About Mortimer Dormer Leggett
Mortimer Dormer Leggett (April 19, 1821 – January 6, 1896) was a lawyer, school administrator, professor, and major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
Leggett was born in Ithaca, New York, but moved to Geauga County, Ohio, with his parents when he was fifteen. He and his father created a farm out of the wilderness area. He studied first medicine and then law, which he practiced with some success in Akron, Ohio. He turned to education to supplement his income from his legal business and taught in the Akron and Warren public schools, 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, 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 Volunteer Infantry and was commissioned as its colonel in January 1862. He commanded his regiment at 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 VII Corps during the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman's March to the Sea. He was brevetted major general of volunteers in July 1864, and was commissioned as a major general a year later. His last action was in the Carolinas Campaign in the spring of 1865.
Following the war, Leggett returned to Zanesville and resumed his law practice. President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him as United States Commissioner of Patents in 1871 and, Leggett held that position until 1881, when he resigned to resume his private practice. In 1884, he founded a highly successful company that would become a part of General Electric.
His son, Mortimer M. Leggett, was accidentally killed on October 14, 1873, during an initiation to the Cornell chapter of the Kappa Alpha Society. The younger Leggett was blindfolded and walking along a railroad trestle with other initiates, when he fell, striking the back of his head. Leggett was the first person to die in a college fraternity initiation.
Leggett died in Cleveland, Ohio, aged 82, and was buried in Lakeview Cemetery.