David Meister, commander of Henry Casey Camp 92 Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, recently conducted a Memorial Day wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Civil War Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Major Francis McMillen, who is buried in the Washington Cemetery.
Meister told the story of McMillen’s life from the time he was born in Bracken County, Kentucky until his death at the Soldiers home in Dayton.
McMillen’s family moved to Fayette County when he was about 8-years-old. He enlisted in the 110th Ohio Volunteer Regiment along with his brother, George McMillen, and George’s brother-in-law, George Truitt. They both died at the Battle of Monocacy Junction in July 1864, but Francis McMillen survived that battle and went on to fight in the battle at Petersburg, Virginia where he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
In the Battle at Petersburg, Francis McMillen captured the enemy’s regimental flag and was credited with helping capture a pair of cannons and 14 Rebel prisoners. This heroic deed on April 2, 1865, one week before Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, earned McMillen the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The ceremony concluded with Senior Vice Commander Kelly Hopkins placing a wreath on the grave of Sgt. Major Francis McMillen. Henry Casey Camp members also placed wreaths on three other Fayette County Civil War Medal of Honor recipients.
Corporal Isaac Carman is buried in the Washington Cemetery near the grave of Sgt. Major McMillen and received his Medal of Honor for gallantry at Vicksburg, Mississippi,
First Lieutenant David Jones, who is buried in the Good Hope Cemetery, and Corporal Henry Casey, who is buried in the Bloomingburg Cemetery, also received the Medal of Honor for gallantry at Vicksburg, Mississippi, but in separate battles.
The Henry Casey Camp members also placed a wreath on the grave of the last surviving Fayette County Civil War veteran, Elon Thornton, who is buried in the Washington Cemetery. He died May 15, 1941 about one month short of his 97th birthday.