Major General Mortimer D. Leggett (USA)

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Major General Mortimer Dormer Leggett (USA)

Leggett was born in Ithaca, New York on 19 April 1821. His family relocated to Geauga County, Ohio when he was fifteen years old, and he helped his father carve a farm out of the wilderness. He studied medicine and then law, practicing the latter with some success in Akron, Ohio. He taught in the Akron and Warren public schools to supplement his income from his legal business, helping to establish the graded-school system now common. From 1855 to 1858, he was a professor of pleading and practice in the Ohio College of Law in Poland, Ohio, and in 1858 became superintendent of schools at Zanesville, Ohio. He was a law partner of Jacob D. Cox.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, Leggett served as a volunteer on the staff of his friend, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan in western Virginia. He helped raise the 78th Ohio and was commissioned its colonel in January 1862. He commanded his regiment at the battles of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, and Corinth. In November 1862, he was appointed brigadier general of volunteers and participated in the Vicksburg Campaign, suffering a painful wound. After he recovered, Leggett commanded the 3rd Division of the XVII Corps during the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman's March to the Sea. He was brevetted major general of volunteers in July 1864 and commissioned major general a year later. His last action was in the Carolinas Campaign during the spring of 1865.

Leggett returned to Zanesville and resumed his law practice. President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him as U.S. Commissioner of Patents in 1871, a position he held until 1881. In 1884, he founded a successful company that would become a part of General Electric.

His son, Mortimer M. Leggett, was accidentally killed on 14 October 1873, during an initiation to the Cornell chapter of the Kappa Alpha Society, becoming the first person known to die in a college fraternity initiation.

Mortimer D. Leggett died in Cleveland, Ohio on 6 January 1896.

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