Edward Miller

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After the resignation of I. N. Hays, the Middle Spring Presbyterian Church remained vacant for one year and a half, though the pulpit was usually occupied. Several attempts were made to secure a pastor, but on account of division of sentiment in the congregation and other causes, these attempts proved fruitless, until the autumn of 1869, when Rev. D. K. Richardson was called, and having accepted, commenced his labors Jan. 1, 1870, and was installed May 6th of the same year. He resigned the pastoral charge on December 21, 1871. The first year of the labors of Mr. Richardson in the Middle Spring church, was one of great discouragement, which arose from an absence of the convicting and converting presence of the Holy Spirit, and disharmony in the church. During the latter part of this year, things became more settled, and there was an increased interest in the preaching of the Word. On the third Sabbath of January 1871, during the afternoon service at Newburg, the presence of the Spirit became manifest. It proved to be the Prophet’s cloud from the sea, and the harbinger of a gracious revival, which extended pretty generally through the congregation, and resulted in the accession of forty-seven persons to the membership of the church. During his ministry here the church was no doubt greatly benefited spiritually. The pastor was growing in favor each day with the people, and we have no doubt the dissolution of this pastoral relation was the saddest and most unexpected in the history of the church. This took place December 21, 1871, he having received a call from the church at Greencastle, Pennsylvania.

Rev. David K. Richardson.

Rev. D. K. Richardson was born near Shanesville, Ohio, January 7, 1835. His father was for many years a ruling elder in the Church of Berlin, Ohio. Mr Richardson pursued his classical studies at Vermillion College. He afterwards engaged in teaching and the study of law, with a view to the profession. While engaged in teaching he was truly and happily converted to God, being then at the age of twenty-two, and at once turned his thoughts towards the ministry of the Gospel. In the fall of 1861 he entered Western Theological Seminary at Allegheny, and completed a three years’ course. In the spring of 1863 he was licensed by the Presbytery of Maumee, and in 1864 was ordained by the same Presbytery, and installed over the churches of Napoleon and Bryan. He spent with these churches six or seven years of most earnest, devoted, and successful work. His ministry was greatly blessed. In 1870 he was called thence to the Middle Spring Church, Cumberland county, and before the close of his second year to the church in Greencastle, where he was installed February 10, 1872. This church he served until his death, August 20, 1877. Prior to his death he had accepted a call to Vincennes, Indiana, and amid his preparations to remove thither, was suddenly stricken down. In his brief ministry of thirteen years he was very successful, winning many to Christ by his impressive preaching. His labors in every charge were blessed with revivals. He was growing in spiritual and intellectual power, and his early deaath was deeply regretted.

Minutes of the Synod of Harrisburg, Volume 12, 1881, p. 59.

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On Every Battlefield of Life, Christ is ever our Comfort and Strength.

Today we present a letter from the battlefield, penned on this day, December 21, in 1863. Here, the Rev. Thomas Dwight Witherspoon writes to Susan G. Miller, sister of Witherspoon’s fallen commander, Colonel Hugh R. Miller, who died at Gettysburg. Of tragedy and loss, and of God’s comfort in our weakest moments, Rev. Witherspoon writes,

Truly God’s footsteps are in the great deep. We cannot comprehend his doings, but it is the part of faith to sit meekly & lean upon the arms of the Lord though it be in the dark. We know that He doeth all things well—that he doth not willingly grieve or afflict & therefore we should not faint under his chastisements, but gather strength from his promises & fortitude from his throne of grace, glorifying him even in the furnace of affliction, and striving by every visitation of his rod to be drawn nearer to Himself.

T. D. Witherspoon to Susan G. Miller, December 21, 1863:—

Camp 42nd Miss near Orange C. H.

