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Hugh Reid Miller, son of Ebenezer and Margery Reid Miller, was born in Abbeville District, South Carolina, on May 14, 1812. Hugh Reid Miller attended Baker’s School in Abbeville, and in 1831, enrolled at South Carolina College, Columbia, South Carolina. He graduated in 1833 with his A. B. degree and returned to Abbeville in the fall of that year to study law, becoming clerk to future South Carolina governor, Patrick Noble. In mid-1835, Miller briefly resided in Selma, Alabama, before settling in Pontotoc, Pontotoc County, Mississippi, where he established a law practice.
Miller married Susan Grey (Gray) Walton, daughter of Jesse and Joanna Lawson Hobson Walton, of Cotton Gin Port, Monroe County, Mississippi, on May 9, 1839. The couple had their first son, George, on July 26, 1840. Miller was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in 1841. A year later, the Millers had a second son, Edwin Hugh. Hugh Reid Miller finished his term in the legislature and returned to his law practice in 1843.
In July of 1845, Miller successfully ran for circuit judge of the Seventh District of Mississippi. He held the judgeship for eight years and then returned to private practice. During this period, Miller also helped organize the Pontotoc Male Academy and served as local counsel to both the Mississippi Central Railroad and the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. On the 1860 census, Miller was listed as both a farmer and attorney, with a personal estate valued at over nineteen thousand dollars. Miller was elected delegate to the Mississippi Secession Convention on December 20, 1860. Miller was one of the “Committee of Fifteen” who drafted the Ordinance of Secession.
Following his election to the Convention, Miller organized the “Pontotoc Minute Men” and was elected captain of the unit. It was mustered into service as Company G, Second Regiment, Mississippi Infantry, Confederate States Army, on April 30, 1861. A year later the Second Regiment was reorganized and Miller lost the captaincy of the unit.
He returned to Mississippi and raised the Forty-Second Regiment, Mississippi Infantry at Oxford, Lafayette County, on May 14, 1862. The regiment became a part of Joseph Davis’s Brigade and took an active part in the Gettysburg Campaign (June – July, 1863). Miller was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cemetery Hill on July 3, 1863. He died in a hospital in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 19, 1863. Miller’s son, Edwin, was able to obtain permission to cross Union lines to recover his father’s body. He escorted the body back to Richmond, Virginia. A military funeral, attended by Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, was held on July 29, 1863, at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
Susan Walton Miller traveled to Virginia twice in order to be with her husband and sons. She died at Sunnyside, Cumberland County, Virginia, on January 10, 1864. Susan Walton Miller was entombed with her husband at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. Ultimately, the Millers were interred in lot number 156 of Aberdeen City Cemetery, Monroe County, Mississippi.
For further Miller family biographical information, please see Series 10, Manuscript Draft and Research Notes, prepared by Bob F. Thompson.
Scope and Content:
The papers of the family of Hugh Reid and Susan Walton Miller consist of correspondence; military papers; professional papers; financial records; educational papers, political papers, social and miscellaneous papers; printed material; a manuscript draft, and research notes.
The correspondence consists primarily of letters written to or by Hugh Reid Miller and Susan Walton Miller. Topics of the correspondence include family news and business; the legal career and political interests of Hugh Reid Miller; the education of Miller and his children, George and Edwin; Susan Walton Miller’s role in managing the home and farm; Hugh Reid Miller’s command of the “Pontotoc Minute Men” and the Forty-Second Regiment, Mississippi Infantry; the service of his sons in those units; Susan Walton Miller’s role and residence near the army in Virginia during the Civil War; and the effects of that conflict on home and farm life in northern Mississippi.
The military, professional, and financial papers document the business dealings and legal career of Hugh Reid Miller, as well as his service, and that of his sons, in the army of the Confederate States of America. Educational papers concern the school life and academic studies of George and Edwin Miller, and of George’s future wife, Kate Wiley. Social papers include material relating to the social life of Susan Walton Miller before her marriage, and an invitation to dinner at the Governor’s Mansion issued to Hugh Reid Miller. Miscellaneous papers and printed material include a phrenological study; a list of distances; an essay book; a concert program; and a children’s story.
Of particular importance to the study of these papers is the research material included with them, comprised of the draft of an annotated transcription of Miller family correspondence created by one of the donors, Bob F. Thompson, and photocopies of unsigned research notes that accompanied the papers at the time of their donation. A detailed inventory of the entire collection may be found in Appendix I.
