Captain William Logan: A “Brave and Sagacious Officer” Who Died at the Big Hole, Leaving a Prominent
By Robert Luppi, President of Friends of Bear Paw, Big Hole & Canyon Creek Battlefields and direct descendant of First Sergeant Patrick Rogan and Musician John McLennon, who served with Capt. Logan at the Battle of the Big Hole.
Captain William Logan
William Logan was born on December 9, 1832 to Scotch-Irish parents, Thomas Dawson Logan and Frances Alice (Ellis) Logan, in the Parish of Ardee, County Louth, Ireland. Family tradition has Logan’s date of birth to be December 9, 1830, whereas his military records show it to be December 9, 1832. County Louth is situated on the east coast of Ireland, on the border with Northern Ireland. It is affectionately called “the Wee County”, being the smallest county in Ireland having a total area of only 317 square miles.
Logan’s father, born in Dublin, was an Anglican clergyman, a respected Rector of the Parish of Cruicetown in County Meath and later the Parish of Charlestown in County Louth. Logan was one of twelve children of the clergyman and his wife, a daughter of another clergyman, and he was also the oldest. Two of Logan’s sisters wed Anglican clergymen, further attesting to the family’s established religious leanings. William Logan’s brother, Charles, served as a Colonel in the Sixty-First Highlanders. Another brother, Archibald, was a Captain in the British Navy.
Charlestown Church, County Louth
Photo courtesy of Lilly Houtz
Logan is said to have received a classical education in Ireland, graduating from Old Trinity College in about 1847, one year before he immigrated to the United States. He was the only one of his siblings to undertake that journey.
Logan’s ancestry is traced directly to Robert de Bruce, the great Scottish soldier- king who defeated the English at Bannockburn in 1314, thereby providing independence of Scotland from England.
The Logan family lineage to Robert de Bruce, is traced back to a Scotsman named Logan, who after fighting the Saracens in the Holy Land as a member of the Crusades, married the granddaughter of the Scottish king, thereby founding a family which took for its crest a heart pierced by a passion nail, surrounded by a belt bearing the inscription “Hoc Majorum Virtus”. (“This is the valor of my ancestors”). It was from that illustrious line that Captain Logan was descended.
Statue Robert de Bruce at Bannockburn Battlefield
Photo courtesy Bob Reece
When William Logan immigrated to America, his father gave him a seal ring, which had been in the family for many generations. This ring bore the above-stated inscription within a dark blue setting which also had engraved therein a heart pierced by an arrow. Logan continued to wear this ring on his left hand, along with a Masonic ring presented to him when he later served in Florida during his post-Civil War military duty until his death at the Battle of the Big Hole in Montana Territory on August 9, 1877.
Enlistment in the 7th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry
After he entered the United States, Logan located himself for his first occupation in New Orleans, where he found work at railroading, later advancing himself to be an assistant engineer. According to family tradition, while in New Orleans, he decided to enter military service with the 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment, having been recruited for service in the Mexican-American War.
The Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, was fought in the wake of the 1845 U.S. annexation of Texas as its 28th state. Mexico had not recognized the earlier succession of Texas in 1836 and thereafter announced its intention to take back what it considered a rebel province. The flashing point to the war was a dispute over the ownership of territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande River. Texas and the United States claimed the area was theirs, while Mexico claimed to the contrary. Fighting broke out between American forces and Mexican soldiers in the summer of 1845, which led to the United States Declaration of War against Mexico on May 13, 1846, followed by Mexico’s own Declaration of War against the United States on July 7, 1846.
William Logan entered the 7th U.S. Infantry as a Private and he continued thereafter to serve with the 7th, achieving the rank of Captain until his death in combat more than two and half decades after his first enlistment. According to the Logan family oral history, Logan served in the Mexican-American War under General Zachary Taylor on the Rio Grande and later under General Winfield Scott until the fall of Mexico City. The military records of the United States, however, show that Logan first entered the Army after the Mexican-American War on December 27, 1850 when he enlisted in the 7th U.S. Infantry, thereafter joining Company “I” of the Regiment on April 25, 1851.
