Tom Brent was born to be a soldier – literally. Thomas Brent Jr. was born at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania to Capt. Thomas Lee Brent and his wife, Jane Wilkins Brent, on Aug. 9, 1845.

Tom Brent was born to be a soldier – literally. Thomas Brent Jr. was born at Carlisle Barracks in Pennsylvania to Capt. Thomas Lee Brent and his wife, Jane Wilkins Brent, on Aug. 9, 1845.

Capt. Brent saw action in the Florida campaign to pursue the Seminole leader Osceola and later in the Mexican War. He was promoted for "gallantry and meritorious conduct" at the battle of Buena Vista to be a captain of artillery. He died at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., in 1858.

The Brents were a family of fighters – sometimes militarily and sometimes in other ways. Giles Brent came to America in 1638 and received a grant of land to build Kent fort on Kent Island in Maryland. By 1645, he was "governor, lieutenant general and admiral of Maryland."

A strong supporter of the king in the English Civil War, Giles Brent in 1645 received large tracts of land and moved to Virginia, where most of the family would remain for the next 200 years. But he was not the only fighter in the family.

According to a later account, "On coming to this country, he brought with him his sister, the celebrated Margaret Brent of colonial history, who at the death of her kinsman, Governor Calvert, acted as his executrix, and at the session of the Assembly, 1648, she claimed two votes – as attorney of her relative Lord Baltimore, and in her own right – and is on record as the 'first champion of woman's rights in America.'"

Over the next 100 years, a number of the Brents would serve their country in the military. But it was not a profession that offered much in the way of benefits to the survivors of veterans.

With the death of her husband in 1858, Jane Wilkins Brent returned to the family home in Detroit with her 13-year-old son. Her father was the Honorable Ross Wilkins, for more than 40 years a judge in Michigan's Federal District Court.

In 1861, Judge Wilkins arranged an appointment to West Point for Thomas Brent Jr. with outgoing President James Buchanan. When he arrived at West Point, he was just 16 years old. The rules as to minimum age were a little looser in those days.

It must have been a frustrating time for young Brent. A great Civil War was raging and Tom Brent and his friends at "The Point" could not get into the fray. He did not leave West Point until June 23, 1865, when the war was over.

In one of those strange sorts of things that happen occasionally in America's army, young Tom Brent received a commission as a second lieutenant and as first lieutenant to the 18th U.S. Infantry on the same day in 1865.

At the end of the Civil War, most of the soldiers of the North went home and the Army of the United States became quite small. This new smaller Army had a number of duties. Important among them was the opening of the great west. And it was in this conquest of western America that Tom Brent would make his mark.

According to one account, "It was while on duty at Fort Laramie that Lieutenant Brent was ordered with his company to go to the relief of Fort Philip Kearney, at the time of the massacre in which three officers, Captain Fetterman, Lieutenants Brown and Drummond, and eighty men lost their lives. The day following his arrival at Fort Philip Kearney, the post was attacked by several hundred Indians, but they were successfully repulsed.

"He was assigned to the Third Regiment of Cavalry on the First of January, 1871, and was promoted to the rank of Captain and was assigned to Company L of that regiment, then stationed in Arizona, where he served under General Crook, in one continuous campaign against the Apache Indians.

"At this time occurred the accident which cost Captain Brent many years of suffering. He was leading his horse up the steep side of a mountain, following an Indian Trail, when the animal fell over him and went crashing down the precipice to certain death. He was in an unconscious state for days and in this condition was carried on a litter by his men during the day's marches."

He never really recovered from his injuries. In November 1871, he was granted sick leave. He took his leave in Columbus, where he met, wooed and won the affections of Flora Deshler, the daughter of banker David Deshler. Backed by Deshler money, the couple took an extended leave from the Army and toured Europe in search of cures for the captain's ailments.

They did not find them.

The Brents returned to Columbus and had four children while he made a living with several Columbus companies – always fighting the effects of his injuries.

He died in Columbus on May 24, 1880, at the family home of John G. Deshler on Statehouse Square, where the Spahr Building is today.

He was 34 years old and is a veteran well worth remembering.

Local historian and author Ed Lentz writes the As it were column for ThisWeek News.