Picture and Illustrations.
Memoir of the Author.
THE present volume constitutes the last literary work of General John A. Logan. It was commenced in February, 1886, while its author was still engaged with the proof-reading of "The Great Conspiracy," and it assumed its present completed form by the first of December last. The statement of this fact will serve to convey some idea of the methodical industry that enabled a man of almost uninterrupted public occupation to accomplish, amid the absorbing duties of his position, the large amount of literary labor that it is well known he regularly performed. During the sessions of Congress, no member of either branch composing it was more diligent in the performance of committee-work nor more prompt in attendance upon the sessions of the body of which he was a member than he. There were no questions of general importance in the discussion of which he did not actively participate; and it was no unusual thing for him to be engaged far in the night in the consultation of records and documents relating to topics and measures under consideration by the Senate.
After the daily adjournments, his house was thronged until a late hour — often much too late — with friends, and with those desirous to consult him upon the business in which they happened to be interested. During the Congressional vacations calls were made upon him from every direction to deliver addresses, or to lend his valuable aid in the work of important campaigns.
His capacity for continuous labor became the admiration of those at all acquainted with his busy round of life. An interesting
26anecdote is related by Senator Cullom, of Illinois, illustrative of his habit of constant work. General Logan dined with his colleague, Senator Cullom, only a few days prior to the open development of his fatal sickness. During the course of after-dinner conversation, the General remarked that he had just completed for the press a volume upon "The Volunteer Soldier." Senator Cullom made an observation expressive of surprise than his colleague should be able to find time to perform so large an amount of literary labor, in addition to that demanded by his already onerous official occupations. To this the General replied, with a smile: "The fact is, Senator, that however late I may be in going to bed, I rise very early, and thus I have a good hour and a half for work before the most of my neighbors get their eyes open in the morning."
By reference to General Logan's correspondence, it has been found that, under date of the 5th of December last, he addressed guarded communications — not being very familiar with the methods of the trade — to each of two well-known book firms, one established in the East and the other in the West, upon the subject of the publication of a proposed volume upon "The Volunteer Soldier." A reply from each of these is upon file, in which is stated the desire of the firm to negotiate for the production of the work.
After these replies were received, the author re-read his manuscript, and almost immediately upon completing his final review — it being then toward the middle of December — he sought a bed from which he never again rose in life. For nearly two weeks he lay upon it, bearing suffering patiently while there was hope of recovery; and when it became apparent that he was engaged in his last struggle, he comforted his wife and children, and before losing consciousness gave expression to the impressive and noble utterance: "If this is the end, I am ready!"
Within three weeks, to a day, from the date of addressing the publishers upon the subject of his latest book, the weary man had rested from his labors; his last earthly contest had been entered upon and finished; and, indifferent to the adulations of fame,
27voiceless in response to the frantic calls of family, careless of the stings of detractors, that followed him with unrelenting energy to the very line separating the known from the unknown, he had closed the record of a splendid career, and bequeathed it as a rich legacy to the youth of America.
The volume now given to the public as a posthumous work is an important contribution to the national interests, and a production possessed of a number of elements which give it a very original and in some respects a very extraordinary character.
Its importance is largely to be found in the circumstance that as an experienced military man — having studied for a number of years, under the advantages of an official position, the military system of the country — the author imparts to his fellow-citizens the matured results of his study, and makes a demonstration of the necessity of a radical reform. He shows quite conclusively that as now constituted the system is wrong ab initio; and that while the theory of our government reposes the defense of the Republic upon its citizen-soldiery — in opposition to the method of the standing army adopted by centralized governments — the actual practice erects an exclusive military establishment, to which are attached the essentials of a caste or class-distinction, and within the mechanism of which reside all of the possible dangers belonging to the military establishment of an absolute monarchy.
With his usual vigor of attack the author masses a potential array of facts upon which he erects batteries of argument, which without doubt must carry conviction to the general people, and soon or late result in an entire remodeling of the American military system upon something like the broad and safely sustaining basis so sagaciously pointed out by the great General.
The strong warp of the fabric which the hand of the soldier-statesman has dexterously woven into the present volume is represented by the volunteer soldiery, while the woof of the finished texture rests upon that element as does a stately edifice upon an immovable foundation wall. General Logan is conceded to have
28been the strongest type of the American volunteer soldier of the period in which he lived; and most efficiently has he done battle in behalf of that great bulwark of our national existence and security.
Devoted through life to the principle involved in the idea creating what may be termed a civilian soldier; indefatigable in the care of the volunteer patriots while marshaling them against the grim dangers of war; untiring in his efforts in civil position to secure to them the just recognition of services impossible of over-estimation, his last efforts were put forth for the interests — double though identical — of the citizen-soldiery and of the Republic whose national life it sustains.
While the argument of the work is so strong as to carry conviction by storm, its construction evinces artistic skill and completeness. With the boldness and open honesty of a man who never fought under cover of a masked intention, he does not hesitate to express his views in language not to be disguised in its true meaning by any insubstantial device of word-gilding. But while, as always, he states facts, and comments upon them in unalloyed English, he deals in no invective, nor does he exhibit unnecessary harshness. His charge is as crushing as it is brilliant; but it is also as open as it is vigorous. The unbiased reader of the following pages must pronounce the book energetic in style, though dispassionate and logical in argument; earnest in effort, but impartial in judgment; just without uncalled-for bitterness; vehement in the maintenance of opinion; national in purpose, and unpartisan in spirit.
As the author has so well remarked, the present war literature covers, in detail, every battle and engagement that took place during the late rebellion. The book has a much broader purpose than the eulogy of individual heroism and achievement, however merited. Though there is scarcely a page that does not dwell upon the American volunteer, yet the volunteer soldiery is considered in the aggregate, and, with the exception of those individuals presented by way of pointing the argument, not in the
29separate sense. The author has studied the volunteer in the light of the system he represents, and his appeal is made in behalf of the system.
The work is not only original in thought and in matter, but, as before remarked, it is extraordinary in some of its features. Attacks have been made heretofore, as we learn from the author, upon the aristocratic tendencies of the West Point institution; but no such complete analysis of the American military system, in its bearing upon the future necessities of the Republic, has ever appeared in print. General Logan has brought to the consideration of the question treated the expert knowledge of a great soldier, made practical in application to the needs of the state by the ripe culture and experience of a no less great statesman. The book, while offering a deservedly glowing tribute to the individual volunteer, will be considered a sterling contribution to the permanent interests of the country. It comprehends a calm, dignified, and exhaustive discussion of a very important public question, which must make the volume alike valuable to the soldier and civilian. It will be read by citizens of to-day, and placed in the library for reference in the future.
One of the strong points of the work that securely hold the initial ends of the developing argument is that which conclusively demonstrates the existence of a special aptitude in all individuals gifted in a specific direction above their fellow-men. The author emphasizes this indisputable fact, and exemplifies it by citing the cases of a large number of the most eminent soldiers of American history; and while he utters eloquent and unselfish tributes to the great men who preceded him, as also to those who were his actual contemporaries, the reader will be struck with the charming naiveté which proves him to have been utterly unconscious that he, himself, was one of the best exemplars of the reposition he was laboring to establish. If men are born with the military genius, John A. Logan was one of the number.
It does not fall within the purpose of the present memoir to
30present an extended biographical sketch of the distinguished author of the following pages — a man whose whole career was a faithful representation of the truth embodied in the maxim, "Per angusta ad augusta." His life story has already been told in various special volumes; while the eulogies that have been pronounced upon him in both branches of the National Congress by men of all parties; in the various state legislatures; and during innumerable memorial services held in various parts of the country, have acquainted the American people with the virtues of a public man whose character and career will always be quoted for the emulation of youth.
While a biography proper could hardly be attempted in a space as limited as that assigned to a memorial note, nevertheless, some of the strong features of the character now being considered, and especially as they seem naturally to be suggested by the author's volume, may be appropriately touched upon.
General Logan was one of the men that, upon appearing in a public place, immediately claim the general attention. Above the medium height, his fine physique gave assurance of great muscular strength and activity. His hair was as black and lustrous as the wing of a raven; the head massive; its contour bold and striking; the forehead broad and high, showing great breadth and depth of brain structure; the eyebrows heavily formed of rich black hair; the nose large and of Grecian caste; the mouth neither large nor small, under the play of the muscles surrounding it, as moved by the varying conditions of excitement, grief, pleasure, anger, determination, etc., was a study for the physiologist; while the chin, broad and symmetrical, lent completeness to a head and face of classical beauty. But the particular feature which most riveted attention was the eye. The sclerotic, as visible from the front of the ball, was of a limpid white, while the darkness of the pupil resembled "night, with hue so black." As the diamond flashes out its richest colors in response to the questioning gleam of light, so the eye of this gifted man was illuminated
31with distinctive rays, in obedience to the separate emotions calling them forth. Amid the roar of battle, as he rode at the head of his troops, sword in hand and head uncovered, that wonderful eye shone like a meteor, and inspired his men to deeds of desperate valor. Upon the floor of Congress, or in general debate, it was not difficult to predict, by means of the play of light in the eyes, the precise moment when the gathering storm would break; while those that knew him intimately could read his every emotion as he conversed among his friends in the domestic or in the social circle. If the writer were called upon for an opinion as to the more exclusive location of the compelling magnetism that so enlisted the enthusiasm of those with whom he came in contact, the opinion would place it in the organ spoken of. When he felt kindly toward an individual, his honest soul shone forth through the dark eye, and one could see at a glance that the language of the eye ratified the words of the mouth.
The character of General Logan was compounded of an unusual number of the strongly typical elements. Considered from the premise offered by mere anatomical circumstance, it may be said to be rare to find such profuse development, in the same individual, of so many of the higher traits. Of the elements going to make up this rich combination, apart from those exclusively related to strong intellectuality, the chief were honesty, in the broad and not the vulgar sense; great energy; iron determination; unflinching courage; much religious sentiment; great love of fellow-man, and a laudable ambition to play the life-part well.
