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Miller Moody

MillerMiller Moody was born about 1821 in Knox county, OH (some records indicate his name was John Miller), the oldest of the two children of John Moody and his wife, Experience Miller. The younger child was another son, Israel W. Moody. John was a man of means, who also served his country in the War of 1812. He had invested in real estate and a mill property and was well known for his philanthropy in the Richland and Knox counties area. In 1829, John even appears to have purchased land in Richland county in Miller's name from the federal land office at Wooster, Ohio, at about the same time he purchased several pieces of property in his own name. John Moody died in September 1838, in Bellville in Richland county and on October 13, 1838, Jonathon Miller was appointed Guardian of Miller and Israel. Jonathon Miller, Isaac Hadley, and Matthew H. Mitchell posted bond of $10,000 on February 17, 1839, to ensure the discharge of Jonathon's duties as Guardian, including a just account of profits arising from activities associated with the estate entrusted to Miller and Israel. John Moody's estate was significant for the time amounting to more than $8,000 each for Miller and Israel.

Shortly after the death of their father , Miller and Israel went to live in Mt. Vernon in Knox county, the former home town of their grandfather William (who died in August 1828). In 1842, Miller and Israel began acquiring real estate back in Richland county and about 1844 appear to have relocated to Bellville and entered the mercantile business. Miller and Israel later operated a tavern and a foundry in Bellville. In 1855, Miller bought out Israel and operated the foundry on his own.

According to a history of Richland county, Miller was a graduate of Kenyon College (a classmate of then to-be Governor Dennison) and "a scholar of fine attainments, of polished manners, and was faultless in his dress and appearance."

This photograph shows Old Kenyon, the first building and centerpiece of the Kenyon College campus, as it appeared circa 1868. Built from 1827-1836, it's massive walls (originally four feet thick) were so constructed, according to Chase, to protect against the hurricanes so frequent in the area.Kenyon's campus is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Old Kenyon, designed by Reverend Norman Nash, is believed to be the first example of collegiate gothic architecture on the North American continent. The center spire was designed by the noted architect, Charles Bullfinch, who also designed the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol, the State House in Boston, and University Hall at Harvard.

On February 15, 1845, in Knox county, Miller married Eliza Jane Kenton, daughter of Simon Kenton and Sally Ewalt. Miller and Eliza had four children:

Miller was mayor of Bellville circa 1847 and was an elected member of the Ohio legislature in 1849-50. The 1850 OH census for Jefferson township (next to Bellville) shows Miller as a farmer with land valued at $30,000. Sarah Kinton, age 12, a younger sister of Eliza Jane's was living with the family as was his brother Israel. In that 1850 time period, county fairs were beginning to be held in the area. Primarily through Miller's efforts, a charter was obtained in October of 1850 for the Bellville fair which was held that year. An outdoor event was held just south of the elevator and an indoor exhibit was held at the Universalist church. Some ten years later, in September 1860, the Bellville Agricultural Society was formed with part of its mission to maintain the successful Bellville county fairs. Miller was the original Secretary of the Society. The fairs ended due to the turmoil of the Civil War.

Miller learned of the outbreak of the Civil War (at Fort Sumpter) in the daily paper. Anticipating a declaration of war and a call for troops, Miller went to Mansfield to be in telegraphic communication with Governor Dennison. On the morning of April 16, a large crowd formed at the depot awaiting the train from the north for news. As the train pulled into Bellville, the engineer opened the whistle-valve and the train shrieked into town; the news proclaimed by the whistle. Miller was on this train and had already been appointed Captain with authority to raise troops for the war effort. Miller raised a company of about 75 men. After a few days of drill, the company thus raised went to Camp Jackson in Columbus. The company was known at that time as the Jefferson Guards and was assigned to the 16th Ohio Volunteer Militia as Company I.

The Bellville Village Council raised about $700 to the support of the families of the volunteers should the necessity arise where such aid would be needed. The Sixteenth was the first regiment to cross the Ohio River into the Southern Confederacy and performed guard duty along the B&O Railroad and repaired and rebuilt bridges burned by the rebels. Miller's unit was in the battle at Phillipi, the first battle of the war. Afterwards, the sixteenth encamped at Rowlesburg along the B&O. Later, under General Hill, they marched to the summit of Cheat Mountain to intercept Garnett's forces retreating from Laurel Hill and followed them as far as Red House, West Virginia. They later went to Oakland, Maryland, and camped there until their return to Ohio for discharge. The unit returned to Mansfield on August 6 and had lost just a single man. Official service dates for the Sixteenth were April 27 to August 18. At this time the magnitude of the war effort began to be realized and a call went out from the President for 75,000 more men to enlist. Men in the three-month units who reenlisted were allowed a furlough and came home. Many of the men reenlisted for the three year service.

When his three month term expired, Miller came back to Bellville and recruited a company for three year service. This unit was mustered into the 59th New York Infantry in New York in Colonel Tidball's Regiment. Miller officially enlisted on October 30, 1861, at New York City, for a 3-year term or for the duration of the war (reported as simply a 2 year term in the Adjutant General's Office affidavit of service). He was mustered in as a Captain and was with the army of the Potomac and served in the campaign of the peninsula. The Regiment was ordered to Washington for the protection of the Federal Capital and, for a long time, Miller had charge of the defenses at Fort Good Hope, immediately adjoining the city. From there the Regiment was ordered to the front at Richmond, Virginia, where it took an active part in battles which lasted some seven days. After the evacuation of the Peninsula, Captain Moody, with his command, returned to the vicinity of Washington. When the rebels invaded Maryland, he took an active part in driving them back across the Potomac.

Miller led the Company at the battle of Malvern Hill and again in his final battle at Antietam. As a Regiment in Brigadier General Napoleon J. T. Dana's Brigade of the Division of Major General John Sedgwick, Miller's men were involved in the ill-fated Union assault on the Confederate forces in the West Woods at Antietam. This was the action popularly known as "the ambush." Technically, it was not an ambush, but to the victims, it must have had all the appearances of one. Within less than twenty minutes, the three brigades in Sedgwick's Division had sustained losses of approximately 2,200 men! Dana's Brigade suffered the heaviest losses in the West Woods slaughter. In his description of the action, Dana later wrote that the fire poured on his forces by the Confederate troops was "the most terrific I ever witnessed." The tall corn in the field where much of the action took place was leveled by gunshot as if cut by a machine. In the West Woods battle, Miller was mortally wounded by gunshot . The wounds cost him most of one leg and the fingers of one hand and he died of those wounds on November 7, 1862, at the hospital at Chambersburg, Pennsylvania; 42 years of age. His remains were brought back to Bellville for burial on Wednesday, November 12, and he was laid to rest next to his father at the Bellville cemetery.

At his gravestone is the star of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) and a small flag. An obituary was published in the Mt. Vernon Democratic Banner on Saturday, 15 Nov 1862. A transcription of Miller's gravestone follows.

Captain Miller Moody; Co. H 59th Regt. NY; died Nov 7, 1862; Chambersburg, PA; wounded at the Battle of Antietam; Aged 42 years; Warrior Rest in Peace (no longer readable - this is from an earlier transcription done by Father Robert Reckinger); Inscription on base of stone - Davis T. Lonien(sp?); Mansfield

G.A.R. Post No. 314 in Bellville was organized on March 13, 1883, was mustered in as a Post on April 14, 1883, and was named in memory of Captain Miller Moody.

© 1999 Robert Moody