THREE QUARTER STANDING VIEW OF GENERAL JOHN MCCLERNAND BY BRADY

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Item Code: 259-95

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Image shows the General in a partial left profile standing in the classic Napoleonic pose.

He wears a dark double-breasted frock coat with matching trousers. Coat has major general’s shoulder straps. On a table in front of him is his slouch hat.

Image is clear with good contrast and has only light scattered surface dirt from age and storage.

Reverse has BRADY back mark and “GENL. MCCLERNAND” in period pencil.

John A. McClernand was born on May 30, 1812 in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. He and his family moved to Shawneetown, Illinois, in 1813. McClernand studied law and was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1832. He also served as a private in the Black Hawk War that same year. From 1833 to 1834, he worked as a trader on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. In 1835, he founded a newspaper, the Shawneetown Democrat, and served as its editor. McClernand launched his political career in 1836, when he was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives and served until 1843, when voters elected him to the United States House of Representatives. McClernand served in the House until March 3, 1851, when he chose not to seek another term. He returned to Congress in 1859, serving until 1861, when he resigned and volunteered for service in the Union Army.

When President Lincoln called for volunteers on April 15, 1861, McClernand returned to Illinois and raised the "McClernand Brigade." On May 17, 1861, he was commissioned as a brigadier general of volunteers. Officials sent him to Missouri, where he saw his first action as a brigade commander under Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Belmont. In February 1862, Grant promoted McClernand to a divisional commander, and he served in the assaults on Forts Henry and Donelson. For his service at Fort Donelson, McClernand was promoted to major general on March 21, 1862. At the Battle of Shiloh he was held primarily in reserve for William T. Sherman’s force.

Dissatisfied with his status serving under Grant, McClernand began using his influence with President Lincoln to promote his advancement. In October 1862, he visited Lincoln in Washington, D.C., hoping to receive an independent command. Wishing to maintain the support of Illinois Democrats, Lincoln acquiesced. Secretary of War Stanton authorized McClernand to return to Illinois to raise troops for an assault on the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Before he finished his recruiting assignment, Grant began his own Vicksburg Campaign.

In early January, McClernand arrived at the mouth of the Yazoo River with the corps-sized army he had recruited. To Grant's displeasure, Sherman's corps was ordered to join McClernand's force, which was charged with executing the river assault on Vicksburg. After assuming Sherman's command, McClernand, named his force the Army of the Mississippi and launched an attack on Fort Hindman, near Arkansas Post. McClernand's 33,000-man army easily overran Brigadier General Thomas J. Churchill's 5,500-man garrison at Fort Hindman. The Union victory contributed little, if anything, toward the success of the Vicksburg Campaign, but it did eliminate a minor impediment to Union shipping on the Mississippi River.

Flushed with success and eager for glory, McClernand announced an expedition against the Arkansas capital at Little Rock. Grant, however, was unimpressed with McClernand's victory and considered it a diversion from the real task at hand. He countermanded McClernand's plans and ordered him to rejoin the Union campaign against Vicksburg. McClernand complied, and he was relegated to a corps commander after Grant disbanded the Army of the Mississippi and reassigned its troops to the Army of the Tennessee.

Throughout the remainder of the Vicksburg Campaign, the relationship between Grant and McClernand deteriorated. As a result, McClernand resorted to a secret campaign of character assassination against Grant, spreading rumors to the press about his superior's struggle with alcohol. After the Battle of Champion Hill Grant expressed displeasure with McClernand's performance, feeling that he had not contributed enough to the Union victory. By that point, the end of their personal rivalry was just a matter of time. On May 30, McClernand drafted a congratulatory message to his corps, personally claiming much of the credit for the anticipated fall of Vicksburg. He then released the dispatch to the press, counter to orders from Grant and the War Department. Grant used the provocation to relieve McClernand of his command on June 18, 1863, two weeks before the fall of Vicksburg. President Lincoln, still catering for support of War Democrats, restored McClernand to a field command in the Department of the Gulf in 1864, but health issues convinced McClernand to resign from the Army on November 30, 1864.

After the Civil War, voters elected McClernand as circuit judge of the Sangamon District of Illinois in 1870. He served until 1873. In 1876, he presided over the Democratic National Convention. He later served on a federal advisory board overseeing the Utah Territory.

John Alexander McClernand died in Springfield, Illinois on September 20, 1900. He was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery, in Springfield, Illinois.  [ad]

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