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June 20, 2021

Portrait of Jacob C. Miller, a Civil War Veteran Who Lived With an Open Bullet Wound in His Forehead for Decades

Jacob C. Miller (August 4, 1840 - January 13, 1917) was a private in company K, 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment, and was wounded in the head near the Brock Field at the Battle of Chickamauga on the morning of September 19, 1863. The ball impacted in Miller’s head during the Civil War, but luckily the buck didn’t penetrate his skull.

Jacob Miller, after the Civil War.

Jacob Miller survived a bullet wound to the head during a battle in the Civil War. Miller wears his medal of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization formed after the war for Union veterans.

His firsthand account of the battle was published by The Joliet Daily News in 1911.

“When I came to my senses some time after I found I was in the rear of the confederate line. So not to become a prisoner I made up my mind to make an effort to get around their line and back on my own side. I got up with the help of my gun as a staff, then went back some distance, then started parallel with the line of battle. I suppose I was so covered with blood that those that I met, did not notice that I was a Yank, (at least our Major, my former captain did not recognize me when I met him after passing to our own side)...

“The wound never really healed, but it’s pretty safe to assume it saved his life. What happened next?
I suffered for nine months then I got a furlough home to Logansport and got Drs. Fitch and Colman to operate on my wound. They took out the musket ball. After the operation a few days, I returned to the hospital at Madison and stayed there till the expiration of my enlistment, Sept. 17, 1864. Seventeen years after I was wounded a buck shot dropped out of my wound and thirty one years after two pieces of lead came out...

“Some ask how it is I can describe so minutely my getting wounded and getting off the battle field after so many years. My answer is I have an everyday reminder of it in my wound and constant pain in the head, never free of it while not asleep. The whole scene is imprinted on my brain as with a steel engraving. I haven’t written this to complain of any one being in fault for my misfortune and suffering all these years, the government is good to me and gives me $40.00 per month pension.”


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