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Major-General Nelson A. Miles, U.S.A.

Major-General Nelson A. Miles was born in Massachusetts August 8, 1839. He entered the volunteer service during the war of the Rebellion as captain of the Twenty-second Massachusetts Infantry September 9, 1861, from which he was honorably mustered out May 31, 1862, to accept the lieutenant-colonelcy of the Sixty-first New York Infantry.

He was promoted colonel of the same regiment September 30, 1862; appointed brigadier-general of volunteers May 12, 1864, and major-general of volunteers October 21, 1865.

General Miles served in the Army of the Potomac during the Manassas, Peninsular, Northern Virginia, Maryland, Rappahannock, Pennsylvania, Mine Run, Wilderness, Petersburg, and Appomattox campaigns, and was engaged in all the battles of the Army of the Potomac, with one exception, up to the surrender of General Lee, with the Confederate Army, at Appomattox Court House, April 9, 1865, and was wounded three times during the war.

He was honorably mustered out of the volunteer service September 1, 1866, having been appointed colonel of the Fortieth U. S. Infantry July 28, 1866, and he was brevetted brigadier-general, March 2, 1867, for "gallant and meritorious services in the battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia," and brevet major-general, March 2, 1867, for " gallant and meritorious services in the battle of Spottsylvania, Virginia." He was also brevetted major-general of volunteers, August 25, 1864, for "highly meritorious and distinguished conduct throughout the campaign, and particularly for gallantry and valuable services at the battle of Ream's Station, Virginia."

General Miles's service since the war has been of note, to which many of the nomadic tribes of the great West could readily testify. He was transferred to the Fifth Infantry as colonel March 15, 1869, and joined that regiment shortly afterwards, making a history for it in the annals of the country. He defeated the Cheyenne, Kiowa, and Comanche Indians on the borders of the Staked Plains in 1875, and in 1876 subjugated the hostile Sioux and other Indians in Montana, driving Sitting Bull across the Canada frontier, and breaking up the bands that were led by him and by Crazy Horse, Lame Deer, Spotted Eagle, Broad Trail, Hump, and others. In September he captured the Nez Perces, under Chief Joseph, in Northern Montana, and in 1878 captured a band of Bannocks near the Yellowstone Park. After a difficult campaign against the Apaches under Geronimo and Natchez, he compelled those chiefs to surrender on September 4, 1886. He deemed it advisable, in the interest of the future tranquility of the Indians, to accept a conditional surrender from Geronimo, agreeing that neither the chief nor any of his lieutenants should suffer death for their part in the crimes.

He received the thanks of the Legislatures of Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, and Arizona for services in campaigns against the Indians in the West, and the citizens of Arizona presented him a sword of honor at Tucson on November 8, 1887, in the presence of a large gathering of citizens of the Territory.

General Miles was appointed a brigadier-general in the U. S. Army December 15, 1880, and was assigned to the command of the Department of the Columbia; from this he was transferred to command the Department of the Missouri in July, 1885. In April, 1886, he was ordered to command the Department of Arizona, and he remained in that department until ordered to command the Division of the Pacific in 1888. He was appointed major-general U. S. Army April 11, 1890, and ordered to command the Military Division of the Missouri at Chicago, but when the divisions were discontinued, General Miles was assigned to the command of the Department of the Missouri, whose limits had been somewhat extended.

In the winter of 1890-91, a Sioux war of considerable magnitude seemed imminent. The whole Sioux nation, inspired by ghost-dances and the talk of affected tribes in their midst, was prepared for war. General Miles took the field in person, and proceeded to Pine Ridge Agency, the scene of the greatest trouble. By his thoughtful disposition of troops and clear judgment, a serious war was averted; not, however, without the loss of a few noble lives.

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.

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