Milton Leonard, also known as “Newton F. Leonard,” was born in June 26, 1825, in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, or Courtland County, New York, the son of Amos.
Milton reportedly served in the Mexican War. His wife reported years later that Milton had once told her that he was a boy when he ran away from “his mother” and went off and served under both generals Scott and Taylor.
If so he was possibly the same Newton Leonard who enlisted as a private in Company G, Third Ohio infantry on June 2, 1846, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Newton was in Matamoros, Mexico from August through December of 1846, and at Camp Argo in Mexico in February of 1847, and was discharged on June 21 at New Orleans, Louisiana. According to the War department, he may in fact have been the same Newton Leonard who enlisted on September 27, 1847, at Syracuse, New York, in the Second U.S. Artillery. He joined the battery on October 7 and transferred to Battery M Second Artillery on December 28. He was discharged on July 19, 1848 at Columbus, New York.
Milton married Eliza J. Pullen on October 31, 1849, at Jefferson City, Missouri, and, according to Eliza they were “a youthful couple. I was only out of school two weeks and he had his first moustache.” They had at least three children: Helen (b. 1851), Rollins (b. 1853) and Fanny A. (born 1855).
They were living in Missouri in 1851 and 1853 but were in Illinois in 1855. By 1860 they had returned to Missouri and Milton was working as a printer and living with his wife and children in St. Louis’ Sixth ward.
Milton stood 5’7” with blue eyes, brown hair and a medium fair complexion and was 36 years old and possibly working as a printer in Grand Rapids or in Allegan County when he enlisted as a Corporal in Company F on May 13, 1861. (In fact it appears his wife and children remained in Missouri, however.)
He was promoted to Sergeant and then appointed Second Lieutenant of Company A on February 19, 1863, at Camp Pitcher, Virginia, replacing Lieutenant Charles Cary. By mid-April he was on furlough at his home in Grand Rapids.
Milton soon rejoined the Regiment and was transferred back to Company F on May 1, 1863, but reportedly commanding Company K by September. On November 20 he was reported as acting Regimental Quartermaster, and was detached from December 29, 1863, on recruiting service in Michigan, probably in Grand Rapids.
Milton returned to the regiment brining along a number of recruits in early march of 1864. He wrote to his “dear wife” from a “camp in the field” on March 4,
Your letter of Feb. 28th came to hand this evening and I hasten to reply. I left Gr. Rapids on the 24th ult. With the recruits and arrived here on the 27th. I found a letter from you waiting for me, and its time together with the one received this evening put me in mind of bygone days, and inspire me more than ever with a determination to do all in my power to render you as comfortable as possible. I should have written to you ere this, but the day after I returned our division was ordered to march with five days’ rations to support the 6th corps on a reconnaissance across the Rapidan, and since we came back I have been busy making out muster and pay rolls. The Col. Assigned me to command Co. C for the present, so you see I have been busy and my running neglect in not answering your tender and devoted letter was no fault of mine. I had no time to stop in Washington when I came through and see the Paymaster as I was ordered to report with the recruits at Alexandria, but he will be here to pay us off next week and it will be a relief to me to be able to send you what I told you I would. I have just $20 and I send you half. I have a severe cold, but am in hopes I shall be over it in a few days. I received the Republican by the mail this evening and accept my thanks for it.
Write every week and I will do the same and rest assured you and the children are ever in my mind and my prayer is that we may once again enjoy each others society in our own home, and discard all those feelings of jealousy which only tend to make us unhappy.
Kiss the children for me and accept for yourself the love and esteem of your devoted husband.
Milton was promoted to First Lieutenant on March 4, 1864. On March 30 he was with the regiment in camp near Culpepper, Virginia when he again wrote home to Eliza.
I just received your ever welcome and inspiring letters, and I assure you the sentiments and spirit of devotion they contain are fully appreciated by me, and do not for a moment doubt my constancy and love for you and the children. I was almost heartsick [you had] written when you had the “blues.” I guess I feel more keenly than you do my inability to send you money. We expect our Paymaster any day and the reason of his delay is this: Congress has passed a law requiring them to give more bail in future and Maj. McFarland went home to get it which accounts for the delay. I have not received pay from the Govt since Oct. and have due me between $500 and $600. I know you would think I had deceived you, but God knows the honesty of my intentions and how my heart pains me when I think of your circumstances, and you can appreciate how much pleasure it will be to me to enable you to live as you wish to, and spend the summer with the children – that is, going to see them when you wish to, or, if you think best, keep them with you. Now “Bunch” my love and attachment for you are unchanged, and if you will bear with me a few days I send you substantial proof of my affections. I shall look on the bright side of the future and should my life be spared, it shall be my aim to make those I love most dear – you and the children – comfortable and happy, and instead of playing the truant, remain where I ought to years ago – at home.
