Zenas Randall Bliss


Medal of Honor Recipient,
Battle of Fredericksburg 

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Arlington Cemetery Information and Photograph of Grave Biography Medal of Honor
Photograph of Grave The 7th Regiment of Rhode Island Volunteers in the Civil War The Handbook of Texas Online

Zenas Randall Bliss (#6382), son of Zenas Bliss (#3223) and Phoebe Waterman Randall of Johnston, RI was born April 17, 1835 in Johnston. After attending the University Grammar School in Providence, Zenas entered West Point Academy in 1850 and graduated in June, 1854.  In his early career, he was attached to various Texas forts and garrisons and engaged in several battles with Indians.  When Texas seceded from the Union in 1861, he was captured and held prisoner of war in

On April 5, 1862, Zenas was commissioned as Colonel of the Tenth Regiment of Rhode Island Volunteers and later transferred to the Seventh Rhode Island Infantry.  As a result of his meritorious service in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Zenas received a Congressional medal. The citation reads: "This officer, to encourage his regiment, which had never before been in action, and which had been ordered to lie down to protect itself from the enemy's fire, arose to his feet, advanced in front of the line, and himself fired several shots at the enemy at short range, being fully exposed to their fire at the time."  Zenas was injured in subsequent battles but returned to service and served in a number of positions in New York, Texas, Kansas, New Mexico, and the Indian Territory after the Civil War.  In 1897, after 45 years of service, Col. Bliss retired and settled in Washington, D.C. On Dec. 30. 1898, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

In the Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America, Aaron Tyler Bliss describes Zenas as "A modest, reticent, unassuming man, a great reader of standard and scientific works, and an excellent linguist, thoroughly understanding the Greek, Latin and French languages, and speaking Spanish fluently. He was humorous, large hearted and generous, considerate  for his

Col. Bliss married Martha Nancy Work in 1863.  She was born May 22, 1840 in Illinois and died in May, 1919 in Pinehurst, NC.  Col. Bliss died January 1, 1900 at Washington, D.C. and is buried at Arlington National Military Cemetery.  Col. Bliss's memoirs are available through the University of Texas Zenas R. Bliss Reminiscences, 1854-1894. 5 volumes, Memoirs of occupation service in Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina during Reconstruction.