"New England’s most distinguished soldier"

This is James F. Miller, an army major who gained hero status for his role in the 1812 war against the British Empire. He commanded a detachment against the Shawnee in General William Hull’s (unsuccessful) bid to capture the Detroit River and also played a prominent role in the Battle of Maguaga. Although the American troops once more failed to triumph, Miller was applauded for beating back the British, Canadian and Shawnee ambush they fell into and was elevated to colonel. This tenure that was doomed to be short-lived, for a week later he was taken hostage by British forces. Released after a year’s imprisonment, he then led his regiment to victory in the Battle of Lundy’s Lane.

Miller took up a role as collector at the Salem custom house in 1825. By the time Hawthorne arrived, he had been in post for 21 years and would be the author’s immediate supervisor for most of his time there. Miller was forced to quit the custom house in January 1849 when a stroke left him paralyzed.