The First Calvary was organized in the Summer of 1861. A large number of men desired to join this regiment, and the officers were consequently enabled to use discrimination int eh selection of recruits. It was mustered into the service on the 5th of October, at Camp Chase, and three of the companies were soon after assigned on detached service in West Virginia. Several lost their lives, and among them was Seeley MENSCH. He was an earnest worker in the organization of the company, riding regularly to drill from Seven-Mile after his day's work, and shrinking from no labor or trouble in getting in men and horses. He left for his father's home in Michigan, where he intended to leave his infant child, on the express condition that he should be telegraphed if any thing occurred, and on being notified that they were about to depart he immediately joined them in camp. During the short time spent in Carthage in the laborious drilling incident to the preparing of men and horses for immediate service, MENSCH was most efficient and industrious, responding with ready acquiescence to the entirely unexpected order to leave for Virginia.
During the four weeks' campaign, immediately following the departure from Clarksburg, in which, it is safe to say, no dragoons ever saw harder or more exacting service, MENSCH was always the ready, cheerful, and brave soldier. In the midst of perplexing irregularities of the company in the arrangement of messes, the distribution of the equipments, and the incidental dissatisfaction and chafing of the men against each other, while learning camp duty and camp life, he did much by his conciliation and kindness to settle all into regularity and content. When by the severe picket and guard duty to which the company was exposed, as the only cavalry in the brigade, the men were so worn out as to be really unfit for further service, MENSCH was always willing and ready to volunteer in the place of some weaker, though not so severely tasked comrade. If there was any scouting promising danger, or any midnight expedition looking towards a skirmish, MENSCH asked to go. He was one of their best couriers, riding fearlessly, but with discretion. He was present in the arduous march around the flank of the enemy entrenched at Rich Mountain, and was in the fight afterwards. He was under the fire of the enemy for nearly an hour without flinching, although not permitted to fight, only regretting that the logs, rocks, and trees prevented his being at the cannon's mouth. He was in that section of his company that rode next morning first of all the army into the camp of the rebels. He was patient in difficult, cheerful under hardship, fearless in assault, cool in danger, forbearing with his comrades, respectful and obedient to officers, and perfectly rave. His was an intelligent and active bravery to. He understood perfectly well what he joined the army for-what he wanted to accomplish, and why he wanted it. He fought on principle, recognizing the magnitude of the issues at stake and the duty which presented itself to him as a citizen and a man. There were no hostile soldiers near the camp, and no dangers anticipated. He was fired upon by murderous citizens skulking in the bushes.
On the 9th of December the regiment went to Louisville, where it arrived on the 11th, being the first regiment of cavalry to enter that department. It remained in Louisville and Lebanon until the 28th of February, when it moved to Nashville. In the meantime Colonel O.P. RANSOM and Lieutenant-colonel T.C.H. SMITH had resigned, and the command devolved upon a new colonel, Minor MILLIKIN, a native of Butler County. On the 14th of March, the First Cavalry took the advance of the column moving towards Columbia, encountering and putting to flight the rear guard of the enemy. The regiment marched through Tennessee with General THOMAS's division, arriving at Pittsburg Landing just after the battle of that name had been fought. It participated in the advance upon Corinth, having frequent skirmishes with the enemy, and afterwards joined in the pursuit of BEAUREGARD's army. During this pursuit it had four sharp engagements wit the enemy, with, however, but little loss. During June the regiment was constantly employed in scouting and reconnoitering, and a detachment from Tuscumbia, under command of Colonel EMERY, had a severe engagement about the 1st of July with RODDY's rebel command. Although successful, the detachment suffered severely, losing among others Captain EMERY, mortally wounded.
On the 15th of July Captain WRITER, with a squad, was attacked by a superior force of rebel cavalry under General ANDERSON. Two of the men were captured and four injured, and the captain was severely wounded. On the 25th of July companies E and K, commanded by Captain EGGLESTON, with two companies of the Tenth Kentucky Infantry, were attacked by a large body of rebel cavalry under General ANDERSON. They held out for a considerable time, but were finally compelled to retire, the enemy having captured the infantry, Captain EGGLESTON, and twenty-one of the cavalry. On the 1st of August the regiment moved for Decherd, Tennessee, arriving there on the 5th. Colonel MILLIKIN, with six companies, moved to McMinnville soon after, while four companies under Captain PATTEN, went on a scout to Fayeteville, where on the 19th Lieutenant THEA, of Company I, and six men were captured. Considerable skirmishing was done, and in October the regiment, or portions of it, participated in an engagement near Shepherdstown, and in the advance on Perryville. On the day after the last battle the regiment was reunited, and remained so until its final discharge, a period of three years.
