Update by Bob Hall, 9/20/2002.
Coincidentally, at the same time as this tribute to General Greene (R.I.) is taking place on Saturday, October 26 at 11 AM, a Confederate military funeral will be taking place in Fernandina, FL., New England's last known Confederate POW will be returned to his final resting place 139 years after he died in Boston. CSN Lt. Edward Johnston, who died while a POW at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor and has been subsequently buried and disinterred 4 times and now rest in the Fort Devens, Ayer, Massachusetts Post Cemetery will be buried for the last time in an empty grave at his wife's feet in Fernandina on Amelia Island near Jacksonville. Expectations are that 1,000 or more reenactors and members of the SCV, DOC, and other CW organizations will participate at that time.
Of interest to those of us here in New England is that on Saturday, October 12, at 11 AM, a military ceremony will be held before Lt. Johnston's remains (which will have been exhumed the day before and placed in a coffin). A Navy POW from Vietnam is expected to give the eulogy, the color guard from the USS Constitution, a firing party of Confederate reenactors, 3 Union Cavalry outriders, pall bearers from the CSS Jackson from Atlanta, GA, and bagpipes and drums from the Ancient Order of Hibernians (Lt. Johnston was born in Dublin, Ireland) will add pompt and color to the ceremony. Speakers are expected to include either a US Senator or Congressman, a MOH recipient US Navy Captain, a retired Lt. Col. USMC who is the Lt.'s great-great grandson, and other personages. On completion of the ceremonies, a Mass. State Police motorcycle escort will take the hearse and accompanying vehicles down Route 95 where they will be met by a RI State Police escort who will take them to the Connecticut border. Such escorts will continue from State to State until the Lt. reaches Florida.
The event on October 12 at Fort Devens is opened to the public and we hope you who receive this will attend or will inform others who mght be interested in attending of it. You might also get an idea or two you can use at the ceremony for General Greene.
For more information, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone at 781-444-3259.
October 2002 Take an officer from the CSS Atlanta who died in Boston and was buried four times and in-troduce a Massachusetts naval historian whose great-grandfather was captain of the Atlanta when it went down after the Civil War. This is the poignant story of Lt. Edward J. Johnston, New England’s last Civil War prisoner of war.
On Oct. 12 he will be exhumed one last time "139 years minus one day after his death" and pardoned. His re-mains will be reburied with his wife in Fernandina Beach, Fla., on Oct. 26.
Johnston was first assistant engineer on the CSS Atlanta when it was captured by the Union. Its officers arrived at Fort Warren prison on George’s Island in Boston Harbor in late June 1863. He died there on Oct. 13, 1863.
According to Bob Hall of the Olde Colony Civil War Round Table of Massachusetts, Johnston was buried on the island "with his face either to the sea or to the south as he had requested."
When the fort closed, Johnston was reburied on Governor’s Island and Deer Island, which both closed, before fi-nally being buried in Ayer at the Fort Devens Army cemetery in 1939.
About nine years ago Dana Chapman of Morrow, Ga., heard about Johnston from friends who took part in a Civil War living history program at Fort Warren. Chapman, a member of the Georgia Civil War Commission, tried to find the grave.
As a former member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) and a medical reenactor she says the story captured her imagination and she learned what she could about Johnston.
The family had learned of Johnston’s death by letter from a priest who was at the deathbed of someone else. Chapman knows that for almost 20 years early in the 1900s a member of the UDC in Boston took flowers to his grave.
In the 1930s, when Johnston’s wife was still living, a grandchild found and visited the grave. The family wanted to rebury him, but the cost of moving the steel box that held the remains and the 1500-pound gravestone was too costly.
"It was appalling to me that the federal government had to move him four times. Why couldn’t they have moved him to Florida when the family asked?" Chapman asks.
Johnston was born in Dublin, Ireland, and came to the U.S. when he was 3, but his date of birth is not known. Chapman says they don’t know where the family moved, but when he was about 14 he went to sea and became an engineer. He returned to Ireland when he was about 17 and stayed for a couple of years, then returned here and mar-ried. He was about 39 when he died. According to the 1860 census he had four children.
Chapman says the cause of his death was likely exposure, a combination of pneumonia, dysentery and diarrhea. The fort was incomplete. Boston residents responded "gallantly" to the mayor’s plea for blankets and supplies for the prisoners and guards.
She calls Fort Warren "one of the most humane stories of POWs of the war, North or South." She says that Johnston was well thought of. Prisoners and guards paid for his granite grave marker which has followed him through the reburials.
Chapman’s effort to find Johnston’s grave was unsuccessful. The idea of returning his remains to the South resur-faced this past January with naval historian Joe Geden of the Olde Colony Civil War Round Table. His great-grandfather was captain of the Atlanta when it sank in 1869.
Geden wrote about Johnston in the Olde Colony newsletter and the word was spread through The Civil War News and the Internet thanks to Bob Hall. It wasn’t long before Chapman was alerted and volunteers were ready to help return Edward Johnston to his family.
Because of his ship’s name and its base in and capture near Savannah, people had assumed he was from Georgia and the Sons of Confederate Veterans in that state were contacted about helping with the reburial. The project was dubbed "Bring A Georgia Confederate Home."
However, family members were located in Florida. It was learned that Johnston lived in Jacksonville when he joined the navy. His wife and some of her children and their spouses are buried in Fernandina Beach. Two great-grandchildren died this year, but about 50 great-great-grandchildren have been contacted.
Many descendants now live in the North. "They can’t understand why we’re all so gung ho to help bring him home," Chapman comments.
Family members will likely be stunned at how important the disinterment and reburial are to so many people. People from all over the world have shown an interest in the ceremonies, says Chapman. An SCV member from Georgia who is a Civil War navy reenactor has volunteered to pay the estimated $10,000 cost.
The Massachusetts contingent has planned a military ceremony at Fort Devens on Oct. 12 with the cooperation of the Massachusetts Commissioner of Veterans Services. Military personnel and reenactors will form an honor guard for the procession to and from the grave. The ceremony will include remarks by officials, a pardon and return of citi-zenship, eulogy, rifle salute and drummer and fifer. More than a dozen great-great-grandchildren will be among the guests.
Pallbearers will carry the remains to a vehicle which will lead the procession out of the cemetery. A state police escort will meet the procession.
The cortege will include a funeral home van and vehicles for the gravestone and honor guard. They will be escorted by state police through the various states during the three-day drive to Florida.
Chapman says the route down Interstate 95 was chosen because Johnston was "up and down" that part of the coast. Reenactors are encouraged to pay their respects as the cortege passes. In Charleston the H.L. Hunley honor guard will fire a salute from a bridge.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans, United Daughters of the Confederacy, reenactors and area officials are going all out "to welcome this man home."
A Confederate honor guard will be posted for 11 days at the Oxley-Heard Funeral Home in Fernandina Beach which for years has handled burials for Johnston’s descendants.
On the morning of Oct. 26 the casket will be moved to the CSS Belle, a navy reenacting boat, which will carry it up the Amelia River to a docking point near Bosque Bella Cemetery.
The Confederate military ceremony will begin at 2. Johnston’s casket will be covered with two flags, a copy of the CSS Atlanta flag made by Chapman and the bonnie blue flag from the casket of his granddaughter who was president of the Florida UDC. Chapman is also making a navy uniform for a family member.
For information about the route and opportunities to view the procession contact George Hagan at email@example.com. Bob Hall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and Dana Chapman at email@example.com for information about the ceremonies. Information will also be posted at http://hometown.aol.com/gordonkwok/occwrt.html
Donations are welcome for the Johnston Memorial Fund. They may be sent to George Hagan, 283 Worth Wood Rd., Albany, GA 31705.
Lieutenant EDWARD J. K. JOHNSTON, CSN
A sailor from his earliest years,
In years to come, when sailors are home from the sea, they will still remember with fondness and respect the ocean in all its moods - the impossible shimmering mirror calm and the storm-tossed green water surging over the bow. And then there will come again a faint whiff of stack gas, a faint echo of engine and rudder orders, a vision of the bright bunting of signal flags snapping at the yardarm, a refrain of hearty laughter in the wardroom and chief's quarters and messdecks. Gone ashore for good they will grow wistful about their Navy days, when the seas belonged to them and a new port of call was ever over the horizon.
Remembering this, they will stand taller and say,
"I WAS A SAILOR ONCE. I WAS PART OF THE NAVY, AND THE NAVY WILL ALWAYS BE PART OF ME."
by VAdm Harold Koenig, USN (Ret)
LT. EDWARD J. K. JOHNSTON, CSN
COLOR SERGEANT, Chuck Fazio (OCCWRT member)
PARTICIPANTS (in inverse order of rank):
SALUTATION - Robert Hall (OCCWRT member)
UNION CAVALRY OUTRIDERS TO LEAD THE HEARSE
Moment of silence as casket is placed in the hearse
Procession disbands outside
(Members of the Olde Colony Civil War Round Table charted a bus to Ft. Devens and paid respect and honor to Lt. Edward J.K. Johnston.)
(Note: TV Channel 4, 7 and 56 plus other correspondents were also present.)
