Stovepipe Johnson

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Adam Rankin Johnson
Nickname(s) "Stovepipe"
Born (1834-02-06)February 6, 1834
Henderson, Kentucky
Died October 20, 1922(1922-10-20) (aged 88)
Burnet, Texas
Place of burial Texas State Cemetery, Austin, Texas
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–65
Rank Union army col rank insignia.jpg Colonel
(Brigadier General appointment not confirmed)

Adam Rankin "Stovepipe" Johnson (February 6, 1834 – October 20, 1922) was an antebellum Western frontiersman and later an officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

Permanently blinded during a skirmish in 1864, Johnson in 1887 founded the town of Marble Falls, Texas, which became known as "the blind man's town."

Early life[edit]

Johnson was born in Henderson, Kentucky, a son of Thomas J. and Juliet (Rankin) Johnson. Educated in the local schools, he went to work at age 12 in a drugstore for the next eight years. In 1854 he moved to Hamilton Valley in Burnet County, Texas, and worked as a surveyor on the West Texas frontier. He was a noted Indian fighter and provided supplies and animals for the Butterfield Overland Mail stations. On January 1, 1861, he married Josephine Eastland of Austin, with whom he had nine children.

Civil War[edit]

When the Civil War began and his native Kentucky struggled to maintain its neutrality, Johnson returned home and joined Nathan B. Forrest's cavalry battalion as a scout, fighting with him at his first engagement at the Battle of Sacramento.[1] He escaped capture with Forrest after Fort Donelson, when the Confederate commander decided to surrender his post to the Union besiegers. He later received a promotion to colonel in recognition for his exploits as commander of his Partisan Rangers, a regiment that often operated deep within Federal lines in Kentucky. Johnson's men harassed Union supply lines and isolated garrisons. In July 1862, in his Newburgh Raid, he captured the town of Newburgh, Indiana, despite a sizable Union militia presence, with only twelve men and two joints of stovepipe mounted on the running gear of an abandoned wagon to simulate a cannon. His capture of the first Northern city to fall to the Confederates was reported even in Europe, and Johnson's men thereafter called him "Stovepipe" for his ingenuity.

In 1863, Johnson assumed command of a brigade in the cavalry division of Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan. He participated in Morgan's Raid, and, following the Confederate disaster at the Battle of Buffington Island, Johnson led nearly 350 men across the rain-swollen Ohio River to safety. The remainder of Morgan's division was trapped on the Ohio side of the river and eventually had to surrender.

Johnson was appointed brigadier general on September 6, 1864 to rank from June 1, 1864; this appointment was not confirmed by the Confederate Congress.[2] On August 21, 1864, he was blinded by an accidental shot from one of his own men during an attack at Grubb's Crossroads near Princeton, Kentucky. He was subsequently captured by the Federals and imprisoned for much of the rest of the war in Fort Warren.


Johnson returned to Texas after being exchanged and paroled in 1865. Despite being blind, he founded a town, established a company, and worked to harness the water power of the Colorado River.

Johnson died in Burnet, Texas, and is interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas. He rests beside Josephine and near his grandson, Judge George Christian, Sr., and a great-grandson, former White House Press Secretary George Christian, Jr.


  1. ^ Davison, E. W. and D. Foxx (2007). Nathan Bedford Forrest: In Search of the Enigma. Pelican Publishing. pp. 36–41. ISBN 1589804155. 
  2. ^ Eicher, p. 601; United States War Department, The Military Secretary's Office, Memorandum relative to the general officers appointed by the President in the armies of the Confederate States--1861-1865 (1908) (Compiled from official records), p. 32. Caption shows 1905 but printing date is February 11, 1908., retrieved August 5, 2010..


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