Dixon Stansbury Miles(1804 - 1862)
Home State: Maryland
Command Billet: Harpers Ferry Commander
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: Harpers Ferry Garrison
Before the Antietam Campaign:
After graduation from West Point, he began service with the 4th US, then 7th Infantry, becoming adjutant in 1830, promoted to 1st Lieutenant in April 1833, and Captain in June 1836 (assistant Quartermaster 1839-45). He was in action in the Seminole War in Florida (1839-42) and Mexican War (1846-48) and was cited twice by Brevet for gallant and distinguished conduct in 1846 at Fort Brown, Texas, and Monterey, Mexico.1
He was appointed Major of the 5th US Infantry in February 1847, Lieutenant Colonel of the 3th US in April 1851, and Colonel of the 2nd US Infantry in January 1859.1 In those years he served primarily in the West. He was at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas when War broke out in 1862.
He briefly had command of an infantry brigade under Patterson in Northern Virginia, then a small division with McDowell near Washington,. DC. He was at First Bull Run, in reserve position, and was accused there of being drunk during the battle. A court of inquiry found him guilty of the charge, but a general court-martial was not held "for the good of the service". It wasn't until March 1862 that he got another command: a brigade defending the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He was then assigned as garrison commander at Harperís Ferry, Virginia.2
In the Antietam Campaign:
He was in command of the garrison at Harpers Ferry, and was in the midst of surrendering his command to MGen Jackson on 16 September when he was wounded. He was relieved in command by BGen White, and died later the same day.
The remainder of the War:
A military commission under direction of MGen David Hunter investigating the surrender of the post at Harpers Ferry found, in part:
"An officer who cannot appear before any earthly tribunal to answer or explain charges gravely affecting his character, who has met his death at the hands of the enemy, even upon the spot he disracefully surrendered, is entitled to the tenderest care and most careful investigation. These this Commission has accorded Colonel Miles, and, in giving an opinion, only repeats what runs through our nine hundred pages of evidence, strangely unanimous upon the fact that Colonel Milesí incapacity, amounting to almost imbecility, led to the shameful surrender of this important post".
References, Sources, and other notes:
The photo above is from an original at the US Library of Congress.4
|Birth Date: 05/04/1804 Place of Birth: Baltimore, MD |
College: US Military Academy, West Point, NY Graduating Year: 1824 Class Rank: 27
Death Date: 09/16/1862 Death Place: Harpers Ferry, VA Burial Place: Saint James Episcopal Church Cemetery, Monkton, MD
1 Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903, pg. 708 [AotW citation 440]
2 Some service also substantiated with references in bio file card at ASU, Collection of Pioneer Biographical Essays.
3 US War Department, The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (OR), 128 vols., Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1880-1901, Vol. 19/Part1 (Ser #27), pg. 799 [AotW citation 442]
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