The statue of John A. Logan is the monument at the center of Logan Circle in Washington, DC. Logan was an American soldier who served in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. Some historians believe that Logan was the most successful of the Union’s politically-appointed generals during the war. Logan served in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War. Logan also served the state of Illinois as a state senator, congressman, and senator. He was also a candidate for the Vice President of the United States with James G. Blaine in the election of 1884. As the 3rd Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, he is an important figure in the movement to recognize Memorial Day as an official holiday.
Backstory and Context
in Murphysboro, Jackson County, Illinois, a pro-slavery region of South
Illinois in 1826, John Logan had no
schooling until he was 14. His father was a successful doctor and farmer who
was also heavily involved in local and state politics, representing Franklin
and Jackson counties in the Illinois State assembly for about ten years. Logan studied for three years at
Shiloh College, and served in the Mexican-American War as a second lieutenant
in the 1st Illinois cavalry. Later he graduated from the Law Department
of the University of Louisville in 1851 and practiced law. He entered politics as a Douglas
Democrat and was elected county clerk in 1849. He served in the State house of
Representatives, and in 1858 and 1860 he was elected as a Democrat to the House
of Representatives in 1853. His political views were in line with his southern
Illinois roots. He was anti-abortion, and an ardent supporter of fugitive slave
laws. But he could not support
secession. He believed the Union
should be preserved.
During the Civil War, Logan fought as Bull Run as an unattached volunteer to the 2nd Michigan regiment. Then he returned to Washington, resigned his congressional seat, and entered the Union army as a Colonel of the 31st Illinois Volunteers. He was known by his soldiers as “Black Jack” due to his black eyes and hair and swarthy complexion. He was regarded as a very able soldier and officer. He served under Ulysses S. Grant in the Western Theater, and was present at the Battle of Belmont, and at Fort Donelson, where he was wounded. He was soon promoted to brigadier general in March, 1862. During the siege of Corinth, Logan commanded first a brigade, and then the 1st Division of the Army of Tennessee. In 1863, he was promoted to major general. Logan did very well in the military. By 1863, he was a major general commanding a division. He led with distinction during the campaign to capture Vicksburg, and was given command of the Fifteenth Corps for his leadership during the Atlanta campaign. In the fall of 1864, Logan returned to his home state to campaign for Abraham Lincoln. In December he returned to the field at the head of the Fifteenth Corps until the war was over,After the war, he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1866 – this time as a Republican, and continued to represent the people of Illinois until his death in 1886 at the age of 60, his last office held as Senator. He is also known for being the Vice Presidential Candidate under Presidential Candidate James G. Blaine for the 1884 election. They lost to the ticket of Grover Cleveland and Thomas Hendricks.
The community that is now called Logan Circle was originally the site of Camp Barker, a refugee camp in a way, that housed runaway slaves from Virginia and Maryland. After the Civil War the area was developed, modernized and inhabited as many large homes were constructed. After the Civil War it was renamed Iowa Circle for a time. It became Logan Circle in 1930 by an act of Congress. Since then it became, and still is, a predominately an African American community known for its shopping districts, theater and night life and being partially damaged during the 1968 Washington DC race riot. Nowadays, while it maintains its African American history, the LGBT community is moving in slowly replacing those African Americans that are moving out of the derelict area; although efforts are underway to renovate.