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Nelson A. Miles


Handwritten letter by the only soldier to serve in the Civil War, Indian Wars, and Spanish-American War

Nelson Appleton Miles, 1839-1925.  Lt. General, United States Army; Commanding General of the United States Army, 1895-1903.  Autographed Letter Signed, Nelson A. Miles, one page, 4¾" x 8", with integral leaf attached, on engraved stationery of the Headquarters of the Army, Washington, April 10, 1896. 

Miles sends his thanks for a copy of the newspaper of the State Normal School at Emporia, Kansas, now Emporia State University.  He writes, in full:  “Please accept my thanks for the copy of the State Normal Monthly which you had the kindness to send me.  Wishing your institution and all such educational institutions in our country abundant success, I am  /  Very truly yours . . . ." 

Miles holds the distinction of being the only man to have served in the Civil War, the Indian Wars, and the Spanish-American War.  When the United States became involved in World War I, Miles volunteered to serve, although he was 77 years old, but President Woodrow Wilson declined his offer.

During the Civil War, Miles saw action at the Battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville and participated in the Appomattox campaign.  He was shot in the neck and abdomen at Chancellorsville and overall was severely wounded four times in battle.   In 1892, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for "distinguished gallantry at Chancellorsville "while holding with his command an advanced position against repeated assaults by a strong force of the enemy." 

Miles was a leader in virtually all of the Army's campaigns against the Native American tribes of the Great Plains.  He commanded the force that defeated the Kiowa, Comanche, and Southern Cheyenne along the Red River.  He participated in the campaign that scoured the Northern Plains after the defeat of General George Armstrong Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, forcing the Latoka and their allies onto reservations.  In Montana, his troops intercepted Chief Joseph's band of Nez Perce, and his forces later tracked Geronimo and negotiated his surrender.

This letter has never been on the market before.  It comes from a large collection of letters, notes, and signatures assembled by a professor of penmanship at the State Normal School at Emporia, who had his students write to prominent men and women to request a handwritten letter expressing a reminiscence, a favorite sentiment, or a word of advice.

This is a beautiful letter.  Miles has written it in crisp, black fountain pen.  The letter has two normal mailing folds, and there is a collector's pencil notation in the lower left corner, well removed from the handwriting and signature.  There are mounting traces on the back of the integral leaf.  The piece is in fine to very fine condition.




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