A native of New Hampshire described as "a rare union of personal excellency of charactor with strength and firmness of mind and body." Miller's strength of will was probably shaped by his early years - the product of a rural background, he had spent nine years alternately working and studying to acquire a college education. In 1803 Miller was called to the bar but, having a life - long enthusiam for military affairs, he accepted a major's commission in the regular army in 1809. By the outbreak of war he was a lieutenant colonel serving with Hull's army on the Detroit frontier, where on August 9th 1812 he gained the first notable American success of the war and brevet colonelcy by defeating a force of British and Indians at Maguaga. After a period of frustration during the ill fated St. Lawrence campaign of 1813, Miller had been appointed commander of the Twenty - First Infantry.