Confederate Governor

Historical Marker #610 memorializes George W. Johnson, the first Confederate governor of Kentucky, at his home in Scott County.

Born in 1811 in Scott County, Johnson practiced law in Georgetown after receiving his degree from Transylvania University in 1833. His first foray into politics came with his 1838 election to the state legislature, representing Scott County. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Johnson quickly pledged his allegiance to the South.

Johnson was largely responsible for a "sovereignty convention" of delegates of the States Rights party and others who wished for Kentucky to become a part of the Confederacy. Gathering in Russellville over a three-day period in November 1861, those in attendance established a provisional government that joined the Confederacy on December 10, 1861, with Bowling Green as its capital. Johnson was unanimously chosen as the first provisional Confederate governor.

Johnson's time in Bowling Green was short-lived, as the Confederate army retreated into Tennessee just three months later. Johnson accompanied the troops and served as an aide to generals Albert Sidney Johnston and John C. Breckinridge. When Union and Confederate troops fought at the Battle of Shiloh in southwestern Tennessee, Johnson took the oath of a private and joined a Kentucky Confederate infantry regiment on April 6, 1862. The next day, Johnson was mortally wounded. He died two days later.

Johnson's body was returned for burial in the Georgetown Cemetery. His wife, Ann Viley Johnson, was left behind to raise their seven children.

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Transylvania University

Transylvania University

George W. Johnson earned his Bachelor, Masters, and law degrees from Transylvania University in Lexington, KY before practicing law and entering politics. Courtesy of the University of Kentucky. View File Details Page

The Battle of Shiloh

The Battle of Shiloh

The Battle of Shiloh claimed the life of George W. Johnson on April 9, 1862. Johnson joined the army as an aide to General Albert Sidney Johnson after their retreat from the Confederate capital in Bowling Green, but would enlist as a private the day before his mortal wounding. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. View File Details Page

Confederate Governor George W. Johnson

Confederate Governor George W. Johnson

Johnson was the first of Kentucky's two Confederate Governors after the creation of a states rights Provisional Government in November 1861, and its acceptance into the Confederacy later that same year. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Confederate Governor Richard Hawes

Confederate Governor Richard Hawes

Hawes was the second, and last, Confederate Governor, replacing George W. Johnson after his death at Shiloh. Courtesy of the Kentucky Historical Society. View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

McKenzie Martin, “Confederate Governor,” ExploreKYHistory, accessed March 26, 2017, http://explorekyhistory.ky.gov/items/show/343.

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