Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Nathan Johnson (b. 1842 - d. 1919)
MSA SC 3520-4901
USCT Soldier, Talbot County, Maryland

Biography:

    Nathan Johnson was born a slave on February 22, 1842 in Royal Oak located in the St. Michael's District of Talbot County.1 Johnson was owned by Thomas B. Leonard2 and was primarily used as a laborer on Leonard's farm.3 He was the younger brother of Isaac Johnson, who also fought in the Civil War for the same company and regiment.4 The Civil War had lasted two years before Abraham Lincoln enacted his Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.5 By September of 1863, the recruitment of free blacks and slaves was in full motion.6 Both, Isaac and his brother Nathan enlisted in Company D of the 7th U.S. Colored Troops regiment on September 26, 1863.7

    His time in the United States Army presented various hardships. Several affidavits, including Nathan's own testimony reiterated the fact that he was injured in 1864 while building log houses for winter quarters at Benedict, Maryland.8 He suffered from a back injury that was caused by carrying logs and small trees when his "mate dropped his end without giving me notice."9 Then, in September of 186410, while in the line of duty at Fort Gilmer, Virginia, Jacob Cooper testifies in an affidavit that he was taken prisoner by the enemy and sent to Libby Prison in Virginia.11 From the prisoner of war record, Johnson was confined at Richmond, Virginia on September 29, 1864 and sent to Salisbury, North Carolina on November 24, 1864, then reconfined at Richmond, Va. on March 3, 1865.12 The record also gives his slave owners name, which is "Thos. B. Leonard of Talbot County, Md."13

    While in prison he was forced to "assist in building breast works" for the enemy, but his injury worsened.14 He was taken to a "rebel hospital in Richmond, VA." where he was treated from his injuries.15 The hospital was listed at "Hosp #21 Richmond Va." on his prisoner of war record.16 Henry Worrell of Kent County, Maryland was acquainted with Nathan Johnson since they were in the same company and regiment.17 They first became acquainted at "Camp Belger, Baltimore."18 Worrell was unaware of Johnson's back injury and mentioned that he remembered him being injury in his foot.19 He remained in prison until the close of the war when he was sent to Indianola, Texas to be with his regiment.20 Nathan served as a private, corporal,21 and sergeant22 during his three year service time.

    After serving for three years, one month, and two days,23 Johnson was discharged from the army on October 13, 1866.24 After his discharge, he moved from Talbot County to Baltimore, which was the case for many former slaves and free blacks from the Eastern Shore of Maryland because Baltimore offered opportunity, both socially and economically. The 1870 census shows that Nathan was a "laborer" residing in Baltimore with his wife, Adeline and three children.25 During his time in Baltimore, he had various residences, including 439 Orchard Street26,610 Sterling Street27, 717 Druid Hill Avenue28, 702 East Lombard Street,29 and 626 George Street30. According to the 1880 census, Johnson was residing at Moore's Alley in Baltimore City's 20th Ward.31 Johnson was 37 years old and was a "wagon driver" by occupation.32 However, the census also shows that he was unemployed for five months prior to the census, which could have been a result of his wartime injuries.33 

    As a result of his war injuries, he was only able to perform light work duties.  He continued to suffer from the back injury and also neuralgia, and deafness in his right ear.34 Johnson's disabilities earned him an increased pension rate from 1890 until his death in 1919. The pension rates were: $6.00 per month commencing July 15, 189035 until 190436, $12.00 per month commencing February 13, 190737, $15.00 per month commencing March 28, 191238, $24.00 per month commencing May 16, 1912,39 $30.00 per month commencing February 22, 191740, and finally he was last paid $40.00 per month commencing December 4, 1918.41 In October of 1867, he married Adeline Clements and they had two children together.42 They were married in Baltimore by Reverend Henry Hutton.43 Their children were Benjamin A. Johnson (b. 1872) and Sarah C. Johnson (b. 1880).44 According to a surgeon's certificate, Johnson was a "preacher" by occupation.45

    After being married for 43 years, Adeline passed away in 1910(22) while living at 639 West Hoffman Street in Baltimore.46 Three years later, Nathan married Emma J. Johnson on May 4, 1913.47 They were married in Baltimore by Reverend John A. Holmes.48  Six years later, after enduring slavery and fighting for his freedom, Nathan Johnson died from "organic disease of heart" on February 21, 1919 at 75 years old.49 He died at 626 George Street and was buried at the National Cemetery three days later on February 24, 1919.50

    For a visual representation of Nathan Johnson's journey from slavery to freedom, click here. Users must have access to Google Earth in order to utilize this file, which includes landmarks(pins) in Johnson's life from 1863 to 1919. You may take the tour and investigate individual sites under the "Places" tab on the left of the screen, or you may navigate using the slider and cursor on the map itself. 


