Logan’s first military experiences came in 1847-1848 in the Mexican-American War as a member of Co. H 1st Regiment Illinois Volunteers. His regiment marched from Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas to Santa Fe, New Mexico where Logan served as that post’s adjutant. He saw no combat but nearly died of measles.



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In July 1861 Logan asked President Lincoln for permission to raise a regiment. The President’s only request was that he remain through the close of the special session of Congress before doing so. Later that month he joined other Congressmen who traveled to witness the First Battle of Bull Run. Despite writing his wife that he would stay at a safe distance Logan “joined” the 2nd Michigan Infantry and fought as a private in his, and the Civil War’s, first great battle.  













In August 1861 Col. John A. Logan raised the 31st Illinois Infantry. When the 31st mustered-in in September Logan made two promises. The first was that “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.” The second was that they were fighting to “Save the Union” and if Lincoln freed the slaves he would lead them back home.



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After just two months of training the 31st’s first battle was at Belmont, Missouri in November. Grant complimented both the regiment and its commander. In February 1862 Logan and his regiment distinguished themselves at the Battle of Ft. Donelson, Tennessee. Logan, wounded three times in this battle, spent three weeks in a field hospital before returning home to recuperate. Gen. Grant recommended his promotion to Brigadier General for his actions. On Logan’s return to active duty as a general he commanded five regiments and took part in the Siege of Corinth.















Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 which Logan accepted as necessary. His attitudes toward slavery and African Americans had changed. He urged Union soldiers to accept the recruitment of African American volunteers. 


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His skills as a commander during the Battle of Champion Hill, a part of the Vicksburg Campaign, in May 1863 resulted in a promotion to Major General, again at Grant’s request. With Gen. James McPherson’s promotion to command the Army of the Tennessee, Logan was given the command of its XVIIth Corps.






On July 22, 1864, McPherson was killed in the early stages of the Battle of Atlanta. Logan, now commanding the XVth Corps, took command of the Army of the Tennessee. He was the only volunteer [political] general to command an army in the field. Even though Logan turned a Union rout into victory Sherman replaced him with Gen. O. O. Howard.
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After Lincoln’s reelection Logan, who was in Illinois campaigning for the President, returned to command the XVth Corps in the Carolina Campaign. At war’s end he was in Raleigh, North Carolina. Logan became the last commander of the Army of the Tennessee. On May 24th he rode at its head in the Grand Review in Washington D.C. which celebrated the Union’s victory. Logan mustered out of the Union Army in July 1865.