Emma was born at Social Circle, Walton county, Georgia, in August 1846.
Her parents, Micajah Sansom and
Levina Vance, came from Georgia to what is now Etowah county in 1836 or '7.
The family included twelve children and the Sansoms farmed their land and
established a respected name. The father died shortly before the war, leaving his large family in comfortable
Emma Sansom was
only 13 years old when the Civil War began. She was living on her family’s farm
near Gadsden, Alabama. In April 1863, the Sansom household consisted of Emma’s
widowed mother, her sister, Jennie, 24, and Emma, 15. Her brother Rufus, 22, was
at home recuperating from wounds he had received in battle. Emma was described
as an attractive young girl, tall and graceful, with clean cut features,
large, deep blue eyes, dark red or auburn hair and of unusually fair
Emma married Christopher Johnson,
a private in Company L, 10th Alabama Infantry, on October 29, 1864, and moved to Texas in 1867
or 1868. She died in August 1900, in Upshur County Texas, leaving 5 boys and 2
At the age of 16, Emma became one of the most well-known heroines of the
Confederacy. (Read the story
In 1907, a monument was constructed in Gadsden in Emma’s honor. On its pedestal,
in Italian marble, stands a full-sized statue of Emma, with her arm outstretched
to show General Forrest the way to the ford on Black Creek
A new school built there in 1929 was named Emma Sansom High School. Though she
had moved away all those years ago, the people of Gadsden never forgot her
important contribution to the Lost Cause.