Richard J. Oglesby

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Not to be confused with his son John G. Oglesby (1873–1938) or later governor Richard B. Ogilvie (1923–1988).
Richard James Oglesby
Richard James Oglesby - Brady-Handy.jpg
c. 1875
14th Governor of Illinois
In office
January 16, 1865 – January 11, 1869
Preceded by Richard Yates
Succeeded by John M. Palmer
In office
January 13, 1873 – January 23, 1873
Preceded by John M. Palmer
Succeeded by John Lourie Beveridge
In office
January 30, 1885 – January 14, 1889
Preceded by John Marshall Hamilton
Succeeded by Joseph W. Fifer
Personal details
Born (1824-07-25)July 25, 1824
Oldham County, Kentucky
Died April 24, 1899(1899-04-24) (aged 74)
Elkhart, Illinois
Political party Republican
Alma mater University of Louisville
Signature
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1846-1847
1861-1864
Rank Union army maj gen rank insignia.jpg Major General
Battles/wars Mexican–American War, American Civil War

Richard James Oglesby (July 25, 1824 – April 24, 1899) was an Illinois statesman, Republican, and U.S. Army officer. He served in the Mexican-American War and was a major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He also served Illinois in the legislature. Near the end of the civil war, he was elected the 14th Governor of Illinois, and reelected three times. He was also a U.S. Senator from Illinois. The town of Oglesby, Illinois is named in his honor.

Early years[edit]

Oglesby was born in Floydsburg, Oldham County, Kentucky.[1] He was orphaned and moved to live with his uncle in Decatur, Illinois, in 1832, where he later worked as a farmhand, ropemaker, and carpenter.

Mexican-American War[edit]

With the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, he enlisted as a 1st Lieutenant in Company C, 4th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment [2] taking part in the battles of Veracruz and Cerro Gordo "where his regiment almost captured Mexican President General Santa Anna, but they had to settle for his cork leg, carriage and $20,000 in gold".[3]

He might have participated in what may have been the first baseball game ever played outside the U.S., at the end of April 1847, a few days after the Battle of Cerro Gordo, "with the wooden leg captured (by the Fourth Illinois regiment) from General Santa Anna".[4]

He was mustered out of the volunteer service in May 1847.

1848-1860[edit]

He studied at Louisville Law School in 1848, but traveled to California for the gold rush in 1849, where he tried his hand at gold mining. After two years of traveling in Europe, he returned to Illinois in 1851,[5] joined the Republican Party at its formation, ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Congress in 1858, and was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1860.

Civil War[edit]

Oglesby as a major general in the Union Army, circa 1862-63

At the start of the Civil War, Oglesby was appointed colonel of the 8th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment on April 25, 1861, and was soon given command of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, District of Cairo, Department of the Missouri, serving under the command of Ulysses S. Grant. He was a well liked commander known to his troops as "Uncle Dick". He commanded his brigade at the battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson and soon after was promoted to brigadier general (March 21, 1862). He commanded the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Army of the Tennessee, during the Siege of Corinth. He was severely wounded in his chest and back at the Battle of Corinth in October 1862.

Oglesby was promoted to major general on November 29, and after a period of recovery, commanded the Left Wing of the XVI Corps, Army of the Tennessee, in western Tennessee and northern Mississippi from April to July 1863. He resigned his commission on May 26, 1864, to run for governor on the Republican ticket.

He was present in the room at the Petersen House when President Abraham Lincoln died April 15, 1865.

Illinois politics[edit]

Oglesby Mansion on William Street in Decatur, Illinois where Oglesby and his wife Emma lived from 1874-1882.

Oglesby was elected by a large majority and served as the Governor of Illinois between 1865 and 1869. During his tenure as governor, he advocated improving the quality of care of the mentally ill and for other groups of disabled citizens. He signed legislation expanding the State Hospital system from one campus to three.[6] After his term ended, he practiced law until 1872, when he agreed to a scheme in which Oglesby ran again for governor, but turned the office over to the lieutenant governor immediately after inauguration in return for a seat in the U.S. Senate. He served as a Senator from 1873 until 1878. In 1884 he was reelected governor for a third time, becoming the first man in Illinois history to serve three times as governor. At the end of his third term as governor, he tried unsuccessfully to be reelected to his Senate seat. He spent his remaining years in retirement and died at his "Oglehurst" estate in Elkhart, Illinois. He is buried there in Elkhart Cemetery. There is a statue of Oglesby in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

His son, John G. Oglesby, was a two time Lieutenant Governor of Illinois.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Richard J. Oglesby". "Portrait and Biographical Album of Champaign County, Illinois,". Chapman Brothers, Chicago, 1887. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 
  2. ^ Lincoln's Rail-Splitter by Mark Plummer 2001
  3. ^ The Oglesby Mansion in Decatur, Illinois
  4. ^ Terry's Guide to Mexico, 1909, page=506, repeated in following editions thru at least 1947
  5. ^ Eicher, p. 408.
  6. ^ Briska, William (1997). The History of Elgin Mental Health Center: Evolution of a State Hospital. Crossroads Communications. p. 12. ISBN 0-916445-45-3. 

The neglected Richard Oglesby monument is located on top of a hill to the immediate north of the North Pond of Lincoln Park (just north of Fullerton Parkway).

References[edit]

  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.

Further reading[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Yates
Governor of Illinois
1865–1869
Succeeded by
John M. Palmer
Preceded by
John M. Palmer
Governor of Illinois
1873
Succeeded by
John Lourie Beveridge
Preceded by
John Marshall Hamilton
Governor of Illinois
1885–1889
Succeeded by
Joseph W. Fifer
United States Senate
Preceded by
Lyman Trumbull
U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Illinois
1873–1879
Served alongside: John A. Logan, David Davis
Succeeded by
John A. Logan