While serving with Company “I”, Logan was stationed at various posts along the Arkansas frontier, building roads and bridges and serving as a force to inhibit any local Indian hostilities. By October 12, 1851, Logan was appointed Corporal and on June 26, 1853, he was promoted to Sergeant. He was subsequently promoted to First Sergeant on June 21, 1858 and he continued in that rank throughout the later Civil War.
While stationed along the Arkansas frontier, he met and took as his wife, Odelia Furlong, whom he married in Texas in 1854. Odelia was a native of Strasbourg, Alsace-Lorraine, France, but later immigrated to Texas with her family.
Odelia Logan at right
Photo courtesy of William Logan descendant, Dorothy Groose
Service in the War Between the States
The 7th U.S. Infantry remained along the Arkansas frontier until 1858, when the Regiment was ordered to Camp Floyd, Utah Territory, to participate in the show of force toward the Mormons. Odelia Furlong-Logan accompanied then First Sergeant Logan with his unit. In April 1860, the Regiment was ordered to various posts in New Mexico Territory, arriving at these stations by August 1860. Logan and his family remained in New Mexico until the outbreak of the Civil War. News of the eastern developments and conflicts between Union soldiers and Confederate rebels came slowly to the western frontier posts, such as where Logan was stationed at the time. The 7th Infantry, in anticipation of then being shifted to the eastern war front, became concentrated at Fort Fillmore, near Las Cruces, New Mexico and while there, served under the command of Major Isaac Lynde. Seven of the ten companies of the 7th, were stationed at the Fort Fillmore, First Sergeant Logan and Company “I” included. With most of the 7th Infantry companies present at the fort, Confederate Lieutenant Colonel John R. Baylor was ordered to capture the garrison. Upon Baylor’s show of force, Major Lynde evacuated the garrison on July 27, 1861 and later that day surrendered his command to the Confederates, much to the disgust and dismay of his officers and enlisted men. Thereafter, the seven companies of the Regiment, including First Sergeant William Logan, were escorted to Las Cruces, New Mexico as prisoners of war. On July 30-31, 1861, the men of Headquarters, the band and Companies A, B, D, E, G, I, and K, including Logan, were paroled. Subsequently, on August 10, 1861, they arrived at the Union post at Fort Craig, New Mexico. By virtue of his surrender, Major Lynde was summarily dismissed from military service by order of President Abraham Lincoln and the regimental flag was ordered destroyed by subordinate orders. The remaining companies of the 7th, Companies C, F, and H, continued to participate in the Civil War in the southwest theater.
While America’s Civil War continued, the parole for the involved officers and soldiers of the 7th Infantry expired on September 30, 1862, and in October they were ordered to the Army of the Potomac and they joined that Army on October 31, 1862 and then went into camp at Snicker’s Gap, Virginia. By December 1862, the 7th was in Fredericksburg, Virginia where it engaged in battle against the Confederates, during which First Sergeant William Logan was severely wounded in the shoulder. He was sent to DeCamp General Hospital at David’s Island in New York City for medical and hospital care. As a result of the bravery and gallantry showed by the 7th U.S. Infantry at Fredericksburg, the Regiment was presented with new battle flags. Although Logan was then out of action, the Regiment went on to participate in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia in May, 1863, and ultimately, concentrated its forces at Round Top at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where it engaged in action against the Confederate forces in July, 1863. After Gettysburg, the 7th Infantry acted in pursuit of the Confederates and engaged in action against them at Wapping Heights, Virginia. Military records show that sometime thereafter, the Regiment was ordered to New York City to quell draft riots and then remained there until May 1865, when the unit was ordered to Florida as part of the Army of occupation.
Promotion to Officer, 7th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry
Meanwhile, First Sergeant Logan, while in the hospital in New York City, involved himself in an effort to seek promotion to the grade of Second Lieutenant, after having previously applied in 1861 and again in 1862 for a commission and having been rejected because of his age on both occasions. In Logan’s application, he cited his service and wounding at Fredericksburg and his prior service in the United States Army, representing also that he had been repeatedly recommended for a commission, but that “in consequence of my age at the time of my 1st enlistment, having been recorded as 21 when I was only 18 years, I was rejected by the Department as being too old for a candidate for appointment.” First Sergeant Logan went on to state in his application that “deeming the decision as final I applied for and obtained an appointment as Hospital Steward, but I find that accustomed as I have been to active military life from my boyhood, I cannot settle down at the age of 30 years to the comparatively sedentary life which I now lead.”
