Maj. Gen. John Alexander Logan Camp# 4

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Raleigh, NC

A Brief Biography of John A. Logan


John A. Logan, was born February 9, 1826, in what is now Murphysboro, Illinois. Raised in a home that was a center of political activity, he came to love politics at an early age.

In 1840 his father, Dr. John Logan, sent him to Shiloh Academy at Shiloh Hill, Illinois, to complete his education. Here Logan excelled in oratory.

Logan volunteered for the Mexican War in 1846. He saw no combat, but did travel to Santa Fe, where he served as post quartermaster and learned Spanish.

The 1850’s brought many changes in Logan’s life — law school at Louisville University; marriage to Mary S. Cunningham at Shawneetown, IL; a move to Benton, IL; and a political career that led from county clerk to U.S. Congressman. In Southern Illinois, he was “Little Egypt’s spokesman.”  “Little Egypt” was the nickname for the Southern one fourth of the State of Illinois which was democrat and slave owning

At the onset of the Civil War, the formerly pro–Southern Logan decided that “the union must prevail.” He fought at Bull Run as a civilian. He then returned home where his speech at Marion ended Little Egypt’s talk of secession and put southern Illinois during the Civil War strongly in the Union camp.

Logan volunteered for the war and rose from colonel to major general. Fighting in eight major campaigns, he distinguished himself at Vicksburg and commanded the entire Union forces at the Battle of Atlanta. At the war’s end, he saved Raleigh**, North Carolina, from being burned by angry Union troops. Many historians consider him the premier volunteer general of the Civil War.

After the war, Logan returned to Congress. His concern for veterans led him to take part Illinois’ first organized veterans memorial services at Woodlawn Cemetery in Carbondale in 1866. In 1868, he helped found Memorial Day as a national holiday.

In 1871 and again in 1874, Logan was elected to the U.S. Senate. Throughout his political career, he was a strong advocate for public education. In 1884, he was James G. Blaines’ vice-presidential running mate. During the campaign, Logan commissioned the painting that became the center for Atlanta’s famed Cyclorama.(Thus our newsletter “The Cyclorama”)

John A. Logan died December 26, 1886, in Washington D.C., where he lies buried in Soldier Cemetery.

Logan’s fame did not die with him as the towns and counties named for him show. Fine equestrian statues were erected in Chicago and Washington in his honor. Bronze plaques from Arlington Cemetery to Denver attest to his role in establishing of Memorial Day. Yet the turmoil of the mid–twentieth century saw Logan’s fame fade. In May, 1986, the Washington Post wrote that this was “pretty shoddy treatment” for the man who founded Memorial Day.


**Some 60,000 Union troops were quartered in Raleigh when word came of President Lincoln's assassination in April 1865. Torch-carrying troops, bent on revenge, headed downtown. General John Alexander Logan stopped the troops at gunpoint, thus saving Raleigh's downtown.

With this in mind what better patron could we choose for a Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Camp here in Raleigh, NC


For more information on John A Logan, click on the link to his Museum: