Robert Huston Milroy

Robert Huston Milroy was born June 11, 1816, on a farm near Salem, Indiana, but the family moved to Carroll County in 1826. At the age of twenty-four he matriculated at Captain Partridge's Academy in Norwich, Vermont, and was graduated in 1843 with the degrees of Bachelor of Arts and Master of Military Science. From 1846 to 1847 he served as captain of a company of the 1st Indiana Volunteers. Then he studied law, was admitted to the bar, was a member of the constitutional convention of 1850, was appointed to the bench and resigned, and in 1854 took up the practice of law in Rensselaer, Indiana, where the outbreak of the Civil War found him. Milroy had recruited a company in and about Rensselaer before Lincoln's inauguration, and two weeks after Sumter he was mustered into Federal service as colonel of the 9th Indiana (a three-month unit which he reenlisted for three years after the expiration of its original term of service). After taking part in George B. McClellan's western Virginia campaign, Milroy was promoted brigadier general of volunteers on September 3, 1861, and major general on March 10, 1863, to rank from November 29, 1862. He commanded the Cheat Mountain district for a time and then was engaged in the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1862. He later commanded an "Independent Brigade," attached to Sigel's corps, at the battle of Second Manassas. The following June, in command of some 6,000 to 8,000 men at Winchester, he was outmaneuvered, outfought, and virtually "gobbled up" by Ewell's 2nd Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia while en route to Gettysburg. He lost thirty-four hundred prisoners, all twenty-three pieces of his artillery, and many dead and wounded. Milroy himself, with two hundred or three hundred cavalry, made good his escape to Harpers Ferry. He held no further command in the field; however, after being hailed before a court of inquiry and being subjected to ten months of inactivity, he was at length formally "exonerated" of culpability and toward the end of the war served under G. H. Thomas at Nashville, organizing and assigning militia regiments. Postbellum General Milroy was a trustee of the Wabash and Erie Canal Company and after 1872 Indian agent in Olympia, Washington, where he died, March 29, 1890, and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery. Years later the people of Rensselaer erected a bronze statue of heroic size to his memory.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.