Caught in the Sweep of History

Egypt in the Civil War

The First Year

The first in the General John A. Logan Museum’s four-part series. Caught in the Sweep of History, Egypt in the Civil War. Part One explains the reputation, politics, and racial views of the people of Southern Illinois, derisively called “Egypt” at the time, through its congressman, John A. Logan. As the Civil War began, the region underwent a period of uncertainty as Congressman Logan, seeking a compromise to war, remained silent even after the attack on Fort Sumter. This silence led to accusations of treason. In June 1861, Logan broke his silence with a speech to Union troops in Springfield, Illinois and in August he raised a Union regiment, the 31st Illinois Infantry. By the spring of 1862, over six hundred of Egypt’s brothers, sons, and fathers had died from disease and battles, including the Battles of Belmont, Fort Donelson, and Shiloh. At Grant’s request, Logan is promoted to brigadier general.

Egypt in the Civil War

The Second Year

In the second year of the war, desertion, and disease take a toll. Letters from soldiers and their families offer a testament of how the attitude toward the war shifts. Now everyone is ready to go home, no one expected the war to last this long. At the conclusion of the second year, the Union forces are ready to take on Vicksburg. Again, at Grant’s request, Logan is promoted to major general.

Egypt in the Civil War

The Third Year

Union forces stand at the doorstep of the Confederacy. The Siege of Vicksburg begins and Logan announces his support of the use of African-American soldiers in the war. It was a bloody year with major battles fought in Champion’s Hill, Vicksburg, and Missionary Ridge. Major General Logan and the majority of “Egypt’s” warriors turned their attention east toward Atlanta and the sea.

Egypt in the Civil War

The Final Year

The Civil War enters its final, bloody year. Those waiting at home pray for peace, but those fighting the war know they will need more time. Major battles will be fought as U.S. Grant takes control of the Army in the east with William T. Sherman in charge of the war in the west. Together they mount a relentless onslaught to drain the south of everything, including its will to fight. Egypt’s men write home about their experiences as they witness the final days of the war.