John Alexander Logan (1826-1886)
John Alexander Logan (February 8, 1826 - December 26, 1886), American soldier and political leader, 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 War as a lieutenant of volunteers, studied law in the office of an uncle, graduated from the Law Department of Louisville University in 1851, and practised law with success.
Early political career
Logan entered politics as a Douglas Democrat, was elected county clerk in 1849, served in the State House of Representatives in 1853 - 1854 and in 1857; and for a time, during the interval, was prosecuting attorney of the Third Judicial District of Illinois. In 1858 and in 1860 he was elected as a Democrat to the National House of Representatives.
Though unattached and unenlisted, Logan fought at Bull Run, and then returned to Washington, resigned his seat, and entered the Union army as colonel of the 31st Illinois Volunteers, which he organized. He was regarded as one of the most able officers to enter the army from civil life. In Grant's campaigns, Logan's division (3rd Divn/XVII Corps) was the first to enter the city of Vicksburg (1863), and after its capture, Logan served as its military governor. Logan also received the Medal of Honor for the Vicksburg campaign. John A. Logan rose to the rank of major-general of volunteers (November 1862); in November 1863 he succeeded William Tecumseh Sherman in command of the XV. Army Corps; and after the death of James B. McPherson he commanded the Army of the Tennessee at the battle of Atlanta (22 July 1864) until relieved by Oliver Howard. He returned to Illinois for the 1864 elections but returned to the army afterwards and commanded his XV corps in the Carolinas campaign. In December 1864, Grant sent Logan to Nashville to relieve Thomas when Grant became impatient with the latter's performance. Logan was stopped in Louisville when news came that Thomas had completely smashed Hood's army.
Post-war political career
When the war closed, Logan resumed his political career as a Republican, and was a member of the National 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.
Logan was always a violent 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. 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 he was not elected. For this campaign, he commissioned the painting of the Atlanta Cyclorama which emphasized his heroism in the Battle of Atlanta. He urged the observance of Memorial Day, and he may have been the inventor of the idea.
He 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). There is a statue of him in Chicago. His hometown, Murphysboro, Illinois is home to the Logan Museum. And in nearby Carterville, Illinois, there is John A. Logan Community College.