Logan also had supporting character testimonials and recommendations to support his application. These included by his father, Rector Thomas Dawson Logan, stating that William had a first rate classical education and “that his two brothers, Thomas and Charles, hold commissions as Lieutenants in the British Army and that...Testimonials were given to one of them when seeking an appointment in the English Police Force as a guarantee of the respectability of his family and connections, which of course, will hold equally good with regard to his elder brother” (William). A further testimonial was made by Logan’s immediate supervisor, Surgeon F. Simmons, U.S.A., who stated “Mr. Logan entered the service at an early age and was soon after made Orderly Sergeant of Major Paul’s Company of the 7th Infantry....When so many persons less qualified are procuring commissions in the Army, I think it a pity that the government should lose the services of so good a soldier, because he has no friends to press his claim… that he fills a position below his merits.” Major Paul himself, then appointed as a Brigadier General of Volunteers, also wrote, “William Logan, now a First Sergeant of Company “I”, 7th Regt., U.S. Infantry, has served under my immediate orders for many years, and that his education, conduct and military bearing have been unexceptionable. I have no hesitation, therefore in recommending him to the War Department, for the commission of Second Lieutenant in the regular army, for which I believe him to be very well qualified.” A further recommendation was made by Captain Charles B. Stevens, commanding the 7th Infantry in 1862, who stated, “I have known 1st Sergeant William Logan of Co.7th “I” Infantry for six years and take pleasure in recommending him as a person in every respect, well qualified for the position of Lieut. in the Army.” In what has been described as probably a key letter in support of Logan, was one dated August 8, 1862 by W. A. Wheeler, a member of Congress, who declared: “Revering to the testimonials of First Sergeant William Logan, 7th U. S. Infantry--- endorsed by me. I beg leave to say that his promotion would be an act of justice to an intelligent and efficient solider, and particularly acceptable to.” This letter was sent to the Secretary of War.
Thereafter, on February 26, 1864, William Logan was ordered to Washington D.C. for an appearance before an Examination Board of officers, which was held on March 10, 1864. Included as an addition to Logan’s file at that time, was a letter dated January 10, 1864 from Ft. Schyler, New York. It read “The undersigned of the 7th U.S. Infantry… Hosp. Steward Wm. Logan… represent that the regimental record of this soldier and valuable noncommissioned officer is unexceptionable, and that his education, habits, and acquirements qualify him for promotion”, the letter adding the request that William Logan be appointed and assigned to the 7th U.S. Infantry. The letter was signed by several army officers, including First Lieutenant J. Sanno and Second Lieutenant Constant Williams, officers who coincidentally later served and fought alongside Logan at the time of his death at the Battle of the Big Hole some thirteen years later.
The examining Board reviewed and evaluated Logan’s qualifications to be an officer in the United States Army, having considered his military record, his physical ability, his moral character, his knowledge of geography, history and mathematics, his knowledge of orthography and composition, as well as infantry, artillery and cavalry tactics, thereupon passed and recommended William Logan to the United States Senate for promotion to Second Lieutenant, Infantry. Logan was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, Infantry on June 7, 1864 at David’s Island, New York City and was assigned to the 7th Infantry. His first duty station as an officer involved a recruiting service assignment at Erie, Pennsylvania. Thereafter, while the 7th Infantry was stationed at St. Augustine, Florida, Second Lieutenant Logan was recommended for promotion to First Lieutenant and that of Regimental Quartermaster. He accepted his promotion on September 26, 1865 with his new rank dated from May 18, 1865(?).
In April, 1869, the 7th Infantry, including First Lieutenant William Logan, was ordered to relocate from Florida to the West, first to Fort Fred Steele, Wyoming Territory, then to Fort Buford, Dakota Territory and then by 1872, to Fort Shaw, Montana Territory. From 1872 to 1874, while technically stationed at Fort Shaw, Logan was detailed to engage in recruiting service at Dubuque, Iowa. Upon his return to Montana, he was notified of his pending promotion to Captain, 7th U.S. Infantry, and that promotion became effective on January 5, 1875. Logan thereupon became the commanding officer of Company “I” of the 7th. Twenty-four years had thus elapsed between the time William Logan had joined the Regiment to the time of his promotion to Captain, his final rank in service.
