He attended school in Maumee, Ohio, until the age of fourteen, and in September 1861 enlisted as a drummer boy in the 37th Ohio Infantry.
At the Battle of Missionary Ridge, when the drum corps was ordered to the rear, he threw away his drum, seized a musket, and was severely wounded in the first assault, being left in the field under the enemy"s guns until he was rescued by his company. He remained at a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky until he was honorably discharged from the service on April 25, 1864. On his return to civil life he attended school for one year, after which he was treasurer of Lucas County, Ohio, 1872–1874, and county recorder 1875-1878.
He was connected with the Grand Army of the Republic since its organization in 1866, and was elected 13th Commander-in-Chief on July 25, 1884.
In the presidential contest that occurred during his official term, he issued an order to bar politics from this organization. He later became president of the Toledo Fire Underwriters" Association.