General MORGAN and his band of guerrillas becoming troublesome, the First Ohio and the First Kentucky cavalry were sent in pursuit of him, following him many miles through the center of the State. With other troops with whom they were brigaded they met MORGAN's command of twenty-five hundred men at Gallatin, routing it, and capturing twenty-five prisoners. In the advance on Murfreesboro it moved out on the Franklin Pike, reaching that town in the afternoon, and routing the rebel force stationed there. On the 29th it encountered and defeated WHARTON's brigade of rebel cavalry. On the evening of the same day the brigade and regiment took position upon the extreme right of the army, and held it throughout the struggle. On the 31st the brigade covered the retreat of our infantry, falling back slowly. Colonel MILLIKIN had received no orders from his brigade commander applicable to such a case, and took the responsibility of sending orderlies to the various regimental commanders of the brigade, requesting them to support him in a saber charge upon the advancing foe. The occasion was pressing, and Colonel MILLIKIN, without waiting for a response, wheeled his men into line, and threw it upon the enemy, driving them a quarer of a mile. The rebels gathered and closed in on his rear, making his situation one of extreme difficulty. Perceiving his danger, he turned his men about, and they fought their way through, but among those who lay dead on the field was the gallant young commander, Minor MILLIKIN. Besides him, Major D.A.B. MOORE and Lieutenant CONDIT were killed, and Adjutant SCOTT and Lieutenant FORDYCE wounded, together with many non-commissioned officers and privates. The command of the regiment devolved upon Major LAUGHLIN, under whom it continued to fight until the battle of Stone River was complete.
In June it did much skirmishing and reconnoitering, and captured large quantities of rebel stores. This it continued in July, and in August several hundred horses and mules were captured. On the 2d of September it went in the direction of Rome, Georgia, meeting the enemy, and driving them from their position after a contest of an hour. The loss was ten killed and wounded.
On the 19th the First arrived on the Chickamauga battle-field, and after being engaged the whole morning, were ordered, under Lieutenant-colonel CUPP, to charge the enemy's line. The mistake of issuing such an order was quickly perceived, and was immediately countermanded, but not before the two hundred and fifty men had started under a deadly fire. One moment more and scarcely one could have been saved. Lieutenant-colonel CUPP was killed, and one-fifth of the rank and file were among the killed and wounded. He was universally beloved, and was brave to a fault. The command now devolved upon Major T.J. PATTER, under whom the regiment fell back to Chattanooga.
On the 26th of September General CROOK's division, of which the First Cavalry was a part, was dispatched to guard a line on the Tennessee River of fifty miles in length. On the 1st the rebel General WHEELER, with eight thousand cavalry, broke through this weak defense. His advance was met by a battalion of the First, under Major James SCOTT, and a severe engagement followed, in which Captain CONN, of Company B, was wounded and twenty-five men of the battalion were wounded and captured. The rebels compelled them to retire, but General CROOKS soon took up the pursuit and drove them for a long distance. ON the 10th the rebels succeeded, with a remnant of the overwhelming force that had crossed the Tennessee in triumph eight days before, in recrossing that stream. They were weakened, demoralized, and disheartened; they had lost their artillery and more than a thousand prisoners, and had been five times routed by a force of less than half their numbers.
On the 18th of November, with five hundred men in its ranks, the First Cavalry moved towards Chattanooga, arriving there on the morning of the 22d of November. On the evening of the same day General SHERMAN, having already moved his forces across the river above the town, the First Ohio and five other cavalry regiments, under Colonel LONG, crossed over under cover of the infantry, and made a raid in the rear of BRAGG's position, which for its brilliant success and happy termination is unsurpassed in the annals of the cavalry. The results were the destruction of twenty miles of railroad and the largest percussion cap and torpedo manufactory in the Confederacy; two hundred wagons burned, six hundred horses and mules, and five hundred prisoners captured. Only twenty men were lost. On their raid the First had a severe engagement with the enemy at Cleveland, losing fifteen men, but inflicting on the enemy a loss of at least fifty.
