Leonard Fulton Ross

Leonard Fulton Ross, the son of one of Illinois' earliest settlers, was born at Lewistown, where his father was the proprietor, on July 18, 1823. After a year at Jacksonville College, he read law and was admitted to the bar in 1845. During the Mexican War he served with distinction as a lieutenant in the 4th Illinois Volunteers, whose colonel was Edward D. Baker, Lincoln's friend. He was later probate judge of Fulton County, county clerk, local Democratic leader, and stockbreeder of wide reputation. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War, Ross was appointed colonel of the 17th Illinois to rank from May 25, 1861. He served in Missouri and Kentucky, taking part in a number of minor engagements during the summer of 1861, including the expedition to Fredericktown, Missouri, in October. At Fort Donelson he commanded the 3rd Brigade of McClernand's division and on April 26, 1862, was promoted brigadier general of volunteers. Absent at Shiloh, he participated in the "siege" of Corinth and in July, 1862, was stationed in command of a division at Bolivar, Tennessee, to protect the Mississippi Central Railroad (now the Illinois Central) and the surrounding country. For a time he was also in command of the District of Jackson. In December, 1862, Ross was in charge of a division in U. S. Grant's movement into Mississippi, which was frustrated by Earl Van Dorn's celebrated raid on Holly Springs. During the Vicksburg campaign he commanded the infantry forces engaged in the Yazoo Pass expedition—the third attempt by Grant to get his forces in the rear of Vicksburg from above the town. After this expedition he was assigned to the post of Helena, Arkansas. Ostensibly for business reasons but "believing that the war was near its close," General Ross resigned his commission on July 22, 1863, and returned to civilian life. After the war he operated stock farms at Avon, Illinois, and Iowa City, Iowa. He was appointed collector of internal revenue for the ninth Illinois district in 1867; was three times a delegate to Republican national conventions; and in 1868 and 1872 was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress. For many years he was widely known in agricultural circles as an importer and breeder of fine livestock and as an officer in various organizations dedicated to progressive agriculture and breed improvement. General Ross died at his old home in Lewiston on January 17, 1901, and was buried there in Oakhill Cemetery.

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