Miles, Nelson (Appleton)(1839–1925) soldier; born in Westminster, Mass. A clerk in a crockery store when the Civil War broke out, he obtained a commission in the 22nd Massachusetts and fought in nearly every major engagement of the Army of the Potomac, ending the war as a brigadier general (and with the Congressional Medal of Honor). After the war, he was Confederate President Jefferson Davis's jailer at Fortress Monroe, Va., and was criticized for keeping Davis shackled in his cell. From 1869 to 1891 he fought the Indians on the western frontier; among other actions, he captured Chief Joseph in 1877 and Geronimo in 1886, but his reputation would never recover from allowing the massacre at Wounded Knee (1890). During the 1894 Pullman strike in Chicago, he was called in to command the troops that controlled the protesters. He became commander-in-chief of the army in 1895, and after directing the training of troops for the Spanish-American War, he led the U.S. forces that occupied Puerto Rico in 1898. He retired from the army in 1903.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.