Endnotes:

1. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 4126] Nathan Johnson, Box 6, Folder 85, Page 22, 47.

2. COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY (Bounty Rolls) MSA S629, Nathan Johnson, Volunteers, Dates: 1864-1880, Page 155, MSA S629-1.

3. William H. Dilworth, Map of Talbot County, 1858, St. Michael's District, Library of Congress, MSA SC 1213-1-456.

4. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) [MSA SC 4126] Isaac Johnson, Box 6, Folder 84, Page 21.

5. Agnes Kane Callum, Colored Volunteers of Maryland: Civil War 7th Regiment United States Colored Troops, 1863-1866 (Baltimore, MD: Mullac Publishers, 1990), 1.

6. Ibid.

7. Ancestry.com. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865. Record for Nathan Johnson. Company Descriptive Book. Company D. 7th United States Colored Troops. Page 1250.

8. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) Nathan Johnson, Page 23.

9. Ibid., 23, 97.

10. Ancestry.com. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865. Record for Nathan Johnson. Missing in Action Record. Company D. 7th United States Colored Troops. Page 1258.

11. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) Nathan Johnson, Page 16.

12. Ancestry.com. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865. Record for Nathan Johnson. Prisoner of War Record. Company D. 7th United States Colored Troops. Page 1274.

13. Ibid.

14. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) Nathan Johnson, Page 23, 94.

15. Ibid., 20.

16. Ancestry.com. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, Nathan Johnson. Prisoner of War Record. Page 1274.

17. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) Nathan Johnson, Page 130.

18. Ibid.

19. Ibid., 131.

20. Ibid., 97.

21. Ancestry.com. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865. Record for Nathan Johnson. Promotion to Corporal. Company D. 7th United States Colored Troops. Page 1263.

22. Ancestry.com. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865. Record for Nathan Johnson. Promotion to Sergeant. Company D. 7th United States Colored Troops. Page 1264.

23. Ancestry.com. 1890. Veterans Schedules. Nathan Johnson. Baltimore City, Maryland. Roll 8. Page 1. Line 6. Enumeration District 80. Image No. 127.

24. Ancestry.com. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1861-1865. Record for Nathan Johnson. Muster Out Roll. Company D. 7th United States Colored Troops. Page 1270.

25. Ancestry.com. 1870. United States Federal Census. Nathan Johnson. Baltimore City, Maryland. 12th Ward. Lines 10-14. Page 165.

26. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) Nathan Johnson, Page 2, 27.

27. Ibid., 7, 34.

28. Ibid., 4, 32.

29. Ibid., 164.

30. Ibid., 31.

31. Ancestry.com. 1880. United States Federal Census. Nathaniel Johnson. Baltimore City, Maryland. 20th Ward. Enumeration District 206. Lines 11-14. Page 21.

32. Ibid.

33. Ibid.

34. SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (U.S. Colored Troops Pension File Collection) Nathan Johnson, Page 34, 36.

35. Ibid., 36.

36. Ibid., 2, 4, 164, 166.

37. Ibid., 45.

38. Ibid., 46.

39. Ibid., 50.

40. Ibid., 71.

41. Ibid., 52.

42. Ibid., 22.

43. Ibid., 64.

44. Ibid., 22.

45. Ibid., 166.

46. Ibid., 59.

47. Ibid., 22, 61, 69.

48. Ibid., 22, 69.

49. BALTIMORE CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS (Death Record) 01/1919-04/1919. Nathan Johnson. Died: February 21, 1919. Certificate No. 29,188. Film Reel: CR 48,179. MSA CM1132-136.

50. Ibid.


Researched and Written by Tanner Sparks, 2013.

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