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Full text of "Memoir of the services of Morris S. Miller .."

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SERVICES OF MOKRIS S. MILLER, 

MAJOR IN THE QUARTERMASTER'S DEPARTMENT AND BREVET BRIGA- 
DIER GENERAL UNITED STATES ABMY. 



I entered the Military Academy at West Point in 1830 ; graduated in 
1834; appointed Brevet Second Lieutenant, Third Regiment Artillery, 
on 1st July, 1834; promoted to Second Lieutenant on 28th December' 
1835; to First Lieutenant 19th August, 1837; to Captain in the Quar- 
termaster's Department 13th September, 1845; to Captain in the Third 
Artillery nth May, 184G; to Major in the Quartermaster's Department 
19th September, 1861; to Brevet Lieutenant Colonel 13th March, 
1865; to Brevet Colonel 13th March, 1865, and to Brevet Brigadier 
General 13th March, 1865: these three brevets conferred " for faithful 
and meritorious services in the Quartermaster's Department during 
the war." I have therefore been in continuous seyvice thirty-one 
years,* and have received three brevets for faithful and meritorious 
service. 

In September, 18.34, I joined my regiment, the Third Artillery, at 
Fort Monroe, Va. ; vpent with adetaciiment from that post to Florida, 
in the spring of 1835, in anticipation of the Florida war ; was sta-' 
tioned at Fort King when the murder of Charley 0. Mathla (Indian 
chief) took place, which was the signal given by Powell (Osceola) for 
the outbreak of that war. Served' at Fort King with a single com- 
pany of al)0ut forty men during the time of the massacre there of 
Lieutenant Constantine Smith, the Indian agent, the sutler and his 
two clerks, by Osceola; went out with a party of six men; recovered 
and buried the dead. Dade's massacre occurred at about the same 
time, he being on the march to reinforce Fort King, and within fortv 
miles of it when his command was cut off Was besieged at Fort 
King for two months by the Indians, before succor arrived with Gen- 
eral Gaines, who came from New Orleans and buried the dead at 
Dade's battle-ground. Was afterwards on the recruiting service in 
Raleigh, Wilmington, and Smithville, North Carolina; on ordnance 
duty at Watervliet Arsenal, New York; Alleghany Arsenal. Pa., and 
Fort Monroe Arsenal, Va. Served under General Wool on the north- 
ern frontier, at Plattsburg and in its vicinity, during the disturbances 
known as the "Patriot war." Assisted Colonel Worth in organizing 
the Eighth Infantry at Sackett's Harbor, New York; was appointed 
aid to General Macomb : went witli him to Fort King, Florida, to 

* Brevet Second Lieutenant one year and a half; Second Lieutenant one year and a 
half; First Lieutenant eight years ; Captain Quarterma.stev's Department sixteen years- 
Major Quartermaster's Department four years. 






treat with the Indians for a cessation of hostilities. On the death of 
General Macomb I joined Ringgold's battery of Light Artillery at 
Fort McHenry ; served at Fort Moultrie with my regiment in 1844 
and 1845, and often drilled the battalion in which were Lieutenants 
W. T. Sherman, T. W. Sherman, J. F. Reynolds, and George H. 
Thomas — since Generals. I was ajtpointed Assistant Quartermaster, 
with the rank of Captain, while at Fort ]\Ioultrie, and went to the 
Mexican war; served at Point Isabel, Brazos island, and Browns- 
ville as Assistant Quartermaster; was in the hospital at Matamoras 
for two months, having a sun-stroke from exposure in personally 
superintending the ferry from Fort Brown to Matamoras. Was sent 
North, and served afterwards, for a short time, in New York city and 
Philadelphia. Returned to the war on General Scott's line, and 
served up to the city of Mexico; was for a shni-t time Chief Quarter- 
master in Mexico, by the orders of General Worth. Served in Texas 
two years, and in Savannah two years ; three years in California and 
Oregon, and in the Quartermaster General's office five years, in charge 
of the Clothing branch of that office, being for the same period the 
only disbursing Quartermaster in Washington. At the commence- 
ment of the war all the arrangements for providing for the arrival of 
troops destined for the defence of the city, and for receiving supplies 
of all descriptions, fell to my lot, and it was not until after I had 
provided for all the Regulars, and transported several regiments of 
Volunteers from Annapolis to tliis point, thnt my responsibilities were 
shared by other officers of the Department. 