On the 27th of October Colonel LONG's division marched towards Knoxville, having several severe skirmishes by the way, and capturing many prisoners. Then it went on a raid into North Carolina, bringing back only one hundred and twenty effective men, instead of the five hundred it had had a month before.
About this time Colonel B.B. EGGLESTON returned from recruiting service in Ohio, and assumed command of the regiment. In January and February the men nearly all re-enlisted, and came up North on the month's furlough. Those who did not re-enlist continued with LONG's brigade the whole Winter.
On the 1st of April, 1864, the First was again reunited at Nashville, Tennessee, recruited o full ranks. On the 22d of May it joined SHERMAN on his celebrated march. It was in a severe engagement at Moulton, resulting in the complete defeat of General RODDY, who, with a force of six regiments and a battery of artillery, had attacked LONG's brigade. The First lost in this about twenty killed and wounded. In front of Kenesaw the regiment had frequent and severe skirmishing, in which it lost about thirty men. The regiment accompanied General KILPATRICK in his raid around Atlanta. When surrounded by the enemy at Lovejoy's Station the First Cavalry particularly distinguished itself by holding in check for some time a fore from CLEBURNE's rebel infantry division, with a loss of fifty men. Among the killed was Captain W. H. SCOTT. The brigade commander, Colonel Eli LONG, was severely wounded in this affair, which devolved the command of the brigade upon Colonel B. B. EGGLESTON, and the regiment upon Lieutenant-colonel Thomas J. PATTEN, its old and tried chief. When General HOOD attempted to cut SHERMAN's communications the First Cavalry followed I pursuit.
On the 13th of October it carried the advance of GARRARD's division in the fight near Rome, Georgia, resulting in the complete discomfiture of General ARMSTRONG's division of rebel cavalry. The regiment, with others, was then sent to Louisville, Kentucky, to e entirely refitted for the field, arriving there on the 17th of November. On the 2d of March the cavalry, which had been at Chicksaw Landing, on the south side of the Tennessee, moved out, and on the 26th Company A, of the First, struck a body of rebels at Jasper, and routed them. On the 27th they forded the Black Warrior River; 29th burned a large iron furnace, and drove PATTERSON's cavalry across the Catawba River; 31st, about noon, the pickets were attacked at Montevallo, but were charged and routed by the Fifth Iowa. They proved to be a part of LYON's brigade of FORREST's cavalry, which were here found in strong position defending the road and ford. LYON was dislodged, and again put upon the retreat.
On the morning of the 1st of April the regiment again took the advance, and FORREST's pickets were driven out of Randolph, and considerable skirmishing continued all day, until at last the head of the column struck FORREST's command in position near Ebenezer Church. The First Ohio was on the right, and the enemy's battery, of three guns, was on a wooded hill by the church, directly in front. After a severe struggle all along the line the First took the battery of artillery, and FORREST's farfamed horsemen were routed in twenty minutes from the main attack. Here fell the gallant Frank P. ALLEN, the quartermaster's sergeant of the regiment. On the 2d of April SELMA was taken; the 9th the command began crossing the Alabama; 12th and 13th it rested in Montgomery; 14th took up its march towards Columbus, Georgia; 15th, BUFORDS's division was driven ahead of us, and on the 16th the advance met the enemy near Crawford, Georgia, and charged them nine miles across the Ogeechee River. About a mile and a half from Columbus the first battalion of the First Ohio encountered the enemy, drew sabers, and charged down the hill into the town of Girard, under the fire of twenty-five guns that had been worked until then. The regiment was also engaged in the night attack upon Columbus, the capture of the works, and the saving of the two bridges which opened up Columbus, its arsenals and factories, and gave, as the result of one of the most desperate night assaults ever made, twelve hundred prisoners and ninety-six cannon. ON the 22d Macon was entered, when the troops heard of the surrender of LEE. The regiment then garrisoned Georgia and South Carolina until the 13th of September, when it was mustered out, paid off, and discharged at Columbus, Ohio, on the 28th day of September, 1865.
