Confederate Sailor 1

Would anyone want to help this Confederate Navy Sailor to go home?

Edward J. Johnston

The Civil War News Bulletin: Feb/Mar 2002

Mass. Olde Colony CWRT hopes to return Vet. to Georgia

A Confederate prisoner of war who died in Massachusetts requesting only that he be buried with his head facing the South may go home to Georgia if members of the Olde Colony Civil War Round Table (OCCWRT) have any say in the matter.

The group has taken up the cause of Confederate Navy 1st Assistant Engineer Edward J. Johnson of the C.S.S. Atlanta. Johnston was taken prisoner after the capture of C.S.S. Atlanta and was held for a time at Fort Lafayette in New York Harbor. He was eventually transferred to Fort Warren on George's Island in Boston Harbor, where he died on October 14, 1863 at the age of 36 years 9 months.

Round Table President Dave Kenney said Johnston was initially buried on George's Island where the fort is, facing south as he wished. He was buried three times. At Governor's Island in Boston Harbor he continued to face south (another version said to face the sea.) Johnston's wishes were not observed when he was buried again on Deer Island in 1908 and, finally, at Fort Devens in Ayre, Mass. We also found his tombstone.

While some consideration was given to trying to move Johnston to the State's National Cementry, Round Table members think it's time for Engineer Johnston to return home. They have contacted the Georgia Department of Veterans Services about the matter.

(Webmaster's note: Joe Gedden is the Confederate Admiral of our Olde Colony Civil War Round Table. It is through his research that he found out about Edward J. Johnston. Credit of the discovery belongs to Joe.)

Would anyone want to help this Confederate Navy Sailor to go home?

A letter from Bob Hall to Jerry Russell (Heritagepac)

Jerry: You may remember me as I was the one who handed you the Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. award at the Greater Boston CWRT years ago. I am also one of the founding fathers (along with Bill Bernache and others) of the Old Colony Civil War Round Table. In addition, I am the equivalent of the Deputy Commissioner of Veterans Services for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In that capacity, I have been looking into the matter of a Confederate POW buried here in Massachusetts and brought to my attention by Joe Gedden a member of the OCCWRT.

I need your help. Through your extensive e-mail list and other contacts, can you work up a little involvement by Georgia Confederates or other Rebels to help return the body of a Confederate POW to Georgia? He is now buried in the Fort Devens US Army cemetery along with WW II German POWs and others. Being an American from the South, he belongs back home in Georgia.

Here's the story: Edward J. Johnston, First Assistant Engineer on the CSS Atlanta was captured and imprisoned at Fort Warren on George's Island in Boston Harbor. He died there on October 14, 1863 and was buried there with his head facing south at his death bed request. Later, his body was moved to Governor's Island. Then in 1908 to Deer Island. Later, it was removed from Deer Island and he was reburied in the Fort Devens cemetery where he still lies.

I've been in touch the the Georgia Department of Veterans Services to see if they might make arrangements to bring sailor Johnston home to Georgia. Contact there is Max Cotter at 404-656-2300. They have in turn referred the matter to the Georgia Sons of Confederate Veterans.

In the meantime, while waiting to hear from the Sons, I have been in touch with Fort Devens and been told it should be a relatively easy thing to have his body returned to Georgia so rather than his head facing south, all of his remains will be back home in the south.

A couple of things have to happen and this is where any interested Johnny Reb can be of help: 1.) Someone has to determine whereabouts in Georgia he came from; 2.) We have to locate a descendent who, if there is one, must give the US Government written permission to exhume and move the body; 3.) A Georgia Congressman or Senator needs to be enlisted to grease the skids and get Federal approval and probably the necessary funds to move Engineer Johnston... especially if a descendant can't be found; 4.) Have to find someone (the State of Georgia? A Confederate organization?) to come up with the money to pay for the costs to return the body to Georgia; 5.) Have to decide where in Georgia to bury him for the 5th and last time (I understand Georgia has just established a new state veterans' cemetery; 6.) Finally, this would be a great PR opportunity for Georgia and someone should spearhead a memorable program of activities, e.g., Confederate reenactors should be at the gravesite when his body is disinterred, his casket -- draped with both the Confederate and American flags I would hope -- should be accompanied by Confederate honor guard and taken by train in a baggage car to Georgia, appropriate reception in Atlanta rairoad station by Mayor/ Governor/TAG, funeral procession, memorial service, and internment ceremonies at gravesite.

