1863: Charles Philip Miller to Mary (Brittain) Miller

This letter was written by Charles Philip Miller (1845-1887) who was commissioned a second lieutenant in Co. C, 6th New York Heavy Artillery in April 1863. He wrote the letter to his mother, Mary (Brittain) Miller (1810-1872), the widow of Ezra L. Miller (1784-1847) who killed himself with a gun at Stewart’s Hotel in Newark, New Jersey in March 1847. An article describing the suicide stated that Charles’ father “amassed a considerable fortune” while a resident of South Carolina, but after returning to New York, he entered into speculative investments in South Brooklyn that failed and his lost fortune caused him to become “more or less melancholy.” Apparently he was a “gentleman of considerable science and his improvements in the construction of locomotive steam-boilers were adopted both in this county and in England…”

Charles resigned his commission in March 1864 and subsequently served in US Army Battery E, 5th Light Artillery, and in the 7th US Army Infantry.

A biographical sketch of Miller appeared in the 20 August 1887 edition of the New York Tribune:

The friends of Charles P. Miller were shocked yesterday by a telegram stating that both he and his wife died in the morning at their summer home at New London, Connecticut. Mr. Miller was well known in the city from his connection with “Citizen” movements, his activity in behalf of William R. Grace and prominence secured while employed as counsel for the Roosevelt Investigating Committee. He was about 42 years old, and after leaving the Polytechnic Institute in Brooklyn, was engaged in a clerical position. His father was employed by the War Department. Mr. Miller enlisted late in the war and was made a second lieutenant. This place he resigned after holding it a short time and on the same day of his resignation he was appointed a first lieutenant in the Regular Army. He was then examined for retirement on account of trouble of the heart and by order of President Johnson, he was retired on half pay.

After retiring from the Army, Mr. Miller entered Columbia College Law School, from which he was graduated, and entered the law office of Robinson, Sortbuer & Bright. He was appointed a clerk under the Board of Aldermen and afterward was made an assistant in the Corporation Counsel’s Office. This place he held until Mr. Whitney’s second term as Corporation Counsel, when Mr. Miller resigned and began private practice. Mr. Miller’s wife was Miss Grace Rumrill [1849-1887] of Springfield, Massachusetts, whose father was the late James B. Rumrill, a manufacturing jeweller in the city. She was a sister of James Rumrill, vice president of the Boston and Albany Railroad. Mr. Mill was attacked with pneumonia and his wife was similarly attacked while taking care of him. They leave five young children.


Addressed to Mrs. Mary B. Miller, Care of Wm. Oathout, No. 3, Cliff Street, New York City

Camp near Foxville, Va.
14 August 1863

Dear Mother,

The mystery is at last solved and I am now able to tell you why my numerous letters written since the 21st of July have never been received. Two days ago I received a letter from you dated July 29th in which you gave me the new direction for my letters — that is, to No. 3, Cliff Street. In that letter is the following paragraph, “There, now you must receive make sure of receiving this letter, for you see how important it is.” But unhappily this letter was not received until August 11th; hence until I received that bitter epistle of yours, in which you told me how to direct, I have been sending all my letters in Mr. Kent’s care. So, if you pay Messers. Atwood & Barnes a visit, you will probably find all my missing letters.

You wish me to tell you the dates of the letters I have received from you on the march. You will remember we left the Ferry on the 30th of June. The letters I have received since then are dates, respectively, June 26th, 28th, July 8th, 18th, 26th, 29th, & 31st, and August 2d, 5th, & 9th. These are all, so you see there must be a good many missing — at least four or five. How in the name of goodness did Jimmy Weir get one of my letters? You say again in this letter, “It is too bad to have to lose any one, particularly as you do not write any too often.” How can you think this of me? It makes me feel miserably.

You wish to know how I am off for clothes. My wardrobe is soon enumerated and it amounts to mighty little even on paper. It is comprised of the following articles. Vix: Two undershirts — silk, One overshirt — woolen, two pair drawers, one towel, four handerchiefs, one pair shoes — government, three pair woven woolen socks — government, one pair pants — the pair that I brought with me, one vest — the one that I brought with me, & one blouse — government. These, together with my blanket and overcoat, and my tooth & hair brushes are all that I own. I have forgotten one thing — my sabre, which I picked up on the Battlefield of Manassas-Gap.

As for ink and paper, until yesterday I had seen no paper to sell since we left the Ferry, and ink — there is none to be bought. This I have borrowed from the captain who drew it for company use from the commissary. The paymaster has not yet arrived and if he had, we have not yet seen any sutlers who generally carry all necessary articles with them.

As to the animal. He is a horse. I bought him for ten dollars & to carry my blanket & overcoat. I pay nothing to keep him; he lives on and off if the “Sacred Soil.” I wrote a long letter of four pages to Mrs. Snelling only two days ago. As I said before, the paymaster has not yet come and therefore I have had no occasion to send any home.

The black boy — as you call him — polishes his ivories every morning as regularly as the sun rises and has done so ever since he went for a sojer [soldier]. I now believe I have answered all of your numerous questions and I hope I have answered them satisfactorily to you, as I have to myself.

I never was so well in my life, and strong as a bull, and as clean as any foot officer in camp. Remember me to Toby, the prof., and all inquiring friends. Much more most love to Polly. And to you, more than I can put in the letter. Goodbye, — Charley


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