Service in the Sioux/Cheyenne War of 1876
The year 1876 was a tumultuous year for the military and American Indians in the West. The Sioux Indians and the Northern Cheyenne had refused government orders to return to their reservations earlier that year. The plan of operation by the American military to force the Indians back to the reservations was devised in the nature of a great pincer movement involving three columns of troops. One column, known as the Dakota Column, would journey westward from Fort Abraham Lincoln in Dakota Territory under the command of Brigadier General Alfred H. Terry, which included twelve companies of the 7th Cavalry Regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer. A second column, designated the Southern Column, and commanded by Brigadier General George Crook, would leave Fort Fetterman in Wyoming Territory and proceed northward, while a third column, the Montana Column, commanded by Colonel John Gibbon, and comprising six companies of the 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment and four companies of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry from Forts Shaw and Ellis, Montana Territory, would advance eastward. Captain William Logan commanded Company “A” of the 7th on this journey, the unit consisting of two officers and twenty-three enlisted men. It was hoped that somewhere in the wild country between the Little Missouri River and the Big Horn Rivers the hostile band of Sioux and Northern Cheyenne would be rounded up and either destroyed or forced to return to their reservations.
On March 17, 1876, the six companies of the 7th U.S. Infantry, including Company “A” and Captain William Logan, marched from Fort Shaw and then joined troops of the 2nd Cavalry at Fort Ellis, and together they traveled eastward in anticipation of joining in the battle against the Sioux and Northern Cheyenne under the planned combined attack. Logan’s oldest son, Will (William R. Logan), was a member of the Column, serving as a scout during the expedition.
The progress of the Column experienced hardships, tribulations, frustrations, and triumphs in its journey, as are graphically shown through the written narrative of Lt. James H. Bradley of the 7th U.S. Infantry in his classic journal of the life of the expedition, as well as his observations and commentary on Montana’s frontier life, and its history and events, which he penned under the title “Journal of the Sioux Campaign in 1876; With Historical Sketches of the Country Traversed, and Outline Histories of the Sioux and Crow Indian Tribes”. Captain Logan’s company, along with the rest of the force, traveled for over three months and in the words of the writer Edgar I. Stewart in his commentary on the Lt. Bradley narrative, the Column at the time was “subjected to the vicissitudes of the weather, ranging from deep snow and sub-zero temperatures of a Montana winter to the blistering, searing heat of mid-summer, with hail storms and cloud bursts, all faithfully recorded” (by Bradley). The command also took them through an assortment of various terrains and waters, some treacherous and challenging, as they steadfastly marched onward in their journey. Bradley’s vivid account included a description of the conduct and interactions among the soldiers, their Crow Indian scouts and the white settlers and small bands of hostile Sioux during the Column’s advance, which included also some mention of various actions of Captain Logan and his Company ‘A” soldiers as well as of Logan’s son, Will. Lt. Bradley demonstrated his esteem for Logan, as he pointedly called him a “brave and sagacious officer.” And according also to the author, John F. Finerty, the Captain was a “very noted officer” and was also “affectionately known to the whole army by the ‘sobriquet’ of “Sage Brush Bill.”
History shows that neither the Montana Column nor General Crook’s Southern Column united with Custer’s cavalry in Custer’s attack on the Sioux and the Northern Cheyenne in late June, 1876. General Crook’s forces were earlier subjected to a surprise attack by a band of Sioux Indians and Northern Cheyenne along Rosebud Creek on June 17, 1876, thereby causing the General and his Column to return to their Big Goose Creek encampment to await reinforcements. As to Gibbon and his Column, they arrived at the scene of Custer’s battle at the Little Bighorn River some thirty-six hours late, only to bury the dead cavalrymen and rescue the survivors. While at the scene, they also engaged in the destruction of a large quantity of property abandoned by the Indians in their hasty departure. Captain William Logan and soldiers from his Company “A” of the 7th U.S. Infantry Regiment would have likely assisted in these responsibilities as well as the preparation of the wounded soldiers for transport and their conveyance to the steamer Far West which was embanked at the mouth of the Little Bighorn River.
