Tasker H. Bliss

Tasker H. Bliss

Infobox Military Person
name=Tasker H. Bliss
lived= December 31,1853 - November 9, 1930
placeofbirth= Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
placeofdeath= Washington, D.C.

caption=General Tasker H. Bliss
allegiance= United States of America
branch= United States Army
rank= General
commands=Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
battles= World War I

Tasker Howard Bliss GCMG (December 31,1853 - November 9, 1930) was Chief of Staff of the United States Army from September 22, 1917 until May 18, 1918. He was born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. His parents were George Ripley Bliss and Mary Ann Raymond. His father taught Greek at the University at Lewisburg (now Bucknell University).

After initially attending Bucknell where he was a member of Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity, Bliss graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1875. After graduation he was assigned to the artillery, then returned to West Point as an instructor in French. After the defeat of George Armstrong Custer at the Little Bighorn in 1876, Bliss asked for an assignment in the West, but was turned down and he remained at West Point. During the Russo-Turkish War, Bliss studied Russian to learn more about the campaign.

In 1882 Bliss married Eleanora E. Anderson. They had two children: Eleanora and Edward.

In 1885, Bliss was assigned to teach military science at the Naval War College, becoming that College's first Army faculty member. Because of his knowledge, Bliss was sent overseas to get information on military schools in England, France and Germany.

When General John Schofield became commanding general of the Army, replacing Gen. Phillip Sheridan, Bliss became his aide. Bliss was then named special assistant to Secretary of War Daniel Scott Lamont.

After the election of William McKinley, Bliss was posted to Spain as military attaché. He remained in this post until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. He served in the U.S. 1st Infantry Division in Puerto Rico, as chief of staff to Major General James H. Wilson.

In 1899, Bliss served as Collector of Customs in Havana, Cuba during the occupation, due to his knowledge of Spanish.

In 1902, Secretary of War Elihu Root ordered Bliss to Washington, DC to oversee the reorganization of the Army. He was promoted to brigadier general. Brigadier General Bliss negotiated the U.S.-Cuban reciprocity treaty in 1902. In 1903 he served as the first president of the newly formed Army War College.

Bliss then served as commander of the Department of Luzon in the Philippines.

In 1909, he returned to the United States, again held command of the Army War College, then became assistant chief of staff to Major General Hugh L. Scott, the Army Chief of Staff. In 1915, Bliss was promoted to major general and Army Assistant Chief of Staff.

At the outbreak of World War I Bliss oversaw the mobilization of American forces. In 1917, Bliss was promoted to temporary full (four star) general and appointed as Army Chief of Staff. When Bliss approached mandatory retirement age at the end of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson kept him on active duty in his temporary grade of full general (whereas the usual practice had been to reduce an outgoing Chief of Staff to their permanent grade of major (two-star) general). Wilson ordered Bliss overseas and in 1918, appointed him to the Supreme War Council. Bliss supported Ferdinand Foch as Supreme Allied Commander and also for the independence of the United States forces under the command of General John J. Pershing.

After the war, Bliss was a delegate on the Peace Conference.

Near the end of 1918, he was finally relieved from the General Staff and served as governor of the Soldier's Home in Washington, DC. Bliss retired from the military in 1927, and was kept on the Army retired list as a full (four-star) general.

He died on 9 November 1930 in Washington D.C.. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

The USS "Tasker H. Bliss" was named for him.

Awards and decorations

*Distinguished Service Medal
*World War I Victory Medal
*Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (UK)
*Grand Croix Légion d'honneur (France)
*Grand Cross Order of the Crown (Belgium)
*Grand Cross Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)
*War Cross (Italy)
*Grand Cordon Order of the Rising Sun (Japan)
*Polonia Restituta (Poland)
*Medal of Solidarity, 1918 (Panama)


The National Cyclopædia of American Biography. (1931) Vol. XXI. New York: James T. White & Co. pp. 86-88.

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