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John Alexander Logan


JOHN ALEXANDER LOGAN, who has been styled "the Murat of the Union army," was born near the present town of Murphysboro, Jackson county, in Illinois, on the 9th of February, 1826. His father, Dr. John Logan, came from Ireland to Illinois, in 1823; his mother, Elizabeth Jenkins, was a Tennessean, and John was the eldest of their family of eleven children.  Schools were scarce in Illinois, during his boyhood, so that he was indebted for most of his early education to his father, or to such itinerant teachers as chanced to visit the new settlement—and it was not until 1840, that he attended an academy, bearing the pretentious title of " Shiloh college."

At the commencement of the Mexican war, young Logan, then in his twentieth year, volunteered, and was chosen lieutenant in a company of the first Illinois volunteers; bearing a conspicuous part in the service of the regiment, of which, for a portion of the time, he was adjutant. Returning home in October, 1848, he commenced the study of law in the office of his uncle, Alexander M. Jenkins, formerly lieutenant-governor of Illinois, and while thus employed, was elected, in November, 1849, clerk of his native county, holding the office until 1850. During that year, he attended a course of law studies at Louisville, receiving his diploma in 1851, and commencing the practice of his profession with his uncle. His practical mind, pleasing address and rare abilities as a public speaker, speedily rendered him a general favorite, and, in 1852, he was elected prosecuting attorney of the then third judicial district, and established his residence at Benton, Illinois. During the autumn of the same year, he was elected to represent Jackson and Franklin counties, in the State Legislature; married in 1856; was chosen presidential elector for the ninth Congressional district, in May, 185,6, and in the following fall was re-elected to the Legislature. In 1858, the Democracy of the ninth Congressional district elected him to Congress by a large majority, and re-elected him, again, in 1860. At the first intimation of coming trouble, he boldly asserted that, although he thought and hoped that Mr. Lincoln would not be elected to the presidency ; yet, if he were, he would "shoulder his musket to have him inaugurated." During the winter of 1860, his county having been thrown out of his old district and added to another, he removed his residence to Marion, Williamson county, in order that he might still be in his district.

In July, 1861, during the extra session of Congress, Mr. Logan, fired with the enthusiasm of the hour, left his scat, over-took the troops which were marching out of Washington to meet the enemy, joined himself to Colonel Richardson's regiment, secured a musket and a place in the ranks, and, at the disastrous battle of Bull Run, fought with distinguished bravery, and was among the last to leave the field. Returning to his home, at Marion, in the latter part of August, he addressed his fellow-citizens, on the 3d of September, announcing his intention to enter the service of the Government, "as a private, or in any capacity in which he could serve his country best, in defending the old blood-stained flag over every foot of soil in the United States." His eloquence and high personal reputation rallied friends and neighbors around him, and, on the 13th of September, 1861, the thirty-first Illinois volunteers was organized, and he was chosen colonel. 

The regiment was attached to General MeClernand's brigade; and, seven weeks later, at Belmont, made its first fight, during which Colonel Logan had a horse shot under him, and his pistol, at his side, shattered by rebel bullets. He led the thirty-first, also, at Fort Henry, and, again, at Fort Donelson, where he received a very severe wound, which, aggravated by exposure, disabled him for some time from active service. Reporting, again, for duty to General Grant, at Pittsburgh Landing, he was shortly after, March 5th, 1862, made brigadier-general of volunteers ; took a distinguished part in the movement against Corinth, in May, and, after the occupation of that place, guarded, with his brigade, the rail-road communications with Jackson, Tennessee, of which place he was subsequently given the command.

In the summer of 1862, he was warmly urged by his numerous friends and admirers to become a candidate, again, for Congress, but declined in a letter of glowing patriotism, in which he said,—" I have entered the field to die, if need be, for this Government, and never expect to return to peaceful pursuits, until the object of this war of preservation has become a fact established." During Grant's Northern Mississippi campaign, 1862 and '63, Logan led his division, exhibiting great skill in the handling of troops, and was honored with a promotion as major-general of volunteers, dating from November 29th, 1862. He was afterwards assigned to the command of the third division, seventeenth army corps, under General McPherson, and bore a part in the movement upon Vicksburg ; contributing to the victory at Port Gibson, and saving the day, by his desperate personal bravery, May 12th, at the battle of Raymond, which General Grant designated as " one of the hardest small battles of the war;" participated in the defeat and routing of the rebels at Jackson, May 14th, and in the battle of Champion's Hill, May 16th.