Death of Captain Logan at the Battle of the Big Hole
Battle of Big Hole. Artistic rendering appeared in Harper's Weekly December 28, 1895
After Little Bighorn, William Logan continued to serve with Company “A” of the 7th U.S. Infantry in western Montana. In the summer of 1877, one year after the Custer debacle, troops consisting of soldiers from the 7th Infantry and 2nd Cavalry from Fort Shaw, Fort Missoula and Fort Ellis, Montana Territory, were ordered to pursue a large band of Nez Perce, including its renowned leaders, Chief Joseph, Chief White Bird and Chief Looking Glass, who refused to return to their reservations in Idaho. The troops included Captain Logan and his Company “A”. Previously, in June and July 1877, the Nez Perce had fought a series of battles and skirmishes with the military, including at White Bird Canyon and on the Clearwater River in Idaho. The military force gathered together to form a battalion at Fort Missoula, Montana under the leadership of Colonel John Gibbon, the commander of the Montana Column the previous year, and they left the garrison on August 4, 1877. A scouting party led by Lieutenants Bradley and Jacobs was sent ahead to search for the Nez Perce and did so on August 8, 1877. The Indians were found to be encamped in a meadow beside the North Fork of the Big Hole River, not far from the present town of Wisdom, Montana in the Big Hole Valley, situated in the southwest part of the Territory. Colonel Gibbon ordered a line of battle to be formed by his columns of infantrymen directly opposite the Indian village in the early morning hours of August 9, with a plan of attack scheduled for dawn that morning. Citizen volunteers, who accompanied the military, would also join in the attack. Captain William Logan and his Company “A” of the 7th were stationed in support of other columns of soldiers that formed the line of attack. In accordance with their orders, the units of soldiers gathered themselves across the river from the Indian encampment in readiness for their assault and were so secreted and obscured by the cover of the terrain and the darkness, as not to be noticed by the Nez Perce warriors and their women and children, who thought themselves immune at the time from surprise attack.
The Battle of the Big Hole commenced at about daybreak when an Indian named Wetistokaith rode horseback towards the soldiers while on his way to the Indian pony herd that was situated on the hillside above the village. Several shots were fired by the soldiers at the Nez Perce horseman, instantly killing him. Immediately thereafter, the columns of soldiers advanced rapidly toward the Indian encampment, crossing the Big Hole River, and traversing the waters of a slough and the thickets of willows that formed along and near the river’s banks. The soldiers directed volleys of fire into the village while they moved forward. The infantrymen received immediate support from Captain Logan’s Company “A” after they came under fire, the Company being sent in on the run to the extreme right. The battle in the meadow was marked by hand to hand fighting and the use of weapons at close quarters, which inflicted great carnage among the warriors and soldiers and also Nez Perce women and children. In the first twenty minutes of the battle, Captain William Logan himself met the same fate as thirty other soldiers, five citizen volunteers, an Army guide, as well as an estimated sixty to ninety Nez Perce, who died in the conflict, which lasted throughout the day and night and into the following night within the confines of the meadow and later, the wooded bluff area, to which the soldiers retreated after their earlier fighting. The battle ended when the Nez Perce withdrew and moved southward to avoid later battle with military reenforcements sent under the command of General O. O. Howard. (Webmaster's Note: Jump to a photographic tour of the Big Hole Battlefield)
The death of Captain Logan is recounted in a story published by an Indian trader named Duncan McDonald and is mentioned also by the author G. O. Shields in his 1889 narrative entitled “The Battle of the Big Hole.” Logan was shot and died during a fight among the tipis. According to McDonald:
In a fight between an officer and the warrior the warrior was shot down dead. The warriors sister was standing by him when he fell, and as he lay there, his six-shooter lay by his side. The woman seeing her brother dying and the blood running from his mouth, seized the six-shooter, leveled it at the officer, fired, and shot him through the head and killed him. From all the information I can obtain, I believe the officer was Captain Logan.
Shields had described Logan’s actions in the fight before he fell as one acting “with a valor equal to his illustrious namesake” adding also that he was mourned by his soldiers “as the gallant Captain Logan.” The warrior earlier shot and killed by Logan was identified to be that of Wahlitits.