The honesty of his nature rose far above the narrow and even degrading precept which urges honesty because it is the best policy. The nobility of his moral constitution scorned the word policy in all of its base acceptations. He was never known to bend the knee at the command, nor to listen for a moment to the suggestions, of mere expediency in shaping his public or private action. He was for a measure, or he was against it, in the open daylight, and before all opinions. He was for a man, or he was against him, in the face
32of the multitude, and before high heaven. He was as inflexible in declining to embrace the party-advantage offered by the recent Ohio Senatorial case as he was firm in the refusal to follow the dictum of the party caucus in the attack made by an administration, of which he was a warm personal and political friend, upon a Chairman of the Senate Committee of Foreign Relations, for whom he had no sympathy beyond that inspired by the demands of justice. In both cases he stood for principle in sacrifice of expediency.
Of the post-obitum tributes that have been rendered to General Logan by political and personal opponents — and these tributes have been many — not one has failed to dwell upon this high characteristic of the deceased soldier and statesman. His intense honesty was built upon a principle as firm as the granite of mother earth, and duplicity, concealment, and the tricks of time-servers were utterly antagonistic to his nature. "Logan struck hard," said one of his Southern eulogists, "but his friends and enemies alike knew just where to find him."
His great energy was based upon a physical structure of typical soundness, and of ideal construction. From the time when, as a boy, he burned the midnight oil in his father's home, in order to conquer a better education than his surroundings afforded, through the whole period of an active life, his energy was tireless, and, as a consequence, almost always effective in the accomplishment of a purpose. His determination and strong will-power, embodying resolution and persistence in maintaining it, were notable constituents of his character. The determination was of the sort that demands an exhaustive consideration of the factors belonging to a question — or of a motive for action — and a satisfying reason for decision; and the determination once formed upon such a basis was almost changeless. No menace could influence; no suggestion of a temporizing policy could turn; no pleading could melt him from a course that he had once settled upon as that which was just and proper to be pursued. It would be untrue to assert that he never
33erred, because such a claim can only be sustained for infallibility; but it can safely be said that, when he erred, it was never against justice, but always upon the side of truth, and of a worthy cause.
The courage of the man was a sublime quality. It had nothing of the subtle or the secretive in it, but belonged to the order which has characterized the martyrs of the world when battling for principle and meeting death to sustain it. It possessed all that is noble of the supposed fearlessness of the lion, shorn of every element underlying the crouch and sudden spring of the cat family. It was a befitting counterpart of, and a supplement to, the open honesty of his mold.
The religious sentiment was wholly untinctured with the cant of mere profession. It was a positive quality, built upon early education, deep study of the subject, and an innate reverence of the good. In no phase of its existence was it pretentious, nor approximative to the pharisaical. It was unboastful and unheralded; but its results ran through the whole texture of his life-work, stamping upon it the ineffaceable mark of the broad religion of humanity.
The love of fellow-man, which was one of the most striking, as it was one of the most ennobling features of General Logan's character, was the inherent quality of a fine nature, the polish of which its possessor had not attempted to heighten by the aid of factitious art.
No man could be a truer or stronger friend than General Logan was. His fidelity has passed into a proverb. No effort was too great to make in behalf of a deserving friend, no season too unpropitious in which to remember him. But the quality of faithful adherence to friends had a broader and deeper foundation in his relations with men than that underlying the obligation to return a favor, which obligation has taken its place as a leading article in the creed of the purely professional politician. He believed in God, and he likewise believed in man. He had the most implicit confidence in human nature. Though he was one of the strongest
34of men, Titanic in physique and gigantic in intellect, he had the heart of the youth before the revelations of later life have been spread before him. In spite of the betrayals and the shameless ingratitudes which constantly met him in his intercourse with men, he never lost faith in his fellow-man to the day of his death. When an example was presented which revealed the darker side of human character, he persisted in believing it to represent an exception to, and not the general rule itself. He judged mankind and its impulses under the light reflected from his own character. He was himself honest, faithful, charitable, and true, and he therefore believed that men in general were endowed with similar traits. He was wholly unconscious of the possession of such an exceptional wealth of the rarest virtues of humanity. Thus feeling, while his heart was always open to those about him, he made the same demand upon his friends, and upon the public, in their relations to him, that was fulfilled to them in his own character. It was when this demand was unmet, that in the shock of disappointment he would frequently give vent to some strong expression of indignation. But any such ebullition was momentary, and seldom represented a lasting feeling. Disappointment in some act of a friend broke upon him with the suddenness of the flash from a gun; but the effect ceased with the rapidity that the noise following it rolls away.
General Grant used to relate that when he was President, Senator Logan and Senator Morton of Indiana would come to him, each with thirteen requests; of the thirteen he would grant eleven to Senator Logan and two to Senator Morton. The latter would go away much pleased, and boasting of his influence with the administration, while the former would grumblingly declare that Grant never did anything for him. The anecdote was meant to be illustrative, not literal, of course; but it well represents the point of General Logan's character now dwelt upon. His reasoning would run thus: If he, Logan, were President, and his friend Senator Grant should prefer thirteen requests, he would comply with a
35"baker's dozen" of them, and then throw in a gratuity for extra measure — a something in the nature of what our Spanish-American neighbors call a yappa. He was constantly judging men in this way and making this sort of demand upon them. Notwithstanding his grumbling, as General Grant called it, the public will not soon forget General Logan's devotion to his chief. His gallant fight for a third term for the great soldier, his long and finally successful contest in Congress to place the latter upon the retired list of the army, and his oration at the tomb of General Grant, at Riverside, upon the last memorial day, an oration which, as said by the Rev. John P. Newman, in his late eulogy on General Logan, "will never die," must always be remembered as proof of his unfaltering loyalty to friend and principle alike.
But his warmth of heart radiated beyond the close circle of personal friendship and reached the larger sphere wherein moves mankind in general. Many anecdotes are told illustrative of his kind nature. One of the most touching of these was an actual incident of his soldier life. It occurred during the operations against Atlanta. General Logan at the head of his corps had made a sweeping movement to get into the rear of Hood's army. After a skirmish near Flint River, an old shell-torn cabin was discovered by his men in which were found an aged woman with her daughter, the latter of whom had just given birth to her first child, while shot and missile were whizzing and hissing through the cabin and over her head. Information of the circumstance was carried to the General, and it was not long before the great soldier was inside the cabin himself. When he beheld the harrowing scene there presented, his feeling was deeply moved. "Boys," he said, "fix up the roof with some of the old slabs from the stable; clear things up a little; and I don't think it would hurt you any to leave a part of your rations." The command and the suggestion were complied with in a wonderfully short time. The cabin was repaired and the larder supplied most bountifully.
Upon the suggestion that the child should be christened, the
36chaplain was sent for, and General Logan stood godfather to the infant, who was then called Shell-Anna. In turning to go, the General took out a gold pocket-coin — gold coin was scarce in that day — and, giving it to the old dame as a christening-gift, hurried away to the stern work before him. But as he strode out of the cabin, his comrades could not fail to notice that
Washed away the stains of powder.
His love for the soldiers that fought the battles of their country was genuine and unselfish. His regard for them through the war was evinced in ceaseless efforts to promote their welfare. During his subsequent legislative career, as a member of the House and of the Senate, the advocacy of the rights and just interests of the volunteer soldiers, who, as he constantly proclaimed, had given us all of the country we possess, became something akin to the requirements of a religious creed.
A volunteer soldier himself, he was fully acquainted with the great sacrifices of the class to which he belonged; and probably the most bitter of all regrets brought to him by the defeat of the Republican party in 1884 was the knowledge that much of his usefulness to the volunteer soldiers lay deeply buried under that defeat. With a faith in Logan that never faltered, they refused to believe that he was not as potent to assist them under the new régime as under the party whose especial and most loved children they were. They flocked to his house as of old, while he patiently listened to their stories as always before. With a burst of disappointment he would declare that he could do nothing with the party now in power, clothed with it, as it was, by the misguided people whom the Union soldiers had fought and defeated in the effort to destroy the Government. A friend was sitting with the General and Mrs. Logan, not many months ago, when a volunteer soldier, lame from a wound and broken in health, presented himself with a request a compliance with which would have placed the
37General in the position of an applicant for a favor from an Administration with which he was not in political sympathy. As the man proceeded to tell a story of suffering, the fire began to flash from the eyes of the listener, and, as the tale was concluded and the request preferred, the General rose to his feet, paced the room and gave vent to unsuppressed indignation. The soldier sat, with amazement upon his face, not knowing whether he or others had provoked the storm.
"Don't you know that I can do nothing for you; that I have never asked a political favor of this Administration and that I never will?" he said, with the darkened look upon his face so threatening to his opponents. The poor soldier, wholly mistaken as to the moving impulse of the sympathizing man's excitement, stole out of the room, abashed and disappointed. The storm soon began to abate, and after a further half-hour's conversation, during which he had evidently been revolving something in his mind, he rose and said to Mrs. Logan: "Mary, I can ask nothing of this Administration myself, but I've got to do something for that poor fellow or I sha'n't sleep well to-night." With these words he started to put into execution a plan that he had been silently considering, and which, while relieving the General from all personal obligation, soon brought to his astonished and grateful comrade all he had asked.
A laudable ambition to do everything well was still another of General Logan's characteristics. He was no pretender, no sciolist, in anything. What he did was well done, and the applause of his fellow-men was pleasing to him. While, as has been said, he was oblivious to his own rare merits of character, he was fully aware of power. A man of strength, he possessed that assertion which self-consciousness of strength invariably brings; but he was not resumptive, nor was he despotic. He had the strength of a giant, but he never used it as a giant. A misrepresentation of his character in the respect now being considered asserted him to be scheming for the Presidency. Never was a charge more baseless. He would have been glad to be President, without doubt, because
38he knew that he could be useful to his country, and because, too, it would have been an additional honor to those he had already received from his fellow-citizens. Is there an American who, with full belief that he could discharge the duties of the Presidency well, would not be glad to be President, or who would not be flattered by the recognition of personal merit which the selection for the position implies? One would not like to believe that there is. But the assertion that General Logan schemed for the Presidency is false in every sense. His honesty forbade it. One of his strongest traits, as before observed, was that he would never palter to any interest upon the ground of personal expediency.
Many proofs of this assertion could be found with little search; but for such proof the search need go no farther than the present book, which, notwithstanding the proximity of the next Presidential contest, was prepared for immediate publication by General Logan, under the full realization that it would awaken hostility against him within the circle of extended influence that he has so boldly attacked in the following pages. A friend conversed with him upon this very point in November last, when General Logan emphatically declared that he "would rather be the instrument for the reform of an abuse so vital to republican existence, than to be President of the United States."