At the siege of Vicksburg, he commanded McPherson's centre, opposite Fort Hill, the key to the rebel works, and his men made the assault after the explosion of the mine, June 25th. His column was the first to enter the surrendered city, on the 4th of July, 1863, and he was made its military governor. His valor was fitly recognized in the presentation made to him, by the board of honor of the seventeenth army corps, of a gold medal, inscribed with the names of the nine battles in which he had participated. Having thoroughly inaugurated the administration of affairs at Vicksburg, he spent a part of the summer of 1863 in a visit to the North, frequently addressing large assemblages of his fellow-citizens, in speeches of fiery eloquence, and burning zeal and devotion to the cause of the Union.

In November, 1863, he succeeded General Sherman in the command of the fifteenth army corps, spending the following winter at Huntsville, Alabama ; joining, in May, 1861, the Grand Military Division of the Mississippi, which; under General Sherman, was preparing for its march into Georgia. He led the advance of the Army of the Tennessee in the movement at Resaca, taking part in the battle which followed, and, still moving on the right, met and repulsed Hardee's veterans at Dallas, on the 23d of May; drove the enemy from three lines of works, at Kenesaw Mountain, and again, on the 27th of June, made a desperate assault against the impregnable face of Little Kenesaw. On the 22d of July, at the terrible battle of Peach Tree creek, Logan, fighting at one moment on one side of his works, and the next on the other, was informed of the death, in another part of the field, of the beloved General McPherson. Assuming the temporary command, Logan dashed impetuously from one end to the other of his hardly-pressed lines, shouting "McPherson and revenge!" His emotion communicated itself to the troops with the rapidity of electricity, and eight thousand rebel dead left upon the field, at nightfall, bore mute witness to their love for the fallen chief and the bravery of his successor. Conspicuous, again, at the obstinate battle of Ezra Chapel, July 28th, he and his troops co-operated in the remaining battles of the campaign, until the fall of Atlanta, September 2d, when they went into summer-quarters. After a few months spent in stumping the Western States, during the presidential campaign of 1864, General Logan rejoined his corps, at Savannah, Georgia, shared the fatigues and honors of Sherman's march through the Carolinas, and, after Johnston's surrender, marched to Alexandria, and participated with his brave veterans in the great review of the national armies at Washington, May 23d, being advanced, on the same day, to the command of the Array of the Tennessee, upon the appointment of General Howard to other duties.

In 1863, General Logan was appointed minister to Mexico, but declined the honor, and was elected to the XLth Congress, from the State at large, as a Republican, receiving two hundred and three thousand and forty-five votes, against one hundred and forty-seven thousand and fifty-eight, given for his Democratic opponent. He took a prominent part, as one of the managers on the part of the House of Representatives, in the impeachment trial of President Johnson.

General Logan was re-elected as Congressman at large to the XLIst and to the XLIId Congresses, but in the winter of 1871 he was chosen by the Legislature of Illinois to succeed Richard Yates, as United States Senator from that State. The selection was hardly a wise one either for the State or the General himself. In the house of Representatives, General Logan was perfectly at home. His capacity for work, his fiery and somewhat stilted eloquence, and his power to influence the sympathies and emotions of his hearers, were thoroughly in place; but in the Senate he was strangely out of his element by the side of his dignified and scholarly colleague, and though disposed to be active and laborious, he ran the risk of sinking to the position of one of the buffoons of the Senate, a fate which he certainly did not deserve. He lacked that wide range of scholarship and knowledge of state-craft, which was so necessary in a Senator from the great State which he represented, and in consequence did not do himself justice. He was during his first year in the Senate very caustic and severe in his denunciation of President Grant, saying many and bitter things against him, and when, in May, 1872, he suddenly became his ardent defender and eulogist, too many, who did not understand his impetuous and impulsive nature, attributed the change to base and unworthy motives.


Source: Source: Men of Our Day; or Biographical Sketches of Patriots, Orators, Statesmen, Generals, Reformers, Financiers and Merchants, Now on the state of Action: Including Those Who in Military, Political, Business and Social Life, are the Prominent Leaders of the Time in This Country, by L. P. Brockett, M. D., Published by Ziegler and McCurdy, Philadelphia Penna; Springfield, Mass; Cincinnati, Ohio; St. Louis, Mo., 1872  

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