John Charles Black was born January 27th 1839 in Lexington, Mississippi the son of Rev. John and Josephine (Culbertson) Black. His father who was a Presbyterian minister moved the family to Danville, Illinois in 1847. Black attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.
On Lincoln’s call for troops Black along with his brother William P Black join the 11th Indiana Infantry as privates on April 14th 1861. The 11th was a three month regiment, and after being mustered out of service, they organized Company K of the 37th Illinois Infantry. Black was made the Major of the 37th on September 5th 1861. He was wounded at the Battle of Pea Ridge March 7th 1862. On July 12th 1862 Black was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 37th. During the Battle of Prairie Grove, December 7th 1862 Black led his men against a fortified Confederate position, suffering heavy casualties before being forced to retreat. Black would be wounded in the action and would be awarded the Medal of Honor for his service there. He would go on the command a Brigade. Black resigned his commission August 15th 1865.
Black passed the bar and opened a law practice in 1867 in Danville, Illinois. He would become the United States District of Attorney in Chicago, Illinois. He was the Commissioner of Pensions 1885-89. Black was elected to the United States Congress in 1893. In 1903 he made the Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic. Black died August 17th 1915 in Chicago, Illinois, and is buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Danville, Illinois.