The preceding review of the prominent traits of General Logan is necessarily more brief than a full consideration of his rare character would require of a biography proper. His greatness was not constituted of a single element, but was the product of a combination — a tout ensemble — of rare and striking qualities. He was considered a strong man, not simply because of his splendid physical build, but also because of the possession of those rugged qualities of leadership and command which caused him to tower far above the more than ordinary men among whom his life was spent. His powerful frame; his commanding presence; his resolute purpose; his magnificent courage, which often bordered upon the audacious; his disregard of all personal precautions against bodily ills; his
39always animated face and ever sparkling eye, conveyed the idea of typical strength. Other men would talk with him of their own death as an unavoidable event; but no one ever suggested the idea of death in connection with John A. Logan, the very embodiment of all that is vigorous in life. He himself appeared never to have entertained the thought. In all the years of close personal intercourse which a near friend enjoyed, he does not remember even an allusion by the General to the possible event of his own death. The play of his mind ran above the perishable though stalwart body which actually inclosed and bore the mental organ. When the compelling messenger came to demonstrate that his iron-cased manhood was vulnerable as is all human life, it seemed wholly impossible to his friends to acquiesce in the absolute demonstration presented to their bewildered senses. There are those of his intimates who cannot yet realize that he is gone never to return. His devoted and grief-crushed wife still exclaims, in the agony of his protracted stay, "Oh, I never believed that my darling husband could die!"
The public services of General Logan were rendered in the double capacity of statesman and soldier. In the forensis strepitus his commanding form and lofty mental attributes were backed by that inscrutable magnetism which his presence everywhere inspired, and by an eloquence of speech whose special characteristics were peculiarly his own. With a deep, rich voice, the rise and fall of which seemed set to music; with flashing eye and speaking gesture; with intense earnestness and overwhelming logic, he achieved the very ideal of effective oratory. In pure extempore efforts some of his colleagues, as also some of his adversaries, might have surpassed him in the classicism of their diction, in the severe construction of their sentences, and in the perfect poise of their periods; but in the incomprehensible "something" upon which General Logan dwells in the present volume, and which gives a special character to all human productions and efforts, it may fairly be said that he had few rivals and
40no superiors among the distinguished men of his time. He possessed this "something" to a remarkable extent, and one of its strongest characteristics in his case was its originality. No one who heard his public addresses several years ago, when the "fiat-money" theory appeared at its fullest tide, will forget how effectively General Logan demonstrated the fallacy of the doctrine by an illustration original, simple, and convincing. Holding up to the audience a Roman gold coin, of the era of the Empire, he would simply ask if that coin were worth as much now as when issued by the dead government which coined and gave it currency. Then, with the other hand holding aloft a bill of the Confederate States, he would naively inquire whether that piece of paper had any inherent value. The homely illustration went direct to the point, and needed no further elaboration.
The legislative record of the country for the past twenty years attests the important services in varied directions that General Logan rendered, and much of the benefit of wholesome legislation during the period mentioned is largely to be credited to his clear judgment and strong advocacy. Rich and valuable as have been his services in the legislative direction, there will be none to dispute that the ground upon which he will go into future history must cover his services not only as a statesman, but also as a soldier of the Republic.
Washington, Greene, Scott, Taylor, Kearney, and Grant were soldiers by gift of birth, and John A. Logan was their peer in natural endowment. His discourse upon the subject of an "inherent fitness" for the military profession, as contained in the following pages, assumes under his conclusive argument the character of exact demonstration. The one feature lacking to give it completeness is the absence of his own name from the generous list of those whom he characterizes as soldiers by natural inspiration. Admittedly he was the great volunteer General of the civil war; and no history of our country can be authentic which does not represent him as one of the central figures of that great conflict.
It may here be remarked that the word "volunteer" is used in this and in other parts of the memoir simply to represent the method by which one has become a soldier, and not to imply distinctions of quality pertaining to the two classes of military men. The author of this volume has annihilated the heretofore accepted dictum that the great soldier can only become such through academic training; while the general assumption of West Point officers of a superiority to the volunteer, by reason of the mere fact of graduation from a military school, became a demonstrated absurdity during the last war, through the lamentable failures of so large a proportion of them in actual battle. It is a fact resting upon a basis of ample proof, that the most serious of all mistakes made, and the most hurtful of all blunders committed during the civil conflict, were those of the regular army officers. General Logan was a volunteer soldier, but there was no regular officer that is now called who equaled the record of the former as a successful soldier. The record of General Logan is that he never made a mistake in any of his plans against the enemy; that he was never surprised nor deceived by the movements of his adversary; that he was never defeated in any engagement or battle that he directed. For what West Point officer may the same record be claimed? As will appear farther on, had his advice been followed by the regular officers superior to him in rank, though manifestly inferior in military skill, some very great mistakes with their serious consequences might have been avoided. Without anticipating what is to be spoken of in detail in a future chapter, Corinth and Atlanta may here be pointed to.
John A. Logan was a volunteer in the Mexican War at twenty years of age. In 1861 he relinquished a seat in Congress, abandoned party friends (being then a Democrat), and ruptured personal affiliations and kindred ties to take command of a volunteer regiment in defense of the Union. From the rank of colonel he rose through the intermediate grades to that of major-general, and in the remarkable series of battles comprising those of Belmont, Fort
42Henry, Donelson, Corinth, Memphis, Port Gibson, Raymond, Champion Hills, Vicksburg, Resaca, the Big and the Little Kenesaw Mountain, Decatur, Atlanta, Jonesboro, and of those attending the marches through the Carolinas, General Logan bore a glorious and, it may be said, an indispensable part.
So full is the record of this able soldier that no requirement exists to dwell upon his military character and achievements in this memoir; and, but for an occurrence which has transpired since his lamented death, the memoir would be closed from this point. The third part of the present volume is devoted to "a demand for justice to the volunteer soldier," and the occurrence alluded to has devolved upon his friends the imperative duty to make a demand for justice to the distinguished and never-to-be-forgotten volunteer soldier John A. Logan.
How strange are the developments and the revenges of Time, and how marvelous it seems that the full exemplification of General Logan's truly great character should partly come through the disaster of his own death!
It is well known to all military men who participated in the Civil War that, after the death of General McPherson, General Logan was deprived of the promotion that rightfully belonged to him, which injustice was greatly increased by the publication of the "Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman," written ten years after the close of the war. In this work the author of the "Memoirs" gives to the world an explanation of the motives prompting him to the course pursued toward the great volunteer General, derogatory to the military ability and personal character of the latter, an explanation which the author of the "Memoirs" has since attempted to soften but which he has steadily refused to retract. The "Memoirs" were published in 1875, and up to the day of his death, eleven years later, General Logan held in his possession personal letters which of themselves constitute his full vindication. General Logan refused to give publicity to these letters because of their personal character, up to the period of his death, and they
43would never have been given to the press by his friends under any other circumstance than that now to be mentioned.
To the end that the whole merits of the case may be understood, no apology seems to be needed for the quotation of various documents directly relating to the subject.
Upon the 17th of July, 1864, General Sherman with his army began the forward movement that resulted in the capture of Atlanta. The advance was attended with preliminary skirmishing, until upon the 22d the enemy made a temporarily successful move upon the left flank of the Union Army, and the battle of Atlanta, as it has since been called, was precipitated and fought. In the early morning of that day the commander of the main army (General Sherman) had issued an order
44horse and rode down to the headquarters of General Logan, to talk the matter over with him in person. General Logan was most positive that Atlanta had not been evacuated. Firing began almost immediately between the pickets, when the fact of an impending battle became indisputable. General Logan had already prepared his troops for march, under McPherson's written order; but, with the certainty of an attack, the order of General Sherman was disregarded, and General Logan took his command into line of battle under fire of the enemy. The latter had made a surprise so clever that in the absence of the cavalry under Garrard upon McPherson's flank, the orderlies and clerks at headquarters were formed into a picket, to keep off the enemy's skirmishers until the headquarters of the Army of the Tennessee could be moved to a place of safety. Then McPherson rode over to the commanding General's headquarters, to report the dispositions for the battle that he had made, in violation of the order of the early morning. Convinced of error regarding the supposed evacuation of Atlanta, the commanding General gave assent to McPherson's course. The exposed position of the Seventeenth Corps upon the left wing, caused by the order mentioned, had not been wholly covered at one o'clock, when McPherson rode out to see the progress of affairs. In passing along a narrow path he ran upon an ambuscade, was fired upon and killed.
Upon the death of McPherson, General Logan, as the senior officer in rank, took command of the Army of the Tennessee, by order of the commanding General. No orders whatever were issued to General Logan concerning the impending battle, or, if issued, as afterward stated, they were never received by him, and therefore the severe battle of that day was fought by General Logan according to his own plan and under his personal direction. Further still, the historic battle of the 22nd was fought almost alone by the Army of the Tennessee; and to the gallant soldiers and officers composing it, led by the irresistible Logan, who covered himself with unfading glory upon that eventful day, is due the
45sole credit of the splendid victory which was the prelude to the fall of Atlanta.
By his previous record in all of the hard-fought battles of the West up to that point, by his brilliant success in leading the army to victory upon that memorable 22nd day of July, and by his actual seniority of rank, General Logan possessed a triple claim to promotion to the permanent command of the Army of the Tennessee, for which he was more competent at that moment than any officer then in the military division of the Mississippi, as has already been stated by General Grant in his published "Memoirs." This claim, as is well known, was disregarded; and another officer, General O. O. Howard, was called from a different department, in order to be placed in command of the laurel-crowned Army of the Tennessee.
The sublimity of General Logan's nature, and his possession of the qualities indispensable to the true soldier, were never more brilliantly demonstrated than at this threatened crisis, for crisis it could certainly have been made. Smarting under a sense of the injustice inflicted upon their leader, many of his gallant comrades advised him to resent it. General Logan felt the sting most keenly, but he was too much of a soldier to falter for a moment in his duty as a defender of his country. Although the ex-commander-in-general has openly stated otherwise, General Logan had no personal ambition save that to do his duty well; and the strongest refutation of the more than insinuation that as a "political general" he subordinated duty to self-interest, is to be found in the fact that he not only fell quietly back to his old command, but that his influence was successfully exerted to induce his friends to accept the injustice in the lofty spirit exhibited by himself.
