A Civil War Biography

John Franklin Miller

Miller was born 21 November 1831 in South Bend, Indiana. He was educated in South Bend, Chicago, and at the New York State Law School in Ballston Spa, New York from which he received a law degree in 1852 at the age of 21. He set up a law practice in South Bend then went to Napa, California in 1853 where he again established a law practice and served as county treasurer. In 1855 he returned to his practice in South Bend. He was elected to the state senate in 1860 and served into 1861 when he resigned to fight for the Union.

Miller began his military career on 27 August 1861 when he was commissioned colonel of the 29th Indiana Volunteer regiment. The 29th, attached to Colonel Edward N. Kirk's 5th brigade, in Brigadier General Alexander McDonald McCook's 2nd division, of Major General Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio saw action the second day at Shiloh. The 29th was then part of the force that moved to Corinth, then through northern Alabama and Tennessee, and followed Confederate Braxton Bragg through Kentucky. At Stone's River Miller commanded the 3rd brigade in Brigadier General James S. Negley's 2nd division under Major General George H. Thomas who directed the Union center. Although many sources report Miller was wounded, he makes no mention of it in his battle report dated 6 January 1863. During the Tullahoma campaign, during which William Starke Rosecrans maneuvered Bragg out of Tennessee, Miller commanded a brigade in McCook's XX Corps. Miller was wounded in a skirmish at Liberty Gap on 27 June 1863. He is not mentioned again in the Official Records for 11 months. He was appointed brigadier general of volunteers on 10 April 1864 to rank from 5 January and in May was assigned to command the city and post of Nashville, Tennessee. During the December battle at Nashville he commanded all or portions of 12 regiments of Infantry, five of which were brigaded, as well as 14 batteries. He was brevetted major general of volunteers for his services there on 13 March 1865. Declining a colonelcy in the regular army he resigned 25 September 1865.

Following the war Miller returned to California and was appointed collector of the port of San Francisco by President Andrew Johnson. Miller declined reappointment in 1869 to become president of the Alaska Commercial Company, which controlled the fur industry in the newly acquired Pribilof Islands. He spent 12 years in that capacity. He was a delegate to California's second state constitutional convention spanning 1878 and 1879. In 1880 he was elected by the California legislature to the US Senate. He served from 4 March 1881 until he died in office on 8 March 1886. In the Senate he was most known as a leading exponent of anti-Chinese legislation. Originally buried in San Francisco, Miller was re-interred in Arlington National Cemetery on 5 May 1913 with full military honors.

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