Colonel Minor MILLIKIN, whose death we have noticed above, was the son of John M. MILLIKIN and Mary G. HOUGH. He was born on the 9th of July, 1834. An account of his early training is given on a preceding page. We can not describe his character better than in the following words of Professor David SWING, the great preacher of Chicago, who was intimately acquainted with him:
"The battle of Murfreesboro has brought to this region some realization of the sadness of war. The desolation of which we have read so much, we are at last compelled to see face to face. The tears of the widow fall before our own eye, and the home once so happy becomes the asylum of almost broken hearts.
"The dispatch which announced the death of Colonel MILLIKIN announced the fall of a gifted man, a brave soldier, an ardent patriot. The soul of Minor was of the intense school. What he was, he was thoroughly' whom he loved, he loved deeply; whom he disliked, he disliked cordially; and this intensity of feeling led him early to grasp his sword in defense of the government and country he loved, and against the Confederacy he despised. The character of Colonel MILIKIN can not be pictured at a stroke. His mind was many sided. To the taste for literature he added a love of the practical in ordinary life. He was philosophic and romantic, ready to lecture upon reform or to weave together such thoughts as might win for one the title of a poet. He loved that progress which comes by a better education, and he loved also that progress of ideas which comes through the sword. He was ready to teach kindly a little child or to meet his foe with terrible force upon the battle-field. Talented, original, independent, brave, he was also affectionate and religious. He had come faults, but far more virtues, and the deformity of the former fades from our sight while we look upon the beauty of the latter, just as the spots upon the sun are not remembered while we stand in the fields of June. But his heart, so strong and yet so kind, so patriotic, so chivalrous and mindful of duty, has grown quiet. Amid the clash of swords and the awful din of the battle-field of Murfreesboro, Minor MILLIKIN fee, and for his country yielded up his young life."
James M. ALLEN, formerly of his regiment, in the Ohio State Journal paid the following tribute to his character:
"I know nothing of his parentage, but if the blood of the Puritans did not run in his veins (which I think probable) their spirit at least animated his soul. That sterling love of truth and justice, that nice regard for right in business transactions, that prompt and thorough doing of what ought to be done, that constant outlooking for the path of duty (which clearly seen, men's opinions to the contrary, were as chaff before the wind), that ever present recognition of God's law and special providence, that unswerving obedience to the almighty ought, so that if he saw he ought to do, to speak or not to speak, that ought was his Shekinah, and finally, that plain steady piety, which made his tent a 'house of prayer,' are manifest characteristics of the man I mourn.
"Quick to perceive and relieve sorrow; free, but humble in the social circle; liberal, but exact in business; economical in his living; strictly temperate in his appetites and habits; free from vulgarity; affable and polite; these were qualities that made him an agreeable associate, while the others would make him a strict disciplinarian, a rigid commander, a fearless warrior, and, if the path of duty led to a dozen batteries, to them would he go without quiver of hesitation. The scarcity of such men in our army makes his loss doubly severe."
Another friendly hand thus writes of his military career:
"Among the first levy of three months' men he entered the army as first lieutenant of cavalry. In the first campaign of Western Virginia he saw severe service, and acquired a reputation for bravery and fidelity. At the expiration of this term an unsolicited appointment as major of the First Cavalry was conferred upon him. Scarcely had the regiment been set to active service before he was promoted to the colonelcy, just then vacated. The title to this position, which was not reached without opposition, he had since made good-fairly and fully winning it by diligence, zeal, and the exhibition of more than ordinary capacity. The great esteem in which he was held by his superior officers is acknowledged by all who know their opinions, and these opinions were not concealed. More than once was it intimated that yet higher promotion would soon be conferred. The high place which he held in the affections of th officers and men of his regiment was the result of the uniform courtesy and real kindness which accompanied the most rigid discipline, combined with a consistent and high toned morality; and both commended to the true soldier by daring and skill. In all the expeditions of greater or less importance with which he was intrusted, the men of the First Ohio Cavalry followed their colonel with confidence, and were rewarded by success. But all the previous instances of this were eclipsed by the history of the 31st of December. At early morning the regiment was called