In the aftermath of the battle, the dead soldiers, including Captain Logan, and civilian volunteers, were buried in shallow graves in the battlefield. Captain Richard Comba, the commander of Company “D” at the Big Hole, was in charge of this detail, a particularly grim assignment it must have been for him as Logan was his father-in-law.
In September 1877, a burial party left Fort Missoula and visited the battlefield to rebury the dead soldiers. The detail included Lieutenant John T. Van Orsdale of Company “D”, 7th Infantry, another participant in the earlier battle and also a son-in-law of Captain Logan. The Lieutenant found fourteen burials disinterred, including that of William Logan, and the remains were brought to Deer Lodge, Montana, for temporary burial in the local cemetery.
In 1892, Logan’s remains were removed from Deer Lodge and reburied at Custer National Cemetery inside the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument in Montana, along with the remains of Lieutenant Van Orsdale’s first wife and infant son. Their remains rest there today.
Captain William Logan Gravesite
Custer National Cemetery
Soldier rest! thy warfare o’er, Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking; Dream of battlefields no more, Days of danger, nights of waking.
Sir Walter Scott
The Logan Rings: Their Disappearance and Their Recovery
At his death, Captain Logan wore two rings on his left little finger, the seal ring with the Logan crest, given to him by his father, and a ring comprising a plain band covered with Masonic emblems in enamel. The latter was presented to him in Florida where he had been a worshipful master of the Masonic lodge during his post- Civil War duty with the 7th Infantry as a member of the Army of occupation. Both rings, along with his little finger, had been removed from Logan’s left hand prior to the arrival of Lieutenant Van Orsdale’s reburial party to the Big Hole battlefield some weeks after Logan’s death.
The rings were important to Logan’s family, including Odelia Logan, Logan’s wife. Odelia, placed advertisements seeking their return in the Army And Navy Journal and in various territorial newspapers. Some twenty-three years elapsed before both rings were recovered by the Logan family and they were finally recovered in this manner, as narrated in the work “The Big Hole Battlefield” by Earle R. Forrest as follows:
…some three years after the Battle of the Big Hole, a Nez Perce killed by Blackfeet near the Canadian border, wore the seal ring. It passed from hand to hand among the Blackfeet until it finally came into the possession of a trapper. One day when the latter was in Fort Benton, Billy Todd, who knew the story of the rings and was an old friend of Captain Logan, saw the seal band on the trapper’s finger, and bought it. Then he sent it to the commanding officer of Cantonment Badlands on the Missouri River (North Dakota), with the request that it be sent to Mrs. Logan. The C.O. (sent) the missing ring to Mrs. Logan in Helena. For twenty-three years all trace of the Masonic ring was lost until one day in 1900, William R. Logan, a son of Captain Logan, noticed a band ring on a finger of a Piegan squaw who came into his office at the Blackfoot Agency to lodge a complaint. Always on the lookout for his father’s ring, Logan recognized the badly worn outlines of Masonic emblems when he examined it. He purchased the ring and turned it over to his mother. The squaw told him how it came into her possession. Some time after the Battle of the Big Hole, a Piegan hunting party met a band of Nez Perces and several Indians of both tribes were killed in the ensuing battle. A dead Nez Perce wore the Masonic ring which a Piegan warrior cut from his finger. The Piegan wore the ring until his death, and then the Squaw from whom Logan purchased it, inherited it. She was probably his wife.
The Logan rings remain in the possession of his family to this day.
The Legacy of Captain William Logan
William Logan left a legacy deeply entrenched in the history and culture of the State of Montana that continues to this day, serving as a testament to his respected and admired stature and also to the later accomplishments and prominence of his children.
