Perry Lester Miles
Brigadier General, United States Army
15, 1873-October 17, 1961.
Possibly a relative of Lieutenant General Nelson Appleton Miles.
The 371st Infantry was organized August 31, 1917, at Camp Jackson, South Carolina, in compliance with War Department General Order No. 109, of August 16, 1917, as the First Provisional Infantry Regiment (colored).
Colonel Perry L. Miles assumed command of the regiment September 1, 1917. All the officers of the 371st regiment were white. On September 5, 1917, fourteen colored men from Pensacola, Florida, were received as the first recruits for the Regiment. The time of arrival of recruits for the regiment was delayed by the War Department for about a month, because of the shortage of labor in moving the 1917 cotton crop.
It was not until early in October that the first considerable body of recruits was received. By November 20, 1917, however, 3,380 men had been received by the regiment. These men were not all received at once, but in varying sized draft increments at different times. Of this number, 1,680 men were transferred to labor organizations and 500 to a combat organization at Camp Upton.
Under a staff of French officer instructors and interpreters the 371st Infantry was reorganized on the French plan, soon after its arrival in France (April 23, 1918), with 194 men to the company and three machine gun companies to the regiment instead of one as on the American plan. All the American equipment was turned in, and the men were given the French rifles, bayonets, helmets, packs, and other equipment of the French soldier. Only the American khaki uniform remained. After a few weeks' instruction in this new equipment and in French tactics, the regiment went into the trenches as part of the 157th French Division under General Goybet.
It remained in line for over three months, holding first the Avocourt and later the Verrières. subsectors (northwest of Verdun). The regiment, with its division, was then taken out of line and thrown into the great September offensive in the Champagne. It took Cote 188, Bussy Ferme, Ardeuil, Montfauxelles, and Trieres Ferme near Monthois, and captured a number of prisoners, 47 machine guns, 8 trench engines, 3 field pieces (77s), a munition depot, a number of railroad cars, and enormous quantities of lumber, hay, and other supplies. It shot down three German airplanes by rifle and machine-gun fire during the advance.
During the fighting between September 28 and October 6, 1918, its losses---which were mostly in the first three days---were 1,065 out of 2,384 actually engaged. The regiment was the apex of the attacking salient in this great battle. The percentage of both dead and wounded among the officers was rather greater than among the enlisted men. Realizing their great responsibilities, the wounded officers continued to lead their men until they dropped from exhaustion and lack of blood. The men were devoted to their, leaders and as a result stood up against a most grueling fire, bringing the regiment its well deserved fame.
For its action in the Champagne, the 371st was very highly commended by the French high command and awarded the Army citation. Vice Admiral Moreau, on behalf of the French Government, decorated the regimental colors on January 27, 1919, in Brest. In addition to this regimental citation, 146 individual citations were awarded members of the 371st regiment.
General Miles commanded the 16th Brigade, Military District of Washington, from April 1, 1932 to March 1936.
On July 28, 1932, troops led by Brigadier General Perry L. Miles, accompanied by General Douglas MacArthur, the U.S. Army chief of staff, drove out the demonstrators and destroyed their encampments, using tanks and tear gas. One veteran was shot to death, and several veterans and policemen were wounded. Congress then appropriated $100,000 to send the protesters home, and they dispersed.
Miles commanded the First Infantry Division (The Big Red One) from October 1936 to October 1937.
He is buried in family mausoleum in Section
3 of Arlington National Cemetery. NOTE: Section 3, 1956-WH
Appointed from Ohio, Cadet, United States Military
Academy, 17 June 1891 (23); Second Lieutenant, 14th United States Infantry,
12 June 1895
The Distinguished Service Cross is presented to Perry L. Miles, First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in action near Manila, Philippine Islands, February 5, 1899.
During the attack by two companies of the 14th Infantry on blockhouse No. 14 and adjacent trenches strongly held by insurgent forces, when the commanding officer was mortally wounded, the advance was checked and the troops were partially demoralized in the face of a heavy concentrated fire from the front and both flanks, Lieutenant Miles assumed command, ordered the advance to continue, and went along the line with utter disregard of the hostile fire and urged his men forward.
Then, with exceptional gallantry and the highest qualities of leadership, he dashed forward, many yards ahead of his men, calling on them to follow, and drove the enemy from their position. His splendid example of personal heroism, courage, and coolness furnished the needed inspiration to the wavering command and resulted in the successful accomplishment of a seemingly impossible attack.
Updated: 1 November 2000 Updated: 13 January 2002 Updated: 29 March 2003 Updated: 15 November 2003 Updated: 18 September 2005