Henderson, Robert Miller

Robert Miller Henderson was a Pennsylvania lawyer who became a citizen soldier and a natural leader on the battlefields of the Civil War. He was born in North Middleton Township, Pennsylvania, the eldest son of William and Elizabeth Henderson in March 1827. He graduated from the local Dickinson College in 1845, studied law, and passed the bar in August 1847. He was still only twenty-five years old when he was elected as a Whig to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1851, serving two terms. In April 1861, Henderson helped raise a unit of volunteers called the "Carlisle Fencibles," later Company A of the Seventh Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry, and was elected their captain. The Seventh fought in Virginia in 1862, with Henderson cited for gallantry and rising to command of the regiment. His combat service came to an end when he suffered a serious chest wound at the Second Battle of Bull, in August 1863. Upon recovering, Henderson was named in April 1863 as Provost Marshal for Cumberland, York, and Perry Counties. Responsible for the difficult task of enforcing the new draft, he served in this post until the end of the war. In March 1865 he was named as a Brevet Brigadier General of Volunteers in recognition of his gallant conduct at Bull Run. After the war, he sat as judge of the Twelfth Judicial District of Pennsylvania and was also president of the Pennsylvania Antietam Battlefield Memorial Commission in 1905. He died at his home in Carlisle in January, 1906. (By John Osborne)
Life Span
Dickinson Connection
Class of 1845
    Full name
    Robert Miller Henderson
    Place of Birth
    Birth Date Certainty
    Death Date Certainty
    Sectional choice
    Free State
    No. of Spouses
    No. of Children
    William Miller Henderson (father), Elizabeth Parker (mother), Margaret Webster (wife)
    Dickinson (Carlisle College)
    Other Education
    Carlisle High School, PA
    Attorney or Judge
    Union Army

    Robert Miller Henderson (Dickinson Chronicles)

    Robert Miller Henderson was born in North Middleton near Carlisle, Pennsylvania on March 11, 1827 to William Miller and Elizabeth Parker Henderson. He was prepared at Carlisle High School and entered Dickinson College in 1841. He was an active member of the Belle Lettres Society and graduated with the class of 1845. He studied law with Judge Reed and was admitted to the Carlisle bar on August 25, 1847 though only twenty years old. He served two terms between 1851 and 1853 as an equally youthful Whig state legislator in the Pennsylvania house of representatives.

    When the Civil War broke out, Henderson helped raise the "Carlisle Fencibles" which became Company A of the Seventh Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry. Elected to the rank of captain and commissioned in that company on April 21, 1861. He was wounded at Gaines Mill but was promoted to lieutenant colonel of volunteers after the 7th sustained heavy losses in July 1862 and he was cited for his "brilliant gallantry." At the Second Battle of Bull Run at Manassas, he commanded the 7th in Meade's first brigade of General Reynolds' Division and fought with distinction, suffering serious wounds on August 29, 1862 when he was shot through the body with a minie ball. In April 1863, Henderson gave up his field commission when he was named as Provost Marshal of the Fifteenth District of Pennsylvania, which included Cumberland County. Here he served until the end of the war, when in March 1865 he was named as a brevet Brigadier General of Volunteers in recognition of his services and his gallant conduct at Bull Run.

    After the war, Henderson returned to his practice and remained active in the community, serving as president of the Soldier's Monument Association of Carlisle which erected the memorial on the town square. He also was president of the Carlisle Deposit Bank. In 1872, he began ten years of tenure as judge of the 12th Judicial District of Pennsylvania, rising to president judge in 1882. He resigned soon after and returned to private practice.

    He had married Margaret Webster of Baltimore, Maryland, and they had six children. In 1896, Dickinson College conferred on him an honorary degree. Robert Miller Henderson died on January 26, 1906. He was seventy-eight years old.
    John Osborne and James W. Gerencser, eds., “Robert Miller Henderson,” Dickinson Chronicles, http://chronicles.dickinson.edu/encyclo/h/ed_hendersonRM.htm.
    How to Cite This Page: "Henderson, Robert Miller," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/5873.