Bob Hall forwarded this email to me. It was written by Scott Young (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lt. Edward Johnston, "Going Home"
I had the honor to assist George Hagan and the devoted CSS Jackson Crew in escorting Lt. Johnston's remains back to Fernandina, Fl.. The re-burial service will take place Oct. 26th in Fernandina, Florida. Lt. Johnston was buried in Massachusetts about 140 years ago after dying as a prisoner of war at Fort Waren in Boston Harbor. He had been a Sailor on the Ironclad, CSS Atlanta of the Confederate States of America. We put about 8,000 miles on the 2 Vans rented for the "Return Home". The Ceremony in Massachusetts was well attended with all the major New England media represented and producing all positive media coverage. Dana Chapman of Georgia gave a moving and emotional talk about her 9 year quest to return Lt. Johnston home to Fernandina, Fl. Much local support and enthusiasm in New England about the "Return Home" efforts. The family was well represented. The Governor of Massachusetts, Jane Swift, had an impressive proclamation presented to Lt. Johnston's descendants. Many top veterans and officials of the area gave impressive support, including a U.S. Naval Color Guard, a group of Boston Bag-Pipers, Commissioner Kelly and Bob Hall of the VA were a tremendous support, a "Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition" from Congressman Steven Lynch was presented, CSA & USA re-enactors, plus many, many more supporters. As we left for the South with Lt. Johnston's remains, 2 Massachusetts State Troopers escorted us to the Rhode Island State Line, there we were met with Rhode Island State Trooper escort to the State Line, 2 Connecticut State Troopes escorted us to the New York State line, there we were again met by an Honor Guard escort from a New York State Trooper, as we neared New York City, a NYPD officer and a New York/New Jersey Port Authority officer joined in the escort assisting us getting through New York City with 3 police lighted vehicles with their sirens screaming they escorted us in an extremely efficient manner, we probably made a world record for getting through New York City traffic in record time. Later that night, at a Northern Virginia Hotel, at about 1 AM, while the 6 of us were trading off our 24 hour honor guard watch vigil for Lt. Johnston, one in our party (the Fireman) was seen handling his re-enactor's rifle by someone in the Hotel. Since this is the area where innocent people are currently being shot by a sniper, the police rushed in, in force, and quizzed 2 in our party. They came to the conclusion after looking at Lt. Johnston's coffin through the Van window that, "No one could make up a story like that." Words of encouragement and praise were exchanged and the honor guard watch continued. This was a poignant and inspiring trip. So many people treasure and respect the mission of returning this Son of the South to finally rest next to his beloved Wife and Children. Lt. Johnston's remains is currently in Fernadina, Florida. The final burial ceremony will take place Oct. 26th., hope to see you there. I have filmed the entire event and just reviewed my footage, it turned out quite good. After the final service Oct. 26th., editing and music additions, I will have a quality 1+ hour video tape available. If interested in more info about the above event, contact me, Dana Chapman, George Hagan or Fl. Div. Comdr. John Adams.
Bob Hall forwarded this email to me. It was written by John W. Adams.
Folks, Please join the Florida Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Florida Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy, family and friends, as we pay homage to Lt. Edward Johnston. Be with us when Lt. Johnston's remains are sailed up the Amelia River aboard the CSS Belle, offloaded onto a caisson, and taken to the cemetery in Fernandina Beach for internment. Join the hundreds in the processional to the graveside to pay our respects. Lt. Johnston has been a POW for 137 years...join us in welcoming him home. Invitation, details, and maps are located at:http://www.florida-scv.org/Reinternment.pdf
Questions? Contact John Adams, Florida Division Commander at: (877) 473-5237 toll-free Reenactors, period attire preferred, but not required. Ladies should wear their "Sunday clothes", black mourning attire is NOT required. So far, 21 artillery batteries have signed on to fire the salute. Any batteries interested in attending should contact John Adams, above. Light refreshments will be served after the memorial ceremony. Many high-level dignitaries are expected to attend. The press will be convering this event heavily...even the press from Scotland, Johnston's ancestral home, is planning to cover this story. Join us at this once in a lifetime event...and help us honor this brave Confederate Officer.
Subj: Mission Accomplished!
SAILOR RETURNS HOME
Pictures taken by Greg Wilson, on the Fernandina re-burial ceremonyPictures on Lt. Johnston returns home
Bob Hall forwarded this information, sent by: (Linda) C531129622@mindspring.com
---------- Lt. Johnston's descendants, who reside throughout the U.S., have expressed amazement that so many individuals in the South care about their ancestor. Reports indicate that somewhere between 500 and 750 people attended this event.
The news account appears at:
The Florida Times-Union web site ---- pictures
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 sent to us. Let the reader be aware. Thank you.