Dixon Stansbury Miles

Dixon Stansbury Miles

Birth
Death 16 Sep 1862 (aged 58)
Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, West Virginia, USA
Burial Monkton, Baltimore County, Maryland, USA
Memorial ID 7774425 · View Source
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Civil War Union Army Officer. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1824, and was posted to the 7th United States Infantry, serving as part of that unit from 1824 until 1847. He spent a number of his early years on frontier garrison duty in the West before becoming a staff officer and Adjutant of the 7th Infantry. Promoted to Captain in 1836, he fought in the Seminole War in Florida from 1839 to 1842. When the War with Mexico started in 1846, he was at the very beginning of it, receiving a brevet of Major for his part in the defense of Fort Brown, Texas in May 1846. He served throughout the rest of the Mexican War, fighting in the Battle of Monterey and the Siege of Vera Cruz (where after the successful siege he governed as Military commandant for 4 months). His efforts there won another brevet to Lieutenant Colonel, and he was advanced to full-rank Major of the 5th United States Infantry in 1847. He spent the intervening years between the Mexican and Civil Wars almost exclusively on the western frontier battling Indians. In the summer of 1857 he led the southern column of United States forces against Native-Americans along the Gila River, New Mexico, and against the Navajo Indians in 1858. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel of the 3rd United States Infantry in 1851, and to Colonel and commander of the 2nd United States Infantry in 1859, he was stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas when hostilities with the Southern states erupted in 1861. Recalled to Washington, DC. he was briefly assigned to command a brigade in Major General Robert Patterson’s forces in northern Virginia before being transferred to the command of Brigadier General Irwin McDowell’s Army near Washington, DC, and placed in command of a division consisting of two brigades. In the subsequent Battle of First Bull Run, his division saw no real action, but had been placed in a reserve position that tied up Confederate forces. However, Colonel Miles had been accused of being drunk during the engagement. He was detailed to await orders a few days after the battle, and was kept without an assignment until March 1862, when he was given command of a brigade that defended the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and, in September 1862, the important Union bastion at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia., The town’s forces were commanded by Brigadier Generalk Julius White, who deferred his command to Colonel Miles due to his lack of knowledge of the terrain and its defenders. When General Robert E. Lee’s September 1862 Maryland Campaign threatened the garrison, Colonel Miles called for re-enforcements, which never came. While Lee’s forces were engaging Union Major General’s George B. McClellan’s forces at South Mountain and Antietam, he had detached Major General Stonewall Jackson to capture Harper’s Ferry. On September 16, 1862 General Jackson compelled Colonel Miles to withdraw his forces from Maryland Heights overlooking the town, and then placed artillery on the spot. Colonel Mile’s move, which was roundly criticized for being hasty and unnecessary, made the Union hold on the town untenable, and he surrendered the 11,500 man Union force (it would be the largest capitulation of United States Army troops until Corregidor fell to the Japanese during World War II). While surrendering Colonel Miles was mortally wounded by a Confederate artillery shell (supposedly while waving a white flag), and died in the hands of the Confederates. His death spared him from being arrested and tried by Union military authorities for his inadequate and incompetent defense of the town, which was the fate of some of his surviving subordinates in the affair. The quick capture of Harper’s Ferry allowed General Jackson to send troops Sharpsburg, Maryland, where the helped to turn the tide of the Battle of Antietam from a near-defeat into a tactical draw.

Bio by: Russ Dodge


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Russ Dodge
  • Added: 18 Aug 2003
  • Find A Grave Memorial 7774425
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Dixon Stansbury Miles (4 May 1804–16 Sep 1862), Find A Grave Memorial no. 7774425, citing Saint James of My Ladys Manor Cemetery, Monkton, Baltimore County, Maryland, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .