Even as a young man, Lindley Hoffman Miller (1834–64) was recognized as a skilled orator and poet. The fifth of nine children, he was the son of Jacob W. Miller, a US Senator from New Jersey, an ardent abolitionist, and a member of the Whig Party. When the Civil War began in 1861, Miller, at the time a practicing lawyer in New York City, enlisted as a private in the Seventh Regiment of the New York State Militia. In November 1863, he received a commission as an officer and requested to be assigned to a colored unit; he joined the First Arkansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment (African Descent), a unit composed largely of former slaves who had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863. Inspired by the men he led, Miller wrote the Marching Song of the First Arkansas Regiment, set to the tune of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Author: Lindley Hoffman Miller
Lindley Hoffman Miller
This marching song, sung to the tune of “John Brown’s Body,” was written for this regiment by Lindley Hoffman Miller (1834–64), lawyer, orator-poet, son of a United States Senator, and Union officer who requested assignment to a colored unit, joining the First Arkansas Regiment in November 1863. Originally written in Negro dialect, we reproduce here a version in standard English.