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Nelson Appleton Miles

Miles, Nelson Appleton, 1839–1925, American army officer, b. near Westminster, Mass. In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, he left his job in a Boston store and organized a company of volunteers. He served throughout the war, distinguishing himself at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and in other important battles, and was made brigadier general (1864) and major general (1865) of volunteers. Remaining in the army as a colonel, he led many campaigns against the Native Americans of the West. He helped subjugate the Sioux in Montana and in 1877 destroyed the village of Chief Crazy Horse. In the same year he defeated and captured Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé. In 1886, as commander of the Dept. of Arizona, he accepted the surrender of the Apache under Geronimo, and in 1890–91, in Dakota, he suppressed another Sioux outbreak. He commanded (1894) the troops that were called out during the Pullman strike. In 1895 he became commanding general of the army, rising to the rank of lieutenant general in 1901. During the Spanish-American War (1898), he led the troops that occupied Puerto Rico. He visited the Philippines in 1902, made an official inspection, and reported on the mistreatment of insurgents by Americans. In 1903 he was retired, largely because of his critical report. He wrote Personal Recollections and Observations (1896, repr. 1969), Military Europe (1898), and Serving the Republic (1911).

See biography by V. W. Johnson (1962); study by N. F. Tolman (1968).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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