University of Texas, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History

A Guide to the Zenas Randall Bliss Papers, 1854-1898

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bliss, Zenas Randall
Title: Zenas Randall Bliss Papers
Dates: 1854-1898
Abstract: Correspondence, diaries, printed material, photographs, drawings and military artifacts primarily document Z. R. Bliss' military career before during and after the Civil War in Texas and elsewhere in the South. Reminiscences document Bliss' service and imprisonment, as well as mundane military duties.
Accession No.: 2001-161
Extent: 21 in.
Laguage: Materials are written in English.
Repository: Dolph Briscoe Center for American History,The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Note

Born in Rhode Island, Zenas Randall Bliss (1933-1900) left his home state in 1850 for his appointment to West Point Military Academy. Bliss' military career began with his assignment to duty as a brevet second lieutenant in the First Infantry at the completion of his training in 1854. Sent to Texas, Bliss served at Fort Duncan until 1855, when he was promoted to second lieutenant and transferred to an Eighth Infantry position at Fort Davis. Bliss was promoted again to lieutenant in 1860 and then to captain in 1861 at Camp Hudson. As the federal forts surrendered in Texas after secession, Bliss attempted to march his garrison to the Gulf Coast but was intercepted by Confederate troops. In 1862, after a brief imprisonment, Bliss was appointed colonel of the Tenth Rhode Island Infantry. He was then breveted to major of the regular army for his service at the battle of Fredericksburg in Virginia later that same year, and to lieutenant colonel in 1864 for his service at the Battle of the Wilderness. After the Civil War, in 1867, Bliss was assigned major of the Thirty-Ninth Infantry. Appointed commander of the Department of Texas, Bliss 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 finally major general in 1897, retiring within the same year. Zenas R. Bliss died in Washington, D. C. in 1900.

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, diaries, printed material, photographs, drawings and military artifacts primarily document Z. R. Bliss' military career. Included are many letters of recommendation on behalf of Bliss in support of his promotion to brigadier general in 1895 and major general in 1897, as well as many congratulatory letters written to Bliss after he received these promotions. Another group of letters testify to Bliss' performance in battle in an effort to secure the Medal of Honor for Bliss after his retirement. Correspondence with friends, family and business associates is also included, as are Bliss' designs for a suppository applicator and a cloth printing machine and "The Ballad of the Apidildoc and the Turtle," a short story written by Bliss. A large collection of photographs documents Native Americans, soldiers, landscapes, the Bliss family, military establishments and training practices.

Z. R. Bliss' reminiscences document his life from the years 1854 to 1876. They consist of recollections of his experiences on the Texas frontier, as a prisoner of was in San Antonio (1861-1862), during the Civil War, occupation service in Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina in the Reconstruction period (1867-1870) and further service on the Texas frontier (1871-1876). The reminiscences also include accounts of hunting, fishing, dances, horse races, scouts, reconnaissance missions, murders, hanging and related military duties.


Access Restrictions

Unrestricted access.

Use Restrictions

Glass plate negatives are restricted for use.

Index Terms

Bliss, Zenas Randall, 1835-1900
United States--Army.
Fort Bliss (Tex.)
Fort Clark (Tex.)
Fort Davis (Tex.)
Fort Duncan (Tex.)
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Archival resources
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns & battles--Virginia--Fredericksburg
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Manuscripts
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military life
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military life--Union
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military officer--Union
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Military personnel--Union--Virginia--Fredericksburg
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives--Union
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Photographs
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Prisoners and prisons--Texas
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Reconstruction

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Zenas Randall Bliss Papers, 1854-1898, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin

Detailed Description of the Papers



3F324 Military career:
Recommendations for promotion to brigadier general:
October 9, 1891-December 1, 1981
March 1, 1892-May 29, 1893
Correspondence regarding promotion to brigadier general, January 7, 1891-May 16, 1895
Correspondence regarding promotion to major general:
Recommendations, February 25, 1896-April 13, 1897
Congratulations, April 15, 1897-June 27, 1897
Correspondence regarding Medal of Honor after retirement, April 14, 1898-June 16, 1898
Infantry Fire, by Joseph Batchelor, 1892
2.325/D20b Certificate, promotion to colonel of the Twenty-Fourth Infantry, 1886
Supply list, Washington Barracks, December 22, 1898
3F324 Personal:
Correspondence, May 27, 1878-October 2, 1894
Family correspondence, December 27, 1863-September 18, 1894
Inventions and story by Bliss
Journal, 1882
Diary, 1891-1892
Pocket record book, 1882-1886
Sketchbook, 1886-1891
Drawings, undated
2Q441 Reminiscences, 1854-1876
3S200d Albums
3S200c Photographs:
Native Americans
Bliss family
Military portraits
Training practices
3Z107g Glass plate negatives [RESTRICTED]
3F325 Godfrey work
Newspaper clippings
2.325/OD33 Map
Artifacts Collection