Original lot appeared on Cowan’s: Private John R. Miller, 123rd Indiana Infantry, Civil War Archive incl. Letters Describing Devastation Brought by Union Soldiers
Cowan’s detail below:
Miller continued to be in the thick of action through the winter. After being on the run from the enemy for several weeks, Miller wrote his family:
We had a pretty hard time for a few days. We were at Columbia about 8 or 10 days. At the time the rebels advanced that place. Our regiment was laying in Duck River guarding the fords. Six companies under Col. McQuiston were at Williamsport and 4 companies “B” ‘C” and G and our company under Col. Walter were at Gordon’s ferry 4 miles farther down the regt…. When our armies fell back to Franklin, we were cut off from it. The army evacuated Columbia in the morning and we did not receive notice of it until 12 o’clock that night, we immediately started. We marched till day light when we halted for breakfast…we marched all day and in the evening found we were cut off from our army and in the rear of Hood’s army.
We marched around the rear of the rebels, passing within two miles of their camp fires and stopped past his flank. All this time they were fighting hard at Franklin, had they not have been we could not possibly have escaped…it was reported and believed that we were captured. I suppose you read at home that we were. That day I had more expectations of being in some southern prison by this time(Nashville, TN, December 4, 1864).
Relieved after learning of his son’s safety at the Battle of Franklin, Hiram wrote to Miller:
[I] was very glad to hear that you was well and that you was neither wounded, killed, or captured…. Son, you can form no idea how anxious I am to learn who was wounded, killed or captured after a battle fought by the army of which you are a member. I look over the list of casualties with fear and troubling, not but what I have an abiding faith that you will never be killed or wounded by a rebel. I believe that God looks with peculiar favour upon the brave soldiers that are fighting to defend and perpetuate the institution of this God favoured country, and that the brave devotion that our soldiers exhibit in defense of our country will cover a multitude of sins, but will not save the soul (Greencastle, IN, December 12, 1864).
The relief was short lived because the danger for Miller was not over. In the same letter to his father Miller wrote:
We are laying in the trenches here expecting an attack any moment. We have got to fight here and fight hard… We have got to fight them sometime and I would just as big to it now as any other time, and rather do it here than any where else…You need not look for me home this winter, as I have not the least idea of being able to get a furlough, as long as the fight continues (Nashville, TN, December 4, 1864).
As Miller continued to fight, he became more confident in his abilities. He wrote to his father:
I have been in 8 or 10 fights and expect to be in some more. I have had many fair shots at the rebels but never hit one that I know of. The first time I ever shot at a man I was so excited at the thought that I trembled like a leaf, but I got used to that kind of business, and I can draw a “bead” on a rebel now as cooly as would on a squirrel and be glad to see him fall. It is curious how careless of life war will render any man. Before I came into the army, it would have shocked me to see a man cut with a knife, or knocked down with a club. Now I can see any number of men killed and never give them a thought or glance (Fort Anderson, NC, February 27, 1865)