Sgt. Major Francis M. McMillen is one of four Fayette County residents who performed their duties as soldiers during the Civil War in such a heroic manner that they were awarded the nation’s highest military award for valor; the Congressional Medal of Honor.
All four of them are being remembered this Memorial Day by members of Henry Casey Camp No. 92 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War (SUVCW).
According to camp commander Terry Cochran, every Memorial Day the Henry Casey Camp members place floral wreaths on the graves of the county’s four Medal of Honor recipients as well as the grave of Fayette County’s last surviving Civil War veteran.
The wreath laying ceremonies are conducted by members of the Sons of Veterans Reserve, which is the uniformed military component of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War. The local unit, Company C, 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, is commanded by 1st Lt. Shane L. Milburn; a U. S. Marine veteran. .
McMillen was born in Bracken County, Ky. on March 25, 1832 but moved to Ohio before the Civil War and enlisted in the 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on Oct. 3, 1862. The unit was involved in several battles in the Shenandoah Valley of Central Virginia, but Sgt. McMillen stepped into history near the end of the war on April 2, 1865, when he risked his life to capture an enemy regiment’s flag during the Battle of Petersburg in Virginia. The capture of an enemy flag was a very significant event during the Civil War since the flag was a reference point for troops during battle.
Fayette County’s other Medal of Honor recipients are: First Lt. David Jones who is buried in the Good Hope Cemetery, Cpl. Henry Casey who is buried in the Bloomingburg Cemetery and Cpl. Isaac Carman who is buried near Sgt. Major Francis M. McMillian in the Washington Cemetery.
The camp also places a wreath on the grave of Fayette County’s last surviving Civil War veteran, Cpl. Elon Thornton, who died in 1941 one month short of his 97th birthday. He is buried in the Washington Cemetery.
The Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is chartered by the United States Congress as the legal heir to the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) which was a Civil War Veteran’s organization. The SUVCW members are descendants of Civil War veterans, and the local camp is named in honor of Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Cpl. Henry Casey.