During Montana’s Indian War era, in 1869, Camp Baker was established near the Smith River and within the confines of what is known today as Meagher County for the primary protection of the mines at and near Diamond City and the Fort Benton to Helena freight route. The fort was garrisoned predominately by members of the 7th U.S. infantry, but also at times by members of the 3rd and 18th Infantries. Captain Logan served there himself as the commanding officer in the 1870’s. In 1878, one year after Logan’s death and in his memory, the post was renamed Fort Logan. Two years later, by order of the War Department, the fort was abandoned by the military and the troops were relocated to another garrison in Fergus County. In Logan’s memory and as a dedication to the historic post, a bronze tablet was emplaced in 1924 on the only remaining standing building at old Fort Logan and it remains there today. In 1970, the fort was added to the national Register of Historic Places. As a further tribute to Captain Logan’s memory, the town of Logan, Montana adopted his name in his honor when it was established on the Gallatin River in 1889 as a railroad station for the Northern Pacific and Montana Railway (later the Northern Pacific Railway). The right of way of the Northern Pacific was acquired from Logan’s widow, Odelia, in 1885. Logan was an important junction on the Northern Pacific’s Rocky Mountain Division, where the westbound trains could diverge north to the line to Helena, Montana and Mullen Pass, or south to Butte, Montana via Homestake Pass. In addition, the Northern Pacific operated a secondary freight-only line between Logan and Bozeman, Montana from the 1920s through the 1950s. Today, Logan, Montana remains a part of the Montana Rail Link.
At Captain Logan’s death, he left his wife, Odelia, and several children, as well as his sons-in-laws, Captain Richard Comba and Lieutenant John T. Van Orsdale. The two officers continued to serve in the military and later retired from the army respectively, as a Brigadier General and Lieutenant Colonel. The widowed Odelia Logan moved to the vicinity of Helena, Montana Territory and engaged in stock raising. Two of William and Odelia’s sons, Thomas A. Logan and Archibald Logan, would later participate in the Spanish-American War.
Another son of William Logan, Sidney M. Logan, who was age 10 at the time of his father’s death, became a practicing attorney in Helena. In 1891, Sidney became the first county attorney of Flathead County and later, in 1902, was elected Mayor of Kalispell. Largely due to his efforts, a system of parks and boulevards was established in the area and he was also instrumental in securing the Carnegie Library for the city. Included in his service to the community were his tireless efforts to complete scenic Highway 2 in Montana, westward to the Idaho line. A bronze plaque erected by the Kalispell & Libby Chamber of Commerce, was later emplaced in his memory along the roadway with an inscription honoring his vision, generosity and untiring efforts for the betterment of Montana. Logan State Park on the shores of Middle Thompson Lake along the highway is also named in Sidney's honor. Credit in large measure should also be given to him and his brother, William R. Logan, for the creation of Glacier National Park, as they both lobbied for the legislation to establish its formation. At the same time, Sidney provided critical information primarily relating to its boundaries. Sidney Logan married a niece of former Montana Governor, Joseph Toole, and they had five children. He died in 1935.
Captain Logan’s eldest son, William R. (“Will”) Logan, was born in 1856 and attended college in Missouri. He served as a scout in the Sioux/Cheyenne campaign of 1876. In 1877, he held the office of Post-Trader at Fort Missoula and in 1898, was appointed an Indian Agent for the Blackfoot Indian Reservation. He was known to have explored the region of what is now Glacier National Park in the 1880’s and became enamored with its uniqueness and beauty. Along with his brother, Sidney, he was greatly responsible for the creation of this iconic national treasure, becoming its first Superintendent in 1910. Logan Pass, along the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, is named after him in his honor.
Sidney M. Logan
Photo courtesy of William Logan descendant, Dorothy Groose
Sidney M. Logan Memorial Plaque, Highway 2, Montana
Photo courtesy of William Logan descendant, Dorothy Groose
Captain William Logan would be pleased with the lives and achievements of his sons. The Rector Thomas Dawson Logan of Ireland likely accorded the same to his eldest son, who left his large family and journeyed to the New World at a young age, and there while in uniform for virtually the duration of his life, served his adopted country with fearless diligence up until the moment of his final breath. And it was especially in the Captain’s last moments, in the harsh dissonance and fury of battle under an early morning Montana summer sky, that the solemn expression portraying his sacred ancestral tradition, “Hoc Majorum Virtus” (“This is the valor of my ancestors”), was honored and adopted as well by the actions of the Captain himself. William Logan left his life on the battlefield, but by his esteemed and valorous reputation, and through the notable accomplishments of his progeny, he also left a prominent and enduring Montana legacy.
William R. Logan
Photo courtesy of William Logan descendant, Dorothy Groose
Author’s Note: The author extends his special thanks to Mrs. Dorothy Groose and to Mrs. Lilly Houtz, a great-granddaughter and the widow of a great-grandson of William Logan respectively, who kindly provided me family photographs and documents pertaining to the lives of William Logan and his family members and descendants. Special thanks is also extended to Ms. Tami DeGrosky, the former Superintendent of Big Hole Battlefield National Monument, for providing me a copy of the personnel file of William Logan.
