Charles Miller

Charles Miller was born on April 29, 1843, in Sterlingshire, Scotland, the son of Charles.

Charles immigrated to America with his family and may have settled in Muskegon, Muskegon County, Michigan in 1859. In any case, he was probably living in Grand Rapids, Kent County by the time the war broke out.

(In 1860 there was one Charles Miller, a gas house laborer, b. 1806 in Scotland, living with his two young children Mary (b. 1849) and Andrew (b. 1850), both of whom were born in Scotland, living with and/or working for a 26-year-old miller named Walter Nelthorpe, in Grand Rapids’ First Ward. In fact, John Nelthorpe, also from Grand Rapids would also enlist in Company B. This same Charles Miller had apparently remarried to Scottish-born Jane, and was working as a gas house laborer and living in Grand Rapids’ First Ward in 1870; he owned some $1600 worth of real estate.)

Charles (younger) stood 5’6” with gray eyes, black hair and a dark complexion and was 18 years old and probably working as a blacksmith in Grand Rapids when he enlisted with his parent’s consent in Company B on May 13, 1861. He was wounded slightly in the back and left arm on May 31, 1862, at Fair Oaks, Virginia, but soon recovered and was apparently wounded a second time, suffering a broken left arm during the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, probably on December 13, 1862. Charles was sent to a Washington hospital soon after the battle and remained hospitalized until he was discharged on March 18, 1863, at Detroit for a wound to the left arm.

Following his discharge Charles probably returned to Grand Rapids where he reentered the service on December 24, 1863, for 3 years in Company D, First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, crediting Grand Rapids, and was mustered on January 4.

Charles probably joined the regiment somewhere in the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennesse where it was on engineering duty as well as at Bridgeport, Stevenson and on line of the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, Nashville & Northwestern Railroad, Tennessee & Alabama Railroad and Memphis & Charleston Railroad building block houses, etc., till May, 1864. The Regiment was on duty on the Atlantic & Western Railroad building block houses, etc., till September when it was ordered to Atlanta, Ga., September 25. Old members were mustered out October 31, 1864.

It remained on duty at Atlanta September 28 to November 15; and participated in the March to the sea destroying railroad track, bridges and repairing and making roads November 15-December 10; in the siege of Savannah December 10-21, in the Carolina Campaign January to April, 1865; in the advance on Raleigh April 10-14, and occupation of Raleigh April 14; in the surrender of Johnston and his army. The regiment then marched to Washington, D. C., via Richmond, Va., April 29-May 20, and was in the Grand Review on May 24. Ordered to Louisville, Ky., June 6; then to Nashville, Tenn. Duty at Nashville July 1 to September 22. He was mustered out as an Artificer on September 22, 1865, at Nashville, Tennessee. The regiment was disacharged at Jackson, Jackson County, Michigan on October 1.

After the war Charles returned to western Michigan and settled in Muskegon.

Charles was married on June 4, 1867, to Lucy Granger (1844-1929); they had at least four children: W. R., Mrs. William Wasserman, Mrs. Lucy Black and Mrs. Mary Nichols.

With the exception of a brief stay in Menominee County in the 1880s, he resided in Muskegon the rest of his life. By 1880 he was working as a saw mill engineer and living with his wife and children in Muskegon. Indeed, he worked for many years as an engineer, although among his other jobs over the years was as a machinist at Alexander Rogers’ machine shop and foreman for Ryerson, Hills & company. For some time in 1890s he was the unofficial caretaker of the Indian cemetery on Morris Street near the downtown area.

The Muskegon Chronicle of April 28, 1928, reported that many years earlier, Charles had given

important testimony in connection with the litigation between Martin Ryerson and William Badeaux, over the title to this historical tract, located on Morris Street, near the center of the business district of the city. This suit was won in the circuit court and the [Michigan] supreme court by Mr. Ryerson, a son of Martin Ryerson, pioneer Muskegon lumberman and friend of the Ottawa Indians. Mr. Ryerson deeded the property to the city and he also provided money to improve it and an endowment fund to maintain it so that the spirit of the Ottawas buried there might not be disturbed. Only recently the work of beautifying this cemetery was completed. [During the trial Miller testified that at the time he was] acquainted with the Indian cemetery having passed through it previous to 1865. I do not know of my own knowledge of any bodies being buried there. My wife had a cousin buried there and her aunt used to put flowers on the boy's grave. That was in 1865. Her name was Granger and she was not an Indian but Irish. I have had something to do either actively or in superintending the keeping up of the fences and that cemetery is in good order and condition. In 1894, I think, we had to renew the fences and again along about 1896 the fence was renewed. I never got any pay or asked any. I did it simply as a matter of accommodation to my old employer Ryerson, Hills and company.”

Charles was an active member of the Old Third Michigan Infantry Association. During the annual reunion of the Old Third infantry association, on December 14, 1900, Miller was reported to have said that as a result of his wartime experience, and particularly that which he had during the battle of Fredericksburg and afterwards, some 38 years before, and which had left him wounded, “he learned to remember only the pleasant side of the war.” And in 1922, during the annual Old Third reunion, Miller, one of the few surviving members of the Regiment, was named vice-president of the association for the ensuing year. “‘I have missed,’” he told a reporter for the Grand Rapids Press, “‘just two reunions in 50 years,’ he said in his bluff Scotch way. ‘Twice I came down from the upper peninsula down across the lake to get here’.”

He was a member of the First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics Association, and attended the 1910 and 1920 reunions. He also belonged to the Grand Army of the Republic Kearny Post No. 7 in Muskegon. In 1863 he applied for and received a pension (no. 13407).

Charles died of cardiac hypertrophy at home at 132 Houston Street in Muskegon on April 27, 1928. “Mr. Miller,” observed the Muskegon Chronicle, “knew Muskegon history as few other men, over a period of 60 years. He saw the town enter its boom as a lumbering city. He saw the boats disappear with the acres of logs from the lake, witnessed the passing of the mills, and then he saw Muskegon come back as a manufacturing city.” Charles was buried in Evergreen cemetery, Muskegon: 7-10-1.

His widow applied for a pension (no. 1616656) but the certificate was never granted.