|Zenas R. Bliss|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Commands held||Tenth Rhode Island Infantry, Seventh Rhode Island Infantry|
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
Zenas Randall Bliss (April 17, 1835 - January 2, 1900) was an officer and general in the United States Army and Union Army and a recipient of the Medal of Honor. He is known for forming the first band of Seminole-Negro Indian Scouts and his detailed memoirs chronicling life on the Texas frontier.
Bliss was a native of Rhode Island. He graduted from West Point. He served most of his thirty-seven year career on the Texas frontier, and fought for the Union army during the American Civil War.
Recipient of the the Medal of Honor for leading his regimen at the Battle of Fredericksburg. This officer, to encourage his regimen; 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
Bliss was raised in an upper-middle class family from Rhode Island. His parents were Zenas and Phebe Waterman Randall Bliss. (Bliss, xiv) Bliss received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, in July 1850. He was only fifteen years old.
First tour of duty and capture
Bliss graduated West Point in summer 1854 and served the next six years in Texas. He served at Fort Davis and Fort Quitman. By May 1861 the Civil War had begun. Bliss was captured by the Confederacy and spent eleven months as a prisoner of war, first in San Antonio, Texas, and later in Richmond Virginia. He was finally exchanged back to the Union and took command of the Tenth Rhode Island Infantry in May 1862.
Defense of Washington, D.C., with the Tenth Rhode Island Infantry. Assumed command of the Seventh Rhode Island Infantry. In October, 1862, the Seventh Rhode Island joined the First Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Corps, Army of the Potomac. December, 1862, saw the battle of Fredericksburg, during which Bliss performed actions that would earn him the Medal of Honor several decades later. The Seventh served under Major General William T. Sherman in the capture of Jackson, Mississippi. In April, 1864, the Seventh rejoined the Army of the Potomac. Bliss became commander of the First Brigade, Second Division, Ninth Corps. His Brigade fought in the battle of the Wilderness. Bliss was badly injured by a horse in Spotsylvania. He returned to lead his brigade in the siege of Petersburg and the battle for the Crater.
Post Civil War
The Bliss family had four children, two of whom lived to adulthood. (Bliss, xiv - xv) Zenas is buried alongside his wife at Arlington National Cemetery. (Bliss, xiv)
Medal of Honor citation
Rank and organization: Corporal, Seventh Rhode Island Infantry. Place and date: At Fredericksburg, VA., 13 Dec 1862.
- "This officer, to encourage his regimen; 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."