Under the implied stigma of the injury now related General fought through the war, and at its close returned to begin that brilliant legislative career of over twenty years with which his fellow-citizens are now familiar.
Some ten years after the close of the war, the "Memoirs" of
46General Sherman were published. The author's account of the events succeeding the death of General McPherson is as follows
"But it first became necessary to settle the important question of who should succeed General McPherson? General Logan had taken command of the Army of the Tennessee by virtue of his seniority, and had done well; but I did not consider him equal to the command of three corps. Between him and General Blair there existed a natural rivalry. Both were men of great courage and talent, but were politicians by nature and experience, and it may be that for this reason they were mistrusted by regular officers like Generals Schofield, Thomas and myself. It was all-important that there should exist a perfect understanding among the army commanders, and at a conference with General George H. Thomas at the headquarters of General Thomas J. Woods, commanding a division in the Fourth Corps, he (Thomas) remonstrated warmly against my recommending that General Logan should be regularly assigned to the command of the Army of the Tennessee by reason of his actual seniority. We discussed fully the merits and qualities of every officer of high rank in the army, and finally settled on Major-General O. O. Howard as the best officer who was present and available for the purpose; and on the 24th of July I telegraphed to General Halleck this preference, and it was promptly ratified by the President. General Howard's place in command of the Fourth Corps was filled by General Stanley, one of his division commanders, on the recommendation of General Thomas. All these promotions happened to fall upon West Pointers, and doubtless Logan and Blair had some reason to believe that we intended to monopolize the higher honors of the war for the regular officers. I remember well my own thoughts and feelings at the time, and feel sure that I was not intentionally partial to any class. I wanted to succeed in taking Atlanta, and needed commanders who were purely and technically soldiers, men who would obey orders and execute them promptly and on time; for I knew that we would have to execute some most delicate maneuvers, requiring the utmost skill, nicety, and precision. I believed that General Howard would do all these faithfully and well, and I think the result has justified my choice. I regarded both Generals Logan and Blair as ‘volunteers’ that looked to personal fame and glory as auxiliary and secondary to their political ambition, and not as professional soldiers."
When these lines were penned, ten years had elapsed since the occurrence to which they relate. General Logan had accepted the injury done him by a higher official, and had honorably completed his military service with the expiration of the war. He had buried all personal feeling of disappointment, and in the halls of Congress was rendering valuable aid to the difficult work of reconstruction. After the expiration of a decade the ex-commander of the Army of
47the West broke the silence of past events by the publication of his "Memoirs," in which General Logan was openly arraigned in the terms above quoted, and that, too, in a volume bearing the substantial character of an official record.
There need be no concealment of the fact that this last blow was severely felt by General Logan. And yet, like the man that he was, he neither resented it nor permitted his indignant friends to resent it for him, although through all those years he possessed some interesting documents, which will presently be given to the reader. Representations of a kindly character were made, however, by friends to the author of the "Memoirs," in appeal to his sense of justice, that he might be induced to undo a wrong which, with the generation of men cognizant of the facts, was more likely to injure him than to injure the object of the attack.
General Logan stifled the sense of injury a second time, and continued his efforts for usefulness to his country. Ten fateful years again flew by, when a message came to the venerated Logan which took him beyond the reach of life's fitful fever with all of its frightful apparitions.
In two days after the death of General Logan, the following correspondence was given to the New York Tribune, from which paper it is now reprinted
NEW YORK, Dec. 28, 1886.
WHITELAW REID, ESQ.
Dear Sir: The recent sad and unexpected death of General John A. Logan makes it opportune, in my judgment, to make plain what otherwise might remain obscure, touching our personal relations. To this end I prefer to make public a correspondence between us in the month of February, 1883, which resulted from speeches made at the "Corkhill Banquet," given me on the 8th of that month in Washington, in anticipation of my retirement from the active command of the army. There were present at that banquet many most distinguished men: Justices Miller, Matthews, and McArthur; Senators Sherman, Logan, Hawley, and Allison; Mr. Speaker Keifer, of the House; General Sheridan, Mr. Henry Waterson, and others, who responded to toasts and sentiments. A full account of this banquet was at the time published, and I extract such parts of the remarks made by General Logan in response to the toast of "The Volunteer Soldier" as explain the succeeding correspondence:
"They were ready in the storm and in the sunlight; they were ready in
darkness or daylight: when orders came they marched, they moved, they fought; whether their guns were of the best quality or not; whether their clothing was adapted to their condition or not; whether their food was all they would have asked or not — was not the question with these men. The question was, ‘Where does Sherman want us to go, and when must we move?’ Sir, these men marched with him through valleys, over hills and mountains, across rivers and over marshes, and the only question asked in all these campaigns was, ‘Where is the enemy?’ There were no questions of numbers or time. And for General Sherman I will say that there was not a soldier who bore the American flag or followed it, not a soldier who carried the musket or drew a saber, who did not respect him as his commander. There was not one, sir, but would have drawn his sword at any time to have preserved his life. There is not one to-day, no matter what may be said, who would dim in the slightest degree the luster of that bright name, achieved by ability, by integrity, and by true bravery as an officer. And in conclusion let me say this: While that army, when it was disbanded, was absorbed in the community like rain-drops in the sand — all citizens in the twinkling of an eye, and back to their professions and their business — there is not one of these men, scattered as they are from ocean to ocean, who does not honor the name of the man who led them in triumph through the enemy's land. Wherever he may go, wherever he may be, whatever may be his condition in life, there is not one who would not stretch out a helping hand to that brave commander who led them to glory. Speaking for that army, if I may be permitted to speak for it, I have to say: May the choicest blessings that God showers upon the head of man go with him along down through his life. It is the prayer of every soldier who served under him."
GENERAL SHERMAN TO GENERAL LOGAN.
"WASHINGTON, D. C., Sunday, Feb. 11, 1883.
"GEN. JOHN A. LOGAN, U. S. Senate, Washington, D. C.
"Dear General: This is a rainy Sunday, a good day to clear up old scores, and I hope you will receive what I propose to write in the same friendly spirit in which I offer it.
"I was very much touched by the kind and most complimentary terms in which you spoke of me personally at the recent Corkhill banquet on the anniversary of my sixty-third birthday, and have since learned that you still feel a wish that I should somewhat qualify the language I used in my Memoirs, Volume II., pages 85 and 86, giving the reasons why General O. O. Howard was recommended by me to succeed McPherson in the command of the Army of the Tennessee, when by the ordinary rules of the service the choice should have fallen on you. I confess frankly that my ardent wish is to retire from the command of the army with the kind and respectful feelings of all men, especially of those who were with me in the days of the Civil War, which must give to me and to my family a chief claim on the gratitude of the people of the United States.
"I confess that I have tortured and twisted the words used on the pages referred to, so as to contain my meaning better without offending you, but so far without success. I honestly believe that no man to-day holds in higher honor than myself the conduct and action of John A. Logan from the hour when he
realized that the South meant war. Prior to the war all men had doubts, but the moment Fort Sumter was fired on from batteries in Charleston these doubts dissipated as a fog, and from that hour thenceforth your course was manly, patriotic, and sublime. Throughout the whole war I know of no single man's career more complete than yours.
"Now as to the specific matter of this letter. I left Vicksburg in the fall of 1863 by order of General Grant in person, with three divisions of my own corps (Fifteenth) and one of McPherson's (Sixteenth), to hasten to the assistance of the Army of the Cumberland (General Rosecrans commanding), which according to the then belief had been worsted at Chickamauga. Blair was with us, you were not. We marched through mud and water four hundred miles from Memphis, and you joined me on the march with an order to succeed me in command of the Fifteenth Corps, a Presidential appointment, which Blair had exercised temporarily. Blair was at that time a member of Congress, and was afterward named to command the Seventeenth Corps, and actually remained so long in Washington that we had got to Big Shanty before he overtook us. Again, after the battles of Missionary Ridge and Knoxville, when Howard served with me, I went back to Vicksburg and Meridian, leaving you in command of the Fifteenth Corps along the railroad from Stevenson to Decatur. I was gone three months, and when I got back you complained to me bitterly against George H. Thomas that he claimed for the Army of the Cumberland everything and almost denied the Army of the Tennessee any use of the railroads. I sustained you, and put all army and corps commanders on an equal footing, making their orders and requisitions of equal force on the depot officers and railroad officials in Nashville. Thomas was extremely sensitive on that point, and, as you well know, had much feeling against you personally, which he did not conceal. You also went to Illinois more than once to make speeches and were so absent after the capture of Atlanta, at the time we started for Savannah, and did not join us until we had reached Savannah.
"Now I have never questioned the right or propriety of you and Blair holding fast to your constituents by the usual methods; it was natural and right, but it did trouble me to have my corps commanders serving two distinct causes, one military and the other civil or political; and this did influence me when I was forced to make choice of an army commander to succeed McPherson. This is all I record in my Memoirs; it was so, and I cannot amend them. Never in speech-writing, or record, surely not in the Memoirs, do I recall applying to you and Blair, for I always speak of you together, the term of ‘political general.’ If there be such an expression I cannot find it now, nor can I recall its use. The only place wherein the word ‘politics’ occurs is in the pages which I have referred to, and whereon I explain my own motive and reason for nominating Howard over you and Blair for the vacant post. My reason may have been bad; nevertheless, it was the reason which decided me then, and as a man of honor I was bound to record it. At this time, 1883, Thomas being dead, I cannot say any more than is in the text, viz.: that he took strong ground against you, and I was naturally strongly influenced by his outspoken opinion. Still I will not throw off on him, but state to you frankly that I then believed that the advice I gave Mr. Lincoln was the best practicable. General Howard had been with me up to Knoxville, and had displayed a zeal and ability which then elicited my hearty approbation; and as
I trusted in a measure to skillful maneuvers rather than to downright hard fighting, I recommended him. My Memoirs were designed to give the impressions of the hour, and not to pass judgment on the qualities of men as exemplified in after life.
"If you will point out to me a page or line where I can better portray your fighting qualities, your personal courage, and magnificent example in actual combat, I will be most happy to add to or correct the Memoirs; but when I attempt to explain my own motives or reasons, you surely will be the first man to see that outside influence will fail.
"My course is run, and for better or worse I cannot amend it; but if ever in your future you want a witness to your intense zeal and patriotism, your heroic personal qualities, you may safely call on me as long as I live. I surely have watched with pride and interest your career in the United States Senate, and will be your advocate if you aim at higher honors. I assert with emphasis that I never styled you or Blair ‘political generals,’ and if I used the word ‘politics’ in an offensive sense, it was to explain my own motives for action, and not as descriptive.
