Maj. Henry Miller

Maj. Henry Miller
Pa Archives, 2nd Series, Vol X and XI, 1880 LInn and Egle , Pennsylvania in the War of the Revolution, (Lines and Battalions, Vol 1 and 2, Linn and Egle, 1880), V 10 (1), p 391

Henry Miller, the youngest son of John Miller, a farmer of Lancaster County, was born 13 February 1751. The family’s land-holdings are now commemorated by the town of Millersville. He was educated to the law in the offices of Collinson Read of Reading and Samuel Johnston, Prothonotary of York, to whom he was clerk. Miller moved to York about 1760 and prospered there, marrying and purchasing a house about 1770. In 1772 Miller was appointed Collector of Excise for York County.

Even before the news of Lexington and Concord reached York there had been formed in December 1774 a militia company of which James Smith, Signer of the Declaration, was Captain, Thomas Hartley [an Original Member of the Society] was First Lieutenant, David Grier, Second Lieutenant, and Henry Miller, Ensign. On 14 June 1775 the Continental Congress authorized raising the Pennsylvania Rifle Battalion, Colonel William Thompson, later to become the First Pennsylvania Regiment. The third company commanded by Captain Michael Doudle was organized on 24 June near what is now Gettysburg, then in York County. It left York for Boston on 1 July, and arrived at Cam-bridge on 25 July 1775, and in August the battalion was redesignated the “Second Continental Regiment.” Miller was First Lieutenant and succeeded Doudle in command when the latter had to resign because of ill health in October. The history of the Riflemen has already been given in this study, but it is of interest to recall that it was of this company that Colonel Hand wrote on 23 September in regard to the Canadian Expedition, “The General refused preemptorily to take the York company” [because of bad discipline]. ; consequently, Miller’s company remained before Boston. On 1 January 1776 the regiment became the “First Continental Regiment.” On 14 March it moved to New York City, went to Long Island, and on 30 June the enlistments of the men ran out. When many of the men re-enlisted, the unit continued as the First Pennsylvania Regiment, Colonel Edward Hand [an Original Member of the Society].

The First Regiment experienced its first major battle at Long Island on 27 August. It saw hard fighting but its casualties were relatively light. With Washington, the First retreated across New Jersey in the Fall, but at Trenton on Christmas night 1776 it performed nobly, and at Princeton on 5 January continued its distinguished battle record. In all or most of these actions Miller was favorably noticed and his name occurs frequently in contemporary accounts. William Wilkinson, writing at a later date, said, “…Miller,…was distinguished for his cool bravery, wherever he served. He certainly possessed the entire confidence of General Washington.”

On 12 March 1777 Miller was commissioned Major of the Regiment, vice James Ross, promoted. His participation in the fighting did not lessen; writing of the battle of Monmouth, 28 June 1778, he told his wife, “I had the misfortune of having two horses killed under me during the action; the first by a cannon and the second by a musket ball.” This was his last major battle, but on 1 July 1778 he was made Lt. Colonel of the Second Pennsylvania Regiment, then patrolling in northern New Jersey. Less than six months after his promotion, on 21 November 1778, Miller submitted his resignation to Washington because of the financial difficulties of his family in York. His resignation was acknowledged by the General on 18 December. When he applied for a pension in 1819 he said “He was in the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Germantown, Brandywine and Monmouth and others.” Henry Miller signed the “Parchment Roll” of the Society of the Cincinnati of Pennsylvania as well as the “Pay Order of 1784”, but in the “Report of Sub-Committee June 26th 1789” his name appears among “The officers that Signed but did not pay.”

Miller’s local prominence is shown by his election as High Sheriff of the County of York in November 1780. When the term expired in 1783 he was elected a representative to the General Assembly and was re-elected through 1785. In May 1786 he was commissioned Prothonotary of the Court of Common Pleas and Orphans Court, and Clerk of the Quarter Sessions of York County. A high point of Miller’s career was his selection as a delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention which produced the revised constitution for the Commonwealth in 1790. Under the old dispensation candidates for United States Senator were chosen by the Pennsylvania Legislature. In the period immediately following the Commonwealth’s new constitution the state endured a protracted period of political ferment, one result of which was that the state for two years was represented in Congress by only one senator, William Maclay. One dramatic effort to remedy this ill occurred in 1793 when fifteen names were presented to the electors; from them Albert Gallatin and Henry Miller emerged as the choices of the Republican and Federalist factions, respectively. In the event, Gallatin was selected by ten votes over Miller.

Henry Miller concurrently served as Brigadier of the First Brigade, York and Lancaster Militia. In the military troubles of 1794 he thus had a part to play, although Anthony Wayne did not find it necessary to call upon Pennsylvania’s militia organizations in his Northwestern Campaign. Later in the year Pennsylvania’s own military crisis arose in the Whiskey Rebellion. Miller served as Quartermaster General of Washington’s army, and he was recognized in Washington’s appointment of him as Supervisor of the [Federal] Revenue for Pennsylvania, succeeding George Clymer. He held this appointment until, like most Federalist officials, he was turned out when Jeffersonians took office in 1801.

Miller then moved to Baltimore in an effort to better his fortunes and he established a successful mercantile business. When the War of 1812 threatened, Miller was appointed a brigadier of the Maryland Militia, but before the major British attack on the city in 1814 Miller had removed to a farm near Amity Hall, Cumberland (now Perry) County, Pennsylvania. Here he lived with his son-in-law and daughter, David and Juliana Watts, but he marched south with Pennsylvania militia troops for the defense of Baltimore, and served there as Quartermaster General.

After David Watts died in 1819 General Miller applied for a federal pension under provisions of the Act of 1818. The pension was granted at the rate of $20 per month, but was paid only until 4 March 1820 when it was suspended because of property qualifications. According to family tradition Miller declined to reduce his net worth because “he refused to sell his mahogany chairs.” There is great likelihood that an effort was made to help Miller’s financial problems when in 1821 he was appointed Prothonotary of Perry County, his last public office. He removed to Landisburg the county seat, and retained the appointment until 1824, when Pennsylvania politics again changed. Miller moved to Carlisle, his last residence. He became a pensioner of the Commonwealth under the provisions of Public Law 135, Session of 1824, which provided him an annuity of $240. Miller died at Carlisle on 5 April 1824, and he was there buried with military honors.

Henry Miller married the widow Sarah Ann Ursula (Rose) Lewis on 26 June 1770. She was born at Burlington, New Jersey, on 27 May 1744, the daughter of Joseph Rose, and died at Landisburg on 16 July 1823. Of this marriage there were two sons, both of whom died unmarried, one a navy lieutenant, the other a lieutenant in the army. There were four daughters of whom three married. Only one of these daughters, Juliana, wife of David Watts, had descendants surviving in the third generation.