Bliss, William W. S.

Born: 1815-08-17 New York

Died: 1853-08-05 Mississippi

William W. S. Bliss was a U.S. Army officer, mathematician, linguist, professor, and public servant. He entered the U.S. Military Academy on September 1, 1829 and graduated ninth out of a class of forty-three on July 1, 1833. He was promoted to brevet second lieutenant in the Fourth Infantry upon his graduation and served one year in Fort Mitchell, Alabama, before being promoted to second lieutenant in March 1834 and serving with the Fourth Infantry in the Cherokee Nation. In October 1834, he was ordered to the Military Academy, where he served as an assistant professor of mathematics from 1834 to 1840. He was also an astute linguist, able to read thirteen languages and speak fluently in many. Bliss was promoted to first lieutenant in September 1836, then to brevet captain as a staff member of the assistant adjutant-general in October 1839. He served as the chief of staff to the commanding general in the Second Seminole War from 1840 to 1841, then at various postings in Indiana, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas from 1842 to 1845. He served as General Zachary Taylor’s chief of staff from 1845 to 1849, first during the U.S. military occupation of Texas, then during the Mexican War. Bliss participated in multiple battles during the Mexican War and won three successive promotions: first to brevet major as a staff member of the assistant adjutant-general, then to captain in the Fourth Infantry, and finally to brevet lieutenant colonel. He received a gold medal for his service in Mexico. He also married Mary Elizabeth Taylor, Zachary Taylor's daughter, December 6, 1848, and earned a Master of Arts degree from Dartmouth College in 1849. In March 1849, he became President Taylor’s private secretary and, in 1850, became adjutant-general of the Western Division, headquartered in New Orleans. Bliss died of yellow fever. Fort Bliss in Texas was named in his honor.

George W. Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy, 3rd ed. (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1891), 1:542-45, 566; Fred Q. Bowman, 10,000 Vital Records of Central New York, 1813-1850 (Baltimore: Genealogical, 1986), 24; General Catalogue of Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College, 1890), 157, 180; Gravestone, Fort Bliss National Cemetery, El Paso, TX; Army (Association of the United States Army, 1986), 36:312.