In April 1861, Lindley Miller (1834-1864) answered President Lincoln’s call for volunteers by enlisting with the 7th Regiment New York State Militia, also known as the Silk Stocking Regiment. The day his regiment left New York City is documented in Thomas Nast’s painting, The Departure of the 7th Regiment to the War, April 19, 1861. His brother, Henry Miller, was in the crowd of thousands there to shake his brother’s hand as he passed.
The Silk Stocking Regiment reached Washington, D.C. by April 25th. Their arrival ended the siege on the nation’s capital, preventing its loss to the Confederates just weeks after the fall of Fort Sumter.
By 1863, Lindley was back in New York City to witness the draft riots first-hand. The NYC draft riots started a chain of personal losses for Lindley that changed his life. His young bride, Anne Huntington Tracy, pregnant with their first child, died after giving birth and his two-month old daughter died soon after. Turning his loss into service, Lindley requested and received a commission as a captain in the “First Regiment Arkansas Volunteers of African Descent” in late 1863. He wrote a marching song for his men and many poems that MHHM has in its collection. To learn more about the marching song, visit our blog post Song of the First of Arkansas.
From his 1861 poem, T. W. His Last Words—“Come On”:
“Come On!” We will till God’s ideal shall trample breathless wrong;
“Come On!” We will, till freedom ring through every human song;
“Come On!” We will till not a Soul in gloom and dread involved,
This darkness shall give way to light–This problem shall be solved.
In 1864, Lindley Miller returned to Morristown to recover from an illness he caught in camp. In July 1864, Lindley Miller succumbed to his illness and died.
This summer, one of MHHM’s college interns will work with 15 letters written by Lindley Miller to his family during his service in the Union army. This project will make his life and military service more accessible to students, scholars, and those interested in the Civil War.
Read Lindley Miller’s poems and learn about the Civil War through a Soldier’s Words.
To learn more about the departure of the 7th Regiment from New York City, visit readme.readmedia.com.