Lewis H. McLain was born in 1840, probably in Bloomfield, Knox County, Ohio, the son of Aaron Jr. (b. 1814) and Rachel (Harris, 1813-1858).
Ohio native Aaron married Virginian Rachel in 1833 in Bloomfield where the family lived for some years. Sometime after 1840 Aaron moved to Michigan and by 1850 had settled on a farm in Chester, Ottawa County, where Lewis attended school with his older brother John. Lewis’ parents lived next door to Aaron Sr. and his family, and indeed would live the rest of their lives in Chester. (Rachel died in Chester in 1858 and Aaron in Chester in 1892.) Aaron remarried to Connecticut Adaline (b. 1811), and by 1860 they were still living on a farm in Chester.
Lewis stood 6’1” with blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion and was a 21-year-old farmer living possibly in Grand Rapids or in Chester, Ottawa County when he enlisted in Company F on May 13, 1861. (He may have been related to George McClain of Company E who may have also come from Chester.) Lewis was sick in the hospital at Annapolis, Maryland in July and August of 1862, and allegedly deserted on September 21, 1862, at Upton’s Hill, Virginia; he returned to the Regiment four days later, on September 25 at Fairfax Seminary, Virginia.
Lewis reenlisted on December 24, 1863, at Brandy Station, Virginia, crediting Lowell, Kent County, was presumably absent on veteran’s furlough in January of 1864 and probably returned to the Regiment on or about the first of February. He was missing in action on May 12, 1864, at Spotsylvania, Virginia, and in fact had been taken prisoner and wounded at Spotsylvania. However, he was reported not as a prisoner-of-war but as absent sick or wounded when he was transferred to Company F, Fifth Michigan infantry upon consolidation of the Third and Fifth Michigan Regiments on June 10, 1864, and he remained listed as absent sick until October. Apparently he rejoined the Regiment before the end of October since he was again taken prisoner, this time on October 27, 1864, at Boydton Plank road, near Petersburg, Virginia.
There is no further record.
It appears likely that Lewis perished in prison during the war and was buried in the somewhere in the South. (His mother was interred in Big Springs cemetery in Chester, Ottawa County.)
In 1889 his father applied for and received a pension (no. 333534).
His parents were still living in Chester in 1870.