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PUBLIC SERVICES OF JOHN A. LOGAN.
F the personages of American history, a few only have risen to distinction in more than one walk in life. General Logan belongs to the exceptionally small class who have attained eminence, a right to be known historically, in more than one department of effort and contest. The prizes in war are attractive, and the names of those who gain them are known widely. The favor of the multitude is sure to wait upon the successful soldier. The victories of peace are not more easily won than the victories of war; but when won, they do not so readily command the applause of mankind.
General Logan has been a successful leader in peace and in war. It was his fortune to be born into a family of attainments in professional and general knowledge, and therefore he enjoyed advantages in his childhood and youth that were not common to frontier life in America a half a century ago. His mother was of Scottish ancestry, and of a family which numbered among its members some who were lawyers and others who were entrusted with public duties. His father was an Irishman in nationality, and a physician by profession. He had the means to command a private tutor for the education of his children, and their opportunities for gaining knowledge were superior to the opportunities of others in the vicinity. General Logan shared and improved these advantages; but he was also trained and disciplined for the stern duties of a soldier and a statesman as a sharer in the hardships of frontier life. He was prepared for the profession of the law by a course of three years at college, and by a full course at the Louisville Law School.
Leaving college in his twentieth year, he volunteered as a private in a regiment raised for the Mexican war. He served as a lieutenant of Company H, First Illinois Infantry. In Mexico he acquired some knowledge of the art of war, some acquaintance with its perils and duties, and a speaking knowledge of the Spanish language.
Upon his return, he was elected clerk of Jackson county in 1849,
but he resigned the position that he might pursue his studies in the Law Department of the Louisville University.
He commenced his professional life at Murphysboro', Illinois, in partnership with his uncle, Ex-Governor Jenkins.
The childhood and youth of eminent men are subjects of interest; but the events and surroundings of childhood and youth do not demonstrate, and usually they do not foreshow the future of the man. There are failures in life where the early advantages were many; and there have been successes when the early advantages were few. The educational advantages enjoyed and improved by General Logan were greater than were possessed by Washington, Jackson, Harrison, Taylor, or Lincoln. The fact that General Logan enjoyed the means for acquiring knowledge does not demonstrate his fitness for public employment; but he is not to be excluded from the roll of soldiers and statesmen upon the ground that he did not have the benefit of teachers or schools, or that he neglected to improve his opportunities.
The fastidiousness in politics of men who are mere scholars, and the claim indirectly made that the country should be governed by scholars, will yet receive a rebuke at the hands of the people. There is a general opinion that the means of education should be furnished to all the children and youth of the country, but there is an opinion equally general and equally sound that mere scholarship is not a guarantee for wisdom in the administration of governments. In 1852 General Logan was elected to the House of Representatives of the State of Illinois. His legal attainments were recognized, especially in criminal jurisprudence; and upon the expiration of his term of service in the Legislature he was chosen prosecuting attorney for the judicial district in which he resided.
In 1858, at the age of thirty-two, General Logan was elected a Representative in the Thirty-sixth Congress. He was a Democrat—a Douglas Democrat—and his majority was greater than any Democratic majority previously given in the district.
At the session of December, 1860, General Logan supported the "Crittenden Compromise," and he strove to avert a war, but always as a Union man. He voted for the resolution approving the President's action in support of the laws and for the preservation of the Union. In December, 1860, he voted for a resolution introduced by Mr. Morris, his colleague. That resolution was in these words:
"Resolved by the House of Representatives, That we are unalterably
and immovably attached to the Union of the States; that we recognize in that union the primary cause of our present greatness and prosperity as a nation; that we have yet seen nothing, either in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the Presidency of the United States, or from any other source, to justify its dissolution, and that we pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honors' to maintain it."
This vote should end all controversy as to General Logan's position upon the subject, and it should silence the groundless calumny that he had any sympathy, even the least, either with the Secessionists or with the doctrines of secession. While he was yet a member of the House of Representatives he carried a musket and served as a private soldier in the first battle of Bull Run. Thus at an early day he redeemed the pledge that he had given by his vote in favor of the Morris resolution.
A majority of General Logan's constituents were immigrants from the Slave States, or descendants of immigrants from those States, and the weight of public sentiment was in favor of the South. This sentiment General Logan met and overcame by his personal influence and by public addresses. Upon his return to his district in the early summer of 1861, threats of personal violence were made frequently; but in a series of speeches he accomplished two important results. He recruited a regiment, the Thirty-first Illinois, and he changed the public sentiment of the district.
