Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MERRILL, James, lawyer, born in Peacham, Vermont, 8 May, 1790; died in New Berlin, Pennsylvania, 29 October, 1841. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1812 and moved to York, Pennsylvania, with Thaddeus Stevens and John Blanchard, where he read law, and was admitted to the bar in 1815. He settled in 1816 in New Berlin, Union County, Pennsylvania, where he resided until his death. He was for many years one of the most eloquent and popular lawyers in that part of the state. As senatorial delegate he attended the Constitutional convention of 1836, and it is said that to him more than to any other man in the convention the people of Pennsylvania are indebted for its wisest provisions. In the debates he was the advocate of the present peculiar judicial sys-tern of Pennsylvania, by which equity is administered through common law forms, and as the conservative adherent to those principles in the constitution of 1790 for which it was proposed to substitute the rapidly growing doctrines of the pro-slavery thinkers. He also urged the insertion of a provision that would give to colored men the political franchise.--His son, Lewis, soldier, born in New Berlin, Pennsylvania, 28 October, 1834, left the class of 1852 at Lewisburg university, Pennsylvania, to enter the United States military academy, where he was graduated in 1855, and was appointed lieutenant to the 1st dragoons. After frontier service he was detached to muster in and organize volunteer troops, and in August, 1861, was made colonel and chief of cavalry c, n the staff of Gem John C. Fremont. He organized a regiment of Missouri volunteer cavalry, , of which he was appointed colonel, and the regiment was called Merrill's Horse. He led a brigade in the Army of the Southwest to December, 1861, and the following year took the field in operations against the guerillas of western and northern Missouri. He commanded the district of north Missouri in July, 1863, when he was assigned to the command of a brigade of cavalry in the Army of Arkansas. He participated with them and as commander of the cavalry division in the action near Little Rock, 9 September, 1863, and in t, he battle and capture of Little Rock, and led the pursuit of the enemy, driving them successively in a series of engagements from every position and capturing more than 400 prisoners. On 10 September, 1862, he had been promoted brevet major for "gallant and meritorious service against rebel forces in north Missouri," and on 10 September, 1863, he was made brevet lieutenant-colonel for "gallant and meritorious service in the battle of Little Rock." In the following year, while in command of the West division cavalry bureau, he organized and commanded a brigade of cavalry in the campaign against Price's invasion of Missouri, participating in the action near Franklin, Missouri In January, 1865, he was transferred to the Army of the Cumberland and assigned to the command of a brigade of cavalry in northwest Georgia and northern Alabama. On 5 March, 1865, he was promoted brevet colonel for services against the forces under General Wofford in the operations that terminated in his surrender, and On 13 March, 1865, he was brevetted brigadier-general for " gallant and meritorious service during the war." He then returned to his regiment, and in 1866 was made inspector-general of the Department of the Platte and subsequently judge-advocate of that department. He was promoted major in 1868, and while serving on the frontier was assigned by his brevet rank to the command of a military district in South Carolina, embracing a territory in which the Ku-klux outrages were most frequent. In return for his services he received the thanks of the war department and of his department commander for " great work and ability in mastering and breaking up the Ku-klux conspiracy," and those of the legislature of South Carolina for "conspicuous ability" in the performance of his duties. In 1875-'6 he was again called on for similar duty in command of the Red River district of Louisiana. General Merrill was retired from active service on surgeon's certificate of disability in 1886 after several years of frontier duty.
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