This series primarily consists of the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Hugh Reid Miller and Susan Walton Miller. Principal correspondents include their children, George and Edwin Miller, and members of their families, such as Hugh Miller’s cousin, John Henry Miller. Members of allied families also appear repeatedly as correspondents. On Hugh Miller’s side, these include the Norwoods, and the Barrs; on Susan Miller’s side, they include those families related through the marriages of her sisters: the Cooks, Daggetts, Edmondsons, the Gordons (of Lochinvar plantation, Pontotoc County, Mississippi), and the Moores.
A recurring theme in the correspondence is the importance of family: exchanges of family news constantly appear in the correspondence of both Hugh Reid and Susan Walton Miller. The letters of Hugh Reid Miller in the 1830s provide indications of his family’s migration westward from South Carolina; those in the 1840s and 1850s depict his activity in representing family members and interests in land deals and legal cases, and their requests for his aid and influence in obtaining offices and positions. Hugh Reid Miller’s letters to his wife, Susan, are revealing not only of the emotional relationship of their marriage, but of her role in managing the home and farm in his absence. Hugh Reid Miller’s correspondence also documents the participation of two of Susan Walton Miller’s relations by marriage, William Kilpatrick and Robert W. Edmondson, in Hugh Miller’s legal affairs: Kilpatrick was his partner, and Edmondson, the caretaker of his legal affairs during Miller’s service in the Civil War.
The correspondence of Hugh Reid Miller provides considerable insight into his career as a lawyer. There are letters documenting his relations with law partners and fellow attorneys: of particular interest are his exchanges and arguments with Pontotoc attorney, politician, and, later, lieutenant in the “Pontotoc Minute Men”, Charles D. Fontaine. Moreover, a number of letters in Hugh Reid Miller’s correspondence address specific cases undertaken by him as attorney, while his letters to his wife, Susan, depict the life and activities of a circuit court judge in Mississippi in the 1840s and 1850s. Miller’s participation in land acquisitions and sales, some involving Chickasaw land claims, is also revealed by the correspondence, particularly through his letters with Eli Ayres, James E. Matthews, and William T. Withers.
Miller’s interest in politics is also evident in the correspondence, from letters in the 1830s concerning John C. Calhoun and South Carolina politics; to those concerning the states’ rights issue, United States presidential elections, John A. Quitman, and Pontotoc County politics in the 1850s. Susan Walton Miller’s correspondence, particularly with her son George, discusses local feelings on Secession and preparation for war in Pontotoc County in 1860 and 1861. Of interest, too, are her letters to George Miller concerning her visit to Jackson, Mississippi, during Hugh Miller’s work at the Mississippi state convention in January, 1861.
The correspondence of both Hugh Reid Miller and Susan Walton Miller with their son, George, and his brother, Edwin, also address another topic: education. A few letters written to Hugh Reid Miller in the 1830s give glimpses of the education of Miller, and his contemporaries. In the 1850s, there are occasional other letters discussing problems at the Pontotoc Male Academy Miller helped to found. But from 1859 to 1861 there are numerous exchanges by both parents with their children concerning their education. The letters document George Miller’s attendance at South Carolina College in Columbia, South Carolina, and the Cokesbury Manual Labor School of the South Carolina Conference, and his subsequent enrollment at the University of Mississippi, in Oxford, Mississippi, where his brother Edwin joined him. This correspondence offers a view not only of the academic curriculum of the 1850s, but of student life, and of the contrasting attitudes of parents and children towards the educational process.
The university education of George and Edwin Miller was terminated by the outbreak of the Civil War, which becomes the central focus of the correspondence. A number of letters concern Hugh Reid Miller’s organization and command of the “Pontotoc Minute Men” and the Forty-Second Regiment. Some concern the difficulties of supply and transportation of his troops, and contain news of military activity. Also included are letters transmitting orders and accounts, and requests for appointments or furloughs. Several letters concern the varying reports of the first battle of Mannasas / Bull Run made by Hugh Reid Miller and Charles D. Fontaine. The correspondence of George and Edwin Miller during the war provides anecdotes of marches and camp life. The correspondence of Susan Walton Miller describes her activities in Virginia with the army: the nursing of her sons, when they fell ill, and her role in supplying her family and other members of Hugh Reid Miller’s unit with clothing. Her letters, and those of Virginia Gordon, her niece, who was also in Virginia in late 1861 and early 1862, describe some of the conditions in the towns near the armies, and their problems in finding lodging and avoiding price-gouging. Of interest is a letter written February 17, 1862, by Virginia Gordon describing her return trip from Virginia during which she traveled with General P. G. Beauregard. Also of interest are the numerous letters received by Susan Walton Miller from family and friends in Mississippi. These contain personal news, emphasize the difficulty of sending supplies to the troops; relay rumors and news of troop movements of both the Confederate and Union forces; and include descriptions of home and farm life during the war, such as those sent by Robert Edmondson concerning the Millers’ own property. By 1863, they also included accounts of raids made by the Union troops on several homes, including that of Hugh Reid Miller.
