Wednesday, September 5, 2007
Brig. Gen. William Miller
The photograph at right is of Brigadier General William Miller, the man remembered by generations of Floridians as the "hero of Natural Bridge."
General Miller, who made his living in the Northwest Florida timber industry before the war, was the original colonel of the 1st Florida Infantry. A veteran of the Mexican-American War, he commanded the 1st Florida during the bloody combat at Shiloh, Tennessee. Miller was still in command of the 1st Florida during the horrendous winter battle at Stones River, Tennessee. During the second day of fighting there, he was severely wounded while leading Confederate troops in an assault on the Union left flank. Disabled from command by his wounds, he spent months recovering until he was again able to resume some semblance of duty.
In 1864, General Miller was appointed to coordinate the organization of reserve forces in Florida. He was responsible for the coordination and training of the 1st Florida Infantry Reserves, a regiment raised for state defense. He also commanded a force of 1,000 impressed slaves who worked to improve roads, railroads and fortifications in North Florida during the final months of the war.
In March of 1865, Miller and his commanding officer, Major General Samuel Jones, directed the successful defense of Tallahassee and Thomasville, Georgia at the Battle of Natural Bridge. Both men were under fire during the battle.
After the war, Miller resumed his career in the timber industry and eventually settled in Walton County's Point Washington community. He died early in the 20th century and is buried in Pensacola.