LEAVES FROM THE PAST: FORT MILLER
Word of this "hotbed of secessionists" reached the officials in Washington and in August of 1863, U. S. troops reoccupied Fort Miller. It is well known that when they reached the Chowchilla River, they prepared for battle and were ready to take over Fort Miller by force. They found friendly acceptance by most of the Millerton and adjacent settlers.
All of our earlier histories state that Colonel Warren Olney was in command of these troops. Vandor's History of Fresno County published in 1919 shows both Warren and James Olney. Our County Counsel, Robert M. Wash, researched and found the man's name was James Olney, not related to the Olney family that settled here.
One history records that W. J. Lawrenson, Jack White and Dave Brannan were among the troops that came and eventually settled here in Fresno County.
The Captain's wife came later when they realized there was little danger from the rebels and life in the fort became as pleasant as had the lives of the previous official occupants. Occasionally there were problems with a certain section of the population and those who spoke out against the "Black Republicans" and President Lincoln were quickly arrested and conveyed to Alcatraz Island and there was no revolt.
One memorable occasion has been recorded for our amusement. The Colonel was evidently a stickler for "the rules" and great was the hilarity when the Colonel appeared for a morning review, sans his trousers. Completely outfitted, with all the accoutrements of his rank, he snapped to return the salutes of his troops. The Colonel had been drinking with his junior officers all the evening before and at dawn, he had routinely dressed, reviewed his troops, all in a daze and completely unaware of his undraped legs. It was noted that the men, with great will power, had restrained their laughter. The officer had earned the respect of his men and the townsfolk downstream, but now they became fond of the very human, though rather austere, Lt. Colonel James Olney.
Fort Miller Blockhouse located in Roeding Park in Fresno
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