The Civil War in Missouri

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The Artifact Gallery was made possible by a generous gift from the William T. Kemper Foundation – Commerce Bank, Trustee.


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“Powder Boy” James V. Johnston

1864
MHM Photographs and Prints

This uniform was presented to James V. "Jimmie" Johnston by the crew of the U.S. gunboat Forest Rose, for gallantry in action during the Civil War. He had accompanied his mother to visit his father, Captain John V. Johnston, aboard the gunboat in peaceful waters on the Mississippi. As the vessel approached Waterproof, Louisiana, in February 1864 it came under attack by a Confederate force. When the gunboat's regular powder monkey, who carried powder to the gunners, was killed early in the battle, young Jimmie took his place until the Confederates were repelled. The crew presented this uniform to the six-and-a-half-year-old boy they called "Admiral Johnston" for his bravery. Johnston proudly wore the outfit—with a stag-horn knife tucked into his waist—for a photograph.