January 8, 1865: Logan returns to command and Osterhaus takes a deserved vacation

Two of my favorite corps-level commanders of the Civil War are Major-Generals John A. Logan and Peter Osterhaus.  Both men complied enviable records during the war, particularly on the field of battle.  And both men are associated with the Fifteenth Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee – or if you prefer, Major-General William T. Sherman’s Right Wing.

During the Atlanta Campaign, the Fifteenth Corps was Logan’s charge.  In September 1864, he took leave and tended to “political” duties.  So during the Savannah Campaign, Osterhaus, who’d commanded the first division of the corps through most of the previous campaign, moved up to corps command.  And as we have seen, Osterhaus performed well in the role.  But among those who arrived at Savannah to rejoin the army was Logan, returning from leave.

This caused a problem for Army/Wing commander Major-General Oliver O. Howard.  Two good commanders and one seat.  But on January 8, 1865, he communicated the resolution for this issue:

Hdqrs. Department and Army of the Tennessee,
Savannah, Ga., January 8, 1865.
Hon. E. M. Stanton,
Secretary of War:

Dear Sir: Major-General Osterhaus, who has been commanding the Fifteenth Army Corps for the last three months during the temporary absence of General Logan, feeling a delicacy about displacing any one of the admirable division commanders of the corps, has concluded to take a leave of absence, now that General Logan has returned, and to apply for assignment elsewhere at the expiration of the leave. I wish to commend to you again Major-General Osterhaus for a brave, energetic, and faithful soldier. He has been of essential service to me during the last two campaigns, where he added new luster to a reputation already national. If you could assign him to a field of labor suited to his taste and talents, I feel sure that he would honor the Government and perform his trust with assiduity.

With high esteem, I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
O. O. Howard,

With this came the first major change to the lineup of Sherman’s Lieutenants.  Logan would led the Fifteenth Corps into the Carolinas.

Of all the pictures of Logan, I prefer this one:

You see the swarthy complexion and black hair which garnered the nickname “Black Jack.”  But what I like the most in the portrait is what is hanging on his left side:


That’s the badge of a fighting corps – “Forty Rounds!”

Logan’s post-war career is well known.   Less well known is that of Osterhaus.  After taking leave, the Prussian-born general returned to service as the Chief of Staff for Major-General Edward Canby, Military Division of West-Mississippi.  After the war, Osterhaus served in a couple of diplomatic posts but spent most of the remainder of his life in Germany.  And when World War I broke out, Osterhaus was still there… and drawing his army pension.  Osterhaus died in January 1917, just months before America’s entry into that war.

(Citation from OR, Series I, Volume 47, Part II, Serial 99, page 25.)


One thought on “January 8, 1865: Logan returns to command and Osterhaus takes a deserved vacation

  1. In my estimation, it was rather Howard who felt “a delicacy about displacing any one of the admirable division commanders”. Or to be more precisely, fellow West Pointer Brevet Major General Charles R. Woods, temporary commander of Osterháus’s Division. In this instance, Howard was playing favorites, clearly preferring the burly Ohioan, also highly regarded by Grant and Sherman, to the German-born immigrant. In a dispatch written back in November 1864, Howard, indulging in his prejudices toward Germans, stated: “It is intimated that General Logan may not return to the Fifteenth. General Osterhaus is now commanding it, and does quite well. He is brave and energetic, and I am reluctant to disgust him by putting him back, and more reluctant to send the efficient and excellent commander, General Woods, back to a brigade, he has commanded a division so long [NOT TRUE]. But I am always free to say that, other things being equal, I prefer an American corps commander to a German.”

    Osterhaus, always loyal to a fault and never confrontational toward his superiors, acquiesced in vacating division command and “asking” for reassignment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s