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John C. Black
John c black-illinois-1902.png
Black in 1902
United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois
In office
January 12, 1895 – 1899
President Grover Cleveland
William McKinley
Preceded by Sherwood Dixon
Succeeded by Solomon H. Bethea
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's at-large district
In office
March 4, 1893 – January 12, 1895
Preceded by Position Established
Succeeded by Position Abolished
15th United States Commissioner of Pensions
In office
March 19, 1885 – March 27, 1889
President Grover Cleveland
Preceded by Otis P. G. Clarke
Succeeded by James R. Tanner
Personal details
John Charles Black

(1839-01-27)January 27, 1839
Lexington, Mississippi, US
Died August 17, 1915(1915-08-17) (aged 76)
Chicago, Illinois, US
Resting place Spring Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Danville, Illinois
Profession lawyer, politician
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861–1865
Unit Indiana 11th Regiment Indiana Volunteer Infantry
Commands Illinois 37th Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry
Battles/wars American Civil War
Awards Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor

John Charles Black (January 27, 1839 – August 17, 1915) was a Democratic U.S. Congressman and received the Medal of Honor for his actions as a Union Army lieutenant colonel and regimental commander at the Battle of Prairie Grove during the American Civil War.

Early life

John Charles Black was born in Lexington, Mississippi, on January 27, 1839, and moved to Danville, Illinois, in 1847. His father was a minister of the Presbyterian Church. Black attended Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Indiana, and became a lawyer.

American Civil War service

On April 14, 1861, Black (along with his brother, William P. Black) entered the Union Army as a private in the 11th Indiana Volunteer Infantry Regiment on April 14, 1861. He became sergeant major on April 25, 1861.

After three months of service, the brothers were mustered out of the volunteers and organized Company "K" of the 37th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. John Black became major of the regiment on September 5, 1861. He was wounded in the right arm at the Battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, on March 7, 1862. On July 12, 1862, John Black was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and became commander of the 37th Illinois Infantry. Black led his regiment against a fortified Confederate position during the Battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, on December 7, 1862. The unit suffered heavy casualties and was eventually forced to retreat. Black himself was seriously wounded. An 1896 review of numerous actions during the war resulted in John Black being awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at Prairie Grove. Black's brother William also received the medal, making them the first of five pairs of brothers to both receive the Medal of Honor as of 2005.

On December 31, 1862, Black was promoted to colonel of the 37th Illinois Infantry Regiment. He was given temporary command of Brigade 1, Division 2, XIII Corps, Department of the Gulf, between November 11, 1863, and February 11, 1864, of Brigade 3, Division 2, Reserve Corps of the Department of the Gulf between February 3, 1865, and February 18, 1865, and of Brigade 3 Division 2, XIII Corps, Department of the Gulf, between February 18, 1865, and March 5, 1865.

Black resigned his commission in the volunteer service on August 15, 1865. On January 13, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Black for appointment to the grade of brevet brigadier general of volunteers to rank from April 9, 1865, for gallant services in the assault on Fort Blakeley, Alabama on that date, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment on March 12, 1866.

Postbellum career

Black was a member of the Illinois Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

Black practiced law and became the United States District Attorney at Chicago. Black was U.S. Commissioner of Pensions between 1885 and 1889. Running as a Democrat, he was elected to the Fifty-third United States Congress, and served from 1893 to 1895.

In 1903, he was honored with the office of Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, the veterans organization for Civil War veterans of the Union Army, for 1903–1904. Black served as president of the United States Civil Service Commission from 1904 to 1913.


John C. Black died August 17, 1915 at Chicago, Illinois. He is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery and Mausoleum, Danville Illinois.

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