Great Grandpa Josiah, Did You Know?

The official holiday is called Juneteenth in the United States. The people of Galveston did not know they were free and found out two years after the original date of proclamation, on January 1, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War. Emancipation Day is a holiday celebrated to remember the end of slavery. Three million slaves living in the Confederate states were freed by Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation, however, two more years would pass, before the news reached African Americans living in Texas. It was only as Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, the state’s residents learned that slavery had been abolished.

Confederate citizens no longer recognized Lincoln’s authority. Southern slaveholders, felt no obligation to follow Lincoln’s orders. The war was fought until force and the intervention from Union forces, brought about the Civil War’s conclusion.

Josiah C. Miller had fought for the Union during the Civil War, enlisting on April 23, 1861 in Wisconsin. Fevers, bad water, freezing ground to sleep on, led to many hospitalizations as he fought off disability. This country boy, sailed on the Steamer Great Republic and joined the Army of the Gulf and arrived in Mississippi. Josiah’s twin brother, Joseph, gave his life on February 27, 1863. On August 22, 1863, the War Department equipped his unit as a cavalry regiment. No more marching! At the age of 23, Josiah, received his honorary discharge, having served his time.

At Baton Rouge, Josiah enlisted again! Know ye, that Josiah C. Miller, Sergeant of Captain J.B. Farnsworth, Company “A” Fourth Regiment of Wisconsin, Veteran Calvary Volunteers who was enrolled in the First day of January, one thousand eight hundred and sixty four to serve three years or during the war. Remember when all these “boys” thought they were joining up for 3 months and the war wouldn’t last? On April 17, 1865 his Commanding Officer, W.B. Moore, Colonel, at Blakely, Alabama, wrote Josiah with reposing special trust and confidence in the patriotism, valor, fidelity and abilities of Josiah C. Miller, appointed him 1st Corporal in Company “I” of the Fourth Regiment of Wisconsin Cav’ly Vols,

The war ended with Robert E. Lee’s surrender, on April 9, 1865. President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865. 620,000 Americans had died in the war, with disease killing twice as many as those lost in battle. 50,000 survivors returned home as amputees. Josiah saw such brutality but once again honorably discharged on July 8, 1865, instead of heading home, he volunteered to remain in the employ of the 4th Cavalry, promoted to the rank of Sergeant on July 10th, 1865. Josiah was going to Texas, detached to guard different points along the Rio Grande River. He arrived in San Antonio on July 2, 1965.

I can only imagine, the former slaves he met were still celebrating with prayer, feasting, song and dance! It was only two weeks after these Texans started celebrating Juneteenth! Great Grampa Josiah, it took another 156 years, for Juneteenth to be recognized as a federal holiday, 2021. Happy June 19th today, as I remember my Great Grandfather’s contribution and his part in history, to make this holiday possible.

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