About John Alexander Logan
John Alexander Logan (February 9, 1826 – December 26, 1886) was an American soldier and political leader. He served in the Mexican-American War and was a General in the Union Army in the American Civil War. He served the state of Illinois as a State Senator, Congressman and Senator and was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice President of the United States with James G. Blaine in the election of 1884. He is regarded as the founder of Memorial Day.
His likeness appears on a statue at the center of Logan Circle, Washington, D.C.. He is also honored with a statue in Grant Park. He is the honoree of Logan County, Kansas and Logan Square, Chicago, which is the neighborhood chosen to mark Illinois' centennial. Logan is one of only three people mentioned by name in the Illinois state song. Upon his death he lay in state in the United States Capitol rotunda. He is the father of John Alexander Logan, Jr.
Early life and political career
John A. Logan was born in what is now Murphysboro, Jackson County, Illinois. He had no schooling until age 14; he then studied for three years at Shiloh College, served in the Mexican-American War as a second lieutenant in the 1st Illinois Infantry, studied law in the office of an uncle, graduated from the Law Department of the University of Louisville in 1851, and practiced law with success.
John A. Logan entered politics as a Douglas Democrat, was elected county clerk in 1849, served in the State House of Representatives from 1853 to 1854 and in 1857; and for a time, during the interval, was prosecuting attorney of the Third Judicial District of Illinois. In 1858 and 1860, he was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Logan fought at Bull Run as an unattached volunteer to a Michigan regiment, and then returned to Washington, resigned his congressional seat, and entered the Union army as Colonel of the 31st Illinois Volunteers, which he organized. He was known by his soldiers with the nickname "Black Jack" because of his black eyes and hair and swarthy complexion, and was regarded as one of the most able officers to enter the army from civilian life. He served in the army of Ulysses S. Grant in the Western Theater and was present at the Battle of Belmont, where his horse was killed, and at Fort Donelson, where he was wounded. Soon after the victory at Donelson, he was promoted to brigadier general, as of March 21, 1862. Major John Hotaling served as his chief of staff. During the Siege of Corinth, Logan commanded first a brigade and then the 1st Division of the Army of the Tennessee. In the spring of 1863, he was promoted to major general to rank from November 29, 1862.
In Grant's Vicksburg Campaign, Logan commanded the 3rd Division of James B. McPherson's XVII Corps, which was the first to enter the city of Vicksburg in 1863, and after its capture, Logan served as its military governor. In November 1863 he succeeded William Tecumseh Sherman in command of the XV Corps; and after the death of McPherson he commanded the Army of the Tennessee at the Battle of Atlanta (July 22, 1864) until relieved by Oliver O. Howard. He returned to Illinois for the 1864 elections but rejoined the army afterward and commanded his XV corps in the Carolinas Campaign.
In December 1864, Grant became impatient with George H. Thomas's performance at Nashville and sent Logan to relieve him. Logan was stopped in Louisville when news came that Thomas had completely smashed John Bell Hood's Confederate army in the Battle of Nashville.
Logan had been disappointed when Howard was given permanent command of the Army of the Tennessee after McPherson's death, and Sherman arranged for Logan to command the army during the May 1865 Grand Review in Washington.
Post-war political career
After the war, Logan resumed his political career, now as a Republican, and was a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1867 to 1871, and of the United States Senate from 1871 until 1877 and again from 1879 until his death in 1886. He lay in state in the United States Capitol and lies buried at United States Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery.
Logan was always a staunch partisan, and was identified with the radical wing of the Republican Party. His forceful, passionate speaking, popular on the platform, was less effective in the halls of legislation. In 1868, he was one of the managers in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. One of Logan's leading issues in the Senate was his efforts to stop any action taken to overturn the conviction in the court-martial of Maj. Gen. Fitz John Porter
He was active in veterans' affairs and helped lead the call for creation of Memorial Day as a national public holiday. His war record and his great personal following, especially in the Grand Army of the Republic, contributed to his nomination for Vice President in 1884 on the ticket with James G. Blaine, but they were not elected. For this campaign, he commissioned the painting of the Atlanta Cyclorama, which emphasized his heroism in the Battle of Atlanta.
Logan was the author of The Great Conspiracy: Its Origin and History (1886), a partisan account of the Civil War, and of The Volunteer Soldier of America (1887). The state of Illinois commissioned an equestrian statue of the general that now stands in Chicago's Grant Park. Another equestrian statue stands in Logan Circle in Washington, D.C. and the circle gives its name to the surrounding neighborhood. Logan Square and Logan Boulevard in Chicago are named after him, as well as Logan Avenue and the neighborhood of Logan Heights (AKA Barrio Logan), in San Diego, and the community of Logan Township, New Jersey. His hometown, Murphysboro, Illinois, is home to the Logan Museum as well as the General John A. Logan elementary school, and in nearby Carterville, Illinois there is the John A. Logan College, a community college. Camp Logan, Illlinois an Illinois National Guard base and rifle range from 1892 to the early 70's was also named for him.
Logan is one of only three individuals mentioned by name in the Illinois state song:
On the record of thy years, Abraham Lincoln's name appears, Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois, Illinois, Grant and Logan, and our tears, Illinois.
Logan County, Illinois, was named after Logan's father, Dr. John Logan, an early pioneer physician. However, Logan County, Kansas was named after General Logan.
Logan was at one time honored with the naming of a street in Lansing, Michigan. Community activists persuaded the city council to co-rename the street as Martin Luther King Blvd in 1991. Logan's name was dropped completely a few years later.
Logan County, Oklahoma, is named in his honor. The city of Guthrie is the county seat.
Logan County, Colorado, is named in his honor. The city of Sterling is the county seat.
Logan County, North Dakota, is named in his honor. The city of Napoleon is the county seat.
John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois is named in his honor.