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MAJOR-GENERAL ROBERT HUSTON MILROY.
MILROY.—Died, in Olympia, Washington, March 19, 1890, ROBERT Huston Milroy, late Major-tieneral United States Volunteers, aged 73 years, 9 months, 8 days.
ROBERT HUSTON MILROY, one of the best known generals of the War of the Rebellion, was born near Salem, Washington county, Indiana, June 11, 1816, the eldest of a family of ten-seven sons and three daughters. In 1826, his father moved to Carroll county. His early years were passed, like those of most boys in his condition, in active work. He thus acquired a robust frame and great physical strength.
He had, always, an insatiable love of books. His father, filled with the falsely-named “democratic” prejudice against colleges, refused ROBERT's urgent desire for a collegiate education. But the lad was kept well supplied with reading, and educated himself. In 1840, when he was twenty-four years old, he had laid up money enough to secure his wishes, and he entered Norwich Military University, in Vermont, then an institution of considerable renown. He graduated at the head of his class in 1813, receiving the degrees of master in arts, in military science, and in civil engineering. He spent some time in New England, engaged in surveying, teaching, and kindred occu
pations. In 1845, he went to Texas, intending to make that young republic his home. But the death of his father soon called him back, and he returned to Indiana, where he began the study of law.
The Mexican War broke up his plans. Enlisting in the 1st Indiana Infantry, he was soon commissioned captain, and joined the army of GENÈRAL TAYLOR. At the head of his company, he took part in all the engagements of that army from Metamoras to Buena Vista. He was every-where distinguished for enterprise and gallantry.
At the close of the war, he came back to Indiana, and entered the law school at Bloomington, graduating, in 1850, Bachelor of Laws. The same year, he was admitted to the bar. He soon gained a successful practice, and, in 1852, was appointed by the Governor president. judge of the eighth district. In 1854, he moved to Rensselaer, and was winning his way in his profession when the War of the Rebellion again called him to the field. He had been appointed by GOVERNOR LANE one of his aides, in February, 1861, and had attempted to raise a military company, but succeeded in getting only two recruits. The President's Proclamation, of April 15th, instantly changed all this. Before the dawn of day, on the 16th, he was rousing the town with fife and drum, and he had not eaten his breakfast till his company was complete and reported to GOVERNOR Morton as ready for duty. It was at once accepted, with himself as captain, and assigned to the 9th Indiana Infantry. On the 27th of April, he was commissioned colonel of the regiment. At its head, he went to West Virginia, where he soon found most active duty. He was engaged at Phillippi on the 3d of June, and again at Carrick's Ford on the 13th. At the latter place, the rebel GENERAL GARNETT was killed and his forces routed. The reports speak of “ COLONEL Milroy's gallantry and perseverance in the long and arduous march,” his men “suffering from hunger, rain, and cold.” By these and similar actions, Western Virginia was freed from rebel domination.
On the 3d of September, 1861, he was appointed brigadier-general of volunteers, at the same time with GENERALS HOWARD, McCook, SICKLES, LEW WALLACE, and other distinguished soldiers. He was
continued on duty in the region where he had already operated so successfully; and, on the 13th of December, was engaged in the battle of Camp Alleghany. Here he again showed his usual gallantry. On the 20th, he was placed in command of the District of Cheat Mountain, where he passed the winter.
His next service was in the Mountain Department, under GENERAL FREMONT. While in this region, he fought the battle of McDowell, in which, with a force of five regiments, numbering less than 2,300 men, he held at bay, for a whole afternoon, a body of twelve regiments of the enemy, under command of “STONEWALL” JACKSON, inflicting a loss of 498, while his own loss was but 256. At night, he safely retreated to a stronger position. “Too much praise can not be awarded to GENERAL MILROY
for steady gallantry and courage manifested throughout the whole affair," says the official report. Afterward, he was engaged at second Bull Run, where he showed his usual gallantry. For his conduct in these actions, he was promoted to major-general, to rank from November 29, 1862. Except in the case of officers of the regular army, he was the third from Indiana appointed brigadier-general, and the second appointed majorgeneral.
In the Shenandoah Valley, where he was next stationed, his course was marked by extraordinary vigor and activity. His action in levying assessments on the people was the occasion of much angry correspondence on the part of the Confederate government, and he himself was subjected to unmerited reproach. During the ensuing campaigns, he was employed at various places till the autumn of 1864, when he was sent to Tennessee. Here, on the 7th and 8th of December, near Murfreesboro, with a brigade of raw troops, he met and defeated BATE's Confederate division, sent from Hood's army before Nashville to help FORREST capture the town.
Leaving the service at the end of the war, GENERAL MILROY remained for some time at the South, intending to make that section his home, but the conditions were unfavorable. Returning to Indiana, he resumed the practice of the law at Delphi, taking also an active part in politics. In 1871, he was appointed by PRESIDENT GRANT
United States marshal for Wyoming Territory, but declined the appointment. In 1872, he was made superintendent of Indian affairs for Washington Territory. Thereafter, he made his home on the Pacific coast. The office was abolished in 1874. In 1875, he was appointed United States District attorney for the territory, but declined, and the same year was made Indian agent. This position he held, through all changes of administration, till 1885, when he was removed. He continued to reside at Olympia till his death.
In all the relations of life, GENERAL MILROY was a man of the highest personal character for integrity and uprightness, as well as for kindness and generosity of disposition. Warm-hearted, impulsive, and ardent in his feelings, he was incapable of concealment or deceit. His integrity and morality were unspotted. His courage and energy, as a soldier, were unsurpassed. In his conduct as Indian agent, he soon acquired the confidence of all the tribes, and they trusted him implicitly. Even after his removal from office, they would come to him when in trouble, to seek counsel and advice from one who had so truly proved himself their friend.
In appearance, GENERAL MILROY was very striking. Over six feet in height, straight as an arrow, his head covered with an abundance of hair, which was early tinged with gray, he was called the "Gray Eagle.” His manner was free and pleasant. His conversation was interesting and full of animation. His devotion to his country was ardent and unceasing. To the last he retained his interest in his military associations. One of the early members of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, he continued his connection with it until his removal to the Far West, beyond its reach. He was also a comrade of the Grand Army, and a companion of the Loyal Legion.