About the Author

John A. Miller leads a tour of Monterey Pass Battlefield.

I currently serve as the Director of the Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum. I also serve as a tour guide for the Monterey Pass Battlefield and Retreat from Gettysburg related sites.  For over the past decade, I have focused on the lesser known subjects of the Civil War along the Mason-Dixon Line and the South Mountain region. My research has led me to author numerous articles, which have been published by various newspapers, and historical journals.  I also author a monthly column for the Emmitsburg News Journal, and have authored two publications dedicated to the Battle of Monterey Pass and one dedicated to the New York State National Guard in 1863. My most recent publication is about Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain during the Civil War.

I has been featured in several documentaries, most recently the “Heart of the Civil War” documentary which premiered in 2012, at the start of the 150th Commemoration of the Maryland Campaign, where they utilized my expertise as the former South Mountain State Battlefield Civil War Historian. PCN aired the Battle of Monterey Pass special in 2015 as part of Battlefield Pennsylvania in which I was part of. I am currently employed by the Gettysburg Foundation as an Assistant Manager in the Visitor Services Department of the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.

johnandaliciaI have an  active role in historic preservation. I have been the leading force behind the preservation efforts of the Monterey Pass Battlefield and had a hand in several land acquisitions at South Mountain State Battlefield before leaving my position. I serve as a historical consultant to several organizations in Frederick and Washington Counties, Maryland and in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and have been invited by numerous organizations to speak about many topics that relate to the Civil War.

In my spare time. I enjoy participating in various outdoors activities with my family and two dogs. I also contribute blog postings for “The Noise of Middle Earth” which is a music blog that discusses all genres of music. I am studying Park & Recreational Management at the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands through Indiana University and Natural Resource Management and Wilderness Management through the Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training Center.

Standing behind me all the way, is my wife Alicia who without her support, none of this would be possible. “To my dearest wife, I say thank you for all that you do to help me succeed.”

Books I authored: 

  • The Battle of Monterey Pass; Pennsylvania’s Second Largest Civil War Battle, 2006
  • A Midnight Fight along the Mason Dixon Line, 2013
  • The New York State National Guard during the Pennsylvania Campaign, 2014
  • Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain during the Civil War, 2015

Coming soon:

  • A Summer of Fire and Shot, Introduction of the 1814 British Attacks on Washington and Baltimore during the War of 1812
  • The 1863 Civil War Army At Monterey Pass & Franklin County
  • To Take The Forks Of The Ohio, The British Campaigns Against Fort Duquesne, 1754-1758

All books are published by the Emmitsburg News Journal for the Monterey Pass Battlefield Institute and are available only at the Monterey Pass Battlefield Museum. The money from book sold, goes directly back to covering additional printing costs and preservation or education projects at Monterey Pass Battlefield Park and Museum.

Citing this blog: Miller, John A., “The Entry.” When War Passed This Way. Date of article and date of access and copy the link.


