James Richard Slack

James Richard Slack was born September 28, 1818, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He was educated in an academy at Newton, Pennsylvania, but at the age of nineteen moved with his parents to Delaware County, Indiana. He then worked on his father's farm, taught school, studied law, and was admitted to the bar on his twenty-second birthday. A few weeks later he settled in Huntington, Indiana, possessing only six dollars in cash and the clothes he was wearing. In 1842 Slack was elected county auditor, a position he held for nine years. He served seven terms in the state senate and in 1854 was defeated as a candidate for Congress. On December 13, 1861, Slack was commissioned colonel of the 47th Indiana Infantry and at New Madrid and Island No. 10 commanded a brigade under John Pope. He subsequently was in district and post command at various points, took part in the White River expedition and the engagement at Yazoo Pass, and during the Vicksburg campaign commanded a brigade of Hovey's division of McClernand's XIII Corps. Soon after, he was transferred to the Department, of the Gulf where he was stationed for the remainder of the war: he took a minor part in the Red River expedition; was in command at Thibodeaux, Louisiana, for a time heading a division of the XIII Corps; was present at all the engagements in the campaign against Mobile, including the capture of Spanish Fort, Fort Blakely, and the city itself. Slack had been promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on November 10, 1864, and as of March 13, 1865, was brevetted major general. He was mustered out early in 1866 and returned to Huntington, where he resumed his law practice. When the Twenty-eighth Judicial Circuit was created, General Slack was appointed to the bench by the governor and was elected thereto in 1872 and reelected in 1878. He again ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1880. The following year on July 28, he died of a heart attack while visiting in Chicago and was buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Huntington.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.