At the beginning of the Civil War it was almost universally agreed that the finest soldier, North or South, was Albert Sidney Johnston. Johnston was went to West Point and graduated 8th uot of 41 in the class of 1826. After 8 years of service, including garrison duty and the Black Hawk War, he resigned in 1834 to care for his terminally ill wife.
A failure at farming, he joined the Texas army as a private in 1836. He rose to the army's chief command as senior Brigadier General the next year.
He served as Secretary of War in the Republic of Texas in 1838 and resigned the post 2 years later. He commanded the lst Texas Rifles in the Mexican War. Reentering the regular army in 1849 as a major and paymaster, he became Colonel, 2nd U.S. Cavalry, in 1855. For his services in the 1857 Utah Expedition against the Mormons in Utah, he was brevetted Brigadier General. On January 1861, he went to the Department of the Pacific.
He resigned his commission on April 10, 1861, but did not quit his post on the West Coast until his successor arrived. He was offered a commission as second-in-command to Gen. Winfield Scott but declined the offer.
Meeting with President Jefferson Davis, he entered Confederate service as a general on August 30, 1861, to date from May 30, 1861. As the second ranking general in the Confederate army, he was given command of the Western Department. Johnston commanded the Department No. 2 from September 15, 1861 - April 6, 1862 and the Central Army of Kentucky from October 28 - December 5, 1861 and February 23- March 29, 1862.
In early April, he moved against Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's army at the battle of Shiloh. In what was basically a surprise attack, he drove the Union army back. While directing frontline operations, he was shot in the right leg by a stray minié bullet. Not considering his wound serious, he bled to death.