United States Army General. Born in Orwell, Ohio, he enlisted a Private in the 6th United States Regular Cavalry on July 22, 1861. He served throughout the Civil War. Seeing action in the Spring 1862 Peninsular Campaign, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Stoneman Raid during the Chancellorsville Campaign, and the Battle of Gettysburg, where he was wounded and narrowly escaped capture. For his action he was promoted to Second Lieutenant. He was wounded and captured at Fairfield and, on his refusal to accept parole, was left with the wounded on the field by Confederate forces. He was found by the Federals, cared for and soon returned to the service. He was wounded a second time by Federal troops firing on his company through error, and was again nursed back to health and returned to service. In 1864 he took part in General Philip Sheridan's Shenandoah Campaign and was promoted to First Lieutenant in February 1865. His battle count had reached 60 by the War’s end. After the Confederate surrender at Appomattox in April 1865, he was transferred to Austin, Texas, where he was appointed depot quartermaster on December 12, 1866. In March 1867 he resigned his commission with thoughts of going into business, but was persuaded to seek restoration to rank. After promotion to Captain in October, he was assigned in February 1868 to Fort Griffin. On March 5 he successfully pursued a band of Quahadi Comanche warriors who had attacked a wagon train hauling lumber from the Mill Creek sawmill. He and his men found the Quahadis taking refuge near Paint Creek, encircled the camp, charged, and defeated them. He was brevetted a Major for his actions. With his reputation as an Indian fighter established, he spent the next three years at various army camps in Texas chasing down outlaws and hostile Indians. The dogged persistence of he and his men on the Texas frontier soon gained them the name "Chaffee's Guerillas." After serving in several different posts, he was attached to Colonel Nelson A. Miles' column in 1874. He led his troops in a charge against a superior number of Cheyenne warriors, shouting to his troops before the charge, "Forward; if any man is killed I will make him a corporal!" The charge was a success and for his leadership he was brevetted a Lieutenant Colonel. For a decade beginning in 1875 he and his command responded to troubles with the Apaches at Fort Verde, Arizona. He commanded the garrison in 1878, served as agent at the San Carlos Reservation in 1879 to 1880, and participated in General George Crook's expedition in 1883. He was transferred in 1884 to New Mexico and was at Fort Wingate when Geronimo and his Chiricahua Apache followers broke out of their reservation in 1885. He remained in southern Arizona and New Mexico until the Chief surrendered in September 1886. On July 7, 1888, he was promoted to Major in the Regular Army and transferred to the 9th United States Cavalry, one of two regiments in the Regular Army composed of black men. For the next two years he supervised the construction of Fort Duchesne in southern Utah. He served as acting inspector general for the Department of Arizona from 1890 to 1893 and for the Department of Colorado until the fall of 1894. He then moved to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, and in 1895 conducted the restoration of the Bannock Indians to the Fort Hall reservation in Idaho. He served as an instructor at the Infantry and Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, from November 1896 to June 1897, when he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 3rd United States Cavalry. With the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, he was made Brigadier General in May 1898 and commanded the Third Brigade of General Henry W. Lawton's Second Division of volunteers in Cuba. As a result of his performance in the capture of El Caney on July 1, he was promoted to Major General. After a brief respite he returned to Cuba in December 1898, as Chief of Staff of the military government under General Leonard Wood, a post he held until May 1900. Having lost his volunteer rank in reduction of the army, he was again appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers in April 1889 and then promoted to Colonel in the regular United States Army in May 1899. In July 1900 he was reappointed Major General of Volunteers and given command of the 2,500-man United States contingent in the joint relief expedition sent to put down the Boxer Rebellion in China. His troops took the gates of Peking on August 14, 1900, and relieved the city's besieged embassies. His success made him a celebrity among his peers in the Army as well as the Chinese. On the reorganization of the Regular Army in 1901, he was appointed Major General and commander of the Military District of the Philippines where he remained until October 1902. He commanded the Department of the East until October 1903; he helped organize the General Staff Corps and in January 1904 was named United States Army Chief of Staff, with the rank of Lieutenant General. It had taken him 43 years to bridge the chasm between Private and Chief of Staff of the entire Army, the widest space and most difficult task which a soldier in the Army can attempt. He served as grand marshal for President Theodore Roosevelt's inaugural parade on March 4, 1905. He then went on a good-will tour of Europe representing Roosevelt. He retired in January 1906. He was 64 years old and 45 of his years had been spent in the uniform of his country. In retirement, he moved to Los Angeles, California. Here he served as chairman of that city's Board of Public Works and as first president of the Southwest Museum. He died there of typhoid pneumonia. His name however would live on in his son, Adna Romanza Chaffee Jr., who would carry on his father's military tradition.
Bio by: Ugaalltheway