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The Soul of a Soldier:The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War

The Soul of a Soldier: the True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War
by Myron M. Miller

What happened to a soldier's soul during the Civil War as he faced the horrors of war?Why did a man leave behind a wife and two very young children to serve in the army? Who was Samuel K. Miller before, during and after the Civil War? What was the Mounted Pioneer Corps, and what was their critical role in keeping an army moving? Why was he chosen to be in that unit? When a woman was left with children while her husband went off to the Civil War, what pressures did she face because he was away? How did the women manage their homes while their husbands were away?

What were the feelings of a Union soldier as he faced his “brothers” across the picket lines, the Confederates whom he came to know personally? What did they eat? Where did they live and sleep? What did they wear, and where did they get what they needed? What volunteer organizations sprung up to help the soldiers as they fought in the battlefields, either by providing physical help, or in aiding them to be in contact with their loved ones?

From his vantage point, somewhat unique because of the positioning of the Mounted Pioneer Corps during battles, what did he see of the battles? What were the forces for and against the war in his community back in Pennsylvania? Who were the Copperheads? What happened to his four Ellis family brothers-in-law who also served in the Union Army?

All these questions are answered in this book, “The Soul of a Soldier: the True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War.” At age 42, Samuel K. Miller volunteered for the 211th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry in September 1864 and served until June 1865. During his nine months in the service, he wrote 46 letters to his wife and, through her, to their one and five year old sons at their home in the little town of Hartstown, Crawford County, Pennsylvania, population less than 200.

This book contains the 46 letters that Samuel wrote during his time in the service of the Union Army, first as an infantryman, then in the Mounted Pioneer Corps attached to the Headquarters of the Union Ninth Corps. Portions of those letters are organized into 17 thematic chapters, which provide the answers to the questions raised above.

Samuel's letters provide a penetrating look into his soul, because of the highly personal nature of his letters. His letters reveal his character, values, his aspirations. Demetrius, an ancient Greek orator, literary critic, rhetorician and governor of Athens for ten years, once wrote: “Everyone reveals his own soul in his letters. In every other form of composition it is possible to determine the writer's character, but in none so clearly as the epistolary [the letters].” Demetrius' words apply to Samuel Miller, for Samuel revealed his soul in his letters.

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