These letters were written by James Archibald Johnson (1841-1864), the son of Handy William Johnson (1816-1914) and Francis Matilda McKneeley (1824-1898) of Griffin, Spalding county, Georgia. During the Civil War, Alfred’s father—advanced in years—served in the 2nd Georgia Reserves but offered up his four oldest sons to serve in the Confederate army.
Alfred Homer Johnson (1842-1866) the son of Handy William Johnson (1816-1914) and Francis Matilda McKneeley (1824-1898) of Griffin, Spalding county, Georgia. During the Civil War, Alfred’s father—advanced in years—served in the 2nd Georgia Reserves but offered up his four oldest sons to serve in the Confederate army.
According to Confederate military records, James enlisted for one year in Co. C, 39th Georgia Infantry, on 25 September 1861. By May 1862, James had reenlisted for the duration of the war as a private in Co. F, 30th Georgia Infantry. James was wounded in the fighting at Jackson, Mississippi, on 16 July 1863 after the surrender of Vicksburg. He died of his wounds over a year later, on 7 September 1864.
James served with three younger brothers in the 30th Georgia Infantry. Alfred Homer Johnson (1842-1866) was wounded in the fighting at Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia, on or about 27 June 1864, survived, but died of his wounds a couple years later. William Gilben (“Gip” or “Dill”) Johnson (1845-1920) received a foot wound in the fighting before Atlanta but survived the war. O. Sidney Johnson (1847-1864) enlisted with his older brothers in May 1864 but died of illness in a hospital in Atlanta on 30 June 1864.
[Note: These letters are from the private collection of Josh Branham and are published on Spared & Shared by express consent.]
May 1, 1862
Dear Father, mother, brothers and sisters,
I seat myself to drop you a few lines which leave me well at this time, hoping when these few lines come to hand they may find you all well and enjoying the good blessing of life. Mother, I don’t want you to be uneasy about me. I am a coming home as soon as I can get off. I don’t know how [long] it will be before I can get off. We all have reenlisted for a year longer. We will draw money again tomorrow if nothing happens.
Pa, I want you to take care of my colt for me. I want you to make her fat for me if you can. I want you to tell children that I want to see them mighty bad. It looks like it has been a year since I have been at home. Tell the children not to forget me for I will get to come home some time or other if nothing happens to me. I have nothing more at present more than you all must write often and every chance.
Direct your letters to the 39th Regiment Georgia Volunteers, Savannah, Box No. 800
To all of you, — James A. Johnson
[partial letter, probably sometime in July 1864]
Camp 30th Georgia Reserves, Camp Smith, near Atlanta
…the trouble that I am seeing is more than I can stand. It seems like that I would not care how soon my time may come and after all of the rest. I heard that Alfred and Dill—both of them—was wounded seriously. I want to know whether there was any of you with Sidney [when he died] or not. I would be glad to hear some more than I have learned. It is very effecting to hear anything and not know the particulars about it. I only know that he is dead and Alfred ad Dill was wounded. It seems like to me that I hant got a friend in the world. I am here by myself. I hant heard from home since Pa left here. I don’t want you all to forget me. I hope you will all write every chance that you have.
….and heard that William was at home. I hope that may be so and I want him to stay there as long as he can. Mother, I want you to let trouble never pester you. If we all get killed and die, let us go. I don’t want you [to] study anything about the troubles of this world for you can’t stand up under everything.
Sis, I want you to write to me. I would be glad to hear from you. I am well at this time. — James A. Johnson
[to] H. W. Johnson