ORIGINS OF A MILITARY CAREER
Robert Lawrence Eichelberger was born in Urbana, Ohio, on 9 March 1886. His father, George Maley Eichelberger, was a successful farmer and lawyer who had been educated at Ohio Wesleyan University. During the Civil War, George served several short enlistments with the Union army while on his summer breaks from college. After the war, he met Emma Ring, a southerner and Civil War refugee from Port Gibson, Mississippi. After a brief courtship, they were married and settled on a farm outside Urbana, Ohio.
Urbana in the 1880s was a railroad center and a trading crossroads for cattle, horses, and produce from the West. In this small, closely knit town, many of the residents were related and most were familiar with the people in the surrounding community. Schools and stores were within easy walking distance, and it was not necessary to use a horse and carriage except for destinations outside of Urbana. The Eichelberger farm, located exactly one mile east of the public square, was just beyond the outskirts of Urbana, and had easy access to the conveniences and amenities of the town.
The Eichelberger homestead, consisting of 235 acres, included a large two- story home, two barns, an ice house, a smoke house, carriage house, tool shed, hen house, and tobacco warehouse. The home itself was surrounded by a variety of fruit orchards, which in turn were surrounded by long wheat fields that stretched out along the perimeters of the farm. Although George Eichelberger raised a variety of crops, he considered the farm "more a place in which to raise his family than one to provide a livelihood." In 1890 he accepted a herd of small ponies as payment of a lawyer's fee to ensure that his children would be adequately entertained. This purchase made the Eichelberger farm a mecca for boys and girls of all ages, and battles of "cowboys and Indians" became a normal occurrence in the fields surrounding the family's homestead. 1
These ponies and the "fullness of the outdoor life" were the fondest memories of childhood for Robert Eichelberger. The youngest of five children, Robert