A Civil War Biography
Robert Huston Milroy
Milroy was born 11 June 1816 near Salem, Indiana. In 1840 he entered
the a private military academy in Norwich, Vermont run by Aldan
Partridge, an 1806 West Point graduate who, after serving his entire
military career teaching at West Point, established the American
Literary, Scientific and Military Academy in 1819. Milroy graduated
from the Vermont school with degrees of Master of Arts, Master of
Military Science, and Master of Civil Engineering in 1843. He got
his first real taste of military service as the commander of company
C, 1st Indiana Volunteer infantry during the war with Mexico. After
returning from Mexico he studied at Indiana University's law school.
He passed the bar in 1849 and began a practice in Delphi, Indiana.
He served as a member of Indiana's 1850 Constitutional Convention,
then in 1853 was appointed judge of the Circuit Court of Indiana. In
1854 he moved to Renssellaer and resumed the practice of law. Even
before Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, Jones made a call for
volunteers to help preserve the Union.
When the war erupted Milroy's, now at regimental strength, became
designated the 9th Indiana Volunteer Infantry regiment. He was
mustered in as commander of the three month regiment with the rank
of colonel on 27 April 1861. The 9th was the first regiment from
Indiana to reach the Eastern theater, seeing action in George B.
McClellan's western Virginia campaign. When the 9th became a three
year regiment on 27 August 1861 Milroy again was chosen to be its
colonel. He was promoted to brigadier general on 3 September 1861.
He became commander of the Cheat Mountain District on 11 March 1862.
He saw action during the Shenandoah Valley campaign, then his forces
were merged into John Pope's Army of Virginia, Milroy saw action at
2nd Bull Run. He was then sent to command at Winchester, Virginia
and was promoted to major general on 29 November 1862. He was
soundly beaten at 2nd Winchester, when elements of Richard S.
Ewell's Confederate II Corps on 13 June 1863, heading north towards
Pennsylvania cut off Milroy's line of retreat, killing and wounding
over 1000, and capturing 3400 and all the artillery. Milroy escaped
with a few hundred cavalry troopers to Harper's Ferry. On 26 June
1863 he was relieved of his command. Not until 10 months later would
a court of inquiry exonerate him. On 6 May 1864 he was sent to
Nashville, Tennessee to serve under George H. Thomas. Milroy's
duties included organizing and assigning militia units and guarding
the Chattanooga Railroad. His vigorous efforts in suppressing
Confederate guerrillas led to the Confederate government putting a
price on his head.
Milroy resigned from the army on 26 July 1865 and became a trustee
of the Wabash and Erie Canal Company. In 1872 he became an Indian
agent in Olympia, Washington. Known as Gray Eagle because of his
fearless eyes and gray hair, he died in Olympia on 29 March 1890.
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