Logan Pass Visitor Center, Glacier National Park
Rev. J.H. Leslie, "Armagh Clergy & Parishes”, (1913), p. 175 and its “Supplement to Armagh Clergy & Parishes” by Rev. James B. Leslie, M. A., D. Litt., M.R.I.A (W. Tempest, Dundalgan Press, Dundalk, 1948) p.64;
Internet website, "en.wikipedia.org: for County Louth, Robert de Bruce, Mexican-American War, Logan, Montana; Battle of the Rosebud";
John F. Finerty, “Warpath and Bivouac: or The Conquest of the Sioux” , (Donohue and Henneberry Publishers, 1890), p.301;
Audrey L. Haines, “An Elusive Victory- The Battle of the Big Hole” (Glacier National History Association, 1991), pp.45, 48, 49, 51-58, 61-62, 66, 108, 110, 116, 121-122, 125-127;
G.O. Shields (“Coquina”), "The Battle of the Big Hole", (Chicago and New York: Rand, McNally & Company, 1889) pp. 50, 53;
Internet website, fortwiki.com: Forts, Camps and Stations – Fort Logan;
Internet website, "legendsofamerica.com: Montana Forts of the Old West- Fort Logan";
Peter F. Panzeri, Little Big Horn, 1876 – Custer’s Last Stand (Osprey Printing Limited, 1995), pp. 14-15, 33-34, 36, 46, 75, 82, 83, 85;
Letter, Col. John Gibbon, 7th U.S. Infantry, to Adjutant, Department of Dakota(Major George D. Ruggles), October 17, 1876, included in "The Little Big Horn 1876, Official Documents of the Little Big Horn", compiled/annotated by Lloyd J. Overfield, II ( Bison Books, 1990) pp. 78-92;
"The March of the Montana Column", edited by Edgar I. Stewart (University of Oklahoma Press, 2001), p. XII, XIX, 50-51, 58-59, 68, 93, 130, 159;
Jerome A. Green, "Nez Perce Summer 1877" (Montana Historical Society Press 2000), pp. 25-42, 73-96, 139;
Robert D. Warden, “Old Fort Logan in Meagher County is Formally Dedicated as Landmark of State by Daughters of American Revolution” in Great Falls Tribune, August 24, 1924;
“Dedicatory Address of Sidney M. Logan on Occasion of Unveiling of Bronze Tablet at Fort Logan Teems With Military Traditions”, in The Helena Daily Independent, August, 1924;
Mel Ruder, “Major Logan’s Last Anecdote Recalled”, in Hungry Horse News, August 4, 1967;
“Site of Ft. Logan is Dedicated by Orofino D.A.R.” in Philipsburg Mail, August 22, 1924);
Sidney M. Logan Obituary, in Daily Inter Lake newspaper, August 29, 1935;
Letter, William Logan descendant, Raymond A. Thon, to Robert C. Harden, Superintendent, Glacier National Park, West Glacier, Montana, June 8, 1983, included in William Logan personnel file, Big Hole Battlefield National Monument;
Typed research manuscript (10 pages-author and date unknown) entitled: “William Logan, Captain, Company “I”, 7th U.S. Infantry: Killed at the Battle of the Big Hole, August 9, 1977”, included in William Logan personnel file, Big Hole Battlefield National Monument;
Duncan McDonald, “The Nez Perce Indian War of 1877 - - The Inside History from Indian Sources” The New North- West, Deer Lodge, M.T., January 24, 1879;
Earle R. Forrest, “The Big Hole Battlefield”, 1962, manuscript in the Big Hole Battlefield National Monument Library, p. 59;
John M. Carroll and Byron Price, Roll Call on the Little Big Horn, 28 June 1876, (The Old Army Press, 1974), p.140.
Report, Major Isaac Lynde, Seventh U.S. Infantry to The Acting Assistant Adjutant General, Department of New Mexico, Santa Fe, August 7, 1861, regarding his retreat and surrender at Saint Augustine Springs, found in the City of Las Cruces, New Mexico website of www.las-cruces.org.
2009 Copyright Robert Luppi