James Miller was born in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He started a law practice at Greenfield, New Hampshire in 1803. Joined the New Hampshire state militia and commanded an artillery unit. He was noticed by General Benjamin Pierce who recommended that he be commissioned as a Major in the regular army. Miller joined with the 4th United States Infantry.
In 1811 Miller's unit went to Vincennes, Indiana to fight Indians where he was promoted to Colonel. In May of 1812 his regiment moved to Detroit, Michigan. Miller was taken as a prisoner of war in 1813 and was later exchanged.
In 1814 Miller was Colonel of the 21st Infantry Regiment and led his men in the capture of the British artillery at the Battle of Lundy's Lane where his "I will try sir!" quote became famous and where he earned the name of "Hero of Lundy's Lane".
Miller was made a Brigadier General by the U.S. Congress after the battle but soon left the army in 1819.
Miller County, Arkansas is named for James Miller.