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 Zenas Randall Bliss

Zenas Randall Bliss

Birth
Johnston, Providence County, Rhode Island, USA
Death 2 Jan 1900 (aged 64)
Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 1, Site 8-B
Memorial ID 4885 · View Source
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Civil War Union Army Officer, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New Yorkin 1854, placing 41st out of 46 (some of his classmates included future Union Generals Oliver O. Howard, Thomas Ruger and Stephen Weed, as well as future Confederate Generals George W.C. “Rooney” Lee, and J.E.B. Stuart). Upon the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861 he was serving in Texas as a 1st Lieutenant in the 8th United States Regular Infantry, and was captured by Confederate forces in May while trying lead his troops to the Gulf Coast. He spent nearly a year in Confederate prisons before being paroled and exchanged in April 1862 (and having been promoted to Captain during his confinement). A month later he was appointed as Colonel and commander of the 10th Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry, but led them for only two months before being transferred to command the 7th Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry. He led his unit at the December 13, 1862 Battle of Fredericksburg, where the 7th Rhode Island, in their first combat action, took part in the 3rd of the 4 fruitless Union assaults on Marye’s Heights, and where Colonel Bliss’ bravery would see him awarded the CMOH 36 years later. In May 1863 the regiment was transferred first to Kentucky in the Department of the Ohio, then to the IX Corps, with whom Colonel Bliss’ command participated in the capture of Jackson, Mississippi. In August 1863 he assumed command of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, XI Corps, and would lead it for the next year. The IX Corps, an independent unit not officially assigned to any army, took part in General Ulysses S. Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign and fought in the Wilderness and at Petersburg. In July 1864 his troops participated in the disastrous assault at the Battle of the Crater, and Colonel Bliss was officially cited for not being with his brigade in the attack. The aftermath of that debacle saw him returning to command of the 7th Rhode Island, which he led until his muster out of Volunteer service in June 1865 (having briefly led his division in March and April). Returning to his Regular Army rank of Captain, he would subsequently serve in the 8th Infantry, the all-African American 25th Infantry, the 19th Infantry and as commander of the Department of Texas. He would rise to Major General, and would retire at his own request in 1897, having served 43 years in the service of the United States. His Medal of Honor citation reads “This officer, to encourage his regiment; which had never before been in action, and which had been ordered to lie down to protect itself from the enemy's fire, arose to his feet, advanced in front of the line, and himself fired several shots at the enemy at short range, being fully exposed to their fire at the time”. His Medal was issued on December 30, 1898.

Bio by: Russ Dodge


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 21 Mar 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 4885
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Zenas Randall Bliss (17 Apr 1835–2 Jan 1900), Find A Grave Memorial no. 4885, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .