MILTON M. HOLLAND (1844 ~ 1910). Medal of honor Recipient Milton M. Holland was born in 1844 in either Carthage or Austin, Texas. He was the son of Bird Holland (who later became Texas Secretary of State before the Civil War) and possibly a slave owned by Spearman "Major" Holland, Bird Holland's half brother. Sometime in the 1850s, Bird Holland purchased the freedom of his three sons Milton, William, and Kemp, and sent them to school in Ohio. Milton Holland was enrolled in the Albany Enterprise Academy, a school run by free African Americans.
Holland tried to enlist at the start of the Civil War but was too young, so he worked for the quartermaster department of the U.S. Army as a shoemaker for a period of time before he was allowed into the Army.
He joined the 11th Ohio Militia Infantry in 1862, which was mustered into service as the Fifth U.S. Colored Troops in Athens, Ohio, in 1863. Holland served in the Petersburg Campaign of 1864, where his unit participated in capturing Petersburg station and several Confederate officers there. Milton Holland climbed in rank, advancing to Sergeant Major by September 1864.
On September 29, 1864, while fighting near Richmond, Virginia, at the Battle of Chaffin's Farm, all white officers were killed during the advance. Holland took command and led them to victory. For his lead of the charge, during which he was wounded, Holland was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Holland was one of 16 black soldiers to receive the honor during the Civil War and the first African American recipient from Texas. He was field promoted to captain for his action at Chaffin's Farm, but his commission was refused by the War Department, which did not allow African Americans to become officers.
Holland then took part in patrols around the lowlands of North Carolina surrounding Fort Fisher in January of 1865, capturing Confederate guerilla fighters and freeing slaves according to the Emancipation Proclamation. He received his Medal of Honor on April 6, 1865, and mustered out of the Army on September 20, 1865.
His father, Bird Holland, died at the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana, in 1864, while serving as a Major in the Confederate Army. Milton Holland's brother, William, served with the Sixteenth U.S. Colored Troops and returned to Texas after the war to become a prominent state legislator.
After the war, Milton Holland lived in Washington D.C., where he worked for the government and established an insurance company. He died of a heart attack on his farm near Silver Springs, Maryland, on May 15, 1910, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Bibliography: "Milton M. Holland," Arlington National Cemetery Website, http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/mholland.htm; Handbook of Texas Online, Texas State Historical Association, University of Texas, http://tsha.utexas.edu/handbook/online/articles/HH; Holland, Sandra. "Cousins meet, find relatives," Pleasanton Express. October 13, 2004. National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System, http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss.