Johnson K. Duncan, York native and rebel general, in wrong place at wrong time
York County produced several Civil War generals, including at least one for the South. Johnson Kelly Duncan of York County finished fifth in his West Point class of 1849. Background posts: York has produced its share of high-ranking naval officers, Naval Reserve officer, a York High grad, to become admiral, York native to captain new carrier USS Bush and Gitmo second in command hails from York County.
Fellow blogger Scott Mingus has uncovered a little-known Union general with York County links – Brig. Gen. Jacob G. Lauman.
Lauman’s lack of local acclaim may result from his undistinguished war record fighting in the Union Army in the West… .
York County produced another obscure general who fought in the West, except that he fought for the South – Johnson Kelly Duncan.
He’s known locally because of the efforts of Michael Strong, who wrote a short biography on Duncan in 1994. (That 74-page book is available via publisher York County Heritage Trust).
How did a West Pointer from the Keystone State end up fighting for the South?
“His adoption of New Orleans and her politics placed him in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Strong wrote. “His marriage, business, social military and political connections all helped determine that he would cast his lot with the South.”
Johnson Duncan, chief of staff of Confederate general Braxton Bragg, died of typhoid in December 1862. His wife, back home in New Orleans, was pregnant with their third child.
His burial marker states: “Here rests the body of Brig. General J.K. Duncan, C.S.A. He lost his life from severe exposure in the performance of his duty, and died in the hope of a joyful resurrection through Christ, the Captain of his salvation.”
Duncan, indeed, was in the wrong place at the wrong time fighting for the wrong cause.