20 thoughts on “About the Author

  1. JEFFREY D BROWN July 22, 2012 / 12:57 pm

    First let me say that I have alot of respect for john and his wife , without people like them alot of this history would not be as popular as it is. I fully support and hope to be able to help him with his saving of the monterey pass battlefield .There are alot things missing in this story of the battle of hagerstown.First of all it should be stated that it is the first , there are two battles of hagerstown . THE FRIST ONE IS MORE FAMOUS AND WAS THE BIGGER OF THE TWO. iT HAPPENED ON JULY 6TH 1863 AND LASTED AT 6 TO 8 HOURS, AND WHEN OVER THE CONFEDERATES WON THE DAY AND CARRIED THE TOWN , THE SECOND HAPPENED ON JULY 12TH 1863 WHEN THE UNION ,UNDER GEORGE CUSTERS LEAD TOOK THE TOWN BACK. There are alot of incidents left out in this article, But the two most important are the following two accounts. No battle of hagerstown story is ever complete without mentioning W.W. JACOBS, he was a chambersburg resident staying in the eagle hotel(NORTH WEST CORNER OF THE SQUARE) that was pressed into action during the first battle of hagerstown.His account of the first battle of hagerstown is the one of the few eye witness acounts and to not put it in an article about the first battle of hagerstown would be like leaving out the story of bloody lane when writing about antietam. I encourage everyone to read it , it was published in THE NATIONAL TRIBUNE august 27th, 1896. I promise you after you read it you will never look at the battle of hagerstown the same way. IT IS ONE OF THE MOST DESCRIPTIVE SCENES OF BLOODY HAND TO HAND SWORD FIGHTING ON HORSE BACK AS WELL AS DESCRIBING THE TOWN BEING SHELLED FROM THE SEMINARY HOSPITIAL(KEYMAR COLLOGE) THAT YOU WILL EVER READ. ESPICALLY SINCE IT WAS THE LARGEST CAVALRY BATTLE EVER FOUGHT INSIDE THE CONFINES OF A TOWN. Also left out is the account of the daughter of DR.JAMES B MCKEE who reaches out the 2nd floor window of their house on south potomac street(northeast corner of the square) and shoots and kills SGT JOSEPH BROWN of co.b 18th pennslyvania . He was carried to the TOWN SQUIRE BIERSHINGS house by none other than our brave W.W. JACOBS who after this event is handed a rifle and ammo by a soldier from connecticut and the rest of the story is waiting for you to read .it is online but if you cannot find it email me and i will mail you a copyof it. I , like john ,have been in love with american history since a young age. I grew up across from the antietam battlefield (mondel road)untill 1976 we moved to hagerstown at the age of 12. In 1996 TED ALEXANDER was a guest editor of the magazine north and south , which highlighted the retreat from gettysburg. Untill that article most people including 99percent of all pennsylvanians and marylanders did not know how savage and violent the action of the retreat was . Without TED ALEXANDER who is the dean of the retreat as well as one of the greatest civil war historians , bar none, this subject would still be buried a mile deep. I am glad JOHN MILLER has taken up the monterey pass battlefield struggle to save it,they will always have a champion of history in their corner while he is fighting the good fight, and I always enjoy reading his blogs, but Im writing this article to encourage everyone to research and read (most of them online) the pesonal diaries of the men in involved in the 10 days of fighting (july 4th to the 14th ) also the book “one continuous fight ‘ by ERIC J.WITTENBURG , also petruzzi,nugent. It is the BIBLE OF THE RETREAT , none better . It has everything ,all the way , from gettysburg till they cross at falling waters THANK YOU ERIC FOR THE AMAZING BOOK. .Also if you want to read an indepth veiw on the wagon train of misery I must also suggest STEVE FRENCH ,his books on imboden , they are masterpieces . Also at the end of the retreat it is one of the most amazing stories that occured . With all the intense battles such as MONTEREY PASS, FUNKSTOWN, BOTH HAGERSTOWN BATTLES, WILLIAMSPORT , AND BOONSBORO .I guess it is oh so fitting at the end of this 10 days of continuous battles of fighting each other ,and the weather, and going without sleep and food and every other thing you can imagine that happened on the retreat from gettysburg, it would not be fitting without mentioning the BATTLE OF FALLING WATERS’ july 14th ,1863 and the historian GEORGE FRANKS and owner of the DONNELLY HOUSE where brig. general JAMES J PETTIGREW(csa) was mortally wounded along with maj. PETER WEBBER (US) along with the others killed (both sides) hundreads of confederates were captured . GEORGE FRANKS is writing a book that will be out this fall.His passion for the retreat and the battle of falling waters is evident in not only his talks but in his actions.He took on the owner ship of one of the most underated properties of the entire civil war , (the donnelly house) he walks the walk and he talks the talk, he doesnt have someone else do it for him. I can only thank god that he has the donnelly house and it is in the perfect hands of the perfect owner, I cannot wait for his book If you want info about this and an indepth look at the battle of hagerstown you can email me at BATTLEOFHAGERSTOWN@YAHOO.COM , I would be happy to assist you ., GOOD LUCK JOHN AND KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK your hagerstown connection JEFFREY D. BROWN

    • John A. Miller July 22, 2012 / 3:49 pm

      Good afternoon Jeffrey,

      Thank you for the kind words and I think you summed up best when you said “I’m writing this article to encourage everyone to research and read (most of them online) the personal diaries of the men in involved in the 10 days of fighting.” My blog postings only give a small taste of the rich Civil War history that surrounds not only South Mountain, but other areas as well. Thank you for the encouraging words regarding Monterey Pass Battlefield. It is people like you that keep me going and working to accomplish such a huge project.

