Maryland Campaign Medal of Honor Series: Samuel Johnson, 9th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry

By the time of the Maryland Campaign, a year later in the fall of 1862, the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves had fought at Dranesville, VA, the Seven Days Battles on the Peninsula, and at 2nd Bull Run. At South Mountain on September 14, 1862, the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves was part of Brigadier General George Meade’s division attacking north of Turner’s Gap towards the Frosttown Plateau. Though successful in driving the Confederate troops from their defenses, the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves burned through all their ammunition and lost their brigade commander, Colonel Thomas Gallagher during the fighting. The commander of their regiment, Lt. Colonel Robert Anderson, was then placed at the head of the brigade. Anderson commanded the brigade three days later at the Battle of Antietam while the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves was commanded by Captain Samuel Dick.[3]

At Antietam, Meade’s Pennsylvania Reserve Division was initially in reserve in the North Woods as the battle opened. The Pennsylvania troops were soon ordered forward however to the north edge of the infamous Bloody Cornfield. There they supported artillery on the rising ground north of the field and were in position to back up the Federal infantry that had already advanced through the stalks. With the battle raging around them, Captain Dick ordered the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves to lie down. He later wrote in his after-action report:

We had not been long in this position when I discovered the New York Fourteenth coming out of the corn in some confusion, hotly pursued by the enemy. We held our fire until the enemy had advanced to within twenty-five yards of us, when we delivered the entire volley of the regiment, driving them back in confusion. General Gibbon then ordered me to advance through the corn, as his brigade was on my right. I advanced and continued driving the enemy out of the corn, capturing two stand of their colors, which have already been forwarded to headquarters, until we came to the outer edge of the field, where we remained firing at a new brigade of the enemy who were advancing through the open field.[4]

Johnson’s Medal of Honor monument in front of the Connellsville City Hall

With a fresh brigade advancing on their line and ammunition running low, Captain Dick attempted to hold out until reinforcements could be brought up. Seeing however the regiments on either side of his men absent or retreating, he ordered the 9th Pennsylvania Reserves back to the gully on the north side of the Cornfield. The 9th Pennsylvania Reserves was ordered further to the rear and spent the remainder of the battle supporting the batteries on the high ground north of Poffenberger Farm.

The regiment that the 9th Pennsylvania had shattered with its volley fire and the subsequent charge had been the 1st Texas Infantry of the famed Texas Brigade. It was during the charge of the regiment that Private Samuel Johnson, though wounded in the process, recovered the fallen regimental banners of the 1st Texas Infantry, mistakenly referred to as the 1st Texas Rangers in his citation. As stated by Captain Dick, the banners were sent to the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac as a war trophy and on May 30, 1863, by then 2nd Lieutenant Samuel Johnson was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions and transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps by General Orders #160.[5]

Mustering into the Veteran Reserve Corps on June 4, 1863 in New York City, Johnson was present for and may have helped in quelling the New York Draft Riots that summer. He appears to have mustered into Company C of the 10th Veteran Reserve Corps when it was formed in October of 1863 but was apparently dismissed from the service on November 7, 1863.[6]

Following his service, Samuel Johnson went west spending time in West Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Kansas and especially Arkansas. Over the course of his life he married five times and from the 1900 census onward he listed his occupation as a physician. Sadly Dr. Johnson met a tragic end on November 25, 1915 as a result of a carriage accident the previous day.[7]

Today Samuel Johnson rests in Baker Cemetery, Onda, Arkansas and a small monument has been built in his honor that sites outside Connellsville Town Hall.[8]


[1] “Stories about Samuel Johnson”, Fold3, https://www.fold3.com/page/634524962/samuel-johnson, last updated 10/16/2014

[2] “Soldier History: Samuel Johnson”, Civil War Database, http://civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&833834, accessed 1/10/2021 ; Samuel Bates, History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, Vol. 1,(Harrisburg, PA: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869), 784-785.

[3] United States. War Dept., John Sheldon Moody, Calvin Duvall Cowles, Frederick Caryton Ainsworth, et al., The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.; Series 1 – Volume 51, Part 1, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1897), 149-150.

[4] OR. Vol. 51, pt 1, 150-151.

[5] OR. Vol. 51, pt 1, 1042.

[6] Secretary of War, Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force of the United States Army For The Years of 1861-1865, Vol. VIII, (Washington, DC: Adjutant General’s Office, 1867), 46 ; “Soldier History: Samuel Johnson”, Civil War Database, http://civilwardata.com/active/hdsquery.dll?SoldierHistory?U&833834, accessed 1/10/2021

[7] “Onda Physician Dies Result of Injuries”, Daily Fayetteville Democrat, Nov. 27, 1915, pg 1; 1900 & 1910 Census Data

[8] “Stories about Samuel Johnson”, Fold3, https://www.fold3.com/page/634524962/samuel-johnson, last updated 10/16/2014; “Samuel Johnson”, Find-a-Grave, https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/10280180/samuel-johnson, last updated, 1/5/2005

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