"Wishing you all honor and happiness on this earth, I am, as always, your friend,
W. T. SHERMAN,"
GENERAL LOGAN TO GENERAL SHERMAN.
UNITED STATES SENATE,
"WASHINGTON, D. C., SUNDAY, February 18, 1883.
"GENERAL W. T. SHERMAN.
"My Dear Sir: I have delayed acknowledging your letter of the 11th inst. up to this time, for the reason that I have been so much engaged every moment of time that I could not sooner do so. For your expression of kindly feelings toward me, I tender my grateful acknowledgments.
"I am inclined, however, my dear General, to the opinion that, had you fully understood the situation in which I was placed at the times mentioned by you, that I returned North from the army for the purpose of taking part in the political contests then going on, that perhaps your criticism on my then course would not have been made. I did not do it for the purpose of ‘keeping a hold on my people.’ I refused a nomination in my own State for a very high position, for the reason that I would not have anything to do with parties while the war should last. In 1863, when I went home to canvass in Illinois, and to help in Ohio, General Grant was fully advised, and knows that, although I had to make application for leave of absence, I did not do it of my own volition, but at the request of those high in authority. So when I left on leave, after the Atlanta campaign, to canvass for Mr. Lincoln, I did it at the special and private request of the then President. This I kept to myself, and have never made it public; nor do I propose to do so now, but feel that I may in confidence say this to you, that you may see what prompted my action in the premises. I have borne, for this reason, whatever I may have suffered by way of criticism, rather than turn criticism on the dead.
"So far as General Thomas having feeling in the matter you mention, I presume he entertained the same feeling that seemed to be general, that no one
without a military education was to be trusted to command an army. This, I think, was the feeling then, and is now, and will ever be; I find no fault with it. This, as a rule, is probably correct, but the experience of the world has occasionally found exceptions to this rule. I certainly never gave General Thomas any occasion to have strong feelings against me. I did complain that I was not on an equality with him while I commanded between Decatur and Stevenson, that my passes on the roads were not recognized, and I have General Thomas' letter afterward, admitting the fact, and apologizing to me for the conduct of his officers in this matter. I at all times cooperated with him cordially and promptly during my stay at Huntsville, and at all other times subsequent. Certainly I did for him afterward what few men would have done. When ordered to Nashville with a view of superseding him, at Louisville, when I found the situation of matters, I wrote and telegraphed Grant that he, Thomas, was doing all he could, and asked to be ordered back to my own command, which was done. This I say to show my kind feeling for him, and to say that if I ever did anything to cause him to complain of me, I was not aware of it.
"One thing, my dear General, that I feel conscious of, and that is that no man ever obeyed your orders more promptly, and but few ever did you more faithful service in carrying out your plans and military movements than myself.
"I may have done yourself and myself an injustice, by not disclosing to you the cause of my returning North at the time I did, but you have my reasons for it. I felt in honor that I could rest.
"This letter is intended only for full explanation, and for yourself only. I do not feel aggrieved, as you think, but will ever remain your friend.
JOHN A. LOGAN."
I now, with reverence for his memory, admiration for his heroism in battle, and love for the man, hereby ratify and confirm every word of his letter of February 18, 1883.
I was fully conscious that General Logan felt deeply what he believed at the time a great wrong to himself, and that he yet continued, with unabated ardor, zeal, and strength, to fight to the end for the cause we both held sacred. For the twenty-one years since the war has ended we have been closely associated in the many army societies which treasure the memories of the war, have shared the same banquets, and spoken to the same audiences. Only recently, at San Francisco, Seattle, and Rock Island, we were together, each a rival to give pleasure and do honor to the other; and still later, within the past month, he was at the fifth Avenue Hotel, his rooms next to mine, and not a night passed but we were together discussing old or new events. Both of us were men of strong opinions, sometimes of hasty expression, yet ever maintaining the friendship which two soldiers should bear to each other. Most undoubtedly did I expect him to survive me, and I have always expressed a wish that he, the then strongest type of the volunteer soldier alive, might become the President of the United States
It is ordered otherwise; but as it is, he has left to his family a name and fame which could have been little increased had he lived to attain the office for which so many good men contend, spite of the experience of the past.
When the Society of the Army of the Tennessee holds its next meeting, in Detroit, next September, if living, I may have more to say on this subject
Your friend, W. T. SHERMAN.
The reader will not fail to note that in the open, frank, personal letter of General Logan, under date of February 18, 1883, he explains to his former commander the true secret of his absence from the army and of his presence in the North during certain political campaigns, which secret reveals the simple fact that the absence was not in compliance with his own desire, but in obedience to the personal request of President Lincoln. He takes pains to state in the letter that he had never made this request public, and that, having no purpose to do so, he had "suffered criticism, rather than turn criticism on the dead."
A perusal of the correspondence, as published in the Tribune, will prompt the impartial reader to ask why, if it were meant to render belated justice to General Logan, it was not published with the consent of the General while living; or why, publication being delayed until after his decease, it was not published with the consent of his family and friends. If there were any possible vindication in the communication of General Sherman herein quoted, General Logan would never have availed himself of it under the possible necessity of being compelled to divulge a secret which, without the knowledge of attendant circumstances, might tarnish the fame of a martyred hero, nor would General Logan's friends, with full knowledge of his sentiments, have consented to the publication after his death of a confidence that he had guarded so religiously during life.
The pure character and unselfish official career of Abraham Lincoln need no further eulogy from his countrymen to insure just appreciation of that great man, at the present day or in future time, but the connection is a suitable one in which to offer such remarks upon the political incidents of General Logan's military life as may here be made.
The following quotation from the "Memoirs" of General
53Grant (vol. I., p. 243) will recall General Logan's political position at the outbreak of the war and furnish the key to the subsequent difficult position in which he was placed:
"The ten regiments which had volunteered in the State service for thirty days," says General Grant, "it will be remembered, had done so with a pledge to go into the National service if called upon within that time. When they volunteered, the Government had only called for ninety days' enlistments. Men were called now for three years or the war. They felt that this change of period released them from the obligations of re-volunteering. When I was appointed colonel, the Twenty-first Regiment was still in the State service. About the time they were to be mustered into the United States service — such of them as would go — two members of Congress from the State, McClernand and Logan, appeared at the capital, and I was introduced to them. I had never seen either of them before, but I had read a great deal about them, and particularly about Logan, in the newspapers. Both were Democratic members of Congress, and Logan had been elected from the Southern district of the State, where he had a majority of eighteen thousand over his Republican competitor. His district had been settled originally by people from the Southern States, and at the breaking-out of secession they sympathized with the South. At the first outbreak of war some of them joined the Southern army; many others were preparing to do so; others rode over the country at night denouncing the Union, and made it as necessary to guard railroad bridges over which the National troops had to pass in Southern Illinois as it was in Kentucky or any of the border slave States. Logan s popularity in this district was unbounded. He knew almost enough of the people by their Christian names to form an ordinary Congressional district. As he went in politics, so his district was sure to go. The Republican papers had been demanding that he should announce where he stood on the questions which at that time engrossed the whole of public thought. Some were very bitter in their denunciations of his silence. Logan was not a man to be coerced into an utterance by threats. He did, however, come
54out in a speech before the adjournment of the special session of Congress which was convened by the President soon after his inauguration, and announced his undying loyalty and devotion to the Union. But I had not happened to see that speech, so that when I first met Logan my impressions were those formed from reading denunciations of him. The gentleman who presented these two members of Congress asked me if I would have any objections to their addressing my regiment. I hesitated a little before answering. It was but a few days before the time set for mustering into the United States service such of the men as were willing to volunteer for three years or for the war. I had some doubt as to the effect a speech from Logan might have, but as he was with McClernand, whose sentiments on the all-absorbing questions of the day were well known, I gave my consent. McClernand spoke first, and Logan followed in a speech which he has hardly equaled since for force and eloquence. It breathed a loyalty and devotion to the Union which inspired my men to such a point that they would have volunteered to remain in the army as long as an enemy of the country continued to bear arms against it. They entered the United States service almost to a man.
"General Logan went to his part of the State and gave his attention to raising troops. The very men who at first made it necessary to guard the roads in Southern Illinois became the defenders of the Union. Logan entered the service himself, as colonel of a regiment, and rapidly rose to the rank of major-general. His district, which had promised at first to give much trouble to the Government, filled every call made upon it for troops without resorting to the draft. There was no call made when there were not more volunteers than were asked for. That Congressional district stands credited at the War Department today with furnishing more men for the army than it was called upon to supply."
This frank and generous statement of the great commander of the Union hosts sets forth in forcible terms the political influence which General Logan possessed at the outbreak of hostilities, and
55the inestimable service that this single man rendered to his imperiled country. Much could be added to it, in illustration of the sacrifices of a personal nature that he was compelled to make in adopting the course pursued. Full justice for these sacrifices must be left to his biographers proper.
The remarkable power possessed by General Logan at the beginning of the war was added to, year by year, until the period of his death; and it came to be recognized that as Logan went, so went not only his old district, but also the State of Illinois. His following then, and in all of the after years, was so largely personal in character, that a very grave political question, it is to be feared, has been presented to his party by his premature taking-off.
But to resume the principal topic. The preliminary proclamation of emancipation had been issued upon the 22d of September, 1862, and the fall elections of that year had resulted in the defeat of the Republicans in the pivotal States of New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Upon the 1st of January, 1863, the formal Proclamation of Emancipation was issued. It is unnecessary in this connection to dwell upon the position of the Government at that time. No one knew better than President Lincoln himself the legal weakness of that proclamation, and probably no one foresaw more clearly than he its possible effects in alienating the war element of the Northern Democrats from the support of the Administration in the prosecution of hostilities. As the year wore on, and the fall elections once more approached, the danger of a majority in the Lower House adverse to the continuance of the war began seriously to be felt. It was a period of deep apprehension with those realizing the situation. At such a crisis what was more natural than that the Administration, in the effort to avail itself of every agency in the election of a Congress that would vote the means necessary to carry on the war, should request the man who had shown himself possessed of the magnetic power in Illinois, described by General Grant, and who was known to be almost as influential in the neighboring State of
56Indiana, more doubtful in loyalty still than Logan's own State, to come back for a short period, in order to lend as effective aid to the Union at home as any single man could possibly render at the front?
