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VOL. I.-MAY, 1869.-NO. 5.
RICHARD J. OGLESBY.
A MONG the long list of names A which illustrate the patriotism of Illinois during the Great Rebellion, that of RICHARD J. OGLESBY stands conspicuous. Whatever else he may fail to achieve, the past is secure; and he will pass into history as one who per formed an important part in the great drama which convulsed our own country and arrested the attention of the civ. ilized world.
His, too, is an example, amid many others, of a man born in humble circumstances, oppressed by poverty, with limited means of education at his com mand, but self-reliant, hopeful and persevering, gradually rising superior to all these impediments and creating for himself a national reputation. His career shows the versatility of the American character - carpenter, miner, student, lawyer, soldier, statesman and in every position he acquits himself creditably. It also shows the genius of our institutions. Under other govern ments a person born to the condition of a laborer ordinarily dies a laborer, and the sphere to which by the accident of birth he is assigned, is girt, as it were, by a wall of fire. But here the highest
distinctions are open to the deserving; and let the young take heart, that how. ever rugged and inaccessible the path of life may appear, by steady perseverance the summit may be attained.
In an humble farm house, amid one of the pleasantest valleys of Oldham County, Kentucky, and almost in sight of the beautiful Ohio, was born, July 25th, 1824, RICHARD J. OGLESBY. His parents, though impoverished, enjoyed the respect of the community. The boy, however, was not destined long to receive their fostering care, but to be cast upon the world and to encounter its buffetings.
In 1833, the cholera for the first time crossed the Alleghanies, and held its way along the great water-courses of the interior. In the valley of the Ohio it was peculiarly fatal; day after day it raged with remorseless fatality, until finally, like a great conflagration, it subsided for the lack of material to prey upon. Among its victims were the parents of OGLESBY, who, within three days of each other, were consigned to a common grave; and a brother and sister, within a single month, followed.
Eatered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by REED, BROWNE & Co., in the Clerk's Office
of the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois.
By this event six children were ren- These men, almost with their mother's dered orphans. The boy RICHARD was milk, imbibed sentiments hostile to slavadopted by a kind uncle; but so narrow ery. With them it was not a mere theowere his own circumstances that he retical opinion, not an abstract belief could only afford his ward the opportu- in the common rights of humanity, but nity of acquiring the mere rudiments a settled conviction, inwrought in their of reading and writing. But what mat. . very souls, and made manifest in their ter? The lad had a stout heart and a acts. It was a living, moving, vitalizing resolute will, and, as we shall see, principle, destined to work out glorious was capable of carving out his own results. fortune.
How grandly was this type exempliAnd here we may be pardoned for fied in LINCOLN! As his stature toweredindulging in a slight digression, in ad- above that of ordinary men, so his fame verting to a condition of society which shines purer and brighter than that of had a marked influence in molding his cotemporaries. Awkward in manthe character of this orphan boy.
ners and homely in speech, this scion of Kentucky is the oldest-born of the
Kentucky free labor possessed a practiStates in the Ohio Valley.
cal sagacity and a comprehensive statesSlavery
manship far in advance of those who readily planted itself and flourished in a fertile soil and amid a genial climate.
sought to form and direct public opinion.
For a quarter of a century Wendell As a consequence, it created in that
Phillips had been an agitator, and with community widely-separated conditions
sibilant tongue did not hesitate to vent - the planter on the one hand, with
his venom on Lincoln; but he never large estates, tilled by hereditary bond
loosened a single rivet in the fetters of men; and on the other hand, the poor white man, whose manual labor was re
the slave. Greeley, when the issue came,
with pusillanimous fear, advised the garded as ignoble. Between the two
North to submit to dismemberment; extremes there existed a deep gulf,
and Seward made haste to assure the which was rarely bridged over. Ken
nations of the earth that, whatever tucky has proved the source from which have issued copious streams of emigra
the result of the conflict, slavery tion to colonize Southern Illinois. Those
would not be disturbed. McClellan
would use the army as a police, to prostreams have been supplied, not from the
tect the slaveholder's claim to human large landed proprietors (for why should
blood and muscle. Surrounded by such they renounce a life of luxurious ease,
counsels in the cabinet and in the field, the right to command and the right to exact implicit obedience, for a state of
and advocated by the trusted organ of
his party, the greatness of LINCOLN, in society where all were equal?) but from the humbler class, who desired to live
proclaiming emancipation, stands out in in a community where to labor was hon.
bolder proportions. The Emancipation orable, and where practical democracy
Act, in its far-reaching consequences
upon the destinies of humanity, is second was recognized. As typical of this class may be cited
only in importance to the Declaration of LINCOLN, Yates, and Oglesby. These
Independence. men had felt the power of slavery,
Kentucky throughout the war wore a
thin vail of loyalty, through which could “A strange, mysterious power, * *
be seen her sullen features; but let us Moving throughout, subtle, invisible,
bless her for having given birth to such A power that never slumbered nor forgave,
a son. All eye, all law, no where and every where!" OGLESBY early imbibed a feeling of
And universal as the air they breathed :
hostility to human slavery, and a little incident which happened when he was but nine years old first directed his attention to its enormity, and the recol. lection of it ever after remained indelibly impressed on his mind. In his father's family was an old and cherished servant, known as “Uncle Tim.” To the children he was a guide, a counsel lor, and friend. He provided for all their amusements, and was the arbiter in all their disputes. After the death of the parents, this man, venerable in years, was put on the block, knocked down to a hard task-master, and, amid the sobs and tears of the children, was conveyed away. In after years, when young OGLESBY had scraped together money enough, he purchased the old servant's freedom. In relating this incident in a private circle, he remarked: “Uncle Tim died a free man; I lived an aboli. tionist."
