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Term: Kellogg, Col. John A. (1828 - 1883)


b. Bethany, Pennsylvania, March 16, 1828
d. Wausau, Wisconsin, February 10, 1883

Col. John Kellogg was an author, attorney, and Civil War leader who rose from a lieutenant to commander of the Iron Brigade.

Early Years

Kellogg arrived in Prairie du Chien as a child in 1840 and began to study law at age 18. After he was admitted to the bar in 1857, he opened an office at Mauston. In November 1860, he was elected district attorney of Juneau County.

Civil War Service

When the Civil War began in April 1861, Kellogg immediately joined the Union Army. Mustered into the 6th Wisconsin Infantry, which was later assigned to the famous Iron Brigade, Kellogg began his military career as a 1st lieutenant in August 1861.

He was promoted to captain of Co. I that December and commanded his men at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland, on September 17, 1862. On this day, the bloodiest in U.S. military history, he led a handful of soldiers across the open battlefield in full sprint to drive Confederate forces from their position. He also fought with the Iron Brigade at the battles of Second Bull Run, South Mountain, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg.

Captured Twice

During the Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-7, 1864, Kellogg was taken prisoner by Confederate soldiers after suffering a brutal head wound. He was imprisoned at Lynchburg, Virginia, but escaped by jumping from a moving train en route to Charleston, South Carolina.  Recaptured and again imprisoned in Charleston, Kellogg escaped a second time on October 5, 1864. He made his way on foot to Savannah, Georgia. He made it back to northern territory after slaves helped pass him through the Underground Railroad, made it back to northern territory.

While imprisoned, Kellogg was promoted to major and on December 10, 1864, he was appointed colonel of the 6th Infantry, succeeding Col. Edward S. Bragg. At the end of the war, he was brevetted a brigadier general in honor of his extraordinary service.

Postwar Years

After mustering out, Kellogg settled in La Crosse and resumed practicing law. He also served as U.S. Pension Agent (1866-1875) for veterans and their families. In 1875 he moved to Wausau, where he was elected a Republican state senator in 1879. He died there in the winter of 1883 at age 55. A year before his death, he wrote a long memoir of his capture, imprisonment, and escapes that was published in 1908.

Links to Learn More

View original documents related to Col. Kellogg

View Kellogg's memoir, "Capture and Escape: A Narrative of Army and Prison Life" (Madison, 1908).

[Source: Dawes, Rufus. Service with the Six Wisconsin Volunteers (Marietta, Ohio, 1890); Kellogg, John A. Capture and Escape: A Narrative of Army and Prison Life (Madison, 1908). Quiner, E.B. The Military History of Wisconsin (Chicago, 1866)]
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