Nelson A. Miles and the Twilight of the Frontier Army


Based on a wide range of sources, including materials only recently made available to researchers, this first complete, carefully documented biography of Miles skillfully delineates the brilliant, abrasive, and controversial tactician whose career in many respects epitomized the story of the Old Army.
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Based on a wide range of sources, including materials only recently made available to researchers, this first complete, carefully documented biography of Miles skillfully delineates the brilliant, abrasive, and controversial tactician whose career in many respects epitomized the story of the Old Army.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This comprehensively researched biography serves as the definitive account of a major U.S. military figure. Nelson Miles 1839-1925 established himself between 1865 and 1900 as a successful ``Indian fighter'' as well as a military politician, becoming the Army's commanding general in 1895. However, his abrasive, contentious personality made him many enemies. According to Wooster, a professor of history at Corpus Christi State University in Texas, Miles's unbroken record of victories in the Plains Indian Wars reflected tactical skills, concern for logistics and an ability to inspire the men under his command. Miles was also a vociferous critic of the corruption, incompetence and brutality that accompanied the government's Indian policies. Too much a part of his milieu to transcend it, he was an archetype, symbolizing the best and the worst of the Old Army. Illustrations not seen by PW. History Book Club selection. May
Library Journal
Wooster has written a detailed biography of the last commanding general of the U.S. Army. Miles's career was long and colorful: he began serving in the Civil War, went on to distinguish himself in many Indian campaigns, and finally participated in the Spanish American War. His often abrasive and stubborn ways kept him at odds with official Washington and lost him favor with Theodore Roosevelt. Details about his many battles, his role in capturing Chief Joseph and Geronimo, and his personal life make this informative and interesting reading. Wooster (history, Corpus Christi State Univ.) gives readers insights into the settling of the West and into the politics of the day. The work is well documented and researched and should have appeal to the serious student.-- Dorothy Lilly, Grosse Pointe North H . S . Lib., Mich.
Journal of American History
"Wooster's readable book gives us a full portrait of Miles, analyzing his defects as well as his virtues. . . . The definitive biography."—Journal of American History
Washington Times
"An exceptionally well-written, brilliantly paced biography that illustrates fifty years of American military history through the story of the Army’s last commanding general."—Washington Times
Western Historical Quarterly
"A meticulously researched and well-written work that breathes life into the man Theodore Roosevelt called a ‘brave peacock.’ The author vividly recreates the old army with its intense rivalries and frustrations."—Western Historical Quarterly
Journal of Arizona History
"A stimulating narrative of Miles’s life, cast against the backdrop of U.S. military history from the Civil War through the Spanish-American War. . . . The author’s enlightened views stem from the U.S. Military History Institute’s recently acquired collection of Miles’s papers, augmented by an impressive array of other source materials. With Wooster's entertaining style, the reader experiences a rollercoaster-like effect of alternately cheering and booing Miles, not unlike his contemporaries."—Journal of Arizona History
International Bibliography of Military History
"A superb biography."—International Bibliography of Military History
Robert M. Utley
"The first competent biography of an extremely important figure in nineteenth-century military history—from the Civil War through the Indian Wars to the Spanish-American War and the reforms that ended the Old Army."—Robert M. Utley, author of Frontier Regulars: The United States Army and the Indian, 1866-1891
Gregory J. W. Urwin
"Nelson A. Miles was probably the best Indian fighter produced by the U. S. Army between 1865 and 1890, figuring prominently in some of the most famous and significant conflicts between whites and Native Americans: the Red River War, the Sioux campaign of 1876-77, the Nez Perce War, the Geronimo campaign, and the Ghost Dance uprising. As commanding general of the U. S. Army, he played an important role in the Spanish-American War. [Wooster's biography of Miles is] well researched, comprehensive, balanced, objective, analytical, and still entertaining. . . .an enlightened and enlightening book."—Gregory J. W. Urwin, author of Custer Victorious
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803297753
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Pages: 391
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.03 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Wooster is a professor of history at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. His other books include The Military and United States Indian Policy (Nebraska 1995).
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
Ch. 1 The Boy from Westminster 1
Ch. 2 Division Commander 19
Ch. 3 Reconstruction 38
Ch. 4 The Red River Wars 57
Ch. 5 Victory against the Sioux 76
Ch. 6 Capturing Chief Joseph 96
Ch. 7 Disappointment 111
Ch. 8 Northwestern Interlude 129
Ch. 9 Geronimo 144
Ch. 10 Pacific Coast Commander 163
Ch. 11 The Ghost Dance 176
Ch. 12 Commanding General 195
Ch. 13 The Spanish-American War 214
Ch. 14 Beef, Root, and Roosevelt 232
Ch. 15 Twilight 249
Epilogue 265
Notes 275
Bibliographical Essay 361
Index 377
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