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George Taylor F. Johnson received the Medal of Honor for valor while serving as an armorer onboard the USS Lackawanna during the Union navy’s operations against Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, Alabama. Following the Civil War, he was a resident of Paragould (Greene County).
Details of George Taylor F. Johnson’s life are largely unknown; even his name is listed in multiple variations, including George Taylor F. Johnson, George F. Taylor Johnson, and George Taylor (the medal was awarded under the name George Taylor). Sources say he was born on November 15, 1830, but they vary on the location of his birth. Some sources claim Redditch, in Worcestershire, England, while other sources claim Watertown, New York.
Johnson enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War and served as an armorer onboard the USS Lackawanna, a screw-propelled sloop-of-war that joined the West Gulf Blockading Squadron in early 1862.
George Taylor F. Johnson earned a Medal of Honor on August 5, 1864, during Admiral David G. Farragut’s naval operations against Fort Morgan in Mobile Bay, Alabama. While serving on the Lackawanna as it operated against the Confederate ram CSS Tennessee, Johnson received a slight head wound from enemy shell fire. During this engagement, a Confederate shell penetrated the Union vessel’s shell room and exploded, which ignited a blaze. Despite his wound, Johnson’s voluntarily entered the shell room and extinguished the fire, which saved the vessel and its crew. Following this action, he continued to perform his duties as an armorer for the duration of the engagement. The Lackawanna lost four crewmen killed and thirty-five wounded during this engagement, which resulted in the capture of the Confederate ram Tennessee. In his report to Captain J. B. Marchand, commanding officer of Lackawanna, Surgeon T. W. Leach lists “George Taylor” among the vessel’s wounded. The siege against Fort Morgan continued until its surrender on August 23, 1864. Johnson received his medal on December 31, 1864.
Details about his post–Civil War life are also limited. Sometime after the Civil War, Johnson settled in Paragould. He died on October 7, 1893, and is buried in Linwood Cemetery in Paragould, with a Medal of Honor plaque that reads “George Taylor F. Johnson.”
For additional information:
Annual Reports of the Navy Department: Report of the Secretary of the Navy. Miscellaneous Reports. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1864.
Medal of Honor Citations. United States Army Center of Military History http://www.history.army.mil/moh/index.html (accessed October 25, 2017).
Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, Burials. http://www.mohhsus.com/medal-of-honor (accessed October 25, 2017).
Robert Patrick Bender
Eastern New Mexico University–Roswell
Last Updated 10/25/2017
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