Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Colonel Minor Millikin

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(By permission of Robert Clark & Co.)


The biography of Colonel Millikin was copied from the biography written by Whitelaw Eeid and published in his his story "Ohio in the War."

Colonel Millikin was the eldest son of Major John M. Millikin, formerly a lawyer of Hamilton and long known as the President of the State Board of Agriculture, and one of the foremost among that body of retired professional men of wealth and culture who adorn the vocation of Ohio farmers. Minor was born on the ninth of July, 1834. His early education was acquired in the high schools of Hamilton, and under the watch ful eye of his parents. In 1850 he was sent to Hanover College, Ind., where he passed through the course of study of the Fresh man and Sophomore classes. In 1852 he went to Miami University and there completed his collegiate education. He ranked foremost among all the students then in that honored old institution. He was not known as a remarkable scholar, nor was he ever popular. But there was about him an individuality so intense and so striking, that wherever he was placed he was the center of attraction. He was the most nervous and original writer and altogether the most striking debater in his society.

He was graduated with high, though not distinguished standing in 1854. He went immediately to the Harvard Law School. The next year he returned to Cincinnati and entered the law office of his father s friend, Thomas Corwin. A year later he married Miss Mollyneaux, of Oxford, to whom he had been engaged while at college, and started to Europe on a bridal tour, which was prolonged for a twelve month.  On his return he purchased the Hamilton Intelligencer, the Republican organ of his native county, and for the next two years edited it. He had never intended to practice his profes sion, but he improved the opportunities of leisure now afforded him, to review and extend his studies. Then disposing of his newspaper, he retired to his farm, near that of his father, in the vicinity of Hamilton, and was engaged in improving it and building, when the war broke out.

His tastes and his superb horsemanship naturally inclined him to the cavalry service. There was a great difficulty at first in getting cavalry companies accepted, and recruiting was consequently discouraged. But he enlisted himself as a private, and soon had the nucleus of a company. The Government could not be induced to furnish horses in time, and to get the company off for the West Virginia campaign he advanced the funds to purchase twenty-four out of his own pocket. His recruits were united to Captain Burdsall s Cincinnati Company, and Millikin presently became Sergeant, and then Lieutenant. He returned from the three months campaign in West Virginia, with the confidence of his men and the indorsement of his commanders as the best of the cavalry officers on duty in that department.  Thus recommended, he was appointed a Major in the First Regiment of Ohio Cavalry, raised for the three years service.

Colonel Ransom, the first Colonel of the regiment, resigned in January, 1862, and Minor Millikin, the junior Major of the regiment, was promoted to the vacant Colonelcy. The promotion was based on his acknowledged merits, but it wrought him great harm. One of the officers over whose heads he was thus lifted, was brother to the Governor of the state, another had such influential friends as presently to secure a Brigadier-General s commission. All were older than himself. Dissatisfac tion of course arose, all manner of complaints were made, officers threatened to resign by wholesale, and finally the charge was made that Colonel Millikin was too young and too ignorant of cavalry tactics to lead Ohio s first cavalry regiment.

The result was that he was ordered before a board of regular officers for examination. Some delays ensued, but when at last the examination was held he passed it triumphantly, and received the warmest compliments of his examiners.  While the matter was pending, Colonel Millikin served on the staff of General George H. Thomas. But he was not long to lead the disciplined organization he had created. In the battle of Stone s River he was sent to repel attacks of rebel cavalry on the rear of the army. Seeking to protect a valuable train he ordered a charge, and himself led it. The force of the enemy at that point was superior, and he presently found himself with a small part of his regiment cut off. He refused to surrender, and encouraged his men to cut their way out. A hand-to-hand encounter followed. Colonel Millikin s fine swordmanship enabled him to protect himself with his saber. After a contest for some minutes with several assailants, one of them, enraged at his obstinate resistance, shot him with a revolver while he was engaged in parrying the strokes of another. The regiment charged again a few minutes later and recovered the body, but not before it had been stripped of sword, watch and purse.

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