Dec 21st 1863

My dear friend:

The enclosed letter sent to my care has been for a long time in the hands of Captain Cooper, but through some mistake the letter containing it was not handed me until day before yesterday. I have been intending to write to you every day since I reached Camp but have been prevented by the constant confusion & bustle incident to such a life as that we hare now leading. We have only one small tent for the Regimental, Medical & chaplains headquarters, so with the crowd always collected on business of some kind, or visiting some of us there is but little time given for writing or reflection. My thoughts have been very often with you since I come away, hoping that the slight improvement in your health during my stay might prove to be the earnest of your complete restoration to health,yet fearing that it was only the excitement of my hurried visit & that after I had gone, you would again feel keenly the power of the disease. Oh how gladly I should have remained with you longer if it had been at my option to do so. How happy I should be in any way possible to minister to your comfort & relieve the weariness of long & painful sickness. I have learned to think of you as a mother for his sake, who amid all the trials & deprivations of the camp, treated me ever as if I were a son. I cannot tell you how much I miss him now. There is a vacancy in my heart, there is a vacancy in the hearts of the men—there is a vacancy in the command of the Regiment wh. [i.e., which] cannot be filled. We shall never have another officer so active & vigilant, another leader so brave & true, another Colonel so much respected & admired, and I greatly fear we shall never again have a Regiment so thoroughly drilled & disciplined as that in which our lamented Colonel once took such a just & honest pride. All the men speak of him affectionately. All lament his death & long for some way to shew their appreciation of his worth.

We have just received official notice that Col. Moseley’s resignation is accepted. We have also a report in camp that Maj. Feeney is dead but I trust this report may not be true. [1] There will be a great contention for seniority amongst Captains & we do not know how the issue between them will be decided. Cpt. Locke has gone home on furlough, his wound is still troubling him. [2]

We have just received the sad intelligence of the death of Edward Miller, son of the late Rev. Jno. H. Miller, killed in battle & his remains left in the hands of the enemy. How distressing to this afflicted household. Truly God’s footsteps are in the great deep. We cannot comprehend his doings, but it is the part of faith to sit meekly & lean upon the arms of the Lord though it be in the dark. We know that He doeth all things well—that he doth not willingly grieve or afflict & therefore we should not faint under his chastisements, but gather strength from his promises & fortitude from his throne of grace, glorifying him even in the furnace of affliction, and striving by every visitation of his rod to be drawn nearer to Himself.

Of the state of religion in the Regiment I am not able as yet to say much as the weather has been so inclement since my return as to prevent me from mingling much with the men. On yesterday & the Sabbath before the attendance on preaching was very large & from other indications, I think there is still a deep interest. Tomorrow we move to our permanent quarters for the winter which will be three miles beyond Orange C. H. [i.e., Court House]. On the wagon road to Gordonsville. It is spoken of as an excellent location with plenty of wood, water etc. When we get a little time we purpose building a chapel & hope to have regular service all the winter. Oliver is quite well, has made application for furlough & is very impatient to get home—Dr. T. & Capt. N. [3, 4] are also well. They are all asleep or I know they would send messages. My only chance to write is at night after every thing is at rest in the camp & my candle gives so dim a light that I can scarcely see where I write. As we are to be up very early in the morning &move by then the new encampment, I must close making this my excuse for not writing a longer & more satisfactory letter. Give my love to George & Eddie. I trust you may be comforted in seeing them each brought into the fold of Christ, through the sore affliction which the Lord has sent upon you & upon them. May His gracious spirit, the promised comforter dwell richly in your heart, soothing the wounds for which earth has not remedy or balm. With kind regards to the members of the household & heartfelt prayers for you & yours

Your true friend & brother,

T. D. Witherspoon

[1] According to Military History of Mississippi, Major Feeney was killed at the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864.

[2] Capt. Robert A. Locke of Company D, 42nd Regiment, was wounded at Gettysburg and promoted to Major on December 18, 1863.

[3] Regimental Surgeon Robert L. Taggart.

[4] Probably Captain Andrew M. Nelson, who eventually succeeded Miller, Moseley and Feeney to command the 42nd.

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