General Logan had resigned a seat in Congress, to which he had been just elected, to go to the war. He had been importuned in the summer of 1862 to return from the army, and to again accept a seat in Congress. This request had been refused by him in a letter of lofty patriotism, in which he declared that he could have no political aspiration while the war lasted. But, to further the cause of the Union, he returned for a brief period in 1863, to a duty at home which no one could perform as well as he.
In the fall of 1864 the Presidential question was again impending, and, though Atlanta had fallen, the opposition to the war had grown to alarming proportions, and through its nomination of a former Union general, the result of the election seemed not at all assured to the Republicans. Another appeal was made to the man who, on forum and field, had proven himself a Colossus in defense of country. Again he returned to his home, and after the election of an Administration pledged to a maintenance of the Union, and to the prosecution of the war until the defeat of rebellion had become an accomplished fact, he went back to his active command, and remained in the field until the close of hostilities.
It hardly need be said that the call upon General Logan by President Lincoln in no sense implied the base personal motive that has been imputed to it since the ill-advised publication of the private letters between the first-named and General Sherman, in 1883. The prime object of the patriotic Lincoln and his co-laborers was to save the Union by placing its destinies in the hands of its friends.
The foregoing relation covers the precise basis upon which the charge that Logan was a "political general" rests. The author of General Sherman's "Memoirs," in his letter of February 11, 1883, heretofore given, distinctly denies using the word "politics" in the work mentioned as applied to Generals Logan and Blair, anywhere
57else than as used in the pages which have already been quoted. The following paragraph, however, is to be found in the "Memoirs" (vol. II, page 130)
"All the army, officers and men, seemed to relax more or less, and sink into a condition of idleness" [after the capture of Atlanta]. "General Schofield was permitted to go to Knoxville, to look after the matters in his department of the Ohio, and Generals Blair and Logan went home to look after politics."
Is there no sarcasm in that closing sentence? Had they failed to go home "to look after politics" in assistance of other efficient workers at the home end of the contest, what condition, it may be asked, might have confronted the brave boys in blue at the very beginning of "the march to the sea"?
Now that the admission of General Logan's letter to General Sherman, of February 18, 1883, has been made public, the reminder will be permitted that General Grant in his "Memoirs" corroborates the assertion of the letter, though the contained fact is delicately and impersonally stated in the following words: "Generals Logan and Blair commanded the two corps composing the right wing. About this time they left to take part in the Presidential election which took place that year, leaving their corps to Osterhaus and Ransom. I have no doubt that their leaving was at the earnest solicitation of the War Department." (Memoirs of General Grant, vol. II., p. 352.)
Arrived at this point, new evidence of General Logan's remarkable character will be presented to demonstrate not only that he was one of the most unselfish and one of the most punctiliously honorable of men, but also that he possessed those very features of strict subordination and unambitious patriotism that should ever characterize the soldier of the Republic. The documents now to be given were in General Logan's possession from the date they bear to the period of his death. They tell an interesting story, the disclosure of which is fully warranted by the publication of General Logan's private letter of February 18, 1883.
The battle of Atlanta had been fought and won on the 22nd of July, 1864, by General Logan and the superb Army of the Tennessee. The General had executed a most brilliant and perilous movement, under cover of darkness, upon the night of July 27, by which his army was swung into a new and better position. His soldiers were filled with enthusiasm for their daring and brilliant leader, and they, as well as he, expected that he would be given the promotion to which he was entitled. Instead of receiving this promotion, however, a West Point officer was called from a department of the East, though then personally present in the West, and placed in command of the Army of the Tennessee, in contravention of the equities of the case, as also of the interests of the country. As a supplement to this act the author of General Sherman's "Memoirs" (published, as before said, ten years after the close of the war) declared, in explanation of the motive through which General Logan was deprived of the promotion, that he, the author, did not consider General Logan "equal to the command of three corps."
The following documents will give the opinion of the author of the "Memoirs" at the date of the occurrence itself
"HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
"IN THE FIELD, NEAR ATLANTA, GA., July 27, 1864.
"GENERAL JOHN A. LOGAN.
"Dear General: Take a good rest. I know you are worn out with mental and physical work. No one could have a higher appreciation of the responsibility that devolved on you so unexpectedly, and the noble manner in which you met it. I fear you will feel disappointed at not succeeding permanently to the command of the army and department. I assure you, in giving preference to General Howard I will not fail to give you every credit for having done so well. You have command of a good corps, a command that I would prefer to the more complicated one of a department, and if you will be patient it will come to you soon enough. Be assured of my entire confidence.
"After you have rested come down to General Davis' position, and then to the new position of your corps. Assume command of it, and things will move along harmoniously and well. If I can do anything to mark my full sense of the honorable manner in which you acted in the battle and since, name it to me frankly and I will do it. General Howard and I will go off to the right, to survey the new field and prepare the way for the troops.
"W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General."
The italics are not part of the original document.
It will be observed that this letter breathes a tone of confidence not to be mistaken in the military ability of General Logan, while the open assurance that if the latter would be patient "the more complicated command of a department" would come soon enough, discloses the commanding General's opinion of General Logan as a soldier after the battle of Atlanta. This opinion stands in remarkable contrast with the statement of the "Memoirs" above quoted, viz.: that the commanding General failed to promote General Logan to the vacant post because he did not consider him equal to the command of three corps. General Logan had commanded three corps that very day, and had won a brilliant victory. The prestige of actual demonstration already belonged to him. Nor will the further tribute of the above letter to General Logan's character pass the observant reader. So impressed was the commander with the noble bearing of his subordinate, that he expressed his entire willingness to do anything that he could to mark his full sense of the honorable manner in which he (General Logan) "had acted in the battle and since."
This was not the first expression made by the same officer upon General Logan's capabilities as a soldier. The latter, it will be remembered, had been named brigadier-general for gallant services, at the instance of General Grant, and his confirmation to this rank was made March 3d, 1862. In the operations before Corinth, General Logan's brigade was placed under orders of General Sherman, and in the affairs of May 28th and 29th, 1862, general Logan's services were of such importance as to elicit the arm acknowledgments of his superiors. These were made in an official report, dated May 30th, in which report General Sherman says: "I feel under special obligation to this officer, General Logan, who, during the two days he served under me, held critical ground on my right, extending down to the railroad. All that time he had in his front a large force of the enemy, but so dense was the foliage that he could not reckon their strength save from what he could on the railroad track."
The narrative is momentarily interrupted at this point with the purpose to relate an incident before Corinth which is strongly illustrative of the military sagacity of General Logan, and which also places in contrast the practical acumen of the volunteer with the set methods and the dogmatic rules of the mere academic soldier.
When the advance was being slowly but cautiously made upon Corinth, after the battle of Shiloh, General Logan, being stationed near the railroad, was induced, through circumstances related by some of his men, to believe that the rebels were evacuating Corinth. With ears to the rails he could hear through the quiet of the night trains entering Corinth empty and going out loaded. Satisfied that the enemy was about to retreat, he informed General Grant of his belief, who reported it to General Halleck, then at the head of the Western Department as organized at that time. General Halleck impatiently declared that General Logan was mistaken, and substantially said that, being only a "volunteer, he did not know what he was talking of." A little later Logan assured himself more firmly than before of the correctness of his opinion, and again reported it through Grant to the General commanding. Halleck, with an oath, declared that the enemy was receiving reinforcements with every incoming train, and that the next day would witness a fierce battle. Further than this, he unreservedly told General Grant that if Logan sent any more reports of that kind he would have him placed under arrest. This is stated upon undeniable authority, though General Grant, in his own "Memoirs," with his usual charity, omits this part of the facts in relating the occurrence.
When day returned and the General commanding the Union forces ventured a reconnoissance, it was found that the enemy had fled from Corinth, and thus it became demonstrated that, had the advice of the volunteer General to attack at once been followed, the rebel army, surprised at night upon the retreat, would, in all probability, have been wholly captured, and the war abbreviated
61consequence by a very considerable period of time. This sad mistake was made, not by a volunteer officer, but by General Halleck, the "Old Brains" of the regular army.
After the battle of Raymond, which was so splendidly won by Logan and his brave men through the impetuous assault upon the rebel line under Gregg, General Logan's ability was so manifest that Grant has said of him at this stage of his career as follows: "I regarded Logan and Crocker as being as competent division commanders as could be found in or out of the army, and both equal to a much higher command." (Memoirs of General Grant, vol. I., p. 497.)
After the brilliant series of battles that finally led to the fall and occupation of Vicksburg, in all of which General Logan bore a conspicuous part, the great leader of the Union armies, who was no less generous than great — an attribute which, it may be said in passing, is an inseparable accompaniment of all real greatness — records his admiration of General Logan's military genius in the statement that he "ended the campaign fitted to command an independent army." (Memoirs, vol. I., p. 573.)
This was the testimony of General Grant, that superb man and soldier, in July, 1863, while the private letter of General Sherman, under date of July 27, 1864, above given, not only bore a like testimony, but declared that the command itself would come soon enough, with patience.
It is well known to the reader familiar with the history of the Civil War that General Hooker, a brilliant West Point officer, then commanding the Twentieth Army Corps of the Military Division of the Mississippi, under General Sherman, also expected to be transferred to the command of the Army of the Tennessee, and that because he failed to receive it he sulked and asked to be relieved of his command during the advance upon the enemy.
This action of General Hooker created much sensation among army officials, while the palpable injustice done to General Logan and his lofty bearing under the wound gave rise to
62merits that induced the commanding General to again attempt the defense of his course. Under date of August 16, something more than a fortnight after the first letter to General Logan, heretofore given, General Sherman addressed to him a communication of which the following is a verbatim copy, with the exception of the italics:
"HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
"IN THE FIELD — , August 16, 1864.
"General Logan: I made a letter (official) to the War Department, explanatory of certain matters personal to yourself and others, and instructed Dayton to furnish you a copy. He says he has done so. I intended to have sent it you with a private note. I think my official letter ought to be satisfactory to you, and if so, you are at liberty to furnish a copy of the part relating to yourself to your friends at home, and you may even publish the part named. But keep the original and be careful not to give copy of the part relating to Hooker to any person. The War Department has a right to the fullest intelligence, but it is not well to publish our opinions when controverted, as they lead to discussions which cannot do any good; but I do think, as between you and Hooker, no soldier or gentleman will hesitate to say that if I did injustice to either or both, you have best vindicated yourself by standing fast. You will never lose by such a course, and I hope, even now, you feel so.