Just as our Nation is bringing American POW remains back from Vietnam and Korea, I think it's just as appropriate for a State to return American-Confederate POW remains back to the South.

If you put out this notice and anyone reading it is interested in helping, they should contact me at:

and to let me know what they are doing so I can coordinate with the Fort Devens Cemetery authorities at this end. Thanks for your help, Jerry.

Bob Hall
Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services

Response from a CWN reader

Mr. Kenney,

With tremendous interest I read of your group's efforts to move the remains of CSA sailor Edward John Johnston, in the current issue of The Civil War News.

I am related to Edward's wife - Virginia Ana Margarita Papy. Her first cousin, Joseph Blas Papy (3rd FL Inf.-CSA), was my great-great grandfather. Edward, a native of Dublin, Ireland, was married to Virginia on July 1, 1852 in St. Augustine, Florida. As you are aware, Edward was on the CSS Atlanta when it was captured near Savannah, June 17, 1863.

My question for you is would it not be more appropriate to rebury Edward next to his wife, in Fernandina, Florida, rather than in Georgia? Please keep me abreast of your efforts!

Greg C. White
Canton, GA

Virginia A. Johnston's pension correspondence 

Comptroller's office
State of Florida
(Include the logo of the State of Florida)
W.V. Knott,

Oct. 4th, 1913

Mrs. V. A. Johnson (sic) (should be: Johnston),

Post Office Box 829,
Fernandina, Florida

Dear Madam:

Under the new Pension Law widow pensioners are paid as follows: Those whose husbands enlisted in Florida Regiments receive $150.00 per annum, all other widow pensioners, $120.00 per annum, as heretofore.

Your respectfully,
W.V. Knott (signed)

Hon. W.V. Knott
Dear Sir,
My late husband enlisted from Jacksonville, Florida in the Confederate navy, I suppose that parties having served in the Navy are on the same basis as those having served in the Army. Your kind consideration will oblige.

Yours very truly
Mrs. Virginia A. Johnston (signed)

(Webmaster's notes: Fernandina is also known as Amelia Island, located at the northeastern tip of Florida, across Cumberland Sound and the St. Mary River from Georgia's Cumberland Island and adjacent town of St. Mary. Amelia Island guards the mouth of river that separates the two States, Georgia and Florida. The Island used to be a Spanish-held haven for privates and smugglers before U.S. took over in 1821. A fort was constructed in 1847, named Ft. Clinch.)

(A very short history of Fernandina, Florida during the Civil War)
Union Flag Officer Dupont sent his squadron to Fernandina on March 2, 1862. The Confederates had hastily abandoned the defense of Fernandina. Dupont detached the light gunboats and light draft steamers from the main line under Commander Percival Drayton. Percival Drayton was a native South Carolinian, but remained loyal to the Star and Stripes. Drayton's men captured Ft. Clinch.

Compiled by the Webmaster: Gordon Kwok 02/12/2002

The only known Civil War picture of Edward J. Johnston taken at Ft. Warren

Hello all,
Both Greg White and I are researching the Papy family for an upcoming book. I recently found

a picture of Edward J. Johnston (the Florida State Archives site states that he is the one in a shawl, with an "X' shown, in the image.) taken while he was a prisoner at Fort Warren, Boston, Massachusetts on the Florida archives web site. He is sitting in a chair inside the prison with other prisoners and guards. The name is erroneously listed as Edward Kent Johston. The description of the picture says he died in the prison of pneumonia in 1863, and was reportedly the only confederate soldier buried there. You can access this picture via the internet through the Florida Archives web site in the general collection. The title is CONFEDERATE PRISONERS AT FORT WARREN: BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS. GRAPHIC.

