b. 07/1850 Morristown, New York. d. ?
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 25/06 - 01/07/1862
Johnston was born in Morristown, New York, in 1850 to William B. H. Johnston, and Eliza, both born in England. His mother died while he was young and the family moved to Montreal, Canada, by 1853 where his father, a railroad engineer and machinist, remarried to Theresa E. Martin. Apparently his family moved to Salem, Vermont (now Derby) by 1859.
Willie's father enlisted in the 3rd Vermont Infantry in June 1861 and the regiment mustered at St. Johnsbury 16 July. Young Willie intended to enlist at the same time and probably went with the regiment to Camp Griffin, outside Washington. He was present for duty with the regiment since it mustered but was originally denied pay, company officials thinking he was too young to draw pay. He was formally enlisted in Company D as a drummer on December 11, 1861, in camp.
Johnston's first fight was at Lee's Mill, Virginia, on April 16, 1862. His father William was wounded in the battle, losing his right forefinger to the second joint, from a gun shot while charging the enemy. During his next campaign, the Seven Days Battles from June 25 to July 1, 1862, Johnston earned his medal. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton approved the award and Willie Johnston was presented his Medal of Honor on September 16, 1863, at the age of 13, for a deed performed when he was but 11 years and 11 months of age. It was only the second Medal of Honor awarded. After the campaign, Johnston served as a nurse in a hospital in Baltimore and was transferred to Company H, 20th Regiment of Veteran Reserve Corps, where he played in the regimental brass band as Drum Major.
He moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, and on March 1, 1870, was married to Nellie Murphy. They had five children, the eldest son being named William Henry Johnston, so it is supposed this was also his father's full name.
The family lived at 65 Tremont Street, Charlestown, where he worked as a machinist, the same occupation as his father. He was still alive in 1899 when he attended a Medal of Honor Legion reunion in Burlington, Vermont.
Date and place of act not on record in War Department.
BURIAL LOCATION: UNKNOWN.
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