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Nelson A. Miles, U.S.A.
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,
||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
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
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