After Hugh Reid Miller’s death in July, 1863, the correspondence dwindles. Letters sent to Susan Walton Miller in July and August of 1863 express sympathy for the death of Hugh Reid Miller, and transmit family news. A number of letters received by her from August through December, 1863, including ones sent by her son Edwin, refer to plans to obtain furloughs for George and Edwin, and for them all to return to Mississippi. Only a few letters are dated after Susan Walton Miller’s death in December: these are directed to George Miller, and include letters of his cousin Virginia Gordon. The last is dated June 26, 1865. In it, Virginia Gordon rejoices in the news of George Miller’s safety and imminent return home.
The correspondence is arranged chronologically. Undated letters are arranged alphabetically, by name of writer. See Appendix I for a complete inventory of the correspondence. For further background, see Series 10, the annotated transcription of the Miller correspondence, prepared by Bob. F. Thompson.
Box 1: 1830-October 1847
Box 2: 1848-1851
Box 3: 1852-1856
Box 4: 1857-April 1859
Box 5: May 1859-April 1860
Box 6: May 1860-March 1861
Box 7: April 1861-October 1861
Box 8: November 1861-May 1862
Box 9: June 1862-June 1863
Box 10: July 1863-1865; undated
The military papers document the service of Hugh Reid Miller in the Mississippi Militia as early as 1838, including a certificate of his appointment to the office of judge advocate of the Forty-Eighth Regiment, Mississippi Militia, dated September 8, 1838; and one attesting his election as first lieutenant of the “Pontotoc Dragoons,” dated October 28, 1845. But the majority of the materials in this series document the service of Hugh Reid Miller in the army of the Confederate States of America. A number of papers concern Hugh Miller’s role in organizing and commanding the “Pontotoc Minute Men”. These include orders, account statements, and a list of subscribers for the arming and equipping of the unit in September, 1861. Of particular interest is a ledger with entries from 1861 through 1862, apparently kept by Hugh Reid Miller during his command of the unit. In the ledger are an enlistment agreement, muster rolls, and records of elections, appointments, and details of duty. It also contains accounts of money, clothes, shoes, arms, and accoutrements drawn for the unit, or provided by Hugh Reid Miller or other officers. Other documents regard Miller’s organization and command of the Forty-Second Regiment, Mississippi Infantry. These include nominations and lists of officers; a petition of complaint against an officer; applications for furlough; requests for appointments in his command; accounts; special and general orders; circulars; and reports. The series also contains several documents relating to the military service of George and Edwin Miller, including a number concerning Edwin Miller’s career after his father’s death until the end of the war. Several papers also attest to the support traditionally given the Pontotoc troops by Susan Walton Miller and the women of Pontotoc: a bill for the flag of the “Pontotoc Dragoons” made in 1844, addressed to Susan Walton Miller and other ladies of Pontotoc; receipts for clothing sent to the Second Regiment, Mississippi Infantry, by the ladies of Pontotoc or the Pontotoc Sewing Society; and a photocopy of a pass signed by W. C. Falkner as colonel of the Second Regiment, permitting Susan Walton Miller to travel to and from the unit’s Virginia quarters.
This series contains original documents attesting to Hugh Reid Miller’s education in law under Patrick Noble and his admission to the bar in Alabama and Mississippi, as well as a facsimile of his license to practice law in Mississippi. Also included in this series is a handwritten copy of a report from the office of the solicitor of the United States treasury, dated December 16, 1848, concerning a claim against Chickasaw land; and a lawsuit presented at the Pontotoc County Circuit Court during the April term of 1859 by Hugh Reid Miller and P. B. Barringer.