"W. T. SHERMAN."
The official report which accompanied this second letter is as follows
"HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
"IN THE FIELD NEAR ATLANTA, GA., August 16, 1864.
"MAJOR-GENERAL HALLECK, Chief of Staff, Washington, D. C.:
"General: It occurs to me that preliminary to a future report of the history of this campaign, I should record certain facts of great personal interest to officers of this command.
"General McPherson was killed by the musketry fire at the beginning of the battle of July 22. He had in person selected the grounds for his troops, constituting the left wing of the army; I being in person with the center — General Schofield.
"The moment the information reached me I sent one of my staff to announce the fact to General John A. Logan, the senior officer present with the Army of the Tennessee, with general instructions to maintain the ground chosen by McPherson if possible, but if pressed too hard to refuse his left flank; but at all events to hold the railroad and main Decatur road; that I did not propose to move or gain ground by that flank, but rather by the right; and that I wanted the Army of the Tennessee to fight it out unaided. General Logan admirably conceived my orders and executed them, and if he gave ground on the left of the Seventeenth Corps it was properly done by my orders; but he held a certain hill by the right
division of the Seventeenth Corps, the only ground on that line the possession of which by an enemy would have damaged us by giving a reverse fire on the remainder of the troops. General Logan fought that battle out as required, unaided; save by a small brigade sent by my orders from General Schofield to the Decatur road, well to the rear, when it was reported the enemy's cavalry had got into the town of Decatur and was approaching directly on the rear of Logan; but that brigade was not disturbed, and was replaced that night by a part of the Fifteenth Corps next to Schofield, and Schofield's brigade brought back so as to be kept together on its own line. General Logan managed the Army of the Tennessee well during his command, and it may be that an unfair inference might be drawn to his prejudice because he did not succeed to the permanent command. I was forced to choose a commander not only for the army in the field, but of the Department of the Tennessee, covering a vast extent of country, with troops well dispersed. It was a delicate and difficult task, and I gave preference to Major-General O. O. Howard, then in command of the Fourth Army Corps, in the Department of the Cumberland. Instead of giving my reasons, I prefer that the wisdom of the choice be left to the test of time.
"The President kindly ratified my choice, and I am willing to assume the responsibility. I meant no disrespect to any officer, and hereby declare that General Logan submitted with the grace and dignity of a soldier, gentleman, and patriot, resumed the command of his corps proper (Fifteenth), and enjoys the love and respect of his army and his commanders. It so happened that on the 28th of July I had again thrown the same army to the extreme right, the exposed flank, when the enemy repeated the same maneuver, striking in mass the extreme corps deployed in line, and refused as a flank (the Fifteenth, Major-General Logan) and he commanded in person. General Howard and myself being near, and that corps as heretofore reported, repulsed the rebel army completely, and next day advanced and occupied the ground fought over, and the road the enemy sought to cover. General Howard, who had that very day assumed his new command, unequivocally gives General Logan all the credit possible, and I also beg to add my most unqualified admiration of the bravery, skill, and nerve, more yet, good sense, that influenced him to bear a natural disappointment, and do his whole duty like a man. If I could bestow on him substantial reward it would afford me unalloyed satisfaction, but I do believe in the consciousness of acts done from noble impulses, and gracefully admitted by his superiors in authority, he will be contented.
"He already holds the highest known commission in the army, and it is hard to say how we can better manifest our applause.
"At the time of General Howard's selection Major-General Hooker commanded the Twentieth Army Corps in the Army of the Cumberland, made up for his special accommodation out of the old Eleventh and Twelfth Corps, whereby Major-General Slocum was deprived of his corps command. Both the law and practice are and have been to fill vacancies in the higher army commands by selection. Rank or dates of commission have not controlled, nor am I aware that any reflection can be inferred unless the junior be placed immediately over the senior; but in this case General Hooker's command was in no way disturbed. General Howard was not put over him, but in charge of a distinct and separate army, no indignity was offered or intended, and I must say that General Hooker
was not justified in retiring. At all events, had he spoken or written to me, I would have made every explanation and concession he could have expected, but could not have changed my course, because, then as now, I believed it right and for the good of our country and cause. As a matter of justice, General Slocum, having been displaced by the consolidation, was deemed by General Thomas as entitled to the vacancy created by General Hooker's voluntary withdrawal, and has received it.
With great respect,
"W. T. SHERMAN,
"L. M. DAYTON, Aide-de-Camp."
The interesting character of these documents will appear at a glance. They tell a faithful story of the prevailng indignation caused by the injustice done to the gallant Logan, while they bring their author to the witness-stand in defense of the injured man. No praise could be greater than that so freely bestowed upon him who proved conclusively by his conduct through the bitter ordeal that, as a man, his character was most lofty; that as a soldier, he was the peer of any of his contemporaries; and that, as a patriot, his whole impulse was most unselfish. After perusal of these documents, it seems difficult indeed to realize that the writer of General Sherman's "Memoirs" could have publicly declared the opinion that General Logan as an officer was incompetent to command "three corps," and that he could more than intimate that, as a soldier, he subordinated the military character to political ambition. In view of the resentful course pursued by the West Pointer, General Hooker, the writer of the letter of August 16 was ready to affirm that, if he had done injustice to either (Logan or Hooker), Logan had best vindicated himself by standing fast. A volume could render no higher tribute to the soldier than these few words of the commanding General.
A curious confirmation of this testimony is presented by another letter, which may now be given to the public, since it leaves its author in no worse position than his published record in this connection has already left him.
If the West Point officer commanding the Military Division of the Mississippi was lavish in his tributes to the great volunteer, the
65professional soldier, who believed himself a victim of the same blow dealt to General Logan, was not less sparing of praise when declaring that he could have remained under the command of General Logan without the sacrifice of honor and principle.
The following document completes the list of papers herein presented to the public as part of the history of this remarkable occurrence
"HEADQUARTERS TWENTIETH CORPS, ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND,
"NEAR ATLANTA, GA., JULY 27, 1864.
"Dear General: On receiving news this morning that Major-General Howard had been assigned to the command of your army, I asked to be relieved from duty with this army, it being an insult to my rank and services. Had you retained the command I could have remained on duty without the sacrifice of honor or of principle. As it is, God bless and protect you. We will meet when this war is over.
"Your friend and servant,
As a continuing climax to this overwhelming array of testimony in proof of General Logan's splendid military ability, the following statement of the great captain of the Union armies may here be quoted:
"Logan felt very much aggrieved at the transfer of General Howard from that portion of the Army of the Potomac which was then with the Western Army, to the command of the Army of the Tennessee, with which General Logan had served from the battle of Belmont to the fall of Atlanta, having passed successively through all the grades from colonel commanding a regiment to general commanding a brigade, division, and army corps, until upon the death of McPherson the command of the entire Army of the Tennessee devolved upon him in the midst of a hotly-contested battle. He conceived that he had done his full duty as a commander in that engagement, and I can bear testimony from personal observation that he had proved himself fully equal to all the lower positions which he had occupied as a soldier. I will not pretend to question the motive which actuated Sherman in taking
66an officer from another army to supersede General Logan. I have no doubt whatever that he did this for what he considered would be to the good of the service, which was more important than that the personal feelings of any individual should not be aggrieved; though I doubt whether he had an officer with him who could have filled the place as Logan would have done.
A point in the career of General Logan which bears closely upon the subject under consideration remains to be touched upon.
The General commanding the Military Division of the Mississippi had told General Logan, in his letter of July 27, 1864, herein quoted, that the command of a Department would come soon enough to him (Logan), if he would but be patient. Within less than six months thereafter, the prediction was fulfilled in a wholly unexpected manner. The incident about to be related has received many versions, but, owing to the modesty of General Logan, no one of them has been wholly correct. The authentic account is now given of an act which of itself is sufficient to prove the singularly pure character of General Logan, and to furnish a triumphant release from the false position in which he was placed before, and the doubly embarrassing one in which he was fixed after, the publication of the "Memoirs" of General Sherman.
When the march to the sea was about to be commenced, the rebel General Hood was left in the rear of General Sherman's army, under the expectation that General Thomas would be well able to take care of him. Thomas was at Nashville, and Hood boldly invested the position of the latter at that point. General Grant, with the fear that Hood would succeed in passing north of the Cumberland River, and thus create a panic in the Northern States, became very urgent that Thomas, whose force was superior to that of Hood's, should move against the latter. Thomas delayed until Grant threatened to displace him if he did not move at once. Even this menace did not induce him to give
67battle to the enemy. Upon this state of the case General Grant sent General Logan, whom the former says in his "Memoirs" he "knew be a gallant and efficient officer," to relieve Thomas at Nashville. Logan took the order, as bound to do by duty, and started to the West; but, instead of proceeding to Nashville with all haste he remained in Cincinnati for some time, with the purpose of giving Thomas a fair opportunity to move if he intended to. Reaching Louisville on the 17th of December, General Logan found that news had just arrived there of Thomas' brilliant battle of the 15th, which news he immediately telegraphed to General Grant, and prepared to return to his own command under Sherman.
Growing out of this occurrence, a question was subsequently raised in the interest of General Schofield, who at that time commanded the Army of the Ohio. This question lasted long after the close of the war, and drew forth two letters from General Grant to General Logan upon the subject, dated respectively January 25, 1884, and February 14, 1884. As tending still further to place General Logan's magnanimous course in this episode wholly beyond question, extracts from both letters mentioned are here given:
"NEW YORK CITY, January 25, 1884.
"GENERAL JOHN A. LOGAN, WASHINGTON, D. C.
"My Dear General: P. S. I recollect some years after the Rebellion that General Schofield asked me if I intended his supersedure by your going to relieve General Thomas, and that I told him I had not. He was in command of the Army of the Ohio by assignment of the President, and General Thomas was in command of the Army of the Cumberland by a similar assignment. The two armies coming together naturally fell under Thomas, who was the senior. Whether your order, as written, would have given you command of the whole without regard to seniority, it is impossible for me to say now without seeing the order. If it did not, you would naturally have commanded the whole by reason of seniority if you were the senior, and my recollection is you were, General Schofield, I remember, was appointed a major-general before you were, but not confirmed by the Senate, and was not, if my recollection serves me right, confirmed as a major-general when I took command of the military division, but I assigned him to the command of the Army of the Ohio, and he was afterwards confirmed, but I do not know of what date.