Then and thus his career as a soldier began. His first experience was at Belmont, where his horse was shot under him, and his pistol at his side was shattered by a shot from the enemy. The official report says, "Colonel Logan's admirable tactics not only foiled the frequent attempts of the enemy to flank him, but secured a steady advance towards the enemy's camp."
This was the beginning of the verification of the prophecy that he made when he canvassed his district for the Union and for a regiment of volunteers: "Should the free navigation of the Mississippi river be obstructed by force, the men of the West will hew their way through human gore to the Gulf of Mexico."
Logan's regiment formed a part of the expedition against Forts Henry and Donelson. He was the first to enter Fort Henry, and in command of a cavalry force he captured eight guns. These forts, and especially Donelson, constituted the defense of Nashville. The siege of Donelson lasted three days. Logan's regiment suffered
severely. Of 606 men who were engaged in the battle 303 were killed or wounded. Logan received three wounds so severe that his life was in peril, and yet he continued in command until from loss of blood he was unable to stand.
General McClernand says: "Schwartz's battery being left unsupported by the retirement of the 29th, the 31st boldly rushed to its defense, and at the same moment received the combined attack of the forces on the right and of others in front, supposed to have been led by General Buckner. The danger was imminent, and calling for a change of disposition adapted to meet it, which Colonel Logan made by forming the right wing of his battalion at an angle with the left. In this order he supported the battery, which continued to play upon the enemy and held him in check until his regiment's supply of ammunition was entirely exhausted.”
Colonel Oglesby of the 8th Illinois, commanding the First Brigade, says in his report of the battle: "Turning to the 31st, which yet held its place in line, I ordered Colonel Logan to throw back his right, so as to form a crochet on the right of the 11th Illinois. In this way Colonel Logan held in check the advancing foe for some time under the most destructive fire, whilst I endeavored to assist Colonel Cruft with his brigade in finding a position on the right of the 31st. It was now four hours since fighting began in the morning. The cartridgeboxes of the 31st were nearly empty. The Colonel had been severely wounded, and the Lieutenant-Colonel, John H. White, had, with some thirty others, fallen dead on the field and a large number wounded. In this condition Colonel Logan brought off the remainder of his regiment in good order.”
General Logan was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General for his conduct at the battle of Fort Donelson, and upon the recommendation of General Grant. Of General Logan and three others he says: "They have fully earned their positions on the field of battle." After an absence of two months, and before he had recovered from his wounds, General Logan took command of his brigade, and was engaged in the battle of Corinth, the 28th and the 29th of May, 1862. Of his conduct in that contest General Sherman says: “And further I feel under special obligations to this officer, General Logan, who, during the two days he served under me, held critical ground on my right, extending down to the railroad."
It was at this crisis of affairs, when our arms had met with serious reverses in the Peninsula under McClellan, when Pope had been de
feated before Washington, that the friends of General Logan solicited the use of his name as a candidate for election to the Thirty-eighth Congress. A weak man or a timid man might have seized the occasion to retire from the army without the reproach of resigning in the face of the enemy. General Logan declined the opportunity in
a letter filled with patriotic sentiments:
"In reply, I would most respectfully remind you that a compliance with your request on my part would be a departure from the settled resolution with which I resumed my sword in defense and for the perpetuity of a government, the like and blessings of which no other nation or age shall enjoy, if once suffered to be weakened or destroyed.
"In making this reply, I feel that it is unnecessary to enlarge as to what were, or may hereafter be, my political views, but would simply state that politics of every grade and character whatsoever are now ignored by me, since I am convinced that the Constitution and life of this Republic—which I shall never cease to adore-are in danger. I express my views and politics when I assert my attachment for the Union. I have no other politics now, and consequently no aspirations for civil place and power. I have entered the field, to die if need be, for this government, and I never expect to return to peaceful pursuits until the object of this war of preservation has become a fact established. If the South by her malignant treachery has imperiled all that made her great and wealthy, and it were to be lost, I would not stretch forth my hand to save her from destruction, if she will not be saved by a restoration of the Union."
To these pledges General Logan was faithful. He returned to peaceful pursuits only when the authority of the Union was reëstablished in every State.
He was commissioned Major-General of Volunteers, November 29, 1862, and he and his command were in the advance in all the movements of the autumn of 1862 and of the winter and spring of 1863, which terminated in the fall of Vicksburg, the 4th day of July in that year.
The winter of 1862 and 1863 was a gloomy period in the annals of the war. The elections of 1862 had resulted disastrously to the Republican party. There was discontent in the loyal States, and there was discontent in the army.
In February, 1863, General Logan issued an address to the Seventeenth Army Corps, of which he was then in command: