Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Who Was Tasker Bliss?

General Tasker Bliss
Born at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, 31 December 1853, General Tasker Bliss served for more than 42 years in the U.S. Army, participating in four campaigns, and reaching the rank of general and serving as chief of staff and commanding general of the Army.

Before America's entry into the Great War he served mainly in staff and school assignments. At the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, he was military attaché in Madrid. He returned to participate in that war in both Cuba and Puerto Rico and later was department commander of the Philippines. He was appointed chief of staff of the Army shortly after the declaration of war, but by the end of 1917 he had reached the mandatory retirement age of 64.

Bliss was kept on active duty by order of President Woodrow Wilson and sent to France where he served as U.S. military representative to the Allied Supreme War Council. Since President Wilson could not be present at the meetings, Bliss had measurably a statesman's rôle. When his resources of tact and argument failed, his stubborn resolution, backed by a thorough study of the subject, was a check on the conflict of national interests among the Allies at the expense of joint action. His letters to Secretary Baker, in their intimate reports of the operations of the council, are an indispensable contribution for the historian. They also reveal how the Allied leaders sought early on to circumvent President Wilson's Fourteen Points and his plans for a league of nations. From the outset he was for the unified command in the field, which ultimately was given to Marshal Ferdinand Foch, and at the same time he supported General John J. Pershing's insistence that American troops should not be infiltrated into the Allied armies. 

Bliss on Right as Member of the U.S. Commission at Paris

He was for unconditional surrender of the German Army in conclusive admission of its defeat, but then for wise and farsighted support of the German republic to ensure its endurance. Later he was selected by President Wilson to be one of five American delegates to the Paris Peace Conference. He was very supportive of the president and afterward spoke in favor of the League of Nations and disarmament for all to avoid future wars. He also served as governor of the Soldiers Home until 1927 when he finally left active service.

Tasker Bliss died in Washington, DC, on 9 November 1930 and was buried in Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery, where he lies among other family members. 

Sources: Arlington Cemetery Website, Imperial War Museum, Nelle Rote, and the Dictionary of American Biography 

1 comment:

  1. His gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery is Section 30, S-7.

    I have photos of the headstone.

    Steve Miller