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Bliss, Zenas Randall (1833–1900)
Typescript Autobiography of Zenas Randall Bliss, with accounts of his service on the Texas frontier in the 1850s, the Civil War, and in Texas and elsewhere in the West during the Indian War period

quarto, five volumes, 656 pages, typescript, and typescript carbons, with occasional manuscript corrections and emendations, bound in various boards, with handmade cloth spines, two volumes signed by Bliss, bindings with wear and rubbing, text in very good clean and legible condition.

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Autobiography containing valuable primary source accounts of frontier life in Texas, Texas at the outbreak of the Civil War, Bliss’s extensive Civil War service, and of his later experiences as commander of the Department of Texas during the Indian War period.


      Typescript Autobiography as follows:


      Volume 1 “Personal Recollections of Frontier Life in Texas from 1854 to 1858 by Z. R. Bliss, U.S.A.

      238 typescript carbon pages, with some ink corrections.

      Volume 2 1856-1861

      163 typescript carbon pages, covers Bliss’s experiences up to the beginning of the Civil War in Texas.

      Volume 3, part 1, April 1861 to August 1862

      120 typescript pages, signed on front free endpaper “Z. R. Bliss His Book”.

      Volume 3, part 2, 1862 -1867

      126 typescript pages, (paginated 12-247).

      Volume 3, part 3, 1866-1876

      117 typescript pages, signed “Z. R. Bliss Col 24 Us Inf Fort Bayard New Mexico June 1, 1894” on inside of front board.


           Bliss evidently wrote his autobiography over a period of years for the benefit of his friends and family. It was never published in his lifetime, (and was only recently published in 2008 by the Texas State Historical Association). Bliss evidently made multiple typescript copies of his work for distribution to his family and friends, which accounts for the sets found in the following institutions: Yale, and another set at University of Texas Austin, amongst Bliss’s papers. The present set appears to be the third such set to appear.

Zenas Randall Bliss, United States army officer, was born in Rhode Island and was appointed from his native state to the United States Military Academy at West Point on July 1, 1850. He graduated forty-first in his class and was assigned to duty as a brevet second lieutenant in the First Infantry on July 1, 1854. He was posted to Texas and served at Fort Duncan until 1855, when he was promoted to second lieutenant and transferred to an Eighth Infantry assignment at Fort Davis. In 1858 he served briefly at Camp Hudson and forts Inge and Mason and in 1859 at forts Mason and Clark. Back at Camp Hudson he was promoted to first lieutenant in 1860 and to captain in 1861. Secession found Bliss at Fort Quitman. After Gen. David E. Twiggs surrendered the federal forts in Texas, Bliss attempted to march his garrison to the Texas Gulf Coast but was intercepted by Confederate troops under Gen. Earl Van Dorn just west of San Antonio and held prisoner until April 5, 1862. In May 1862 he was commissioned as colonel of the Tenth Rhode Island Infantry, and in August he was transferred to the Seventh Rhode Island Infantry. Bliss was brevetted to major in the regular army in 1862 for "gallant and meritorious service" at the battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, and to lieutenant colonel in 1864 for his service at the battle of the Wilderness. At the battle of Fredericksburg Bliss led his regiment, which had never before been under fire, to within a few yards of the Confederate lines before being repulsed, thereby winning the Medal of Honor. With the end of the Civil War he was mustered out of volunteer service on June 9, 1865.

In the postbellum army Bliss was assigned as major of the Thirty-ninth Infantry on August 6, 1867, and transferred to the all-black Twenty-fifth United States Infantry on March 15, 1869. Subsequently appointed commander of the Department of Texas, Bliss made his headquarters at San Antonio and served at forts Bliss, Clark, Davis, and Duncan between 1871 and 1879. He was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Nineteenth Infantry in 1879 and promoted to colonel of the Twenty-fourth Infantry in 1886. He was promoted to brigadier general in 1895 and to major general in 1897. he retired from active duty on May 22, 1897, and died in Washington, D.C., on January 2, 1900.