Alexander Milliner enlisted as a drummer boy who served in Gen. Washington’s Life Guard unit. He was reportedly a favorite of Washington’s, often playing at his personal request. He was present at the battles of Brandywine, Monmouth – where he was shot in the thigh after a bullet passed through his drum – Saratoga, White Plains, and Yorktown. At Yorktown, he witnessed Cornwallis’ surrender.
Milliner went on to serve six and a half more years in the United States Navy during the War of 1812. He served upon the frigate Constitution for three years and was on board during the capture of British vessels Cyane and Levant. Later he was gravely wounded and taken prisoner by the French.
Mr. Milliner remained patriotic until the end of his days, lamenting during the Civil War that it was “too bad that this country, so hardly got, should be destroyed by its own people.” He longed to play his drum for the volunteers at the beginning of the Civil War. True to the Union cause, at age 102, he presided over meeting to raise recruits for a local regiment which was received with much enthusiasm.
He lived long enough to be photographed in 1864. On March 13, 1865, at the age of 105, Milliner passed away.