The massacre at Baltimore took place on Friday, 19th April, 1861 ; 
on Saturday, the 20th, I received orders from General Scott to pro- 
ceed to Annapolis in order to forward the Volunteers from Massa- 
chusetts and New York, which were supposed to be there on their 
way for the relief of this city. On the 20tli I repairt-d to the rail- 
road depot and found that the trains were interrupted, and I could 
get no satisfactory answers to my telegrams to Baltimore calling for 
the means of transportation to take me to Annapolis. A train at 
length started for Baltimore, and I went in it. On arriving, the dis- 
turbances were still going on, and the agent of the railroad consid- 
ered it necessary to conceal me from view, for fear of the consequences 
to his depot had I been discovered. After considerable conversation 
(which was conducted in writing for fear of being overheard) I 
secured a locomotive and one car, and started for Annapolis direct, 
arriving at 9, p. m. No troops had reached that point; and, on con- 
ferring with Commander Blake and Governor Hicks, I found there 
was great apprehension entertained that, if the troops were to land, 
the riot of the day before at Baltimore would be repeated at Annap- 
olis. The governor was extremely anxious to send dispatches to the 
Secretary of War, but, as the trains were not running with any reg- 
ularity, and the country between Annapolis and Washington was 
swarming with armed parties opposed to the Government, the 
matter was hazardous, and he consulted me as to the best means of 
sending the dispatches. I offered my locomotive and car, presuming 
he would send a member of his Staff, several of whom were present. 
After some delay, as no bearer was forthcoming, I offered to carry 
the dispatches myself. Meanwhile the patrols at Annapolis Junc- 
4;ion, having suspected that some Government matter was going on, 



turned a switch, and on arriving there, at midnight, my locomotive 
was thrown from the track, and I was detained until 12, m., on 
Sunday, the 21st. Being obliged to remain inside the car at the 
Junction, a quasi prisoner, surrounded by a large crowd of 
disaffected people, some of them armed. But for the adroit- 
ness of the conductor in answering the inquiries of the crowd, 
and in keeping all persons from entering the car, the object of my 
trip might have been discovered, and I should probably have received 
rough treatment, being alone, with $1,000 in specie and important 
dispatches. After getting under way and proceeding a few miles, 
another delay of two hours occurred, while waiting on a side track 
for another train to pass. While thus waiting the conductor was 
again called upon to exert his skill in concealing the purpose of the 
journey, as an officer of a mounted troop demanded who was in the 
car, adding that if he had some of his men with him he would ascer- 
tain who it was to a certaint5^ I reached Washington on Sunday 
afternoon, the 21st of April, perhaps the most gloomy Sunday ever 
experienced in the city. Having ineffectually searched for the Sec- 
retary of War, I delivered my dispatcli to Mr. Lincoln in person, 
and reported to General Scott as soon as he could be seen. His dis- 
appointment on hearing that the troops had not reached Annapolis 
was extreme. On Monday, the 22d, I started again for Annapolis, 
with the assurance from General Scott that if I succeeded in getting 
the Volunteers through, his commendation should follow\ I was also 
informed that another Quartermaster had resigned on the spot, rather 
than undertake this duty ; and that Colonel Lander (whom I had 
never seen) was to join me. I arrived at Annapolis Junction without 
having discovered Colonel Lander; took a seat alone in the car for 
Annapolis, and was ejected by the conductor on the plea that no one 
was permitted to go except the hands necessaiy to work the train. 
A company of armed men, having finished their drill in a neighbor- 
ing field, came to the station house, and, on conversing with them, I 
discovered that they were an organized body adverse to the Govern- 
ment, and fully determined to oppose the march of United States 
troops through Maryland. Being in citizens' dress, I mingled freely 
with them, and they asserted that, as the blood of their own citizens 
had been shed in Baltimore by the United States troops, they would 
allow no more to pass over the soil of Maryland. I witnessed here 
the arrest of an individual whose face was familiar to me, but whose 
name I could not recall. He was endeavoring, like m3"self, to reach 
Annapolis, but had been discovered to be on Govei-nment business, 
and was sent back ; he proved to be the Commissary of Subsistence of 
the Seventh Regiment, New York, but, at the time, I suspected him to 
be Colonel Lander, for whom I was still searching. A quiet-looking 
citizen at ray elbow, much engaged in reading the newspaper, was 
disturbed by the confusion created by this arrest, and asked me if I 
knew who the arrested man was. I replied that I thought it was 
Colonel Jjander, as I had reason to suppose he was in the neighbor- 
hood. We entered into a guarded conversation, and I discovered that 
he was also anxious to reach Annapolis. I proposed to him to walk 
there, and, while discussing the matter, a train from Baltimore arrived, 
and I persuaded him to return in it to Bladensburg, where I had 
friends and might procure a private conveyance. I was still uncer- 



