Memorial Day – Wiley T. Johnston

Memorial Day – Wiley T. Johnston

My ancestors are fighters. They are an extremely patriotic bunch and can be found in every war of our country. One ancestor’s story I find especially compelling is that of my third great grandfather, Wiley T. Johnston. Wiley, the second of 12 children, was born and lived in Corona, Alabama. In October of 1863, he became a 19-year-old private in Alabama’s 28th Infantry. Wiley’s first military action came one month later at the Battle of Lookout Mountain. There he was taken as a prisoner of war and sent to Rock Island Prison in Illinois, where he was kept until the end of the war. The researcher and historian in me became engrossed in learning about this prison, previously unknown to me. Disease, malnutrition, overcrowding, and cold caused the deaths of more than 2,000 prisoners. It was -32° F and snowing when Wiley entered the prison in December 1863 – pretty cold for a southern boy. Wiley was released at the end of the war to walk the more than 730 miles back home, Continue reading