This series consists of account statements, reports, correspondence, and receipts. These principally document various financial activities of Hugh Reid Miller, including his purchase of supplies and books as a student in 1831 and 1832; his sale of land in Lafayette County, Mississippi, in 1844; the settlement of his law partnership with Jacob Thompson in 1846; several sales of cotton, banking transactions, and purchases of clothing for himself, and, in 1861, for his son, Edwin; as well as the 1863 payment of personal property tax by Hugh Miller. Of interest in this series are a Confederate bond for fifty dollars issued on May 1, 1861, with coupons still attached, and a partial bank note for fifty dollars. Also included are a receipt for payment of a draft made in 1855 at the request of S. Daggett (probably Susan Walton Miller’s brother-in-law, Stephen Daggett); and receipts for subscriptions of Susan Walton Miller to the Memphis Advocate and the “Guide to Holiness” in 1860. There is also a July 3, 1865, account for clothes sold by Noah Walker and Company to a Mrs. Magruder in Baltimore, Maryland, for a Mr. Miller, that probably documents a purchase made for George Miller upon his release from the military prison at Point Lookout, Maryland.
Box 15 (Bank note and Confederate bond, restricted)
The majority of the items in this series concern the education of George and Edwin Miller at the Pontotoc Male Academy. These materials consist of reports of the progress of George Miller; examination papers written in 1857; a list of students enrolled in the classics from 1855 through February, 1858; and a report sent to Hugh Miller on the graduation of Edwin Miller in December, 1859. Also included is a May 12, 1859, letter by the president of the South Carolina College approving the withdrawal of George Miller from that institution, and two reports dated in 1860, concerning his attendance at the University of Mississippi in 1859 and 1860. This series also contains three reports concerning the academic progress of George Miller’s future wife, Kate Wiley: one from an unspecified institution made in 1855; and two written in 1858 by A. L. Lewis, the principal of College Hill Female Seminary in Lafayette County, Mississippi.
This series includes printed copies of the Whig ticket for the Mississippi election of 1839; the Democratic ticket for the Mississippi election of 1841; a July 3, 1860, printed invitation to a mass meeting supporting the nomination of John C. Breckinridge and Joseph Lane to the presidency and vice-presidency of the United States; and a handwritten, undated account of party majorities for a few Mississippi counties, including Pontotoc, sent to Susan Walton Miller by “W. D. H.” [W. D. Holder?]. Of interest is an 1853 printed rebuttal of remarks made by Phineas T. Scruggs, the Whig candidate for circuit judge of the Seventh Judicial District, authored by his Democratic rival, John W. Thompson, in which Thompson calls on outgoing circuit judge Hugh Reid Miller as a witness to his veracity. Also included is a January 7, 1861, certification naming Hugh Reid Miller as one of the delegates to the Mississippi State Convention, and an undated document appointing March 25, 1861, as the date for reassembly of the convention.
This series includes five invitations, dated from 1837 through 1848, issued to Susan Walton Miller; a note with poetry, partially written in Latin to Susan Miller by friends (“amici”); and a fragment of poetry directed to or written by Eliza Hollie Ervin. Of particular interest is an undated invitation to dine at the Executive Mansion issued to Hugh R. Miller by Governor McWillie and his wife.
This series consists of an essay book containing writings on diverse subjects by Susan Grey Walton, dated 1837; a phrenological study of Hugh Reid Miller done by W. Byrd Powell of Athens, Monroe County, Mississippi, on May 9, 1839; and an undated list of places and distances between Abbeville, South Carolina, and Pontotoc, Mississippi.
Included in the printed material are an 1829 edition of Peter Parley’s Story of the Mockingbird, given to Susan Grey Walton in 1831, by her brother, Josiah Walton, and a July 10, 1856 concert program of the Presbyterial Female Collegiate Institute of Pontotoc, Mississippi. Originals or reproductions of newspapers are also contained in this series: an original edition of the Southern Republic – Extra, printed in Columbus, Mississippi, on May 4, 1861; a photographic reproduction of the August 9, 1861, issue of the Pontotoc, Mississippi, newspaper, The Examiner, containing a speech made by Charles D. Fontaine on the Battle of Manassas; and a photocopy of the September 13, 1861, issue of The Examiner, that features a report of the Battle of Manassas by Hugh Reid Miller, disputing Fontaine’s account.
This series consists principally of an untitled working draft for an edition of the letters of Hugh and Susan Miller created by one of the donors, Bob F. Thompson. The draft includes introductions to the historical context of the letters; annotations identifying correspondents and people or places referenced, and typed transcripts of many of the letters in this collection, as well as transcriptions of correspondence still in private collections or at the University of Mississippi. There are some handwritten corrections on the draft. Included as well in this series are photocopies of research notes that accompanied the correspondence in this collection.