ALFRED W. MILLER
The Ness County News, Thursday, Oct. 3, 1908, Pg 4
Vol. XXX, No 40
W. MILLER DEAD.
DIED:--Sunday night, September 27, 1908, at his home in this city, Alfred W. Miller, aged sixty-five years, six months and twenty-four days, after an illness of about five months.
Comrade Miller was one of the pioneers of Ness county, and was well and favorably known throughout the county for his sterling worth, good citizenship and pleasing personality. He first settled in Hodgeman county in 1878, but soon afterward removed to Ness county, which has been his home for about thirty years, his later years having been spent in Ness City, where he filled an important place in the affairs of his fellow townsmen.
He was married November 21, 1864, while on a furlough from the army, to Olive C. Smith, who with two sons, Louis T. and Volney T., survive him. Two other sons are dead.
The most prominent trait in Comrade Miller’s character was his intense patriotism and loyalty to his country, its laws and institutions, and his life was inspiration in these things to the rising generation.
Funeral services were held at the home Monday afternoon at four o’clock, conducted by Rev. O. M. Keve, who made a few touching remarks concerning the life and character of Comrade Miller after which the body wrapped in the flag he so loved, was followed to Fairview cemetery by sorrowing friends, comrades and neighbors, where it was laid to rest with the ritual services prescribed by the Grand Army of the Republic, Sherman Post No. 30, Department of Kansas, conducting them and the plaintive bugle call, ‘Lights Out” announced that another valiant soldier had gone to his last earthly sleep.
While much more could be written of Comrade Miller, it seems meet at this time to reproduce his own story of his life, prepared a decade ago, as follows.
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Of Alfred W. Miller, while in the United States service in the War of the Rebellion, late Company I , 112 New York Volunteers, read before Sherman Post No. 30 Grand Army of the Republic, April 12, 1899:
The subject of this sketch was born in the town of Stockton county of Chatauqua in the state of New York, on the third day of March 1843, whose early life was spent upon a farm, who was educated in the common schools of his native town, with additional advantage of two terms in Fredonia Academy. In the summer of 1862 President Lincoln issued a call for three hundred thousand volunteers to aid in putting down the Rebellion, which had already developed a strength and persistency which effectively opened the eyes of a numerous class, which at the opening of the war, firmly believed that it would be of short duration. On the 7th of July, Governor Morgan issued his proclamation in response to President Lincoln’s call, expressing the hope that every true man through the state would do his utmost to place the quota of the state in the field at the earliest possible moment. It was at this time that I a youth of nineteen years, and fired with patriotic zeal, on the 26th day of August 1862, enlisted in Company I, 112 New York Volunteers, then forming wholly within my native county under the above named call.
The company (I) to which I belonged when mustered into the United States service numbered ninety-four men, and was originally commanded by Captain Oley, with L. J. Parker and C. A. Crane as its lieutenants. The regiment numbered about eleven hundred men, including a company of sharp shooters, which was originally attached to our regiment.
Colonelcy of our regiment was given to Captain Drake, who had already seen considerable service as captain in the 49th New York Volunteers. Colonel Drake assumed command of our regiment on the second day of September and on the 11th of September, 1862, amidst the booming of cannons, waving of flags, cheers of the people, intermingled with the tears of parting friends, the regiment took the cars and started south. First to Washington, and after a stop of two days, took transports to Norfolk. After landing took the cars to Suffolk, Virginia, at which place we arrived on the 19th of September, just in the edge of evening without guns, cartridges or tents, but ordered to hustle around and get them as quick as possible, for the Johnnies were expecting to make us a call before morning, to welcome some of us to hospitable graves and the rest to the hospitalities of the prison pen.
This prospect did not take well with the boys, but however, we hustled around and guns were given us, and soon we were out on the line to give the Johnnies, if they saw fit to visit us, a solid welcome, but we were happily disappointed in not receiving the promised visit.
The service of the regiment during the war might very properly be divided into three periods. First, the pick and spade period; second, the excursion period; third, the fighting period.
The pick and spade period began with getting into Suffolk, and ended with the siege of Suffolk; it was hard work and no glory; we acquired the enviable reputation of being General Peck’s pick regiment, General Peck being in command of the forces at Suffolk at this time.
The large daily drafts made on our regiment, often as high as 500, was calculated to abate our zeal, but the occasional trips we had to Black Water to ascertain the strength of the Johnnies relieved us somewhat of the irksome duties of the pick and shovel. Like the old French King we marched up the road and then marched down again, and some of the boys did no more marching. After one of the marches above referred to, while on duty as headquarters guard, I was suddenly taken sick, barely being able to walk to my tent. The surgeon pronounced my disease a very severe attack of typhoid fever, and expressed the belief that I could not recover, and he telegraphed my father that if he wished to see me alive he must come immediately. He came and with the help of a comrade who was detailed to take care of me, stayed with me until I was considered out of danger. I believe, and the doctor expressed the same belief that if I had been sent to the hospital, that I should not have recovered. I was taken sick about December 1st, 1862, and did not recover sufficiently to do any duty until March, 1863.
About this time the powers at Washington thought best to treat us to an excursion. It was decided that we should begin our military operations at the point where the war opened, where Fort Sumter was fired upon, and on the 27th of June, 1863, we got aboard the cars and arrived at Norfolk, Virginia, on the same day. For some cause unknown to myself a change of movement was made, and we were ordered to make a feint movement toward Richmond. About July 1st we struck tents and marched to King William’s court house, then to Hanover court house, at which place we had quite a lively skirmish, and then to the White House landing.
These marches were continued with more or less lively bouts with the Johnny rebs until the first of August, which date found us again in Portsmouth, Virginia, which place lies directly across the river from Norfolk. On the 3d of August we got aboard the transport, Escort, and started for Charleston, South Carolina. We landed on Foley island near, Charleston, on the 6th. When we got to Foley Island we were in the midst of a perfectly royal community.
The division to which we belonged had a whole island to itself not a reb on it. The little island of Foley was a doleful spot; terrible sickness prevailed; the hospitals were the most flourishing institutions on the island; it was a very paradise for young doctors—provided they could live through it themselves. Many here succumbed to disease and many lives were saved only by getting away.
It was here I after about two months residence, incurred that terrible disease, chronic diarrhea, and which stuck by me closer than a brother, until after discharge. We operated at Foley, Morris, Block and the adjoining islands, witnessing and taking an active part in the bombardment of Fort Sumter, Fort Wagner and shelling of Charleston.
On the 23d day of February, 1864, we got aboard the transport, Ben Defort, and on the morning of the 24th we bade farwell to our late disease infected home and started for Jacksonville, Florida, at which place we arrived on the afternoon of the 25th. Why we were sent here I have never been able to understand. We certainly were not molested by the Johnnies while in Florida, and consequently saw no fighting while there, but perhaps it was for the purpose of recuperating the health of the regiment, as I can positively say my health was much improved while there.
On the 21st of April, 1864, we again took the transport, Cossack, for Hilton Head, at which place we arrived on the 22d and reshipped on the steamer, Ericsson, for Fortress Monroe, at which place we landed on the 26th. We soon after rejoined the army on the Potomac at which date I might style the fighting period of the regiment had begun. Our camp was established at this time at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia. We had prior to this marched through Yorktown, City Point, back to Fortress Monroe, then to Bermuda Hundred, meanwhile being in a few lively skirmishes. General Ben Butler was our commanding officer.
On the 28th day of May we got the transport and went down the James river to Fortress Monroe, then up the York river to West Point, then up the Pamunky river to White House, then by forced march to reenforce Grant and arrived at Cold Harbor on June 1. Here I participated in what might be called my first real battle. I will not attempt to describe the carnage of that day, but suffice it to say that with scarcely any warning, our brigade was ordered to charge on the rebel line, and after a forced march of two days, within less than fifteen minutes after taking our position on the line and about four o’clock in the afternoon, we made the charge. Our regiment at that time was only 200 strong. The official count states that 153 men out of the 300 of our regiment, who wen into the fight, were killed or wounded.
Here our brave Colonel Drake was killed, and so many of the officers, that the junior Captain was in command of the regiment before the close of the fight that day. I myself was undoubtedly saved from death by a Minnie ball striking my watch and glancing off, which was directly over my heart.
On the 11th we were again sent back, nearly over the same road we came; on the 14th were at Bermuda Hundred. There we joined the army in front of Petersburg. Our service there was most tedious, exacting and perilous. In hot July in the rifle pits and bomb proofs, where no breath of air came to relieve the deathly heat, men sweat like rain when they lay down, and to raise the head above the parapet in the day time was sure death. All charges were made in the night. It was here and in the latter part of August that my disease became more aggravated and I was sent to the field hospital, and from there about the middle of September to general hospital at Jones landing. I had now become entirely prostrated from the effects of my disease together with the hardships I had undergone in trying to do my duty as a soldier. I was assigned to ward five, section six, at which place, I firmly believed I should end my days. But a kind and merciful providence ordered otherwise.
On the 31st of October, 1864, orders came to the hospital that all who were able to travel could have a fifteen-day furlough. That order, comrades I firmly believe, did me more good than all the medicine I ever took. It did me so much good that I soon was out of bed and I told the doctor I was lots better. He smiled and said that if I could stand the trip perhaps it would do me more good than his medicine. The fact was, comrades, I really wanted to go home and I wanted to go bad. Well, I got my furlough, and with the help of a comrade, who was stronger, and who was going to the same place, finally reached home safely on the 3d of September, 1864. In referring to my diary of that date, I find this recorded; “Home sweet, sweet home,” and I believe that I could write that at that time and fully appreciate the meaning. I had become reduced to a mere shell of my former self, only weighing at that time 90 pounds. While at home I had the pleasure of casting my vote for Abraham Lincoln, that grand old patriot who safely brought the country through the most trying times this country ever witnessed, and who at last fell at the hands of the assassin John Wilkes Booth.
When my furlough expired my physician secured an extension of 30 days and still another extension was granted, so that I was at home until the 21st of February, 1865. On the 24th of November, 1864, I was married to my present wife, and I want to say right here, that I have never regretted this step.
As before stated, I again bade farewell to home and friends on the 21st of February. I first reported to the hospital which I left on going home, and after a dreary delay finally reached the regiment on the 14th of March, 1865, which I found at Wilmington, North Carolina. After staying with the regiment and doing mostly light duty, on the second day of April, while at Faison Station, I received a detail as Ordinance Sergeant of the 10th army corps, General Terry commanding. From this time until the close of the war, I have no reason to complain of the hardships of my war experience. My duties were mostly clerical in having charge of ordinance stores, filling regulations and receiving ordanance at the close of the war, making out headquarters at Raleigh, North Carolina, at which place we were mustered out of the service on the 12th of June 1865, and arrived home June 21st, where I found wife and friends well.