The Last Soldier Project: La Crosse County, Wis.|
John Henry Miller
(Compiled from newspaper obituary and pension file)
Bangor, Wis. - (Special) - John Henry Miller, 95, last remaining Civil War veteran in La Crosse county died September 1, 1941. He was born June 5, 1846 in Kingston, Wis. His wife died in 1936. Six children survive; Mrs. John Newburg and Miss Ella Miller of Houston, Minn., Mrs. Charles Thurner of St. Paul, Minn., Misses Elizabeth and Ada Miller and Henry of Bangor; four grandsons and one granddaughter; two great grandchildren.
Funeral rites will be held Thursday at 1:30 p.m. from the home and at 2 p.m. from the Presbyterian church with Rev F. C. Boller officiating. Burial will be in the Fairview cemetery. Tentative plans are for military rites.
He served in the army of the Potomac throughout the war and was honorably discharged from the service June 22, 1865 at York, Pa. His service included the long struggles in the wilderness of Virginia. It was related that the regiment was at one time within six miles of Richmond when floods drove them back. The regiment was the first sent to Newport News and from there to Suffolk to build forts. When General Lee started north on his attempt to march into Washington, they were sent to Norfolk, Va., where they first clashed with the rebels.
At one time the regiment was surrounded but escaped capture by climbing over breastworks placed by the Southerners. In 1864 during the wilderness campaign he was captured by rebels on a scouting trip and was confined to the Belle Island prison for three months. After suffering from hunger, with one meal a day and that consisting of sour bread and water, he and three comrades escaped, but mistaking directions they traveled 100 miles south and were recaptured and sent to Libby prison, from which they were exchanged for prisoners of the Unionists. Returning to his regiment he participated in the heavy fighting in the campaign around Alexandria, Va., were the soldiers fought their way through heavy timber, swamps and rough land of that region, battling their way through flooded rivers and the fortifications built by the rebels to impede their progress.
The regiment was commanded by Colonel Burke, a very temperamental Irishman who was very strict in his orders against the destruction of property. He related that on one occasion the soldiers ran into a flock of turkeys and the officer ordered that only the top rail of fences could be used to cook the fowls, taken from a plantation near Suffolk, Va.
The regiment suffered great losses in the Battle of the Wilderness, when the rebels set fire to the woods and the soldiers were compelled to advance through the smoke and fires to drive the confederate soldiers back towards Richmond, and the unit became so reduced that another regiment from Buffalo, N.Y. was added to the force.
Miller's service in the Union army extended over a period of four years, lacking two days. His record shows that he received wounds in the legs, abdomen and chest in the Battle of Malvern Hill, Va. He claims to have seen President Lincoln when the troops wintered in Virginia.
From: Obituary from La Crosse Tribune , Sept 2, 1941
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Department of Wisconsin