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William Black Miller was born on June 12, 1846 at Strathaven, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Miller’s life before his induction into the military remains unknown, except for his birth and place of origin. Records, however, reveal he supposedly enlisted as a private into Company D, 26th Pennsylvania Infantry on June 1, 1861. Other records reveal a William Miller enlisted on May 5, 1861 in Company H, 26th Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He may have first went into Company H and then into Company D and if so the June 1 date may have been his mustered in date. Due to the confusion at the time and the poor record keeping, one cannot be sure what transpired.

 

Records then reveal William Miller deserted, on June 23, 1861, having received clothing to the value of $21.58, at Camp Adler, Washington, D.C. He was not apprehended. But that person may not have been the same as William B. Miller of the same regiment in Company D, which states that he was enrolled 1 June 1861 to serve three years and transferred to Company C of the 99th Pennsylvania on 30 May 1864 as a veteran and was mustered out on 1 July 1865 as a veteran.

At any rate, if he was one and the same, then he obviously re-entered the service because he was then transferred from that company to Company C, 99th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment at Washington DC on May 30, 1864. Records reveal he was mustered out with the 99th Pennsylvania, on July 1, 1865.

At the end of his service with the Pennsylvania Infantry, he began work with the Pinkerton Detective Agency for a short time, but reenlisted as 1st. Sergeant in Company G, 14th U.S. Infantry on 12 November 1868 at Chattanooga, Tennessee.

William Black Miller served in Company G, 14th U.S. Infantry in the Wyoming Territory doing escort duty and other duties. He was then assigned to Company H, 45th Regiment of the U.S. Infantry and was transferred to Company G of the 14th U.S. Infantry in July 1869 by a consolidation of the regiments.

The muster roll for December 31, 1870, reported him as present but sick in Omaha, Nebraska. The muster roll for December 31, 1871 reported him as being discharged at Fort Fetterman, Wyoming on November 12, 1871 by expiration of service; reduced at that time to a Private.

He re-enlisted on April 4, 1872 and was assigned to Company D, 4th U.S. Infantry.   The muster roll for  December 31, 1872 reported him as present, but again sick at Little Rock, Arkansas.

On January 16, 1874 he was appointed Corporal, then promoted to Sergeant February 16, 1875, appointed as First Sergeant on September 14, 1875, reverted to Sergeant on February 1, 1876 and transferred to Company F, 4th Infantry on  March 1, 1876.

On July 22, 1876 he was again reduced to Private. Miller stated that at Piney Creek, Wyoming Territory, on  June 20, 1876, he contracted a haemorrhage while in General Crook's expedition against hostile Indians.

He then enlisted in Company D, served with that Company on the Wyoming frontier doing garrison and escort duty as Corporal, Sergeant and First Sergeant and transferred to Company F with Sergeant Dexter of that Company joining Crook's expedition in May 1876 and was engaged in battle with Indians at Tongue river; on June 9th, 1876. They camped at Pine Creek doing picket during June 1876, returning to Post Fetterman in July 1876. There he was treated for haemorrhage contracted while in the line of duty, by Dr. James Gibson at Post Fetterman, and was under his treatment for a period of some two months.

On June 30, 1877 Miller obtained a marriage license in Montreal, Quebec and married Miss. Elizabeth Crozier on July 4, 1877; at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

William and Elizabeth’s children were Jane born on September 16, 1879; Mary born in  September 22, 1881; Bella bon on September 1, 1883; William born on August 20, 1885 and Ellen born on  June 4, 1888. Like many others world wide, Miller was drawn by the announcement of gold being discovered in Australia and arrived in Victoria, Australia in 1878.   After travelling over various parts of Victoria, they lived at one time on Talbot Street in Ballarat, before settling at Long Point, Creswick, Victoria where he and his family remained for many years. By 1879 he had began working as a farm labourer for a Mr. Edwards and later working as a caretaker.

Miller applied for a military invalid pension, affidavits being signed stating that he was suffering from bleeding piles. His pension was approved on February 18, 1892, at a rate of $14 a month. Reasons given for his eligibility was that he had been treated for a haemorrhage inflicted while serving with General Crook in 1876 and a medical affidavit revealed he suffered from piles and was no longer able to do manual labour.

 

Of William and Elizabeth’s six children, they lost their oldest, 14 year old Alexander to low fever in August 1892. The surviving children were; Jane, Mary, Bella, William and Ellen.  William Miller was regarded as a highly respected resident of Union Hill, Creswick and a backbone of the community. William Black Miller died on September 8, 1913. A death certificate for William Black Miller, #9035, shows him at age 67 and as a United States Army pensioner having died of an intestinal obstruction which had lasted for seven days. He was buried at the Creswick Cemetery on September 9th, in the Presbyterian compartment, grave #1499, Section 12. As it was what was called a common grave, the plot could not be purchased and as such no memorial could be erected. There was a statement that he was placed in the grave of Alexander Miller, 14 years, buried on August 2, 1892; and on January 30, 1924, Elizabeth Miller, at age 77 was also placed in the same grave. His widow applied for a pension on January 9, 1914 and again on October 8, 1917. 


When the fact was discovered in 1991that he had no headstone, a marker was obtained from the American Veterans Administration in Washington DC and placed on his gravesite.

 

Over the years the surname “Miller” changed from W.B. Miller to Millar and his daughter married a “Shields”; their daughter then married a “Millar”; they then had two boys and one girl; all descendants of William Black Miller. Phil Millar of Daylesford, Victoria is a fifth generation direct descendant.

Postcript:-

William Black Miller’s story is one surrounded in controversies and questions; until he arrives in Australia. Several individuals have tried to reconcile the information and are receptive to any information that would further clarify the question as to if his information has been contaminated with that of yet another William Miller; as there were scores of William Millers who served in the conflict. It is generally believed William Black Miller was born on June 12, 1846 at Strathaven, Lanarkshire, Scotland. As stated, Miller’s life before his induction into the military remains largely unknown. Records, however, reveal he supposedly enlisted as a private into Company D, 26th Pennsylvania Infantry on June 1, 1861. Other records reveal a William Miller enlisted on May 5, 1861 in Company H, 26th Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He may have first went into Company H and then into Company D and if so the June 1 date may have been his mustered in date. Due to the confusion at the time and the poor record keeping, one cannot be sure what transpired.

 

Creswick Advertiser, September 9, 1913

History of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, Bates

Paul and Eileen Campos

Pennsylvania State Archives

U.S. Army Service Record File

 

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