We are preparing for a forward movement as soon as the weather will permit, and when the order comes to send off the extra baggage I shall send you my papers by express, as we are not allowed to carry but 20 [?] lbs of baggage and you can send them to me or bring them yourself if I should need them.
Give my love to Mother and tell Roll Pa wishes him to be a good boy and mind you. So here is a kiss for you accompanied with the love and confidence of your devoted husband.
Wednesday morning, March 31 – Capt. Lowing [of company I] has just returned from Washington, saw the Paymaster who will be here to pay us this week certain. I am in better spirits now. Good bye. M.L.
Milton was reassigned to Company A on April 4, and commissioned as Captain, but was never mustered as such. He was killed in action on May 6, 1864, at the Wilderness, Virginia,
Milton’s death was recalled at the 26th reunion of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association in December of 1897. Allen Shattuck, a former member of Company G and the Regimental historian, gave a graphic description of the engagement at the Wilderness in early May of 1864, and he claimed that Leonard was being carried wounded off the field when he was killed by the explosion of a cannon ball.
George Blain of Company K reported some years after the war that on May 6 he assisted his badly wounded Lieutenant off the field and to the field hospital. Milton was presumably buried among the unknown soldiers interred on the battlefield at the Wilderness.
In January of 1863, his widow applied for and received a pension (no. 71460).
Shortly after Milton’s death Eliza allowed her two daughters to be adopted into another family. And in 1869 a guardian by the name of Henry M. Wood of Salem, Marion County, Illinois, applied for and received a pension on behalf of Fanny Leonard, then a minor child (no. 149240).
By 1870 Milton’s father Amos was living in Allegan County.
Eliza eventually married in 1869 to J. B. Stearns in Montana, which was annulled in 1876 in Nevada on the grounds that he had a wife living when he married Eliza.
In 1877 she married James Talbot in Elko, Nevada. He died in 1895. By 1901 she was living in Santa Cruz County, California seeking a renewal of her widow’s pension. In so doing she submitted a statement to the pension Bureau.
When the “War of the Rebellion” broke out and President Lincoln made his call for three-month men my husband was among the first to answer that call. And while I was in deepest sympathy with the distress into which our beloved country was thrown, yet it almost broke my heart to see him go from me, perhaps never to return to me, which proved the case, for I only saw him once in those three weary years, when doubts and fears were my bosom companions. But I crushed back self and all my heartaches and faced the stern realities before me, feeling I too had a duty to perform, a part to take in this great struggle and I did give myself unreservedly to service wherever, and whenever I could serve. Many is the day that I have walked the streets of Saint Louis with blistered feet gathering supplies to be sent to the field hospitals, for the benefit of the sick and wounded soldiers. I being a southerner by birth had access to the inner workings of many a rebble [sic] family, consequently I did some good and timely work in the secret service, also, after those awful battles in the western department, when the hospital boats would come up loaded with the sick and wounded, I was there to assist in bringing them back to life, or to take messages form dying lips, to be sent to absent loved ones.
I opine that I am talking to a veteran of that war when I address you [the Commissioner of Pensions]. If so you can realize what we women workers went through. But I never kept the slightest record of any service I rendered in those days. I was neither working for money nor for glory, but just doing what I could to keep the dear old union together, and see old glory kept floating over all our land. You can readily understand that I too am a veteran of that war having taken my stand in the moment the news reached us of the firing on Fort Sumpter, and I held my ground until the last prisoner was paroled in St. Louis.
I have seen thousands die around me and still I am left. I don’t know what for, for I am old poor and rheumatic, could not make my living if I starved. My last husband James Talbott, has been dead 6 years 21st of this month, and had it not have been for the loving kindness of some of the charitable societies I would have been dead from want, as it is I know what it is to be hungry and cold. I know by the reading of this late pension law, where it requires that the marriage relations should exist between the soldier and his wife before the close of the war, was meant exactly to cover the cases of just such widows as I am. I feel that the intent of the law is to restore us from the time we were widowed again.
In marrying Mr. Talbott I saved the government $3600.00, and as I am getting well up to the seventies in age it won’t be long at best that I will be a charge to Uncle Sam. And I do ask you, as a humanitarian if nothing more, to put my claim through as speedily as possible, for people won’t be so kind to assist me if they think I have anything coming to me from any source. They will say why don’t you get your pension, it’s there for you, so don’t let me die through indigent circumstances, before you allow my claim. You will make no mistake in granting my claim, for the same loyalty that prompted me to work for the preservation of this union, would act as effectually in preventing any attempts from me of putting in a fraudulent claim. . . . With great deference I await your answer, Respectfully, Eliza J. Talbott, 83 Center st. [Santa Cruz, CA]
The request was apparently granted and she was drawing $17 per month by 1915 when she was in Ward K, Los Angeles County Hospital.