      On a side note, Ted Alexander has been my mentor as well as my good friend. As a historian myself, I couldn’t ask for a better person to work with in our professions both at Antietam NPS and South Mountain State Battlefield as well as the other campaigns that crossed the Potomac River. Thank you, again.

    • Tom Freeman August 14, 2018 / 1:00 pm

      Mr. Miller,

      Your post about the Second Battle of Funkstown is very interesting. My home sits just south of the battlefield along the Antietam Creek at “Cool Hollow”. The house was built around 1820, and during the retreat the house and land (including other farms) was occupied by both the Confederate and Union armies between July 8-12th, 1863. There were encampments and several skirmishes along the National Road in front of the house during those 5 tumultuous days. I have studied Wittenbergs book at length and there are several mentions to the exact location of my home and they campsites, etc. But nothing of the actual home or family that owned it. My question is have you come across writings by either the Confederate or Union soldiers, officers, etc that have mentioned anything that might state such information? Thank you again for your help in advance and for your dedication to keeping our nations history alive.

      Tom Freeman

      • John A. Miller August 14, 2018 / 2:14 pm

        Thank you! No, I have not either. Many cases, civilians fled in the advance of the moving armies. I have numerous accounts of civilians fleeing from Maryland into Pennsylvania when the Confederate invaded. That could be why there isn’t a mention of the family itself. Have you tried Kent Brown’s book or Roger Keller’s book? Also, try the Western Maryland Library Archives. They have lot’s of resources dedicated to Washington County.

  2. Gerald Wagoner August 27, 2013 / 11:32 pm

    Mr. Miller
    My name is Gerald Wagoner. I live and teach high school English in Brooklyn NY.
    I am excited to have discovered your work. I have been interested in The Civil War since I began to research my great-great gandfather’s regiment, the 22nd North Carolina, about 10 years ago. Four years ago two friends and I made trip to Gettysburg, and spent three days walking the battlefield and sharing insights. The year after that we drove to Appomattox, Sailor’ Creek, Petersburg and Chimborazo in Richmond. Last year we couldn’t go, but our goal was Antietam.

    Last August questions of about Lee’s retreat came up that none of us could answer. I read Brown’s ” Retreat from Gettysburg” and one of my friends read “One Continuous Fight”.

    Last week the three of us used appendix of “One Continuous Fight” to follow Lee’s retreat route through South Mountain’s Monterey Pass to Falling Waters. This place was new to all three of us.

    The next day we followed Jackson from Hagerstown to School House Ridge, then drove to Leesburg, took White’s ferry, went through Fredrick, and explored (the best we could) Fox, Turner, and Crampton gaps. This was my first time seeing this new ground. I had only a vague sense of what happened in the gaps, and we struggled to make sense of the terrain and events. I am now reading Hoptak’s South Mountain book, and Gottfried’s Maps of Antietam.

    Both the retreat and the battles for the gaps are great stories, and little known. Hence I glad to find there is someone knowledgeable about these places and events. I have read two of your postings about Monterey Pass. Both helped me make sense of what took place on that march. I have many questions, but won’t ask them until I have read more of your postings.
    I do however have one. About a mile after the pass there is a drop off on the right side of the highway heading west where the authors of “One Continuous Fight” say hundreds of Confederate wagons when off the edge.
    Hundreds is a big number of wagons. Was it hundreds? And if so: how could Lee sustain such losses?
    I have taken too much of your time, but I wanted to say I’m glad you are doing the work you are.
    Gerald Wagoner

  3. John A. Miller August 28, 2013 / 8:23 am

    Hello Mr. Wagoner,

    Thank you for your interests in the Battle of Monterey Pass. For the past 13 years, I have been researching and studying the battle and troop movements through the area. To answer your questions with my thoughts. Hundreds of wagons in the ravine would be an overstatement in my opinion. Each wagon with a team of horses being the length of the average yellow school bus, if you would line them up, you’re talking about a very long line. However, there were over nine miles total destroyed or captured which encompasses the area from Monterey Pass to Waterloo to Ringgold and then Leitersburg, which is what think the authors were meaning to say. I have seen many reports on the Confederate side that only 250 wagons were destroyed, many contained artillery supplies, kitchen items and knapsacks.

