Duncan Chambers Milner
Civil War Veteran

{Story submitted by chapter member, Duncan C. McCune, 145 Columbia Ave., #458, Holland, MI 49423 or email – dcmccune@ameriteach.net. as of Jan. 2008} Duncan C. McCune’s great-grandfather, Duncan Chambers Milner was born in Mt. Pleasant March 10, 1841, son of David Neiswanger Milner (b. 13 July 1767 d. 27 July 1840 St. Clairsville, Belmont Co., Ohio and Mary Harre). Duncan married Lucinda Mitchell Reid, b. 29 Nov. 1845 in Mt. Pleasant d. 4 May 1914 in Chicago. After recovering from his wounds, Duncan went back to the troops as a member of YMCA and later became the Chaplain for the Ohio GAR. A graduate of Union Seminary in NYC, he first served as a missionary to Kansas and Missouri, Manhattan and Atchison, Kansas, Peoria and Chicago Illinois. He died in 1928 in Mt. Dora, Florida.

Duncan Chambers Milner, descendant of Thomas Milner and Elizabeth Neiswanger wrote the following Newspaper Article,  Ravenswood Presbyterian News, published about 1913 titled, What It Meant to Fight at Chickamauga.

The fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Chickamauga fell on September 10 and 20. It is considered the greatest battle in the West of the Civil War. Of it John Fiske said: “In its dimensions and murderousness the battle fought by our western armies one of the greatest of modern times.” The results of the battle are still a subject of controversy. It is claimed as a Confederate victory, because that army held the battlefield at its close. It is also asserted that it was at least a drawn battle, because the union troops kept possession of Chattanooga a great gateway to the South and the objective point of the campaign. I was adjutant of the 98th regiment of Ohio volunteer infantry, belonging to Mitchell’s brigade, Steedman’s division of the reserve corps of the army of the Cumberland. Our command was sent on a reconnoitering expedition the first day of the battle to find out if Longstreet and his corps from Lee’s army had arrived. They proved their presence by shelling our camp. Sunday the battle was renewed. The right wing of the union army was crushed and driven back to Chattanooga. General George H. Thomas commanded the left, and in the face of one of the greatest onslaughts of the war held the field and won the title of “the rock of Chickamauga.” General Granger, in command of the reserve corps, and we made a rapid march of about four miles. General Steedman led our division at General Thomas’ direction and there was a fierce conflict resulting in the repulse of the Confederates.

Like Two Railroad Trains Coming Together – General Garfield in describing the attack led by General Steedman said, “the shock was like that of two railroad trains coming together.” In that first charge, lasting about twenty minutes, our command lost 20 percent in killed and wounded, and in the four hours of fighting during the afternoon the loss was nearly 50 percent. Seven companies of my regiment were in the battle. Captain M.J. Urquhart was in command and a few minutes after we entered the fight he was disabled by a musket shot that cost him his leg. As adjutant it was my duty to notify the next senior captain to take command. I found Captain Armstrong J. Thomas, a noble young man, who had been a teacher in an academy. While I was giving him the orders a bullet entered his eye and passed through his brain and he dropped dead at my feet. I then carried the orders to Captain Lochary, who was killed at a later time. We were ordered to move farther to the right of Missionary Ridge. I was at the rear of the regiment directing the men and urging stragglers to get in line. I heard a voice saying, “Adjutant for God’s sake help me.” I found a young man from Scotch Ridge, near my home. He had been wounded slightly and as I stepped behind a tree to bind up his wound and he was struck by a fragment of a shell. I could only say, “My poor fellow, God only can help you,” and left him. In a few moments I saw a mounted officer galloping toward us and when a few feet away he fell from his horse. I hastened to him, and as I turned him over found it was Captain Russell, Granger’s chief of staff. He was breathing his last from a mortal wound. We now entered upon further fierce fighting charging the enemy back and forth on the ridge. During a lull of the battle I found a young Confederate soldier lying within our lines. I asked if I could serve him. He answered that he was mortally wounded and he courteously thanked me. I found a blanket and put it under his head and gave him a drink of water and left him to die. I record this to show that there was no bitterness between soldiers, and this fact should increase our hatred of war.

Thrown from Horse by Concussion – I had the experience of being knocked from my horse by the concussion of a shell. I went head over heels down the hill. When I was helped to my feet no wound was found and the stunned and dazed feeling soon passed away. A bullet grazed my temple and cut the band of my hat and pierced my crown. In the last charge of the battle I was shot. A Minnie ball passed through the large bone of my left forearm. Just after this orders came to fall back to Roseville. The boys made a tourniquet with a bayonet and handkerchief and stopped the flowing of blood. A comrade had me put my right arm around his shoulders and another comrade took my left side. We took step together and marched in darkness through the woods until we came to Ross cabin, where I spent the night. The next day I was taken to Chattanooga. The surgeons advised amputation. A crushed arm, with very limited supplies, suggested the operation, but I was told if I could get somewhere I could have favorable surroundings and care for this arm it might be saved. The railroad bridge north had been burned and all supplies had to come by wagon. I was so anxious to get home that I rode my horse in company with a guarded wagon train over the Walden Ridge and through the Sequatchie valley nearly seventy miles. It was a fearful experience, but my intense anxiety to get to my home sustained me. I came near the death twice from my wound as a result of gangrene and erysipelas, suggesting the lack of antiseptic treatment in those days. Fragments of bone worked out of my arm for a long time, the last one eleven years after the battle, when I was a pastor in Kansas City, Missouri. The first person professing conversion under my ministry was Gabriel Lilly of Osceola, Missouri who had been a Confederate soldier in Longstreet’s corp, who were our immediate opponents at Chickamauga. My war experience seems now like a fearful dream. Hate was a horrible thing and rejoice at the prospects that the nations of the world are ready to settle their differences on the basis of Christian principle and not by human slaughter. –The Continent, Fifty Years After.

The Reverend Duncan Chambers Milner and his wife, with their son, Paul C. Milner, and grandson, Reid Thompson Milner, made a trip to Chattanooga at the recent celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the battle of Chickamauga. The party greatly enjoyed the magnificent scenery about Chattanooga, the sham battle reproducing the wonderful charge at Missionary Ridge and the scenes connected with the “Battle above the Clouds” in the Lookout Mountain, but their special interest was connected with a day on the Chickamauga battlefield, where Dr. Milner was wounded September 20, 1863. It was easy to follow the line of march of Steedman’s Division of the Reserve Corps form the McAfee Church to Snodgrass Hill at General Thomas’ headquarters. The government markers in the National Park, included the three battlefields, show where a command was at different hours of the day ending with the monument supposed to mark the location of the 98th Ohio near the close of battle. It was a wonderful experience for those who had been in the battle to be on the same ground after a half of century. One of the oppressive thoughts was to recall the splendid men killed that day and imagine what their lives spared would have meant to their country.

A visit was made to the Ross cabin at Rossville standing just as it was at the time of the battle. The former adjutant of the 98th Ohio took his party into the room where he spent the night after the battle and said,  “Here is the spot on the floor where I laid.” The reunion of the Union soldiers at Chattanooga and their cordial reception by the southern people made the occasion memorable evidence that the country was really united. One of the travelers was reminded of the old hymn, “Through many dangers, toils and snare I have already come: ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far And grace will lead me home.”