Francis White “Frank” Johnson was born 1799 in Virginia. In 1826 Stephen F. Austin sent him and two others to Nacogdoches to try to prevent the Fredonian Rebellion. The hot-tempered Johnson was considered a “firebrand” in favor of war with Mexico. In 1835 he was indicted for treason but was never arrested. He was captain of his company at the battle of Anahuac in 1832. At the Convention of 1832 he was a delegate from San Felipe and served as chairman of the Central Standing Committee of the state.
In 1835 Johnson and Moseley Baker were sent to East Texas to appraise the political feelings of colonists and to stir up support for the war cause. Johnson was appointed adjutant and inspector general under Stephen F. Austin and Edward Burleson. At the Siege of Béxar he led a column of Texans into San Antonio, and after Benjamin R. Milam’s death he was in command at the Mexicans’ capitulation.
In January 1836 Johnson and Dr. James Grant started to lay plans to invade Mexico at Matamoros, despite opposition from Sam Houston and Governor Henry Smith, who were powerless to intervene because the General Council had already ratified the plan. Johnson and a detachment of fifty men were surprised by the Mexicans under José de Urrea at San Patricio on February 27, 1836, and all except Johnson and four of his companions were killed or captured. Hearing of Houston’s retreat, Johnson returned home, quitting the revolution in disgust.
From 1873 to the end of his life he was founding president of the Texas Veterans Association. He spent much time researching Texas history, particularly the Texas Revolution. He died in a hotel in Aguascalientes, Mexico, about April 8, 1884.