STREET SMARTS

Miles St. named for general

Military man chased Geronimo into Sierra Madre Mountains
2013-03-19T00:00:00Z 2013-05-05T20:45:59Z Miles St. named for generalDavid Leighton For The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Running through the middle of the Miles Neighborhood is East Miles Street, named in honor of the man credited with getting Geronimo to surrender.

Nelson A. Miles was born in 1839 on a family farm near Westminster, Mass. He learned to ride horses at an early age and was given his first steed at age 6.

In 1861, when the Civil War began, he took up arms for the Union. Brave and ambitious, he climbed the ranks from lieutenant to major general in the volunteer army. He was wounded four times and was awarded the Civil War Medal of Honor.

After Gen. George Custer was defeated at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, Mile's regiment was sent in as reinforcement to the Northern Plains. During the winter of 1876-77, after the other soldiers had returned to their bases, Miles stayed on. His fur-clad troops kept Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and the other chiefs on the move and exhausted, so much so that by spring the majority of Indian forces had surrendered.

In 1886, Miles was again called to duty, this time against the Chiricahua Apaches in Arizona. Gen. George Crook had pursued Geronimo for four years. In spite of his comparative success in limiting Geronimo's wanderings, the Apaches' second escape led to Crook's stepping down. Miles used many of Crook's unorthodox methods of pursuit to track Geronimo into the Sierra Madre Mountains in northern Mexico. He dispatched Lt. Charles Gatewood, who negotiated surrender with Geronimo.

This was the end of a generation of fighting with the Apaches. In 1887, Miles was awarded a sword from the people of Arizona and honored in a parade that included 400 Tohono O'odham Indians under Chief Huilz, and the important clubs and societies of the town. However, many historians believe Crook or Gatewood may have been more deserving of the accolades than Miles.

Miles became head of the U.S. Army, which he led into the Spanish-American War. He was forced to retire when he reached the mandatory retirement age of 64 in 1903, and lived for another 22 years.

He died in 1925 at the Ringling Brothers Circus in Washington D.C., where he had gone with his grandchildren. He suffered a heart attack as the national anthem played.

manlove street

Manlove Street, just a couple of streets south of Miles Street, is named in honor of Samuel A. Manlove, who homesteaded the land in 1883. He was a miner and later an editor of the Tucson Citizen.

Editor's note

Each week the Star tells the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at streetsmarts@azstarnet.com

Sources: Special thanks to Cynthia Lancaster of Pima Community College. - Nelson A. Miles, "Personal recollections and observations of General Nelson A. Miles," Chicago Publishing, 1896 - Robert M. Utley, "The American West: A Multicultural Encyclopedia," Grolier Educational Corp., 1995 - Dan Thrapp, "Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography," The Arthur C. Clark Co., 1988 - C.L. Sonnichsen, "Tucson: The Life and Times of an American City," University of Oklahoma Press, 1987 - 1881 Tucson City Directory - 1883-1884 Tucson-Tombstone Directory - Bureau of Land Management -General Land Office Records (Manlove Homestead)

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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