Civil War hero honored on Memorial Day


This Memorial Day, Glen Cove commemorated the bravery and sacrifice of Private John E. Miller, a local hero who served in the Civil War, by naming him the 2024 Memorial Day honoree. This tribute marks a poignant reminder of the community’s enduring respect for those who have laid down their lives in service to the nation. The ceremony to honor Miller, held at Monument Park by the First Presbyterian Church, was attended by his great-great-nephew, Corey Miller, who traveled from Pennsylvania to accept a citation on behalf of the family.
“Memorial Day is a solemn occasion, a time when we pause to reflect on the courage, dedication, and selflessness of our fallen heroes,” Mayor Pamela Panzenbeck said. “We come together to remember and honor those who have given their lives so that we may live in freedom and peace.”
Congressman Tom Suozzi shared his thoughts on the significance of the day, noting a recent poll indicating that 75 percent of Baby Boomers consider themselves patriotic, compared to only 35 percent of Generation Z. He addressed the challenges facing the nation, emphasizing the importance of unity and collaborative efforts, while also supporting the nation’s servicemen and women.
“People have given their lives throughout our nation’s history for freedom and democracy,” Suozzi said. “It’s up to us to honor the war dead that gave their lives for our freedom and democracy by living up to the conversation in this country and working together to solve problems.”
Miller was born in Glen Cove, though his exact birth year remains uncertain — either 1841 or 1843. He stood 5 feet 5 inches tall, with a fair complexion and sandy hair, characteristics that were noted at the time of his enlistment. Miller was one of nine children, who were well-known local farmers residing at 12 Hillside Ave., near the border of Glen Cove and Sea Cliff. The Miller’s home remained a fixture in the community for over a century, until it was disassembled in 1961 for an urban renewal project, making way for what is now the Glen Cove Housing Authority.

Inspired by a deep sense of duty to maintain the unity of the nation amidst the Civil War, Miller enlisted in the Union Army on Aug. 18, 1862. Just four days later, his brother Elbert also joined the ranks.
As a private, John Miller served as a bugler in the 2nd Cavalry, a role crucial for communication in the field. His commitment and bravery were evident, but the harsh realities of war soon took their toll.
On Dec. 18, 1863, during maneuvers in the South, Miller was captured by Confederate forces. He was subsequently held at Andersonville Prison in Georgia, a notorious Confederate military prison officially known as Fort Sumter. Andersonville was infamous for its appalling conditions. Designed to hold 10,000 soldiers, it housed 35,000 Union POWs at its peak. The prison’s 14-month existence saw approximately 13,000 deaths due to exposure, disease, malnutrition, and poor sanitation.
The sole water source was a contaminated stream that flowed through the prison downstream from two Confederate encampments who used it as a latrine and for washing. This led to widespread illness among the prisoners. The swampy area within the prison grounds, used as a latrine by the POWs, became a breeding ground for disease, with blackened water covered by a white sheen from maggots. Despite these dire circumstances, Miller endured until disease overcame him. He died on April 19, 1864, after four months of suffering, and was buried in Chalmette National Cemetery in Louisiana.
The initiative to honor Miller was spearheaded by Tony Jimenez, who, inspired by last year’s Memorial Day observance, decided to research names from a local Civil War monument. Upon discovering Miller’s name, he enlisted the help of Lydia Wen from the Glen Cove Library, who conducted extensive genealogical research, tracing Miller’s lineage and identifying living relatives, ultimately leading to the special recognition of Miller’s service and sacrifice.