1864: Frank Miller to Kate Miller

This letter was written by 15 year-old Frank Miller (1848-1921), the youngest son of Stephen Miller (1805-1877) and Lucretia Fairchild (1808-Aft1864). The following article published in Business and The Book-Keeper, Vol. 25, 1910 (pg. 392) tells us that Stephen Miller “had some peculiar ideas about how [his four] boys should be brought up. He did not believe in giving them a college education, or in trying to plan their life for them. Instead, when each boy became sixteen years of age, he gave him $700 in cash and sent him into the word to seek his fortune…. Frank Miller…volunteered in the Civil War, and remained with the First Connecticut Heavy Artillery until peace was declared. After the war he went to Bridgeport, where he opened an office for the sale of coal in a small way, but the business grew by leaps and bounds, until he was soon able to own his own coal mines. In addition to his own mining properties in Pennsylvania, he owns vast tracks of timber in the South, controls several large factories, and is president of the City National Bank of Bridgeport.”

In 1917, Frank Miller (of Bridgeport) completed a survey required by the State of Connecticut identifying himself as a 69 year-old banker who served 2 years as a private in the artillery.

In the 1860 Census, Frank was enumerated in his parents household in Middletown with his older sister Kate (b. 1843). This letter was probably addressed to Kate. She was the only member of the family not sent out “to shift for herself, but she too has succeeded in making a fortune. When her husband died, some twenty years ago, she took the money that she received from his life insurance, and without asking advice of any of her brothers, invested it so shrewdly as to prove she possess the same business judgement that has made the Miller ‘boys’ the rich men that they are today.”

Another biographical sketch for Miller appearing in the History of Bridgeport and Vicinity (p. 50), tells us that “Frank Miller attended the schools of Middletown where he was reared, and was also a student in the celebrated school there, Chase’s Institute, which was conducted by Daniel H. Chase and was attended by boys from all over the country. In 1863, when a boy of but fifteen years, he enlisted for service in the Civil War as a member of the First Connecticut Heavy Artillery and was on active duty with the Army of the Potomac under General. U. s. Grant, serving until the close of the war and participating in a number of the hotly contested engagements.”

At the time of this letter (March 1864), Co. I of the First Connecticut Heavy Artillery was garrisoned at Fort Scott (near Arlington), Virginia. Less than two months later, they were withdrawn from the fort and sent to southern Virginia as part of Grant’s Overland Campaign.

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Frank Miller and his siblings (1910). Together they accumulated wealth of $25,000,000.

TRANSCRIPTION

Fort Scott, Virginia
March 6, 1864

Dear Sister,

I received your letters but did not have time to answer the first one. I have been to the front wood chopping & have just arrived back to my company. There was ten out of every company in the regiment detailed to go out to the front as we call it. What we call the front is inside of the reb’s line. I expect to have to go again very soon. We was where we could hear and see the fight or skirmish that they had the other day.

When mother sends that cake, tell her to send one or two of my cotton shirts because I would rather have them than woolen. I wish that you would write as much as you can if I don’t answer them because you don’t know how glad it makes me feel to have a letter from home. And send me a paper once in a while. Tell some of the boys & girls that live around there to write to me.

All that I have to say about camp life is that it is a lazy life & that the soldiers are full of their fun. I have got into a very nice company. Tell Father that the man that enlisted me is William Hall of Hartford. You go to Matt [H.] Hewin’s Billiard Rooms in Hartford back of the Post Office & he will tell you who William Hall is because I have forgot the name of the street he lives on.

You must excuse the bad writing because I have to write in my hand & it is about all I can do to get pen & ink to write with. I’ve got to go to roll call so I think I will stop.

Truly your affectionate brother, — Frank Miller

P. S. Give my love to Father & Mother. Tell Father that he used to say that I would not make a soldier because I could not eat. I guess he would not think so now. I wish I could hear you & mother laugh.

Address the same as you did before because I shall get it wherever I be.

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