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Miller, Samuel K. (211th Pennsylvania)

Editor’s Note: Samuel K. Miller of the 211th Pennsylvania wrote 46 letters home during his time in the Union army, almost all of it spent at the Siege of Petersburg in the Ninth Corps.  Miller’s great-grandson Myron M. Miller recently edited these letters in his book The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War.  Check out the review here.  Mr. Miller was kind and generous enough to offer the Siege of Petersburg Online the use of these letters for the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Siege of Petersburg.  A selection of Samuel’s letters will appear here at the Siege of Petersburg Online 150 years after the date they were written.  Look for them starting in the fall of 2014.  These letters are the private property of Myron Miller and are used here with his express written consent.  All rights reserved.

Samuel K. Miller was born on May 14, 1822 in McSherrytown, Pennsylvania, son of John Miller and Elizabeth Shriver and one of nine children.  The family soon moved to Petersburg, Ohio, where Miller grew up and attended school.  Later he worked as a drover, driving cattle from Ohio to market in Pennsylvania.  He also began learning how to make cabinets, a business he made a living at for many years.  Samuel, a versatile man, also worked in the lead mines at Galena, Illinois and spent some time in Minnesota.  Eventually he moved to Adamsville, Pennsylvania to live with his sister Elizabeth.  There he met and married Silence Ford Ellis from an abolitionist Free Will Baptist family.  Samuel and Elizabeth had two children, Myron M. Miller and Milo H. Miller, and the family was living in Crawford County, Pennsylvania at the outbreak of war.

Samuel’s wife saw four brothers serve in the Union army during the Civil War, and one, Philander Coburn Ellis, died in the famous charge of the 1st Minnesota on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg.  No one in Samuel’s family had served to this point, and his decision to join the Union army in 1864 despite being 42 years old with two young sons and a wife was based partly on his belief that a Miller should be in the fight.  Miller joined Company A of the 211th Pennsylvania on September 3, 1864, and the unit was soon sent to the Siege of Petersburg.  The 211th Pennsylvania was mainly stationed on the Bermuda Hundred front during the time Samuel served.  Probably his most exciting service was in Warren’s raid south down the Weldon Railroad in the direction of Hicksford, Virginia in early December 1864.  In December 1864, his experience with bridge building and his skill with his hands allowed Samuel the fortune of being assigned to a special mounted and unarmed 25 man Mounted Pioneer Corps unit assigned permanently to Ninth Corps headquarters.


Letters of Samuel K. Miller, 211th Pennsylvania and the Ninth Corps’ Mounted Pioneer Corps1:


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