Member Biography

William Edward Miller 

Sessions Office Position District Party
1899-1900       32 Democrat
1901-1902       32 Democrat

COUNTIES: Adams, Cumberland  


02/05/1836 - 12/10/1919

Captain William Edward Miller (D32) Adams and Cumberland Counties 1899-1902

Early Life: 

Captain William Edward Miller, born February 5, 1836, West Hill, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania; son of former Pennsylvania State Senator Andrew G. and Eleanor Umberger Miller; mercantile interests, captain, United States Army, Civil War, 1861-1864; married, first, Elizabeth Anne Hocker, died 1859 (typhoid fever) daughter, Caroline O. Rankin McCormick; second, Annie Dupuis Bush,1868; chaired, Cumberland County Democratic Committee, 1877, 1888; Chief Burgess of Carlisle, 1882-1883; Carlisle Board of Health, ten years; elected president, Carlisle Board of Health, 1894-1901; elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 32nd district, 1899-1902; Democratic Caucus candidate for President pro tempore, 1901; died, December 10, 1919, interred, Gettysburg National Cemetery; Adams County, Pennsylvania. (i)

Early Career:

Enlisted, private, Company H, 60th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, 3rd, Pennsylvania Cavalry, promoted, second Lieutenant at organization. Winter, 1861-1862, trained, Fort Marcy, Colonel W.W. Averill; deployed, Peninsula Campaign; Battle of Yorktown; Fort Magruder (Williamsburg); Chickahominy; Malvern Hill; Richmond; led Company H during major general and commander of the Union Army of the Potomac Joseph Hooker’s advance over Antietam Creek, drawing the first enemy fire of the bloodiest day in United States history, September 17, 1862, earning a commendation for “distinguished bravery” and promoted, Captain. In 1863, battles at Brandy Station, Aldie, Middleburg, Upperville, Haymarket, and Gettysburg. (ii)

July 3, 1863, Gettysburg, Miller, given orders to hold his company. Ignored orders, commandeered a squadron of four companies for a seemingly fool-hearty charge that ultimately broke the flank of Confederate Generals Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee. Because of Miller's surprise attack, the Confederate rear line dispersed, and the Union line saved. During the melee, Miller, shot through the right arm. (iii) After the fighting, Colonel John Baillie McIntosh, who had attacked the Confederate charge from the opposite flank, congratulated Miller on his attack. Said to have saved Gettysburg for his decision to break rank, this claimed to be the first time in American military history where a soldier, awarded for disobeying a direct order. (iv)

Medal of Honor:

The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Captain William Edward Miller, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 3 July 1863, while serving with Company H, 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry, in action at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Without orders, Captain Miller led a charge of his squadron upon the flank of the enemy, checked his attack, and cut off and dispersed the rear of his column (v)(vi)

Professional titles; business ownership; board memberships; local government; club memberships:

Member, Grand Army of the Republic and Loyal Legion

First Commander of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States.

Pennsylvania Politics:

Chaired, Cumberland County Democratic Committee, 1877and 1888

Chief Burgess of Carlisle, 1882-1883(vi)

Served, Carlisle Board of Health, ten years; elected president, Carlisle Board of Health, 1894-1901.

Elected, Democrat, Pennsylvania State Senate, 32nd district, Adams and Cumberland Counties, 1899-1902; Democratic Caucus candidate, President pro tempore, 1901; member, Agriculture, Appropriations, Forestry, Military Affairs, Pension and Gratuities and Public Roads and Highways Committees.


Cochran, T.B., (Editor) Miller, H.P. (Assistant Editor) (1901) Smull’s Legislative Hand Book, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, pages 1181 and 1187-1191, Biographical Sketches of Senators, page 1156.




(iv)         Harrisburg Telegraph Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Wednesday December 10, 1919 • Page 7



(vii)        Obituary for CAPT WM. E. CAPT MILLER The Sentinel Carlisle, Pennsylvania Wednesday December 10, 1919, Page 2