A brief biography of John Logan

I have written several entries for the Encyclopedia of the Veteran in America over the last several months. One of them was an entry on John Logan and I thought I would share it with you. William Pencak, the editor, still has several entries in need of authoring and I would like to ask my readers to let me know if it is something that you may be interested in doing. So, without further ado:

Logan, John (1826-1886)

John A. Logan was a Union general during the American Civil War. Logan grew up in Illinois, serving as a lawyer, member of the State House of Representatives, and Congressman, as a member of the Democratic Party. He served in the Mexican-American War as a Second Lieutenant with the First Illinois Infantry.

When the Civil War broke out, Logan fought at Bull Run as a civilian, but soon resigned his Congressional seat and became colonel of the Thirty-first Illinois Infantry. Logan is credited with ending secessionist talk in southern Illinois at the same time. During the war, Logan served under Ulysses S. Grant in the Western Theater and saw action at the Battles of Belmont, Fort Donelson (where Logan was wounded), Siege of Corinth, and commanded the Third Division of the XVII Corps, which was the first unit to enter Vicksburg.

After Vicksburg, Logan briefly commanded the Army of the Tennessee during the Battle of Atlanta until relieved. Logan then commanded the XV Corps during the Carolinas Campaign. Logan was sent by Grant to relieve George Thomas during the Battle of Nashville, but was halted when Thomas achieved victory. During the war, Logan rose from colonel to major general.

After the war, Logan was active in politics, but as a Republican. He served in the Congress and the Senate, and was the Vice Presidential nominee with James G. Blaine in 1884. In addition to his political career, Logan was active in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), serving as Commander-in-Chief of the organization for several years, and was instrumental in establishing Memorial Day as a national holiday. His General Order No. 11, which established Memorial Day on May 30, 1868, is well known, and is read at many Memorial Day ceremonies across the country. Logan’s order described the goal of the holiday as:

“. . . designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.” (General Orders No. 11)

In addition to his political activism for veterans, Logan was also an ardent supporter of education. He delivered a speech in March 1882 on education to advocate support for a bill that he introduced, which required taxes on alcohol be used to expand educational opportunities to all children in the United States. In the speech, Logan argued that the millions of children attending school were a better defense for the nation than a large standing army.

Logan’s legacy is preserved every year by the Memorial Day holiday, in which Americans gather to honor all veterans who gave their lives in service to their country. He is also memorialized with statues in Chicago and Washington, DC. Several locations bear his name, including Logan County, Kansas, as well as John A. Logan College, a community college in Carterville, Illinois. Logan is considered by several historians as one of the best volunteer generals of the Civil War.


“A Brief Biography of John A. Logan”, online at: <http://www.jalc.edu/johnlogan.html&gt;.

“General John A. Logan Museum-Biography”, online at: <http://www.loganmuseum.org/genjal.html&gt;.

“General Order No. 11”, online at: <http://www.jal.cc.il.us/loganmemorial.html&gt;.

Encyclopedia of the Veteran in America, Edited by William A. Pencak. Forthcoming 2009 by Praeger. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc., Westport, CT.

Not to be reproduced without written permission of Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.

1 thought on “A brief biography of John Logan

  1. I did not know that John Logan reached the rank of Corps commander. Dan send me the info for writing an encyclopedia entry.

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