Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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McCLERNAND, John Alexander, lawyer, born in Breckenridge county, Kentucky, 30 May, 1812. On the death of his father in 1816, his mother removed to Shawneetown, Illinois, where the son subsequently worked on a farm. In 1829 he began the study of law, and in 1832 was admitted to the bar. In the same year he volunteered in the war against the Sacs and Foxes, and on his return was engaged for a time in trade. In 1885 he established the Shawneetown "Democrat," and also resumed the practice of his profession. In 1836-'40 and 1842 he was elected to the legislature, and in 1843 was sent to represent his state as a Democrat in congress, where he served till 1851. His first speech was upon the bill to remit the fine that had been imposed on General Andrew Jackson by Judge Hall, of Louisiana. He was the chairman of the committee on resolutions of the Illinois Democratic convention of 1858, and in that year was re-elected to congress, serving from 5 December, 1859, until the beginning of the civil war. He then resigned, returned home, and, with John A. Logan and Philip B. Pouke, raised the MeClernand brigade, the president appointing him brigadier-general of volunteers. Iie accompanied General Grant to Belmont, did good service himself at Fort Donelson, where he commanded the right of the National line, and was made major-general of volunteers, 21 March, 1862. The following month he commanded a division at the battle of Shiloh, Tennessee. In January, 1863, he relieved General Sherman in command of the expedition for the capture of Vicksburg. He afterward led the force that stormed and captured Arkansas Post, and was at Port Gibson, Champion Hills, Big Black River, and Vicksburg. He led the 13th army corps until he was relieved in July, 1863, and resigned from the army on 30 November, 1864.
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