    The bigger picture is that nine miles of wagon seems like a huge amount to us today, but during the Pennsylvania Campaign, the Confederate army as early as June 15 began seizing supplies and sending them to Winchester where they were offloaded and then the wagons came back to Chambersburg and were refilled again. From June 15th to July 3rd, the Valley Turnpike was used as a supply route. Even Union soldiers stationed at Washington Monument near Turner’s Gap saw the wagons moving back and fourth with supplies. With that being said, what was lost at Monterey Pass was a drop in the bucket compared to what the Confederates took from Pennsylvania.

    Many of the wagons that went through Monterey Pass totaled upwards to 40 to 45 miles in length, starting with the reserves under Major Harman, followed by General Ewell’s Corps which contained quartermaster, ambulances, commissary and ordinance, plus supplies captured from Waynesboro to Carlisle. Following behind Ewell was a small portion of Hill’s trains while the majority of his wagon train stayed near Cashtown during the Battle of Gettysburg and would retreat through that area of South Mountain with Longstreet’s wagon trains.

    If you have any questions, by all means feel free to contact me. Also, stay connected to the Friends of the Monterey Pass Battlefield, Inc. We are really moving forward with plans to preserving the Battlefield at Monterey Pass which a lot of the ground is still there undeveloped. http://www.montereypassbattlefield.ord.

  4. Gerald Wagoner August 28, 2013 / 2:29 pm

    Mr. Miller
    I was pleasantly surprised by such a prompt response. Thank you. In reference to what the Confederates took from Pennsylvania, I remember being astonished while reading Brown’s “Retreat from Gettysburg”, not just by the amount of livestock and material, but how well organized was the process for moving it all to Winchester, and beyond. I frequently make fun of history books with “the untold story” in their titles, but the events of July 4 to 14 certainly merit the subtitle of “little known” story.
    Thank you for the web site address. (ord should read org though).

    • Gerald Wagoner February 18, 2015 / 10:16 pm

      Mr. Miller
      I’ve been reading about the progress of The Monterey Battlefield Museum carefully. My one drive the length of Lee’s retreat in 2013 has never seemed enough, and with all you have built since, I will return.
      After my 2013 visit to the Pass I became more curious about Custer’s Civil War history, so I was excited when I saw Glorious War by Thom Hatch. When I looked in the index however, there was no reference to South Mountain or to Monterey Pass. Do you have an opinion on which book about Custer’s Civil War years would best answer my questions?

      • John A. Miller February 19, 2015 / 7:10 am

        Good morning, when it comes to most authors, they seem to skip over the retreat aspect of Custer. I am not sure as to why. The 1940’s movie, they died with their boots on, I loved because it actually started with the battle of Hanover and skipped right over Gettysburg, with a mention of Monterey Gap on the screen. As far as books, Tom Hatch did mention the retreat in his book that dealt with the Civil War careers of Stuart and Custer. One of Custer’s Wolverines: The Civil War Letters of Brevet Brigadier General James H. Kidd, 6th Michigan Cavalry is a great period book and talks about Monterey Pass. You can google it and download a pdf for free or Wittenberg has redone this book in today’s terms. I would try the original.

  5. Gerald Wagoner February 19, 2015 / 3:21 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to respond. I’ll try the General Kidd book since I have a fondness for primary source works.

