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CDV, General Edward Johnson

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CDV, General Edward Johnson (Image1)
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He was seriously wounded during the 1862 Shenandoah Valley Campaign

Johnson led General Stonewall Jackson's old division at Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania

He was captured at Spotsylvania while defending the Bloody Angle in May 1864

Johnson was captured at the battle of Nashville, Tennessee in December 1864

From the personal collection of Surgeon & General Bernard John Dowling Irwin. Irwin has the distinct honor of being the first recipient of the Medal of Honor in U.S. military history by date of action, February 13, 1861


(1816-73) Known as "Old Allegheny," he was born in Chesterfield County, Virginia, and graduated in the West Point class of 1838, and was assigned to the 6th U.S. Infantry. He served in the Seminole Indian War, and the Mexican War. In the latter he distinguished himself for gallantry at Veracruz, Cerro Gordo, Churubusco, Molino del Rey, and Chapultepec receiving two brevet promotions, to captain and major. He also was awarded a ceremonial sword by the state of Virginia for his bravery. After the war with Mexico concluded, Johnson served on the western frontier, in the Dakota Territory, California, Kansas, and in the Utah Expedition. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was appointed colonel of the 12th Georgia Infantry, and was promoted to brigadier general, on December 13, 1861, and major general, on February 28, 1863. He fought with distinction in the 1862 Shenandoah Valley campaign, where he was seriously wounded at the Battle of McDowell, with a bullet wound to the ankle, which took a long time to heal. He led General Stonewall Jackson's old division at Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. In the fall of 1863, Johnson played a prominent role in the Mine Run Campaign. He was captured at Spotsylvania on May 12, 1864, while defending the "Bloody Angle." After his exchange from prison he led a division in the Tennessee campaign and was captured at the battle of Nashville, on December 16, 1864. He again spent months in a Union prisoner of war camp at Johnson's Island, in Lake Erie, and at the end of the war, General Johnson was moved to the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C., where he was accused of being somehow complicit in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Nothing came of the accusation and he was paroled on July 22, 1865. After the war he was a farmer in Virginia, and also active in Confederate veterans affairs, including early efforts to construct a monument to General Robert E. Lee in Richmond. He died in Richmond on February 2, 1873, and his body lay in state in the Virginia State Capital building until his burial at Hollywood Cemetery, in Richmond.

Wet plate, albumen, carte de visite photograph, mounted to 2 3/8 x 3 3/4 card. Bust view in Confederate uniform with rank of major general. Back mark: E. & H.T. Anthony, 501 Broadway, New York. The card mount is trimmed. Light age toning and wear. Very fine. This is the only known wartime view of General Edward Johnson in uniform. It was taken sometime after his promotion to major general on February 28, 1862. Written in period ink on the front of the card mount is, Maj. Genl. Ed Johnson, C.S.A. Written in period ink in Irwin's hand on the reverse is, Maj. Genl. Edward Johnson, C.S., Died, 1872. At 57. Genl. B.J.D. Irwin album, No. 96 is written in another hand in pencil at the bottom. Rare with this provenance literally making this image one of a kind.

History of United States Surgeon & General Bernard John Dowling Irwin

Surgeon & General Irwin was the first United States Medal of Honor Recipient by date of action, February 13, 1861.


(1830-1917) Born in County Roscommon, Ireland, he immigrated with his parents to the United States in the 1840s. He attended New York University from 1848 to 1849, and then served as a private in the New York Militia. In 1850, he entered Castleton Medical College, and he later transferred to New York Medical College, where he graduated in 1852.

He served as a surgeon and physician at the State Emigrant Hospital on Ward's Island, NYC, until his appointment as assistant surgeon in the U.S. Army in 1856. He was an assistant army surgeon during the Apache Wars, and was the first Medal of Honor recipient chronologically by date of action. His actions on February 13, 1861, at Apache Pass, Arizona, are the earliest for which the Medal of Honor was awarded! The citation on his medal of honor reads; "Voluntarily took command of troops and attacked and defeated hostile Indians he met on the way. Surgeon Irwin volunteered to go to the rescue of 2d Lt. George N. Bascom, 7th U.S. Infantry, who, with 60 men, was trapped by Chiricahua Apaches under Cochise. Irwin and 14 men, not having horses, began the 100-mile march riding mules. After fighting and capturing Indians, recovering stolen horses and cattle, he reached Bascom's column and helped break his siege."

Cochise, the Apache Indian chief, and a group of Apache warriors were accused of kidnapping a boy and a small group of U.S. soldiers in the Arizona Territory after the Army had captured Cochise's brother and nephews. When the Army refused to make a prisoner exchange, Cochise killed his prisoners. Soldiers then killed Cochise's brother and nephews. 2nd Lieutenant George Nicholas Bascom led a group of 60 men from the 7th U.S. Infantry after Cochise but was soon besieged, prompting a rescue mission by the army. In response to the siege of Bascom and his men, Irwin set out on a rescue mission with 14 men of the 1st U.S. Dragoons. He was able to catch up with the Apaches at Apache Pass in present day Arizona. He strategically placed his small unit around Cochise and his men, tricking the Apache leader into thinking that he had a much larger army with him. The Apaches fled and Bascom and his men were saved. Bascom and his men joined Irwin and together they were able to track Cochise into the mountains & rescued the young boy that Cochise had captured.

The Medal of Honor did not exist during the time of the "Bascom Incident," and would not be established until a year later in 1862. However, the actions of Irwin were well remembered, and he was awarded the Medal of Honor just prior to his retirement. Irwin's actions were the earliest for which the Medal of Honor was awarded, predating the outbreak of the American Civil War.

Irwin subsequently served with the Union army during the Civil War, and was promoted to captain in August 1861, and the next year was appointed medical director under Major General William "Bull" Nelson. He improvised one of the first field hospitals used by the U.S. Army at the Battle of Shiloh, on April 7, 1862. He was captured during the Battle of Richmond, Ky., while attempting to save the wounded General Nelson. He was promoted to major in September 1862, and after his release from a Rebel prison he became medical director in the Army of the Southwest. From 1863 to 1865, he was superintendent of the military hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and in March of 1865, he was brevetted to the rank of colonel. He was a companion of the California Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, and the Order of the Indian Wars of the United States. After the Civil War, Irwin served as a senior medical officer at several U.S. army posts, including West Point from 1873 to 1878. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel in September 1885, to colonel in August 1890, and to brigadier general in April 1904. He died in Ontario, Canada, on December 15, 1917, and is buried in the West Point Cemetery, at the U.S. Military Academy, New York.

His son George LeRoy Irwin, graduated from West Point in 1889, and served in World War I, becoming a Major General in the U.S. Army.

His grandson Stafford LeRoy Irwin, graduated from West Point in 1915, and served in World War II, and became a Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army.

His daughter, Amy Irwin Addams McCormick, was a nurse with the American Red Cross and served during World War I.

General Irwin was an admirer and collector of photographs, and he put together a very large, and superb collection of Union and Confederate images. Interestingly, he collected photographs of both Rebel and Yankee alike. I have owned several famous military photograph albums before and never came across one that collected images from both sides of the rebellion. He numbered each individual image, and wrote a brief historical notation on each one. The collection was split up by another dealer, and by the time I found out about it, I was still very fortunate to be able to acquire about one third of his superb Civil War image collection. Each image is rare because it is "one of a kind" having come from the Irwin collection!

The image of B.J.D. Irwin pictured here is a copy photograph from the "Find a Grave" website and is used here for illustration purposes only.



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