Melancthon Millard was born in Adrian, Michigan, on July 30, 1844, the son of Alfred L. and Harriet (Truax) Millard. At 18 years of age Melancthon enlisted as a Private in Company G of the Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry on February 24, 1862, for 3 years service. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant of Company B, but resigned on October 23, 1862 on account of “dissatisfaction with the officers of the regiment” as his reason. Melancthon later enlisted in Company D of the Reorganized Fourth Michigan Infantry on September 3, 1864, for 3 years service and was promoted to Sergeant on October 13, 1864. He was commissioned Second Lieutenant of Company D on November 21, 1864, and later commissioned as First Lieutenant of Company I on October 24, 1865. He mustered out of service and was honorably discharged on February 11, 1866.
After the war Melancthon became a lawyer and real estate agent in Cleveland.
Five miles this side of Fortress Monroe
March 29th, 1862
Although tired out by a long march yesterday, I take a great pleasure in writing home. And now that I am so many thousand miles from there, that word home strikes a chord in my head that vibrates through my frame like magic. I can’t say that I am really homesick, but then, the army isn’t home by a good deal.
We marched yesterday to Great Bethel [Big Bethel, Va.] & back, a distance of about twenty five miles, & drove the enemy from their fortifications without firing a gun. They left only about two hours before we arrived. They had very strong breastworks at that place & why they retreated without a struggle, I don’t know. I can assure you [that] I would have given something to have stepped into the old homestead on the hill and taken supper with the dear ones I love.
Continue to remember me at the throne of grace (as I know you always do) that I may be kept from the “snare of the fowler” and that if it shall be my lot to be sent to my long home, I may be prepared to meet my God.
Since I last wrote we have made a good many changes. We left Fairfax two weeks ago Saturday, & marched (in a pouring rain) to Cloud Mills [Virginia], where we found a deserted encampment with all the huts standing, and it didn’t take us long to start fires and dry ourselves, I can assure you. We remained there about a week and then started for Alexandria, enroute for Fortress Monroe, where we arrived on Sunday afternoon, and moved to our camp.
The report now is that we are to march over the same road tomorrow that we did yesterday and to take with us five days rations. If so, we shall probably have a battle on Sunday. It is perfectly awful about how the Sabbath is desecrated in the army. I have seen Chaplain Strong but once since I joined the regt. and have never heard him preach. You ask how I spend my Sabbaths. I am sorry to say that I can’t spend them as I wish I could. It seems as thought the officers took extra pains to drill us more on that day than any other.
Company G is the Tecumseh Company [under] Capt. Marshall [and] George Montieth [is the] First Lieut., when not acting as aide [aide de camp]. It is the best co. in the regt. I read a notice in the Baltimore Clipper [newspaper] when I was on the boat, stating that the soldiers in the Army of the Potomac would not be allowed to write home for two or three weeks, and now it is understood that all [of] our letters will be opened up by the authorities, either at the fortress [Fortress Monroe, Va.], or at Washington [D.C.], and examined before they are sent on. And for this reason, I have delayed writing until now. I carried the little carpet bag with me to Fairfax and then threw it away to lighten my load, which was rather heavier than I chose to carry. I am made more comfortable than any private in the regt. that I have seen with those little conveniences that Mother sent me. But I have written a good deal longer letter than I rec’d.
The mail carrier is waiting for my letter, so I must close. I am in excellent health.