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Monday, March 11, 2013

Military Monday ~ Lt. Robert H. Miller

In 1859, a bright young man from Louisiana graduated from Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia.

This was a high spirited time in America. Social and economic issues were dividing the North and the South, arguments over States rights and slavery were extremely volatile. Then in January 1861, shots were fired on Fort Sumter off the Coast of South Carolina It was a time of War.

Robert H. Miller did not shirk his responsibilities or obligations; immediately  returning to Concordia Parish and assisted in organizing the Concordia Rifles.

Eagerly awaiting his return home to Louisiana was his parents Joseph Edward Miller and Elizabeth Rose Campbell Purvis Miller. His half-sister Mary Anna Purvis, half-brother Col. William R. Purvis and younger brother Joseph D. Miller.

On 19 June 1861, just months after the firing on Fort Sumter, Joseph Henry Miller, age 22 joined Company “F” of the 14th Louisiana Infantry. [1][2]

The 14th Louisiana Infantry fought at many of the major and minor battles in the years 1861 and 1862. Lt. Robert H. Miller was there with them and at lulls in the battles he was writing home to his Mother, Father, Sister Mary Anna and numerous other relatives. The collection of his letters today can be found by searching on Letters of Lieutenant Robert H. Miller to His Family, 1861-1862.

Those battles included the following engagements:

  • Yorktown Siege – 5 April – 3 May 1862
  • Williamsburg – 5 May 1862
  • Seven Pines 1 June 1862
  • Ellison’s Mill – 27 June 1862
  • Gaines’ Mill – 27 June 1862 [3]
  • Frazier’s Farm – 30 June 1862
  • Cedar Run – 9 August 1862
  • Bristoe Station – 27 August 1862
  • Manassas, No 2, 28-30 August 1862

Manassas No 2 is most often called the Battle of Bull Run. The battle took place near the City of Manassas in Prince William County, Virginia. The earlier battle know as First Manassas or First Battle of Bull Run took place on 21 July 1861.

Robert Henry Miller was Killed in action (KIA) on 29 August 1862 at the Battle of Bull Run.

This excerpt is from his Mother’s obituary and states that his  body was found on the field and identified by a Bible found in his breast pocket.

R. H. Miller

In the article printed in the Virginia Magazine of History & Biography, page 63 there is a statement that Robert H. Miller’s father (Joseph E. Miller) had arrived for a visit and was available for last rites when his body was recovered. [4]

In his letters home to his Mother just prior to his death; Roberts indicated that he was being considered fro promotion to Captain.

Sadly a bright brave young man went off to war; but failed to come home.

I don’t have a death date for Robert Father (Joseph E. Miller); but, if the statement is true we can now say that he was still living on 29 August 1862. 

[3] [Footnote 23,. Page 87]Lieutenant  Colonel  York  wrote  a  letter  to the editor  of  the Whig  on July  10, 1862,  giving  an account  of  the  fighting  in  which the  Fourteenth  Louisiana  had been engaged  since  June 26.  He mentioned  a  number  of  men by  name including  Miller who  had  been  conspicuous  in  a  charge across  a ravine  at  Gaines'  Farm  on June  27. (Richmond  Whig, July 16, 1862).[4]
[4] Forrest P. Connor and Robert H. Miller, "Letters of Lieutenant Robert H. Miller to His Family: 1861-1862," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 70, No. 1, Jan., 1962, JSTOR ( : Downloaded 10 March 2013), Civil War Letters of Robert Henry Miller, pages 69-91, Virginia Historical Society.

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