Since its original printing in 1952, the publication of the Handbook of Texas has been made possible through the support of its users. As an independent nonprofit, TSHA relies on your contributions to close the funding gap for the online Handbook and keep it a freely accessible resource for users worldwide. Please make a donation today to preserve the most comprehensive encyclopedic resource on Texas history. Donate Today »

HOLLAND, MILTON M.

Paul M. Lucko, rev. by Omar Carrizales
Milton M. Holland (1844–1910).
Milton Holland, born a slave, fought for the Union army during the Civil War and became the first African American from Texas to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Courtesy Library of Congress.

HOLLAND, MILTON M. (1844–1910). Milton M. Holland, one of sixteen black soldiers to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War, and the first African-American recipient from Texas, was born probably in Austin, on August 1, 1844. He was the slave and perhaps son of Bird Holland, who later became Texas secretary of state. Bird Holland freed Milton and his two brothers, James and William H. Holland, and sent them to school in Ohio during the late 1850s. Holland attended the Albany Enterprise Academy, a school operated by free African Americans.

Holland, too young to enlist into the United States Army at the start of the Civil War, worked as a shoemaker for the quartermaster department of the army until he was allowed to enlist. In June 1863 in Athens, Ohio, he joined the Fifth United States Colored Troops, commanded by Gen. Benjamin F. Butler. He fought in the battle of the Crater in the Petersburg campaign in Virginia during 1864 and at Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in January 1865. He rose to the rank of regimental sergeant major. All of the white commanding officers either were killed or wounded during the engagements at Chaffin’s Farm and New Market Heights, Virginia, between September 28 and 30, 1864. Holland assumed command and led the black troops in battle. He routed the enemy and led them to victory. For leading the charge, during which he was wounded, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor on April 6, 1865, for his bravery in Virginia. Holland was promoted to captain, but the War Department refused the commission on grounds of his race.

In January 1865 Holland patrolled the lowlands of North Carolina and captured Confederate guerilla fighters and freed slaves in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation. Holland was mustered out of the army at Carolina City, North Carolina, on September 20, 1865. His father and former owner, Bird Holland, had been killed at the battle of Mansfield (see RED RIVER CAMPAIGN) in April 1864 while serving as a major in the Confederate Army.

After the war Milton Holland lived in Washington, D.C., where he worked in the Auditor Office of the United States government; he later became chief of collections for the Sixth District. He also established the Alpha Insurance Company, one of the first African-American-owned insurance companies, in Washington, D.C. Holland married Virginia W. Dickey. He died at the age of sixty-five of a heart attack on May 15, 1910, at his farm near Silver Springs, Maryland, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, United States Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863–1973 (Washington: GPO, 1973). Rayford W. Logan and Michael R. Winston,eds., Dictionary of American Negro Biography (New York: Norton, 1982). Marion L. Martinello and Melvin M. Sance, A Personal History: The Afro-American Texans (San Antonio: University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures, 1982). National Park Service: Holland, Milton M. (http://www.nps.gov/rich/historyculture/holland.htm), accessed August 20, 2012. “Sgt. Maj. Milton M. Holland,” African-American News & Issues (http://www.aframnews.com/html/2006-03-22/blackhistory.htm), August 20, 2012. Texas State Cemetery: Milton M. Holland (http://www.cemetery.state.tx.us/pub/user_form822.asp?pers_id=11147), accessed April 23, 2013.

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Paul M. Lucko, rev. by Omar Carrizales, "HOLLAND, MILTON M.," accessed December 14, 2019, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fhobt.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on November 27, 2018. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...