tain as to who my companion might be, and to his sometimes search- 
ing questions I gave reticent answers. He asked me if I had ever 
been in Washington ; if I had ever heard of an officer named Miller 
in the Purchasing Department. I answered evasively ; and, in return, 
asked him if he had ever been in California, and if I had not seen 
him there. This kind of fencing was kept up until we reached Bla- 
densburg, and, after leaving the car, my companion addressed me thus : 
"You are now among your friends, and perhaps you would like to 
know my name in order to introduce me. I am Colonel Lander." 
To which I rejoined, "And I am Major Miller, whom you were to 
meet." A hearty laugh ensued at the mutual manoeuvres of each to 
prevent being discovered by the other. Arrived at my friend's 
house, a neighbor, owning a buggy and horses, was called in; he came, 
and assured us that further progress towards Annapolis would cer- 
tainly eventuate in our being arrested ; that every avenue was guarded 
by hostile troops, and that it would be impossible to evade them. 
Under these circumstances, I proposed to him to guide us until we 
came to the first body of armed men, and then to leave us to our 
fate, we agreeing to lay aside our hitherto concealed weapons. To 
this he consented. As an additional precaution, we destroyed all 
papers and orders, then in our possession, which might give informa- 
tion to our expected captors. Colonel Lander and myself drove in 
the buggy, while our gentlemanly guide, on horseback, opened for us 
the numerous gates on the old mail road to Annapolis. Our guide 
met an acquaintance who had just heard that an armistice had been 
agreed upon for a short time. This was news to us, but proved useful, 
for, when within eight miles of Annapolis, the guard appeared, con- 
sisting of eight or ten mounted men, with rebel badges and well 
armed; they hailed us, and we gave them to understand as much of 
our purpose as we deemed proper, referring also to the news of the 
armistice just received. In the commander of the guard I recognised 
the same individual who had endeavored to discover me when I was 
in the car on my way to Washington, and he was not a little sur- 
prised when I called him by name, and repeated to him his conversa- 
tion with the conductor held on the day before. This guard took us 
in to Annapolis, and delivered us as prisoners to the Governor. They 
were not a little chagrined, however, on discovering in me a bearer 
of dispatches sent by the Governor himself to Washington; and they 
were necessitated to leave the town themselves, as our troops had 
arrived, several steamers being then at the wharf, and some of the 
force already landed. I believe that I am justified in saying that I 
am the first officer of the Quartermaster's Departm.ent engaged in 
preparation for the defence of this city, and I am confident that I 
was the first taken prisoner by the rebels. 

Agreeably to my orders from General Scott, I imm^ediately set 
about procuring the means of transportation for General Butler's 
Massachusetts Volunteers and the Seventh New York, under Colonel 
Lefferts; and, on the next day, the 23d April, the movement towards 
Washington began. In a day or two the Rhode Island troops, under 
Generals Sprague and Burnside, arrived, and ever}" means (pitiful 
as they were) of transportation which the neighborhood afforded was 
purchased and furnished, and I had the satisfaction of being mainly 
instrumental, as Quartermaster, in forwarding to AVashington the first 



Regiments of Volunteers that arrived for the relief of the city in its 
first dark hour. For this service I have since received the commen- 
dation of General Scott, as promised, and, for this and other faithful 
and meritorious service during the war, the approbation of my Gov- 
ernment in the bestowal upon me of three brevets. 

I will add that between the years 1861 and 1864 there passed 
through my hands $19,695,070 45 - nearly twenty millions of dol- 
lars—involving more than fifteen thousand vouchers, some of these 
vouchers being rolls containing more than two hundred individual 
payments. 

The instructions of General Scott referred to herein, and General 
Townsend's statement of the services rendered in conformity thereto, 
together with the endorsements thereon, are appended. 

MORRIS S. MILLER, 
Major Quartermaster, Brev. Brig. General. 

Washington, D. C, February 3, 1866. 



Copy of instructions from General Scott. 

Headquartees of the Army, 

Washington, April 20, 1861. 
Captain -. You will proceed rapidly to Annapolis to afford all facil- 
ities in your power to volunteers from Massachusetts and New York 
supposed to be there en route to the city of Washington. If cars of 
the right gauge can be obtained from the Baltimore and Washington 
railroad, you will obtain as many as practicable for the transportation 
of those troops hither in one or more trips. Consult the naval com- 
mander on that station, and if he deems a detachment of troops 
necessary to defend the Naval School, the fort, and any United States 
vessels which may be there, you will next see the commanders of 
the regiments of volunteers, and request that one, or both of them 
together, leave the number of companies needed for those defensive 
purposes. On the arrival of a sufficient naval force at Annapolis for 
its defence, any detachment left behind will be ordered to join its 
Regiment or Regiments. 

I write by command of Lieut. Gen. Scott. 