In 1836, OGLESBY, accompanying his uncle, migrated to Illinois and settled at Decatur, which ever since he has regarded as his home. Feeling the necessity for self-exertion, at the age of seventeen he commenced learning the trade of a carpenter, which he followed for two years, and at twenty he commenced the study of law. Meanwhile the Mexican war had broken out; and although a Whig in politics, there was something fascinating to his ardent mind in the thought of marching to the balls of the Montezumas, and accordingly he enrolled himself as a volunteer in a company got up in that region, and in the organization he was chosen first lieutenant. His company formed the Fourth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Baker, who subsequently fell at Ball's Bluff. Lieutenant OGLESBY was with the army of General Scott; he witnessed the bombardment and surrender of Vera Cruz, and his company was decimated in the severe battle of Cerro Gordo.
Returning home after the war, OGLESBY resumed the study of law, and attended a course of lectures at Louisville. As the result of the war, followed the acquisition of California, Then came reports of the marvelous wealth stored in her gulches, and nearly every one believed that the Golden age had dawned. Prompted by a restless spirit of adventure, which his Mexican campaign had encouraged rather than satisfied, we find OGLESBY, in the spring of 1849, with a six-mule team wending his way across the Plains to the new El Doradonow climbing the South Pass, and now descending into the Humboldt Valley, and anon catching a view of Crystal Peak, as, in the morning sun, it flashed with opalescent hues; and, finally, the great barrier of the Sierra Ne. vada is passed, and he finds himself in the Sacramento Valley. For two years he toils as a miner, beneath the fierce glare of the Pacific sun, with washer and cradle, extracting the glittering ore from the gravel; and then, gathering up his accumulations, he returns to his home. Devoting himself to the practice of law, he was so far successful, pecuniarily, that he was enabled to go abroad. He visited, not only most of the European States, but also Egypt, Palestine, and Asia Minor. After an absence of twenty months, he returned to his adopted home, and in 1860 he was elected to the State Senate.
Meanwhile, clouds full of blackness began to gather in the political firmament, and it required no prophetic vision to read their awful portent. The inauguration of Lincoln was the signal for the outburst; and when that great man called upon the country for volunteers, OGLESBY was prompt to respond. Our limits will only permit us to give an abstract of his military record.
April 25, 1861, he was elected and commissioned Colonel of the Eighth Illinois Volunteers, for three months' service, and his regiment moved to Cairo. July 25, his regiment was reenlisted for three years, and he was rechosen Colonel. In November, having command at Bird's Point, opposite Cairo, with 4,000 men, he made an expedition into Missouri.
February, 1852.—Specially assigned to the command of a new brigade, he moved, at the head of Grant's army, up the Tennessee, opposite to Fort Henry, which had fallen, and then marched to the investment of Fort Donelson. In that memorable battle, which occurred on the 14th of February, and which lasted from daylight to noon, it was his brigade that was exposed to the full brunt of the rebels' fire. His force consisted of five regiments of infantry, six companies of cavalry, and one bat. tery of artillery, and his loss was 500 killed and wounded. The next day he marched at the head of his brigade into the surrendered fort. Fifteen thousand prisoners were the fruits of this victory.
April 1, 1862, he was promoted to the full rank of Brigadier General. He did not participate in the battle of Shiloh, but was unwillingly engaged in the long and profitless siege of Corinth, under Halleck — confessedly the most stupendous humbug of the war.
On the 3d of October, 1862, and continuing through two days, occurred the battle of Corinth, one of the most sanguinary of the war. Gen. OGLESBY, while leading a brigade on horseback, was struck by a ball which inflicted a frightful wound, and which, at the time, was supposed to be mortal. This misfortune incapacitated him for some time for active duty.
April 1, 1863, he was promoted for his gallantry and meritorious services to the full rank of Major General, and assigned to the left wing of the 16th Army Corps. Still suffering from his wound, in July he tendered his resigna
tion, which was declined, but leave of absence was granted him for six months. He was next assigned to duty on a court martial convened at Washington City, where he remained until May, 1864, when he again tendered his resig. nation, which was accepted. Such is . the honorable record of General OGLESby's services. We are now to contemplate him in another aspect.
The Republican Convention, which met at Springfield, May 25, 1864, nominated General OGLESBY for the office of Governor of Illinois, and the people, at the November election, ratified the nomination by thirty-one thousand majority. Of the acts of his administration it is not necessary to speak in detail; it is sufficient to say that, upon all the great questions which have grown out of the war— the sanctity of the public credit, the right of every class to protect itself by the exercise of the ballot, and the necessity of reconstruct. ing the revolted States upon a truly republican basisGovernor OGLESBY bas, in the expression of his views, shown himself an enlightened statesman. Nor in matters of State policy—such as the development of internal resources by enlarged water communications and additional railways, the promotion of public education, of sanitary reforms, and of charitable foundations — has he shown any lack of zeal. .
Thus successful and honorable has been his career; but there has happened one event to mar his happiness and to avert which he would cheerfully have sacrificed all his honors. She who, through long years had been his companion, who had cheered him in his struggles and rejoiced with him in his successes, was removed from his side by death.
Governor OGLESBY is now in the prime of life; above the medium height; with a frame strongly and compactly knit, and capable of great physical endurance. His features are regular, and