Photogragh of Johnston's wife, Virginia Papy Johnston

There is also a picture of Edward J. Johnston's widow, Virginia Papy Johnston, and her great grandaughter, Frances Korbly, as well as the photos of Edward and Virginia's son, John Kent Johnson, on the same site.

Click on

Select Photographs or Photo Archives. [{A} Instruction to access Mrs. Johnston's photo: (1) click on "search now" (2) Under "qualifiers" type: Virginia Ann Papy Johnston (3) click "full text search" (4) Click the thumbnail image to view a full size picture. {B} Instruction to access John Kent Johnston's photo: follow the above procedure, except type: John Kent Johnston in step (2).]

Someone on an e mail list I joined who is also named Johnston, but unrelated, sent a photo of Edward J. Johnston's tombstone via the internet.

Virginia Papy Johnston is indeed buried in Fernindina, Florida. Their son, John Kent Johnston married Frances Rawls. Their daughter, Letitia Rawls Johnston married Dr. Benjamin Johnson Bond in Leon County Florida, 15 Nov 1905. Their daughter, Frances Rawls Bond married Charles Korbly 4 Nov 1939 in Leon County, Florida. I have not been able to trace the family farther yet. It is entirely possible that Frances Korbly is still living, and that there are children and grandchildren of this marriage.

Perhaps you should contact the Florida chapters of both the Sons of the Confederacy and the Daughters of the Confederacy about bringing Edward home to rest by his wife in Bosque Bello Cemetery in Fernindina, Florida. In the meantime, I will continue to search for living descendants.

I am so excited about this. I certainly hope it can all be pulled together, and Edward can be returned to rest by Virginia in Bosque Bello Cemetery, Fernandina, Florida. Edward was baptized in Cathedral Parish in St. Augustine before he married Virginia there. If additional information is needed, I know I have the marriage information, and can probably find his baptism at the research library in St. Augustine. I do research on the Papy family there once a week if I can.

Latrell Pappy Mickler
02/09/2002 and 02/11/2002

Hello all:
I'm sending this e-mail to everyone who has been in contact with me and has offered to play a role in getting Edward Johnston back home.

I've obviously started the ball rolling to get EJKJ returned from the North to a final resting place in Florida. Now, one of you needs to step forward and take overall command. I'll do whatever I can at this end to assist you all, but I'm retiring on March 15 and I have other duties to do on a daily basis and cannot head up this project.

As I see it, someone should take command and see to it that the following things get done: 1.) Prepare and file the necessary affidavits with the Commanding Officer at Fort Devens so the body can be exhumed and the gravestone taken away. 2.) Create a kitty of about $7,500 to pay all costs involved. 3.) Hire an undertaker to exhume the body and box it for shipment. 4.) Hire a crew to remove, crate, and ship the gravestone back to Florida 5.) Determine whether to ship EJKJ home by plane or train and make the necessary reservations to do so. 5.) Decide on the proper ceremonies along the journey back home and the participants -- who is to be at the disinterment, in the transport, and at the reinterment. 6.) Get as much national and local publicity as possible. (The Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services would like some share in that also). May I suggest that John Adams and Ben Korbly (or Greg white) get together to spearhead this effort and move it along. Please keep me informed.

Bob Hall, Feb 20, 2002

The Florida Division is prepared to take ownership of this project, with the valuable assistance of the other groups involved. Sally is probably the one to handle the documentation and I will assist her with the fund-raising and planning from our end.

I prefer NOT to involve undertakers unless your state laws REQUIRE it (Florida law DOES NOT). I have folks on my staff who are experienced at exhuming bodies, and also at finding them in the middle of overgrown jungles...this one should not be a problem. Also, I am as capable of nailing a crate together as anyone, so I see no need to hire union carpenters to handle a job we can do ourselves at near zero expense.

