Civil War Wiki

William Preston Johnston, circa 1890.

William Preston Johnston (January 5, 1831 – July 16, 1899) was a lawyer, scholar, poet, and Confederate soldier.


Johnston was born in Louisville, Kentucky to Albert Sidney Johnston and Henritta Preston. At the age of four, his mother died, and he was reared by her family members. Johnston attended several local schools, including the academy of Samuel Venable Womack in Shelbyville, Centre College in Danville, Western Military Institute in Georgetown and Yale College. In March 1853, he received his law degree from the Louisville School of Law. On July 6, 1853, he married his first wife named Rosa Elizabeth Duncan, who was the daughter of John N Duncan of New Orleans.

During the Civil War, Johnston served as an aide-de-camp to Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States. Johnston was a colonel in the Confederate Army. Johnston was captured with Jefferson Davis in Georgia at the end of the war, and was imprisoned for several months at Fort Delaware.

After the war (at the invitation of Robert E. Lee), he became a professor at Washington College in Virginia. In 1880, he became president of Louisiana State University, but resigned four years later to become the first president of the new Tulane University in 1884.

Johnston wrote two books of poetry, My Garden Walk (1894) and Pictures of the Patriarchs and Other Poems (1895). He also wrote The Prototype of Hamlet and Other Shakespearean Problems (1890) as well as a biography of his father, The Life of General Albert Sidney Johnston (1878).

After the death of his first wife on October 19, 1885, he married Margaret Henshaw Avery of Avery Island, Louisiana. At the age of 67 on July 16, 1899, he died at the home of his son-in-law, Congressman Henry St. George Tucker in Lexington, Virginia.


  • Colonel William Preston Johnston, The Life of General Albert Sidney Johnston: His Service in the Armies of the United States, the Republic of Texas, and the Confederate States.
  • Reviewed work(s): William Preston Johnston: A Transitional Figure of the Confederacy. by Arthur Marvin Shaw
  • "Col. Wm. Preston Johnston, The Gallant Son of the Great Southern Chieftan," New Orleans, La. Daily Picayune (July 17, 1899).

Template:Start box Template:S-aca |- style="text-align: center;" |- style="text-align:center;" |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
(predecessor) |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|President of Tulane University
1884–1899 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
William Oscar Rogers (acting) |- |}