December 2018 Readers’ Letters | HistoryNet MENU
In his new book "The Commanders" historian Robert Utley assesses General Nelson A. Miles (above) and other Civil War commanders. Miles doesn't particularly impress Utley or one of our readers.

December 2018 Readers’ Letters

9/27/2018 • Mag: Wild West Featured, Wild West Letters

NELSON MILES
In the August 2017 issue [Roundup] Peter Cozzens ranked General Nelson A. Miles among the “Top 10 Frontier Generals.” Really? The general who spent his time during the Apache wars sitting on the beach in California with his family while others did the actual work? The one who prized a ceremonial sword paid for by his wife (who also funded his failed political career)? He did insist they send him telegrams, so he could pretend to know what was going on when questioned by Washington why, despite his braggadocio, he accomplished nothing, even though he commanded more troops than anyone else. At that time Geronimo only had 19 fighting men and some women and children. Miles had his men flashing useless heliograph messages and wandering aimlessly. Lieutenant Charles Gatewood arranged Geronimo’s surrender. Miles rewarded him by immediately shoving him under the bus. Miles also illegally imprisoned the Indian scouts (all U.S. soldiers) and all women and children in any way connected. He was also behind keeping the children born in captivity as prisoners of war for 27 years. He should have been hanged for his crimes, not rated as anything but the rich politician who bought his way to the top, then fizzled in his presidential campaign.

My great-grandfather was an Apache scout under General George Crook. Thank the good Lord he never served under Miles.

Irv VanEnwyck
Cochise, Ariz.

Editor responds: In his book The Commanders: Civil War Generals Who Shaped the American West esteemed frontier military historian Robert Utley ranks Crook far ahead of Miles as a department commander, noting that Miles “influenced the settlement of the West far less than his grand hyperbole would suggest.”

FAMED MINERS
I enthusiastically read “Copper—the Kingmaker” [Western Enterprise, by Chuck Lyons] in the December 2017 issue, because many of the miners mentioned in the article—Marcus Daly, George Hearst, William Clark, F. Augustus Heinze, Samuel Newhouse and Daniel Jackling—have been inducted into the National Mining Hall of Fame. They are among a select group of 240 mining luminaries whose plaques are in the National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum in the historic silver boomtown of Leadville, Colo. The NMHFM, open year-round in the 1899 former Leadville High School building, has been inducting men and women into the hall of fame for 30 years. Photos and biographies of the inductees are available online [mininghalloffame.org/inductees]. I invite readers interested in mining to visit our 25,000 square feet of exhibits and to take a surface tour of our Matchless Mine, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stephen L. Whittington
Executive Director
National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum
Leadville, Colo.

Editor responds: Linda Wommack wrote about this fine museum in the Collections department of the August 2014 Wild West.

FORT DEFIANCE
I liked Gregory Michno’s article [“Forting Up—but Against Whom?”] about frontier forts in the June 2018 issue of Wild West. As the author of New Mexico Historical Encyclopedia and New Mexico Historical Biographies, I found one thing that requires comment. In the sidebar on P. 75 Michno states, “On April 29, 1860, Navajos attacked Fort Defiance (Arizona Territory).” Arizona Territory was not created until Feb. 24, 1863; Fort Defiance was in New Mexico Territory when the attack occurred. Also, there was an earlier attack on the fort by Navajos, in 1856.

Don Bullis
Rio Rancho, N.M.

CONFLICT
Texas Ranger Lee Queen’s revolver, shown on P. 78 in the August 2017 Guns of the West [“Storied Legacy of a Texas Ranger,” by Jim Winnerman], is described as a .38-caliber weapon. Yet the rounds in Queen’s cartridge belt are clearly .45 Long Colt. What gives?

Robert B. Smith
Eloy, Ariz.

Editor responds: Good eye, Robert! “The county-issued revolver is .38 caliber,” affirms Charles Parcus, general manager of J.E. Cauthen & Sons in Fredericksburg, Texas. “The Ranger-issued revolver [on P. 79] is .45LC.”

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