This photo from October 1919 shows the house that was the birthplace of William E. Miller along Newville Road in West Pennsboro Township. A Union Army cavalry officer, Miller earned the Medal of Honor for bold action during the Battle of Gettysburg.
William E. Miller had a distinguished career as a soldier long before he earned the Medal of Honor for defying the orders of a superior officer during the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Born Feb. 5, 1836, the oldest child of Andrew and Eleanor Umberger Miller, he grew up on a farm along the Newville Road in West Pennsboro Township.
As a teenager, William Miller took over managing the farm from his invalid father. This left him with little time for anything more than a basic education. At age 16, he enlisted in a company of horsemen called the Big Spring Adamantine Guard.
For nine years, Miller juggled his time between operating the family enterprise and attending weekly cavalry drills with his militia unit. On Oct. 23, 1856, he married Elizabeth Ann Hocker, his childhood sweetheart, and together they had daughters Caroline and Lizzie. Tragically, Miller lost both his wife and daughter Lizzie to illness.
When the Civil War began, the Adamantine Guard joined the Union Army and became Company H of the Third Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. His long service with the militia earned Miller the rank of lieutenant, but he was just getting started.
Support Local Journalism
Your membership makes our reporting possible.
On Sept. 16, 1862, Miller helped to lead the Union I Corps across Antietam Creek in preparation for battle the next day – the single bloodiest day in American history. Four thousand Union and Confederate soldiers were killed in action on Sept. 17, 1862 and about 19,000 were wounded. Late in the afternoon, Miller led a unit that defended a key artillery position, preventing it from being overrun by the Confederates.