    I may be over stepping, but when I visit battlefields I usually attempt to commit the experience to some sort of writing. Last summer I visited the Big Hole Battlefield in Montana where Col. John Gibbon with part of his 7th Infantry regiment attacked Chief Joseph’s band of Nez Perce. The essay I put together over the course of the fall, which links my Civil War studies with personal experience and personal opinion is the best I’ve managed to do. I’m not a historian. I’m a high school English teacher with a wide ranger of interests, and would like to have this essay looked at by a Civil War historian like your self, because one of my assertions is the Big Hole battle is, in a way, a Civil War battle. In other words, I am asking if you have time and inclination to read something (5,800 words) from a total stranger who may or may not be some loser crank.
    Again, thank you for you time.
    Gerald Wagoner

  6. Eddie Tennison August 1, 2016 / 7:22 pm

    Mr. Miller
    It is with great pleasure that I have discovered this work of yours.

    I have only recently learned that my great-great grandfather was killed at Turner’s Gap on Sept. 14, 1862. He was the young brother-in-law of Major Miel Hilton, one George Walter Clyburn of the 22nd Carolina.

    I just wanted to thank you for all the information you’ve so graciously provided here, and hope someday to visit your area and see the battleground with my own eyes. Until then you’ve given me a lot of good reading to enjoy.

    Dr. Ed Tennison
    Austin Texas

  7. Joe Ryan October 1, 2018 / 7:31 pm

    John, what Confederate cavalry force do you suspect it was that Howard’s cavalry encountered in the Middletown Valley when his corps marched into it late on June 25?

    • John A. Miller October 1, 2018 / 10:24 pm

      Most likely it was one of the independent cavalry commands that was not part of Stuart’s cavalry. Doubtful of Jenkins, Imboden, or Robertson. I would have to consult the OR’s for the answer. I know there were movements, because of a skirmish that left a Union Springfield contract rifled musket behind on South Mountain made from the Bridesburg Model 1861, Springfield contract.

  8. Joe Ryan October 1, 2018 / 11:26 pm

    Thanks for the input. The OR doesn’t explain it, just that it happened.

  9. Joe Ryan January 26, 2019 / 11:10 am

    Can you tell me when and how Lee’s pontoon bridge at Williamsport was destroyed?

    • John A. Miller January 26, 2019 / 1:46 pm

      On July 3&4, 1863, Major General William French headquartered at Frederick ordered cavalry in his department to burn the pontoon bridges near Harper’s Ferry (detachment of Cole’s Cavalry) and Falling Waters/Williamsport, MD (detachment of the VII Corps).

      • Joe Ryan January 27, 2019 / 10:35 am

        Thanks for your reply. Newcomer, in his memoir of Cole’s Cavalry, states that, on about July 3, “Cole’s Cavalry had destroyed the railroad bridge at Harper’s Ferry,” writing nothing about the pontoon bridge at Williamsport. Is there a writing you are relying on? What is the basis for the statement that there were more than one pontoon bridge? I am thinking of making a video about the retreat, coming there in June. I need four hours of help, at $50 an hour, with the route and the camera. Email me if you interested.

      • John A. Miller January 27, 2019 / 11:49 am

        The Official Records and post war regimental books. I have seen where the 1st New York Cavalry, not the Veteran cavalry, was responsible for burning the pontoon near Falling Waters Maryland. Depending on our schedules, I would be in for helping you. I give tours of the retreat all of the time.

  10. Joe Ryan January 28, 2019 / 11:34 am

    According to William Beach, a member of the 1st New York Cavalry, on the night of July 3, a major Shadrack Foley, with 300 men from the 1st NY, 13th & 14th Penn, and 6th Mich, went to Falling Waters and destroyed the pontoon bridge at that location. Foley then went on to Williamsport and attacked the Confederate guard at the ford at that location, then returned to Frederick. It appears Robinson and Jones had been guarding the bridge bu were gone by the night of July 3 to Gettysburg.

  11. HARRY STEVENS February 3, 2019 / 10:25 am

    Hello John, great articles. Met you in Gettysburg and talked to you outside the presentation area while waiting for the next show. I have begun supporting the American Battlefield Trust and now have a booth selling items such and civil war prints, etc. at Strasburg Emporium in Strasburg, VA

    Let me know what I can display at the booth to support your operation. I just bought from ABT a set of maps from of John Bachelder, (1876) that consists of 28 maps. These are from an estate sale that I stumbled upon from ABT. They do a wonderful Facebook podcast. They need to cover your territory. I haven’t opened the large package yet. Let me know if you have an interest in the collection.

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