to arms. Its position was on the advance of our right wing, under General MCCOOK. While the second major had just given the command to fall in, the regiment lost his valuable services, and he was deprived of life by the explosion of the first shell fired by the enemy. Left thus, without the assistance of a single field officer, Colonel MILLIKIN led his regiment through the enemy, by whom they were quickly surrounded. During the whole day he maneuvered the regiment with the greatest coolness, gallantry, and skill, and beyond this there was, on that day, a peculiar tenderness in his care for the regiment, and a peculiar gentleness in the tone of his orders, which more than once brought tears to the eyes of his brave men. Their battle-field was but two miles and a half in width, and was fought over from four o'clock A.M. to three P.M. Forced back by superior numbers, every inch was stubbornly contested. Three separate and successful charges were led by the colonel in person. Alas! The third was only too successful. The regiment formed the center of the charging column, and pierced the enter of the enemy, but the right and left supporting regiments failing to drive the foe, the gallant First was speedily flanked. It was at this point, while occupying an exposed position, that a squad of the enemy made a bold dash, distinctly to capture him. They reached and surrounded him. The demand for his surrender was made, but though one of his own men cried out 'O, colonel, do give up; they'll kill you,' it was answered only by the heavy swinging of the colonel's saber. With a cut to the rear, one assailant was cloven down, and with a stroke to the front another; but just as valor seemed ready to be crowned by success the fatal shot was fired. The ball, supposed to be from a carbine, entered the neck and severed the jugular vein. Unconsciousness must have immediately ensued. The body was recovered within thirty minutes, stripped of overcoat, saber, and valuables while in the throes of death, and life ended with one gasp as it was committed t the ambulance. Thus was death braved and met by as lofty courage as ever inspired a soldier, whether the records of this war or others be searched.
"It was within the circle of warm friendship that his peculiar power and influence were felt. He universally secured respect, even from opponents. It is thus that one writes who was once a chaplain to the regiment: 'Brave, strong, noble, full of life and hope and love, happy himself, and making others happy, filling so nobly and well his part in the world, who that knew Minor MILLIKIN, though only to respect him while living, will not mourn that he is dead? For us who knew him better and loved him there will be more than transient regret.'
"Colonel MILLIKIN's mental powers were rapidly maturing into a gratifying fulfillment of earlier promise. None were able more fully to transfuse the soul into whatever was to be written. The productions of his pen were children of his heart always, and bore witness to their parentage. Lectures or letters, addresses or editorials, every thing was terse, vigorous, and strong, yet smooth.
"Colonel MILLIKIN possessed that true courage which distinctly apprehends danger, but in the strength of high principle defies it. This appeared every way, but in none more clearly than in the habitual preparation for death which he sought to maintain. In camp, near Nashville, on the 9th of December, he thus prefaced his will:
'Death is always the condition of living, but, to the soldier, its imminency and certainty seems also the condition of his usefulness and glory. It has been my habit to keep a will, but as my last is uselessly long, and, as to my human gaze, life seems less than likely to stay long with me, I write now another.'
"The remains were brought home. It was his high wish, expressed in his will, that he should be buried without pomp; that a slab of native stone, plainly engraved, might mark his resting place; that over it wild vines might grow unrestrained; 'and then,' it was added, 'let it be forgotten that I am there.'"
The Fifth Ohio Cavalry went out the first year, and among its companies was I, from this neighborhood. It was at Shiloh, siege of Corinth, Missionary Ridge, all the battles of the Army of the Tennessee during the Atlanta campaign, and marched with Sherman down to the sea, afterwards going up through North Carolina. Company I was commanded by Captain Clem. MURPHY; C. H. MURRAY was first lieutenant, and A. C. ROSSMAN second lieutenant. Captain MURPHY was dishonorably discharged before the expiration of his term of service, and ROSSMAN became a captain, and was transferred to Company E; Charles E. GIFFEN became first lieutenant. During the latter portion of its service it received many recruits, but few from Hamilton. Among the non-commissioned officers who can now be remembered are: M. G. MORRIS, orderly; Fred REIGEL, Joe KNECHT, Joe COX, Loammi R. DUNWOODIE, William H. PAULLIN, S. C. HENDERSON, Eli LONG, Charles RICHTER, and Emanuel RICHTER, sergeants; and John EBERHART and Conrad MAYBRUSH, corporals. Sergeant Samuel STEPHENSON and privates Herman ZEGELER and William LEDWELL were killed.