"Very truly yours, U. S. GRANT,
"Per F. F. WOOD."
"UNITED BANK BUILDING, WALL STREET AND BROADWAY,
"NEW YORK, February 14, 1884.
"HON. JOHN A. LOGAN, U. S. SENATE, WASHINGTON, D. C.
"Dear Sir: In reply to your letter of the 11th, I have to say that my response must be from memory entirely, having no data at hand to refer to, but in regard to the order for you to go to Louisville and Nashville for the purpose of relieving General Thomas, I never thought of the question of who should command the combined armies of the Cumberland and the Ohio. I was simply dissatisfied with the slowness of General Thomas' moving, and sent you out with orders to relieve him. No doubt if the order had been carried out the question would immediately have arisen as to who was entitled to the combined command, provided General Schofield was senior in rank to you, which I do not know that he was. I know that his confirmation as a major-general took place long after yours, but I do not know the date of his commission. The question in that case of the command of the whole would have been settled in a very few hours by the use of the telegraph between Nashville and Washington. I was in Washington when you arrived at Louisville and telegraphed me that General Thomas had moved, and, as I remember the telegram, expressing gratification that he had done so. I was then on my way to Nashville myself, and remained over a day in Washington hoping that Thomas might still move. Of course I was gratified when I learned that he had moved, because it was a very delicate and unpleasant matter to remove a man of General Thomas' character and standing before the country, but still I had urged him so long to move that I had come to think it a duty.
"Of course in sending you to relieve General Thomas I meant no reflection whatever upon General Schofield, who was commanding the Army of the Ohio, because I thought that he had done very excellent service in punishing the entire force under Hood a few days before, some twenty-five miles south of Nashville.
Very truly yours,
"U. S. GRANT,
"Per FRANK F. WOOD."
The italics do not appear in the original document.
This testimony, offered by General Grant himself, will shed additional luster upon the character of John A. Logan, the unselfish, unambitious, patriotic volunteer of the Rebellion. Had General Logan really been a spurious soldier, compounded of political influence and military pretension; had it been true that he entered the army to subserve personal and political ambition, this was the opportunity that he would have eagerly embraced to grasp not only the command of a single army department, but a possible, and perhaps a probable, double command of the combined armies of Thomas and Schofield. General Logan, being well aware, too, at the time of its occurrence, of the circumstance
69subsequently stated in the "Memoirs" of General Sherman, viz.: that General Thomas had determinedly remonstrated with the commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi against the promotion of the former to the command of the Army of the Tenessee made vacant by the death of McPherson, would have here found the presenting opportunity, not only to subserve the aspirations of a vaulting ambition, but also to administer retributive justice, or injustice, as one may view the case.
A professional soldier of the stamp so well depicted in the present volume might have grasped the opportunity with eager haste. But General Logan was not that sort of soldier. He had no petty feelings of revenge in the make-up of his noble character. He never met an enemy in that kind of way. He believed Thomas to be capable and that his delay in moving was unavoidable. The volunteer soldier scorned to win preferment at the expense of a competent officer. The horse may be led to the water, but he cannot be compelled to drink. General Logan started to comply with the order of his chief, but he delayed its execution in order to give General Thomas every opportunity to save his reputation, and when information of Thomas' victory reached him at Louisville he telegraphed the news to General Grant and expressed his satisfaction with the result, as will now be seen by the letters just given.
This plain recital of facts not to be disproved sweeps away many aspersions against General Logan and places him before his countrymen upon a pinnacle of greatness. No fair judge, after learning the indisputable truth, can fail to accord to him the qualities of a rare military genius and of a man of remarkable personal character.
There are men too ungenerous to acknowledge an error, and there are others too selfish to entertain the idea of even-handed justice, much less to give it practical application. All men are to err in judgment. Says the Hippocratic maxim, "Art is long, life is short, experience deceptive, and judgment difficult." If a mistake as to General Logan's military and personal character
70had been made, how nobler would its prompt and frank acknowledgment have been?
Standing in the clearer light of the present day and under the full illumination of all the facts connected with the injury done to the volunteer soldier in the person of General Logan, can any one fail to recognize its true cause in the moving influence and inspiration of the professional military man, the product of a system whose evil character has been so well depicted and so strongly arraigned by General Logan in the present volume? General Grant, "an accident of the system," was one of the most capable soldiers America has produced, and, while possessed of the sterling genius of a great leader, he was also endowed with the high impulses and the generous nature of a true soldier. He made the mistakes common to humanity, but there is no instance upon record showing him to have been slow in recognizing and in acknowledging them.
No purpose is here entertained to assault personal motives nor to make acrimonious charges against personal character. The full statement of the facts connected with the grossest injury ever done to General Logan has been made in this paper with the principal purpose to render tardy justice to his character in a volume which will, probably, reach every military reader of the country, as well as all civilians having an interest in public affairs; and it has been made with the secondary purpose to offer the incident itself as one of the strongest proofs possible to be adduced of the errors of our present military system, so ably discussed by General Logan in the present work. There is reason to suppose that the commander of the Military Division of the Mississippi had no wish to injure General Logan personally; and there is every inducement to believe that his action in the case was purely the outgrowth of his professional military education. It has been said in these pages and elsewhere that General Braddock, the professional officer, could not accept the advice of the volunteer soldier and aide, George Washington, "because the military
71education" of the former "was against it." In the case of the flagrant wrong perpetrated upon the volunteer General John A. Logan by the regular officer we are presented with a glaring instance of the dangers of an exclusive military establishment as "the repository of the military knowledge of the country;" and we are urgently admonished thereby of the necessity to correct the system by diffusing military education among the people at large, and by committing the defense and honor of the country to their safer keeping.
The life-work of the lamented Logan is completed. He died after a long public service, with the honors of an appreciative people thickly heaped upon him. No mere sketch like the present could do more than outline his great character and touch upon the prominent points of his splendid career. He was not wholly understood by his contemporaries, and by many he was wholly misconceived. Removed from the arena of life, and safe from the attacks caused by personal promptings, he will be better known and understood in the future as his extraordinary character is more fully depicted and his great services to the country become more familiarized to the people at large. He was the equal in many of his forensic attributes of such statesmen and orators as Jefferson, Hamilton, Webster, and Clay; while a comprehensive survey of his military character and record will not fail to inspire the belief that he was possessed of great military possibilities. With prescience as great as that of Wellington, the inspiration of his leadership was as marvelous as that of Napoleon I. With all the ability of the former to plan a campaign, he was as irresistible in its execution as the latter. Like Napoleon at Lodi, and elsewhere, he led his troops to the fight. Unlike many great generals, he never directed them from the rear.
Under the restrictions of our system it is difficult to call into full development the inherent military genius of the simple American citizen; while, by reason of the non-military character of the Government itself, but little opportunity is offered to create great
72leaders whose qualities as soldiers may bear comparison with the noted conquerors of the older world.
The author of this volume, speaking from the standpoint of the volunteer soldier, has exhibited to the view of his readers the discrimination of the Government — as directed by the regular army influence — against the citizen-soldier; while the incident connected with his own military career, already dwelt upon in this memoir, whereby his rise to more important commands indisputably was arrested by reason of his non-professional military character, gives practical exemplification of the disheartening conditions under which inborn military talent is compelled to fight its way to recognition.
Upon the other side of the case, though the military opportunities of the nation are unstintedly held out to the professional soldiers educated at its National Academy, the extensive and continued practice of war, so necessary to the achievement of superlative military eminence, is lacking under the traditional peace policy of the American Government. It was the opinion of Napoleon Bonaparte, as it has been, also, of other noted modern captains, that Hannibal, in consideration of all his attributes, is entitled to be deemed the greatest soldier ever produced in any age or country. But Hannibal was reared in a camp from the age of eleven years, and accompanied his father, a distinguished soldier, in all of the latter's campaigns. Bonaparte himself was upon the battle-field during nearly the whole period of his adult life up to the time of his permanent imprisonment. No such opportunities as those possessed by the soldiers named for acquiring the art of war can be extended under a form of government similar to our own.
The circumstances noted render it impossible to estimate General Logan's military genius to the full extent. Had the military power of the Government been as firm in the support of the volunteer during the recent war as it was of the West Point soldier, the whole military aspect of the Rebellion might have been different
73from that which it actually bore. That he possessed the instinct of the soldier to a remarkable degree, instructively as well as amusingly appears from the well-attested incident of his appearance upon the battle-field of the first Bull Run, to which he had hurried from his seat in the House of Representatives while it was still in session, and in broadcloth suit and high silk hat performing service as a private, with a gun borrowed from a wounded soldier. His bravery, courage, dash, energy, sagacity, and magnetism rendered him one of the most successful officers — and, considering his grade and position, perhaps the most successful officer — that the civil conflict produced. Had he been unhampered by the prevailing prejudice against the volunteer; had rank and command been accorded to him as his developing merits warranted, and strict justice required, the war would have been considerably abbreviated in duration, and the personnel of its great actors would have been somewhat changed.
With enthusiastic warmth General Logan has applauded the services of General Henry Knox, the great artillerist of the Revolution as well as the first War Secretary of the new nation; and he has closed his eulogy with a tribute to the latter's character both beautiful and just. In concluding this memoir no more fitting summary of the character of John A. Logan can be found than that embraced in the words that he has applied to General Knox:
"He was an American volunteer, a distinguished soldier, an eminent statesman, and an admirable civilian." Surely no "higher meed of praise can be rendered to any of the world's toilers than this."
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 1, 1887.
"Major-General John A. Logan, Commanding Fifteenth Army Corps:
"The enemy having evacuated their works in front of our lines, the supposition of Major-General Sherman is that they have given up Atlanta, and are retreating in the direction of East Point.
"You will immediately put your command in pursuit to the south and east of Atlanta, without entering the town. You will seek a route to the left of that taken by the enemy, and try to cut off a portion of them while they are pressed in the rear and on our right by Generals Schofield and Thomas.
"Major-General Sherman desires and expects a vigorous pursuit.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
(Signed) "JAMES B. MCPHERSON, Major-General."