Private Daniel Miles’ death from wounds received at Gettysburg occasioned the raising of this family monument. A bit of research turns up that Miles was in Company H of the 69th Regiment Pennsylvania volunteers, composed mostly of men of Irish descent.

Figure 1. Miles monument. IOOF Cemetery, Danville, PA. Photo: author.

In Memory of
DANIEL son of
HENRY and M[aria] MILES
Departed his [……….]7, 1863
Aged 25 years l[…..]d as a
Soldier of the United States
From wounds Received in the
battle of Gettysburg

[………]
[………]

MARIA w[ife] of
HENRY MILES died
December 20 18[.]0
Aged 73 Years
____

HENRY MILES
DIED JAN 14 [….]
AGE 80 Y. 10 M [….]

Figure 2. Battlefield didactic plaque. Gettysburg, PA. Photo: author.

Yes, the Pennsylvania 69th, which was stationed at the target of Pickett’s charge (03 July 1863) and which was involved in the fiercest fighting to restrain the Confederates from pouring through the Union defense line at that point, the only one where the charge seriously threatened Union lines (figure 2 shows a didactic plaque from the battle site; the 69th was stationed at the clump of trees where Pickett’s arrow barely pierces the stone wall used as a defense).

Miles is recorded as having died of wounds received on 03 July; the date of his death is obscured on the stone, but must be either 7, 17, or 27; he was one of the many who died of the unpleasant medical aftereffects of battle, though I do not find in the records just how.

Figure 3. Miles monument, decoration in lunette. IOOF Cemetery, Danville, PA. Photo: author.

In the lunette under the arching top of the stone Miles, or a generic soldier type meant to stand for Miles, stands in low relief at attention, his rifle grounded, in full uniform (figure 3). Preparedness for duty is, I think, the story here. The figure of the soldier is framed with heraldic symmetry by two Union flags flapping in the breeze.

On both sides of the figure we find cannons with undersized carriages. On the figure’s left is a smaller cannon pointing out of the stone with a stack of balls below the barrel. On the other side is a larger cannon flipped out of its normal orientation and pointing instead at the bottom left corner of the relief frame, heaped upon what looks like a fallen flag. Another heap of balls sits on the relief’s ground line before it. Perhaps the two cannons, one at the ready, the other presumably disabled or destroyed, signifies the randomness of a soldier’s fate in war. At the top of the lunette, almost as an afterthought, is what looks like an eagle with its wings outspread.

Figure 4. Miles monument principal texts. IOOF Cemetery, Danville, PA. Photo: author.

Lichen has made much of this limestone monument illegible (figure 4), and I had no means of removing it without hurting the stone. What I think I can read I’ve transcribed above; where there was material I could not read, I placed square brackets in my text. The number of dots between the brackets estimates the width of the characters I couldn’t read but are not intended to indicate the number of missing characters. Where the obscured text could be filled in with certainly, I’ve done so. Tentatively, I would restore Daniel Miles’ epitaph as follows:

In Memory of
DANIEL son of
HENRY and MARIA MILES
Departed this life […..]7, 1863 [Jul.?]
Aged 25 years. He died as a
Soldier of the United States
From wounds Received in the
Battle of Gettysburg.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Scranton, PA

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