William Miller (Peruvian general)

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English general
Portrait from his brother's biography, 1828

William Miller (1795–1861) known throughout Latin America as Guillermo Miller, was an English-born soldier who participated in several South American revolutions, and then became a diplomat.

Biography[edit]

Born December 2, 1795 in Wingham, Kent, Miller was fluent in several languages by the age of seventeen, when he enrolled in the British army to fight in the Napoleonic Wars.[1] In September 1817, hearing of the wars in Latin America, he set sail for Buenos Aires to join San Martín's Army of the Andes. He took part in San Martín's liberation of Chile, participating in the decisive battle of Maipú, and then joined Lord Cochrane as the commander of marines in the Chilean Navy. He participated in the failed expedition to Chiloé and lost the little but significant Battle of Agüi.

Peru[edit]

After the liberation of Lima, Peru he was appointed commander of the Peruvian Legion. General Miller - while suffering from malaria - played a big part in the Battle of Tarata: storming the hills and taking them when everything seemed to be lost. Peru President José de la Riva Agüero promoted Miller to General of Brigade and, when Simón Bolívar arrived, he was promoted to Chief of a cavalry unit that included Argentines and Chileans who had arrived with San Martín, in addition to many Peruvians and Colombians.

At the Battle of Junín his cavalry was largely responsible for the defeat of the Spanish and at the Battle of Ayacucho his initiative in launching an attack at a critical moment, without waiting for Sucre's orders, was decisive in securing victory. During these wars Miller was wounded twenty two times, and after his death the autopsy revealed he had carried two bullets in his liver for 40 years.

He created the Hussars of the Peruvian Legion who, after turning the course of the Battle of Junín in favour of the revolutionaries, were renamed the "Hussars of Junín". These same Hussars remain in charge of the guard at the Peruvian Palace of Government in Lima.[citation needed]

After the war was over, Miller settled in Lima. He held various public offices, but argued with the governments after 1836, mainly about their treatment of the Indians. As a result, he was stripped of his rank as Grand Marshal of Peru. His brother John wrote a two volume biography in 1828.[2][3]

Hawaii[edit]

Miller became British diplomatic Consul to Pacific islands such as the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1843 after Richard Charlton. He arrived in Honolulu in January 1844 with his Scottish friend Robert Crichton Wyllie. Wyllie acted as assistant in Hawaii while Miller traveled to the rest of the Pacific islands from July 1844 to March 15, 1845. Wyllie would then become Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Kingdom of Hawaii.[4]

In 1859 Busvargus Toup Nicolas (1819–1859), son of Admiral John Toup Nicolas (1788–1851), temporarily replaced Miller as consul.[5]

Return to Peru[edit]

On Nicolas' return because of ill health, English merchant William Lowthian Green acted as consul until William W. F. Synge (1826–1891), could finally be sent as a permanent official replacement. Miller died in Callao October 31, 1861, aged 66. In the 1920s, his body was transferred to the Panteon de los Proceres, the final resting place for the heroes of the War of Independence.

There is a house in Markham College named after him.

References[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Richard Charlton
U.K. Consul to Kingdom of Hawaii
1844–1859
Succeeded by
William W. F. Synge