentleman, than the late Gen. Barnard E. Bee, of this State. Upon the desperate field of battle, where more than once his gallant blade had won him the applause of the army and of his native State, sword in hand, he perished — an untimely death.
     Gen. Bee, descended from an old Carolina family of gentlemen, was about 35 years of age, and leaves a widow and an infant son.
      He entered West Point a cadet in 1841, was made Brevet Second Lieutenant, 3d infantry, in 1845. During the Mexican war he served with marked distinction, winning two brevets before the close of the war — that of 1st Lieutenant, "for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of Cerro Gordo, on the 18th April, 1847," in which he was wounded, and that of Captain, in the storming of Chapultepec, on the 13th of September, 1847,"for gallant and meritorious conduct." Since 1848 he acted as Adjutant, and rose to a full 1st Lieutenancy in March, 1851.
     His achievements, since that time, in wars among the Indians, were such as to attract towards him the attention of his State, and in his dying hand, on the field in which he fell, he grasped the sword which South Carolina had taken pride in presenting him.
     Few men of his age had attracted more attention in his profession, and such was his reputation, that President Davis, at once raising him from the rank of a Captain, appointed him a Brigadier General in the Provisional Army.
     It will not be easy to fill his place in the Confederate service; but South Carolina, more especially, mourns his loss, for he was a true representative of her race. Mild, modest, amiable of deportment, open, generous, bold and dashing in achievement, nice of honor and punctilious of fame, winning friends by sterling conduct, as fearless of foes as sensitive of regard, he was all that his State could ask of a gentleman, a soldier and a patriot. South Carolina will ever bend in honor over the Toombs of such a son.

Lieut. Col. Benj. J. Johnson.

     Lieut. Col. Benjamin J. Johnson, the second in command of the Hampton Legion, is a native of the town of Beaufort, S. C., and was about forty-five years of age at the period of his death. His brothers reside in this State--two of whom are clergymen of the Episcopal Church--one, the Rev. Richard Johnson, being the Chaplain of Hampton's Legion.
     Col. Johnson was educated at Williamsburg, Va. and commenced life as a planter but afterwards studied law with Colonel DeTreville, and came to the bar of Beaufort, where he practiced a few years. During his residence in Beaufort, he commanded the 12th Regiment of Infantry, and was highly esteemed as an officer.
     In 1838, when barely eligible in years, he was elected a member of the House of Representatives from St. Helena Parish, where he served many years, until he was transferred to the Senate by the same constituency. Col. Johnson served in the Senate for two terms, and until his removal to Christ Church Parish, about three years ago. Immediately upon his removal he was sleeted a member of the House of Representatives from the election district of Christ Church, and continued a member to the time of his death.
     Col. Johnson's career in the Legislature was marked by attention and intelligence. --He frequently filled the position of chairman of important committees, and was known as a working member. He participated fully in the debates of both Houses, and was always distinguished by fairness and ability in his made of conducting them. He filled a high position in the politics of the State, as evidenced by the prominence of his name in the late election for Governor of South Carolina. His heart was always true to the honor of his State, as exhibited throughout his life and illustrated by his death.
     Col. Johnson's influence was largely owing to his personal characteristics. A man of strong will, strong temper, bold, self reliant, imperturbable, energetic, he at once impressed upon those with whom he was thrown in contact, his thorough manhood. He won his friends in the closest ties of regard and affection. In his life he sustained the measure of a Carolina gentleman, and in his death he added to it that of the patriot.

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