Colonel Benjamin Whitfield Johnson

Colonel Benjamin W. Johnson was the commander of the 15th Arkansas Regiment, which defended the position known as "Fort Desperate" at Port Hudson.  This picture of a very young-looking Colonel Johnson was probably taken during the war.  His uniform shows the three stars of a colonel on the collar.

According to genealogy sources, Benjamin Whitfield Johnson was born July 23, 1835 in Upson County, Georgia.  He married Nancy Houghton Hawkins on September 4, 1856 in Columbia County Arkansas.  At the time of the pre-war 1860 census, Benjamin Johnson, age 24, was living in Magnolia, Columbia County, Arkansas, with wife Nancy.  His birthplace was listed as Georgia, and his occupation was "lawyer and farmer".  The census gave values of $10,000 for his real estate property, and $10,000 for his personal property.  These amounts are far above those of most of the Columbia County residents, indicating that the young man was probably prominent in the community, and prosperous.

Johnson's Confederate service record is listed as follows:

JOHNSON, BENJAMIN W., Colonel  - Enlisted 19 Dec 1861 in Lafayette Co., AR.  Appointed Adjutant of the 15th Ark. Regiment on 18 Jan 1962.  Captured 16 Feb 1862 at Ft. Donelson, TN and sent to military prison at Camp Chase, OH, then to Ft. Warren, Mass. on 8 Apr 1862 as 1st Lt.  Released 31 Jul 1862 at Ft. Monroe, VA.  Height 5' 9", eyes gray, hair light, age 25.  Elected Colonel of the regiment at the reorganization of 16 Oct 1862.  Captured 9 Jul 1863 at Port Hudson, LA, and sent to New Orleans on the steamer Zephyr on 13 July 1863.  Sent to military prison at Johnson's Island, OH, 21 Sep 1863. Transferred to City Point, VA,  24 Feb 1865.

After Port Hudson, it appears that Johnson remained in Union prisons for the remainder of the war.

His wife Nancy died in 1878.  By the time of the 1880 census, Johnson was living alone in Camden, Ouachita County, Arkansas, his occupation listed as "lawyer state atty".  He remarried around 1881, and was living in Camden at the time of the 1900 Census with his wife, name shown as "E. J."; his occupation, "lawyer".  He died on May 17, 1907 in Camden, Arkansas, and is buried in the Confederate section of Oakland Cemetery in Camden.  (Picture from Port Hudson State Historical Park)

Col. Johnson describes the conditions at Johnson's Island Prison Camp


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