b. 27/01/1839 Lexington, Mississippi. d. 17/08/1915 Chicago, Illinois.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 07/12/1862 Prairie Grove, Arkansas.
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.
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. In 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 to date.
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.
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. He was finally presented with his Medal of Honor on 31 October 1893.
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.
Gallantly charged the position of the enemy at the head of his regiment, after 2 other regiments had been repulsed and driven down the hill, and captured a battery; was severely wounded.
BURIAL LOCATION: SPRING HILL CEMETERY, DANVILLE, ILLINOIS.
BLOCK 12, GRAVE 54
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS.