Prominent Men and Women of Mower County - Miles Trowbridge

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Publication Date: 
Wednesday, August 26, 1891
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Miles M. Trowbridge.

Miles M. Trowbridge was born in Dover, Racine county, Wisconsin, May 22d, 1843. He was the oldest child of S. H. and Diana Trowbridge. His father, S. H. Trowbridge was descended from Thomas Trowbridge, who emigrated from Taunton. England, about 1634 to Dorchester, Mass., and when the New Haven colony was formed removed in 1638 or 9 and became one of the earliest settlers of that colony.

The Trowbridge family wasn't an ancient land holding family of Devonshire, England. The early settler, Thomas, from whom the Trowbridges of America are descended, was remembered by his uncle an older Thomas, very handsomely, in bequest of person property, while the real estate in accordance with English custom was left wholly to his oldest son.

In the revolutionary war, John Trowbridge, the great grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was a captain and stationed at West Point. His son, John, was captain of a sailing vessel and captured by the British off the Isle of France, under their orders in council. He succeeded in recapturing his ship from the prize crew of twenty-one, put aboard to take her into Cape Good Hope, but was captured again by a French frigate under the "Berlin and Milan" decrees and sent to the Isle of France. The French governor restored his ship and part of his cargo. He sold his ship and cargo to avoid confiscation and escaped to Batavia. After an eventful period of a year or two there and a most daring enterprise on the coast of New Holland, where by the aid of divers, he recovered upwards of $250,000 in specie from a sunken wreck, he was again captured by the British with all his specie and taken as a prisoner of war first to Java, then to Calcutta and afterwards to England. He was released when peace was concluded and arrived in New York, June 5, 1815, after an absence of five and a half years.

He went west, accumulated and lost a fortune at Rochester, N. Y. In 1836 he removed to Racine, Wis., with his family, among whom was S. H. Trowbridge, and engaged in farming.

The subject of this sketch passed the first 14 years of his life in the immediate neighborhood of this grandfather and learned lessons of patriotism from his lips, and stories of his adventurous life. Miles M. worked on his father's farm summers and attended the common school winters till the breaking out of the war of the rebellion in 1861. His father restrained him from enlisting with the three month men, but when Freemont's proclamation in Missouri disclosed that it would be a fight to a finish, and removed the cause of the war, his consent was given and Miles enlisted in September, 1861, in the 1st regiment of Wisconsin volunteer infantry for three years and went
as one of the color guards to that regiment. The first serious battle in which the regiment engaged, was at Perryville, Oct. 8th, 1862, during Buell and Bragg's foot race from the south line of Tennessee for the Ohio. During the battle, the regiment in front lost every field officer and was thrown into confusion and obliged to retire. The first Wisconsin was advanced to its place and with the assistance of artillery held the position till all the artillery horses were killed or unmanageable. The regiments of the brigade were ordered to hold the ground while the guns were withdrawn. About this time the 1st Wisconsin made a dash and captured the flag of the 1st Tennessee. Protected by the fire of other regiements the 1st Wisconsin took away from the field every gun and caisson by hand. Their flag was riddled by balls and flag staff severed in two places. All the color guard but three were killed or wounded. The regiment received the thanks of the state of Indiana for rescuing the battery, which belonged to that state, and a present of a full complement of colors in recognition
of its bravery.

Miles was reported mortally wounded. His father went down for his body but saved his life by careful nursing. He removed him to the Louisville hospital and on the 15th of November he was discharged as permanently disabled. Even then the chances of his reaching home alive seemed about even, but by easy stages and laying over a day or two for rest in different places, his father brought him through. The
ball entered his left shoulder, passed through the upper portion of his lung and came out close by the spine. He has never fully recovered
from the effects. He remained at home in the fall of 1863 removed with his father to Lyle, Minn.

A part of the succeeding year, as his health became firmer, was spent in commencing a higher education, but he was chiefly indebted for his admirable fund of information and terse use of the English language to his persistent habit of reading, formed in his boyhood and kept up after the war. He was not satisfied to study while others were fighting and in September, 1864, reenlisted in Co. K. 4th Minnesota. He joined the regiment in season to take part in the terrific fight at Altoona, where Corse "held the fort" on Sherman's signals, notwithstanding his great loss of men and the individual loss of an ear and a cheek bone.

Miles was among the sixty thousand selected for the march to the sea. This was a mere picnic. The Indian summer days lasted till after Christmas in that latitude. The strategy of the general, the uncertainty of his objective point and the celerity of the forward march paralyzed the enemy and rendered fighting unnecessary.

After resting at Savannah more than a month, the still longer march north commenced in February. This was a far more arduous task. The spring rains rendered it necessary to cordroy all roads for the passage of baggage and artillery and frequently rendered the swollen rivers impassible, and Joe Johnston, at least second in ability of confederate generals commanded the enemy and delivered a blow at this wing or the other at every opportunity. Then followed the surrender of the confederate armies, the grand review at Washington, and the mustering out which occurred in July, 1865.

Miles returned to farming in the town of Lyle. On the 22nd day of February, 1869, he married Rachel Crawford, of Dover, Wis., the schoolmate and companion of his boyhood. They have been blessed with six children, John, Henry, Mary, Alfred, Frank and Miles.

He held the offices of town clerk, town treasurer and chairman of the board of supervisors in the town of Lyle, and in 1877 was elected county commissioner from the southwest district. He held this office for three years, and was quite instrumental in the erection of our beautiful court house. The people voted not to issue bonds for that purpose, and as the records were unsafe under existing conditions, he with others wisely disregarded present unpopularity, and the outcries of the penny wise and pound foolish, and voted to raise the unnecessary amount by taxation, distributed over three years time. In the fall of 1880 the court house was so far advanced as to show it was an excellent bargain for the money and Miles promoted to the office of register of deeds, which he held by successive elections for six years. He proved an efficient and acceptable officer. During this period he became captain of Co. G. 2d Regiment of Minnesota National Guards, and brought the company up in numbers and efficiency. He realized the importance of such organizations for the preservation of order and as a preparation for defense, and enjoyed the esteem and confidence of the company.

In the spring of 1887 he was employed to get up a set of abstract books at Superior, Wis. His experience as register of deeds fitted him for this work and gave him the reputation that secured him the position.

A year and a half later he went to Portland, Oregon, in the employ of the Pacific Coast Abstract Co., where he now resides.