“Black Jack” Logan — the Union’s best Political General

My new book, Civil War Political Generals of the Blue and Grey” highlights 50 men, 25 on each side, who made varying contributions to their selected side.  Some were superbly talented, some were just plain awful.  For the Union, John “Black Jack” Logan was perhaps the best.  Here is an excerpt from the book about him, and you can find the book and all my other books at my author’s page:


“He resembled a barbarian chieftain or a swashbuckling buccaneer…Most striking of all were the ebony eyes.  They glowed with a warrior’s light – the light of battle.” (Albert Castel)  John Logan  was a hard-fighting, hard-driving military men who probably should be ranked as the best Union Political General.  He was the only one of that group ever considered capable, by Grant himself, (Grant, Memoirs), of commanding a major Army.  He was also a man you did not want to cross – as General William T. Sherman would find out after he made a fateful decision denying Logan a rightful command. 

During the siege of Corinth, Mississippi, he was assigned to the Army of the Tennessee, which would be his “home” for the rest of the war.  Logan’s men fought well during the Vicksburg campaign, and after that city fell, Logan became its military governor.  In November 1863, now a Major General, Logan became commander of the XVth corps.

“After several months of rest and politicking at home, Logan returned in the spring of 1864 for the Atlanta campaign as James McPherson’s second in command of the Army of the Tennessee.  In July at the Battle of Atlanta, McPherson was killed, and Logan assumed command on the field.  But Sherman did not think any Political General, even one as skilled as Logan, was up to such a job. Knowing also that one of his other subordinates, General George Thomas, opposed Logan’s ascension, Sherman decided not to promote Logan.  He wrote that Logan was a “volunteer that looked to personal fame and glory as auxiliary and secondary to [his] political ambition, and not as professional soldiers.” (Sherman, Memoirs).  After Sherman chose O.O. Howard instead, Logan vowed not to forget the slight.  But he continued to do his duty”

“After the war, Logan became a Radical  Republican, serving in both the House and Senate.  He was one of the managers of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial, and he was one of Grant’s closest advisers and supporters during the latter’s presidency.  He was the losing Republican Vice-Presidential candidate in 1884.  He also took every opportunity he could to legislate limits on Sherman’s budgets and power when the latter was army commander.  Logan was very active in veterans’ groups and is credited with creating the Memorial Day holiday.”

Logan is pictured in the center of the cover of “Civil War Political Generals”, below:



Author: geneofva

Author of "Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era," and of seven more Civil War books -- with more to come!!

One thought on ““Black Jack” Logan — the Union’s best Political General”

  1. At the Battle of Atlanta, he took the Army Command after Gen. McPherson was killed. However, a short time later he was relieved by Gen. Oliver Howard. Gen. Logan, not being a West Point graduate, felt he was replaced for that reason alone, and did not forget. In the 1884 Vice-President election, Logan ran on the promise to close West Point if elected.


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