I am, sir, verv respectfullv, vour obedient servant, 

E. D. TOWNSEND, 
Asst. Adft General. 
To Capt. M. S. Miller, 

Asst. Quartermaster, Washington, D. C. 



Copy of Colonel Townsend' s statement and endorsements thereon. 

Washington, March 5, 1863. 

Sir : On the 20th of April, 1861, (the day after the Baltimore 
massacre,) as chief of General Scott's staff, I addressed you, by the 
General's order, instructions to go to Annapolis and forward such 
troops as misrht have arrived there to this city. 

On the 22d of April, you having gone to Annapolis, and having 
returned to Washington, I repeated those instructions, and you pro- 



ceeded to Annapolis. At the time of your second trip all communi- 
cation had been interrupted, and you were forced to make your way 
through armed enemies as best you could. 

By your exertions orders were communicated to the troops, which 
had arrived at Annapolis, to march to Washington ; and aided by you, 
as Quartermaster, the Seventh New York Regiment, a Massachusetts 
regiment, and one or more Pennsylvania Regiments, succeeded in 
reaching this city. 

On your returning and reporting to General Scott, after accom- 
plishing this duty, the General highly commended your services, 
through which the first troops that arrived for the relief of the 
Capital were enabled to come through. 

I am, &c., &c., 

E. D. TOWXSEND, 
AssH Adft General. 
Major MoEKis S. Millek, 

Quartermaster U. S. A., Washington, D. C. 



Copy of endorsements on the foregoing. 
I consider the services of ]\Iajor Miller, as truly set forth within 
by Colonel Townsend, to liave been highly meritorious, and well 
worthy of special reward. 

WINFIELD SCOTT. 



I have a recollection of the services rendered by Major ^Miller, at 
the time specified by Colonel Townsend, and know that his energy in 
the performance of the important business intrusted to liim was 
highly commended. Major Miller has always been assiduous in the 
performance of his dutv. 

L. THOMAS. Adrt Geril. 

Maech 5, 1863. 



Major M. S. Miller has held a position in this city as an officer of 
the Quartermaster's Department since I have been in charge of the 
bureau. He has had heavy money accountability, having disbursed 
very large sums for the equipment and supply of the army. I have 
found him always a faithful and zealous officer, prompt in the j>er 
formance of every duty committed to him. 

M. C. MEIGS, 
Qaartermasler General. 



I take great pleasure in endorsing all that is said of Major Miller 
by Colonel Townsend, as I was present at Annapolis when he arrived 
there, and I would be glad to hear of his having received a reward 
for his services. 

A. E. BURNSIDE, Afajor General. 



Second Comptroller's Office, 
January, 31, 1866. 
Brevet Brig. Gen. M. S. Miller, 

Quartermaster s Department. 
My Dear Sir : 

In reply to your note of this date I take great pleas- 
ure in saying that I have known you, for more than a dozen years, 
as one of the most prompt, correct, and faithful disbursing officers 
of the Quartermaster's Department. Your accounts have been kept 
and rendered in a manner creditable to yourself, and entirely satis- 
factory to the a,ccounting officers of the Treasury. 

Truly and respectfully , yours, 

.T. M. BKODHEAD. 



Treasury Department, Third Auditor's Office, 
February 2, 1860. 
General Morris S. Miller, 

Quartermaster U. S. A. 

Sir: 

Since the receipt of your letter I have had a thorough exam- 
ination made of the records of this office, with reference to the 
manner in which you have discharged your duties as quartermaster 
and disbursing officer of the United States army. 

From those records it appears that your services as disbursing 
officer commenced in 1836 "in the field" in Florida. All your 
accounts from that period were rendered with remarkable prompti- 
tude and great accuracy, judging from the very trifling differences 
found in the official adjustment of your accounts. 

Your disbursements during the rebellion, and while you were 
stationed in this city, amounted to about twenty millions of dollars, 
and consist largely of referred claims, originating in various and 
.distant Militarv Departments, involving nice points of law, and 
constructions of the Army Regulations, and consequently were not 
paid by the local officers, but sent to this city for decision and 
adjustment. The examination of your accounts, which are perfectly 
vouched, is now completed ; and after the most rigid scrutiny by 
Experts, in this office, it is found that an amount less than twenty 
dollars is disallowed out of the twenty millions thus disbursed, 
being the only case of the kind within the knowledge of this office. 

It is proper for me to state that this fact is the best evidence of the 
masterlj" manner in which the important duties committed to your 
care have been performed ; of your eminent fitness for the position 
you hold, and of your superior claims for a higher one should you 
desire it. 

Verv trulv, vours, 

JOHN WILSON, Auditor. 



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