Michael D. Miller, of Georgetown, will retire from re-enacting U.S. Grant in uniform. He will continue to give lectures on Grant, but will do so in civilian attire.
Miller has portrayed Grant for nearly 20 years, beginning with the 175th anniversary of Grant’s birth in 1997.
In April 1996, several members of the U.S. Grant Association traveled to Point Pleasant to take part in the 1996 birthday celebration. On the way, Miller pointed out that he was the same size, weight and age as Grant when the Civil War commenced in 1861, according to Stan Purdy, president of the association.
“When we returned to Georgetown, it occurred to me that maybe Mike wanted to portray Grant for the 175th celebration,” Purdy said. “Sure enough, I talked to Mike and he said he would love to take on the job.”
Since 1997, Miller has portrayed Grant as part of the Georgetown celebration in battles, parades, lectures, grand balls, ladies’ teas, memorials for the 70th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and performances of the surrender scene, as well as school programs and radio and television broadcasts.
Ned Lodwick, organizer of the annual celebration said, “Mike has been an integral and important part of our annual celebration. As a local historian, Mike has made our efforts far more meaningful.”
Early in his career as Grant, the association published a picture of Miller as Grant leaning against a tree much like the famous picture of Grant. This picture contained the history of Grant on the back. Virtually every Grant re-enactor tries to copy this pose but none have been as successful as Miller, according to a news release from the association.
In addition to participating in Georgetown events, Miller also appeared as Grant at events in Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, West Virginia and New York.
In 2003, for Ohio’s Bicentennial, Miller portrayed Grant at the Ohio State Capital and at several bicentennial events throughout the state.
Miller said he had the pleasure of working with well known re-enactors of Abraham Lincoln, George Armstrong Custer, Philip Sheridan, and William T. Sherman. He also participated in several period weddings as Grant, according to the release.
With regard to the importance of portraying Grant and spreading the story of his life, Miller said, “U.S. Grant was an important figure in American history and it’s important to keep his story alive for future generations. I believe I’ve done my part.”
Recently, Miller, along with Jennifer Hart, have portrayed Grant and his wife, Julia, respectively, and emphasized the importance of Grant’s family life.