Captain Logan

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Captain Logan (c. 1774 – ~25 November 1812[1]) was a scout during the War of 1812, serving under General William Henry Harrison. There exist two apparently conflicting theories regarding Captain Logan's identity:

  • Was Captain Logan's first name James or John?
  • Was Captain Logan half Native American plus half European ancestry (in the James theory) or was Captain Logan a full-blooded Shawnee (in the Johnny theory)?

The James theory is relayed by 19th-century descendants of Robert Renick Sr., who would be Captain Logan's grandfather under one theory, or by first-hand acquaintances of Captain Logan. Hence, the James theory would seem to be more direct knowledge.

The Johnny theory derives from 20th-century sources who are not biologically related to Captain Logan. Hence, the Johnny theory might be from more-indirect knowledge. The novelist Allan W. Eckert's (partially fictionalized) novelization of Captain Logan further popularized the Johnny theory by referring to Captain Logan as Captain Johnny. Both of these theories are presented below, because of the conflicting evidence that has become institutionalized by various historians.

Once Captain Logan became famous as a scout under General Harrison, the two identities converge without conflict from that point onward.

Theory 1: James Renick-Logan[edit]

After murdering Robert Renick on 25 July 1757,[2] Shawnee warriors shortly thereafter captured Robert Renick's home and its occupants: the wife of Robert Renick and her five children—, William, Robert, Thomas, Joshua and, Betsy.[3] This son Robert was approximately 18 months old at the time of the capture. Due to his excessive crying, this son Robert was murdered by the Shawnee.[4] During captivity Mrs. Renick gave birth to her husband's son, whom she named again Robert in honor of his slain father and elder brother of the same name. Mrs. Renick with sons William and Robert the younger returned to their home in 1767, ending their 6 years as hostages. Daughter Betsy in 1767 prior to the return home. Son Joshua instead chose to remain in residence with the Shawnee.[5] Joshua Renick was raised as an adopted step brother of Tecumseh and his brother Tenskwatawa The Prophet[6] Joshua Renick later became chief of the Miami indians and took an Indian wife.[5] Chief Joshua Renick and his Indian wife gave birth to two sons:

  • John Renick, who was 12 at the time of the then-wealthy Chief Joshua's death in 1783 (or variously 1784) in Detroit. No further history has yet been discovered regarding this John Renick.
  • James Renick[6] whose Indian name was Spemica Lawba which translates to English as “High Horn”[7] and who was born in 1774 at the Wapaghkonetta Indian settlement in Allen County, Ohio (which is Wapakoneta, Ohio today).[1]

James Renick was captured by General Benjamin Logan, who defeated the Shawnee along the banks of the Maumee River during Logan's Raid in 1786. The reason that General Benjamin Logan chose James Renick from among all of the Shawnee's European captives is likely because General Benjamin Logan would likely have been a childhood acquaintance of James Renick's father, Joshua Renick, as both were baptized by the same minister three years apart in Augusta County, Virginia (i.e., 1743 for Benjamin Logan and 1746 for Joshua Renick).[8] General Benjamin Logan, after becoming endeared with young James after returning at first to Kentucky and then to Ohio, taught James to read and write English. James Renick took Logan as his name. James Logan then inscribed his initials “J.L.” into the bark of many trees in Ohio.[6]

During James Logan's service in the cavalry, Major James William Mathews wrote about a Captain Logan Renick in a letter dated 9 November 1812 to Dr. John Mathews, an attorney at law in Greenbrier County (now West) Virginia, “I this morning got acquainted with Capt. Logan Renick. He is a very genteel man and speaks the English very well. I am told he is very rich. He lives in the Shawnee Nation, and is very much respected by the white people of this State. It is said he is a man of honor and may be depended upon. He asked very friendly for his relations in Greenbrier. He is very polite. He is very fond of horses and cattle. It is said he carries on a large farm. He desires to be remembered to his uncles in the county.” Later that month, this Captain Logan Renick lost his life on the banks of the Maumee River in a fight with Indians that were allied with the British.[6]

As part of the general goodwill that Hoosiers felt at the time toward their native son General William Henry Harrison who won the nearby Battle of Tippecanoe and because Harrison held Captain Logan in high regard, the then-late Captain James Renick-Logan was commemorated when a settlement along the newly constructed Wabash and Erie Canal renamed itself “Logan's port”, which is Logansport, Indiana.[9]

Theory 2: Johnny Logan[edit]

Captain Logan was a Shawnee who was raised by Benjamin Logan and fought for the United States in the War of 1812

Captain Logan was born in 1774, the son of Shawnee Chief Moluntha, and named Spenica Lawbe.[10] His father was murdered in violation of orders, and he was captured during Logan's Raid in 1786. Benjamin Logan raised him and gave him his name of Logan. As an adult, he was known as Captain Logan.

In 1812, Captain Logan was sent by John Johnston to evacuate women and children from the Siege of Fort Wayne. Later that year, Captain Logan was sent on a scouting mission to the Maumee River, where he was captured by Chief Winamac. Captain Logan and his two companions made it back to the U.S. camp, but he was shot during their escape. He died from his wound a few days later.[10] General James Winchester reported his death to General William Henry Harrison, and said "More firmness and consummate bravery has seldom appeared in the military theatre."[11]

Captain Logan asked that his children be raised by John Hardin, but his wife instead took the children West. He was buried in his village in Wapakoneta, Ohio.[10] In Spring 2008, a new grave marker and an Ohio Historical Marker were dedicated to Captain Johnny Logan in Defiance, Ohio.[12]


  1. ^ a b *Sugden, John (1998). Tecumseh: A Life. 
  2. ^ *Preston Register. July 1757.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ *Waddell, Joseph (1902). Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, 2nd ed. p. 164. 
  4. ^ *Waddell, Joseph (1902). Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, 2nd ed. p. 165. 
  5. ^ a b *Waddell, Joseph (1902). Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, 2nd ed. p. 201. 
  6. ^ a b c d *Harlow, B.F.Jr. (1951). The Renicks of Greenbrier. pp. 6–7. 
  7. ^ *Sugden, John (1998). Tecumseh: A Life. p. 100. 
  8. ^ *Waddell, Joseph (1902). Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, 2nd ed. p. 318. 
  9. ^ Powell, Jehu Z. (1913). History of Cass County Indiana: From Its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time. Lewis Publishing Company. p. 324. 
  10. ^ a b c Lodge. Link below
  11. ^ *Poinsatte, Charles (1976). Outpost in the Wilderness: Fort Wayne, 1706-1828. Allen County, Fort Wayne Historical Society. p. 77, fn1. 
  12. ^ The Ohio Channel - see external link, below

External links[edit]