A Recollection of Chaplain Thomas Scott Johnson of the 127th United States Colored Troops and 36th United States Colored Troops During and After the Civil War
Hartwig, Robert Norman
Gilkey, George R.
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The intent of this paper is to te11 the story of Thomas Scott Johnson, Chap1ain for the 127th United States Co1ored Troops and 1ater the 36th United States Co1ored Troops. He a1so served as a Christian Commissioner during his first year of en1istment. He refused to recognize c1ass distinction, race and co1or. The diaries, 1etters and notes of and about Thomas Scott Johnson are preserved in the Area Research Center located at Forrest R. Po1k Memorial Library, Wisconsin State University at Oshkosh. They proved to be a va1uab1e source of first hand information about the 127th United States Co1ored Troops and 36th United States Co1ored Troops during and after the Civil War. Other va1uab1e materia1 was obtained from the Murphy Library at La Crosse State University and the State Historica1 Society at Madison. Materia1 re1ating to Johnson's war record was received from the Library of Congress and the Nationa1 Archives located at Washington, D.C. Chaplain Johnson was one of the honorable exceptions among the chaplains of the Civi1 War period. According to Bruce Catton Mr. Lincoln's Army, there were too many misfits in that free and easy age, too many unqua1ified men, and as a group "with honorab1e exceptions" the chaplains somehow did not measure up. The 1etters and diaries of Johnson present the impression that he rea1ly cared about his fellow man regardless of the color of his skin and as a chaplain he strove to give spirtual guidance and equal opportunity to all.