Nelson Miles 1839–1925

David F. Barry (1854–1934)
Albumen silver print, c. 1895

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

Nelson Miles spent more than four decades in the U.S. military, rising from the rank of first lieutenant during the early years of the Civil War to commander in chief of the army in 1895 and the rarely attained rank of lieutenant general in 1900.

Despite having been wounded on several occasions during the Civil War, Miles went on to play a prominent role in military campaigns against tribal nations in the American West. His command was responsible for forcing the surrender of such well-known leaders as Sitting Bull, Joseph, and Geronimo—all front-page news events.

In 1894 he also led the troops responsible for quelling the Pullman railroad car strike in Chicago. This photograph, which served as the frontispiece for Miles’s autobiography, captures his characteristic formality in dress and bearing.