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Black Jack Logan: An Extraordinary Life in Peace and War Hardcover – July 1, 2005

8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

His legacy was Memorial Day. He was a dominant player in the politics of the Gilded Age, a three-term senator who was as popular as he was partisan. He was the vice-presidential candidate in the losing race in 1884. Had he not died unexpectedly at the age of sixty, he may likely have become president in 1888. He entered the political scene in 1859 with controversy, a Northern (Illinois) congressman so committed to enforcing the Fugitive Slave laws that abolitionists dubbed him "Dirty Work" Logan.
The Civil War made him a star. But more than that, it was the epiphany that changed his political and social values. He changed his philosophy, changed political parties, and fought for the rights of African Americans and for women's suffrage. He witnessed his first battle as a United States congressman, but became so impassioned with the fury of the fight that he picked up a discarded rifle and battled alongside the foot soldiers. Officially entering the war as a colonel, he served under such legends as Ulysses S.
Grant and William Tecumsah Sherman, and his ostentatious nature and solid leadership on the battlefield earned him rapid promotions and dominant roles in the decisive campaigns of the war. By 1865 he was a major general leading an army, and was considered the best volunteer soldier that the war produced.
He may be the most noteworthy nineteenth-century American to escape notice in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. His name is John Alexander Logan, known in his time as Black Jack Logan, and this, finally, is the book he deserves.

About the Author

Gary Ecelbarger is the author of “You’re in for it!”: The First Battle of Kernstown,
March 23, 1862, an editors’ choice of the History Book Club; and Frederick W. Lander: The Great Natural American Soldier. He lives in Virginia.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The Lyons Press; First Edition edition (July 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159228566X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592285662
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,722,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Colonel Moran on October 20, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is an objectively-written biography of one of the few successful political generals of the Civil War. Logan was a complex character, with some opportunistic, unattractive aspects to his personality. He was also intelligent, hard-working, and, in battle, brave and resourceful. The author does a good job describing his early life, Civil War career, and political life. Logan changed his views on several subjects during his public life, and the author explains these issues in depth. He also writes in an exciting yet accurate manner about Logan's battlefield performances. Family life played a large part in Logan's development, and this subject is not neglected. Worth the effort to read about a skilled officer and politician, who is not well-known to most of today's readers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael E. Fitzgerald on December 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
No one remembers him today and few historians see fit to shine their light his way, but John Logan was a crucial player of that morally gray and turbulent time, the American nineteenth century. As a War Democrat during America's Civil War, he was one of the few politically appointed generals to demonstrate combat effectiveness and his role in the 1864 Western campaign was pivotal. But more than that, his personal odyssey from tepid unionist to a practioner of hard war, and from northern racist to a champion of black freedom, personified the Nation's own transformation.

Gary Ecelbarger's fine work has done something unique. With Logan physically present at the great events of his time from Civil War battlefields, to Abraham Lincoln's private councils, to the post war, hard knuckle politics of Reconstruction, Ecelbarger brings this pugnacious general to life, and in so doing enhances our own understanding of the time period from Southern Succession, to War, to Reconstruction and on into the Gilded Age.

This is a very well done work defining Logan as the dynamic force he was: Tireless advocate, skilled politician, influential Senator, Presidential contender and an intimate with his era's great personalities, Grant, Sherman, Lincoln and all the rest.

You will enjoy this book. It is a very good, well researched read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jedwin Smith on June 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unless you were raised in Illinois, you probably never heard of Gen. Logan. In fact, he was probably the best regimental, division and corps commander in the entire Union Army. Don't believe me? Well, do a little research and you will find out I'm not stretching the truth. Excellent read, if not one of the best books on American history in the years 1856-1880s.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on August 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Abraham Lincoln had a lot of trouble finding generals. And his real problem was political generals, particularly Democrats who seemed to have both little capability as generals and who spent too much time as politicians. Burnside and McClellan come to mind.

By far the most successful of the Democratic political generals was Black Jack Logan. A Congressman at the start of the war, he was one of those who went out with the Union army to watch them smash the Rebels at Bull Run/Manassas. Unlike the rest of the observing congressmen, he grabbed a rifle at the start of the battle and followed a Union unit into battle.

Afterwards he entered the Union Army and by its end was a Major General in command of the Army of Tennessee. He was arguably the most competent of the volunteer generals, the political generals.

After the war, he became a confidant of Grant and was supported by Grant for the presidency. Frederick Douglas was another supporter. All in all he was the odds on favorite to win the 1888 election but unexpectedly died.

This is a very well written biography of one of the little known but most effective generals of the American Civil War.
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