Logan’s Post-War Controversy

The shroud of mystery surrounding John A. Logan’s decision to join the Union became much more complicated after the end of the war in 1865. Many newspaper articles, family writings, and memoirs, were written at this time discussing Logan’s alleged activity in the years of his silence from 1860-1861. To make matters worse, Logan’s memoirs did not contain any documents written by him at this time. Furthermore, John Logan decided to run as a Republican candidate in the 1866 election. Logan moved his family from Marion, in Little Egypt, to Chicago. This undoubtedly infuriated the citizens of Little Egypt, who saw Logan’s new radical republican political stance, and move to the manufacturing center of the North, as a strict betrayal.

It is during this election period, that Democrats of Southern Illinois, who used to love Logan, attacked him viciously, using the pre-war silence as a weapon. Democrats stated that Logan had called the war, “a damned abolition crusade” claiming he had recruited an “Egyptian corps” for the rebellion. (Cole p.400-401) The Democratic Press went onto say that Logan was the sponsor for the secession meeting in Marion, Williamson County, Apr.15th, 1861.  The Cairo Democrat claimed that Logan, “had only entered the war to get office” and that, “It was not till he found that the patriotic Democracy of Southern Illinois would not follow him into the ranks of the rebel army that he discovered himself on the weather side.” (Cole p. 401) The mayor of Cairo in 1866, furthered these claims stating that Logan had bought a revolver from him, and raised an army to repel the Union soldiers from Marion in 1861. The statements by the press are compelling. On the one had many of these men knew and supported Logan before, and during the war. On the other hand, they were left angry with Logan for leaving the Party, and Little Egypt. Fueling the hatred many Southern Illinois residents found themselves in a rough spot after the war. With the Southern economy in ruin, trade on the rivers between the North and South would be on the decline. Furthermore, the Democratic Party had lost two major presidential elections, and Logan had not only ceased to be a Democrat leader, but had become an opponent. Thus, the attacks on Logan from the Little Egypt’s press in 1866 were political in nature, but also deeply personal, and often inaccurate, as many of the quotes and accounts where not backed in other memoirs.

Mary Cunningham

Mary Cunningham. See Works Cited (Ed Gleeson p.7)

The post-war mystery of John Logan was deepened when his family members became involved.  Logan’s wife Mary Logan came to his defense in 1866. She went to Marion and obtained eight signatures of men who served with Logan in Little Egypt, saying that the charges against Logan by the Cairo Democrat were untrue. However, of these eight men, six said that their consent was not given, and that they felt the charges against Logan were fair. (Cole p. 402) To make matters more complex, men from the 15th Tennessee began to speak up on Logan’s involvement in Marion, and the recruitment to the Confederacy. Frank Metcalf fully defended his statement that John Logan had met with him, and Hibert Cunningham on May 4th, 1861. Logan continued to deny the meeting, but William M. Davis who was from Marion, and had fought in the 15th Tennessee, admitted at the time he was, “by and under the influence that of John A. Logan and his brother-in-law, H.B. Cunningham, who told me that Logan would join us in two to three months.” (Cole pg. 402)

The missing piece of the puzzle was Logan’s brother-in-law, Hibert “Hibe” Cunningham, who had also fought in the 15th Tennessee, and had indeed been quoted promising Logan’s commitment to the Confederacy. Still a Democrat, and living in Mississippi away from the drama surrounding Egypt, many thought that Hibe would provide answers to the Logan dilemma. However, Cunningham instead exempted Logan from having any influence on him joining the Confederacy. This position contrasted what Hibe had said in 1861, when he met with Logan, and promised the recruits that Logan would join. Unfortunately this does not help solve the Logan mystery and adds only two options: either Hibert A. Cunningham was initially lying in 1861 when he claimed Logan would come, or he was lying in 1866 about the truth of what happened.