Our first job is to get all the permissions in place. Then we can get into what it will cost, who's services we will or will not need, and how we want to proceed. Once we have permission, we can go about this on a time schedule that suits everyone involved...without rushing things.

Many in the State Legislature would come to honor the Confederate, and possibly some cabinet members.

If stops were made throughout Dixie, I bet some Southern State Governrs would come to pay their respects. Yes, maximum publicity is a must. However, arrangements and notifications/invites of this magnitude take months to pull together. If going by train, we could stop in several costal state capitols, and have his coffin lie in state for 24 hours.

Re-interment - well, since Confederate Memorial Day is a legal holiday in Florida, it certainly comes to mind. April 26th 2003 would be the date in this case. I would not be inclined to bury him in Florida on US Memorial Day for several reasons:

1. He died as a citizen of the Confederate States of America
2. Everyone is on vacation down here that weekend - getting participation would be near impossible.
3. It is VERY expensive to travel to Florida during that particular holiday, and seats are hard to get.
4. April is a cheap travel month, because kids are still in school.

My guess is we are looking at least a year of planning, fund-raising, and work to make this a reality. I think this is a very worthwhile endeavour, and look forward to making it happen.

John Adams, FL Div Cdr, Feb 20, 2002

Webmaster's update notes: Bob Hall further found out Edward J. Johnston had about 45+ descendents today, of which a great grandson, Ben Korbly, is in touch with Bob. At present, he lives in Pennsylvannia. He once lived in MA and heard about the Ft. Warren history.

The Florida Sons and Daughters of Confederate Veterans are picking up all the costs involved. A Florida undertaker has volunteered at no cost to bring a hearse to Fort Devens, disinter the remains, and bring them back to Fernandina, Florida for burial, in a cortege accompanied by Confederate Navy reenactors. This will probably not happen until this fall or early next spring. Bob will keep us informed with names, dates, places, etc. as things unfold.

I set about looking for the family of this POW. The very day I read this, I left messages on several Georgia Johnston family web-site with inquires to this man. I received several replies, but only one with the information I was looking for. Edward Johnston's wife has a great great granddaughter who is writing a book on her family. She had enough information about where Edward and his wife were married and who their children were, to help me in my search. To make a long story short... I found the great great grandson of Edward Johnston. Unbelievable, but he is from the same county in Florida where I live, but is now living in New Jersey. The great great grandson told me he and his mother, (who has passed away since then), had visited the grave in Massachusetts several years ago, and his mother had wanted to bring Edward back to the South then. But after checking the cost decided it was more than she could afford. It seems our POW is from Fernandina Florida. Members of the Georgia SCV and the Florida SCV are working together to bring Edward home and it may even be sometime this year. I will let you all know more about where and when, once it has all been decided. Thank you Charles Demastus, your work has contributed to bringing this man home.

God bless, Sally Raburn, 03/03/2002

Subj: Lieutenant Edward Johnston, CSN
Date: 3/5/2002 11:27:42 AM Eastern Standard Time
(Can anyone get this to Joe Geden?)
Update on Lieutenant Edward Johnston, CSN.
Here's the latest on Confederate Sailor Lieutenant Edward Johnston. Tentative disinterment date is June 15. Funeral procession to Jacksonville, FL. where remains will be kept until early July. In July, body will be taken aboard CSS Bell (a replica Confederate warship) and sailed up the St. John's River to Florindina. Then funeral procession to the graveyard where he will be buried at his wife's feet. I've been asked to submit a list of people who should be invited to the FL burial. Do you have any suggestions? Bob Hall

Olde Colony Civil War Round Table and its members played a role in assisting Edward J. Johnston to go home (from Massachusetts to Florida). When friends who knew of Johnston, from the South and Nationwide sent in information on Johnston, we placed them in the internet to tell the story for the benefit of the readers. Olde Colony CWRT is not responsible on the 100% accuracy of the information that people sent us. Let the reader be aware. Thank you.