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Tasker Howard Bliss was born on 31 December 1853 in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania to George Ripley Bliss and Mary Ann (née Raymond) Bliss. He attended Bucknell (then Lewisburg) University for one year before entering the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York. At the USMA, he excelled in languages, mathematics and tactics and graduated eighth in his class on 16 June 1875.
Upon graduation he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st Artillery and performed routine garrison duties in Georgia and New York. On 14 September 1876 he was appointed to the USMA as an Assistant Professor of French until 1882. While assigned to the USMA, he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant.
Bliss married Eleanor (or Eleanora) E. Anderson on 24 May 1882. In late 1882 he was assigned to Fort Mason, California and Fort Monroe, Virginia. Their first child, Eleanor F. was born in January 1884. In 1885 he was an instructor at the Naval War College where he was sent to England, Germany and France to study their military schools. The purpose of the trip was to determine if United States military schools were teaching similar and relevant material. He returned to the United States and on 16 May 1888 he was assigned to be Aide-de-Camp to U.S. Army Commanding General John M. Schofield. A concurrent assignment while Aide-de-Camp was Inspector of Artillery and Small Arms. During this time period, the Blisses' son Edward Goring was born in June 1892.
On 20 December 1892, while Aide-de-Camp, he was promoted to Captain, Staff, Commissary of Subsistence and on 26 September 1895 he was assigned to special duty at the Office of the Secretary of War. On 4 March 1897 he was assigned as the Quartermaster and Commissary at Fort Monroe, Virginia. On 2 July 1897 he was sent to Spain as the Military Attaché to the United States Legation. When war was declared between Spain and the United States, Captain Bliss was ordered to return to the U.S., via Paris, France, on 21 April 1898.
On 30 April 1898, Bliss was promoted to Major, Staff, Commissary of Subsistence and on 9 May to Lieutenant Colonel and Chief, Commissary of Subsistence, U.S. Volunteers. Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Bliss was then assigned to the 6th Army Corp as Chief Commissary, 23 May 1898 and then Camp George H. Tomas, in Chickamauga, Georgia until ordered to Santiago, Cuba and then Puerto Rico on 20 July 1898. LTC Bliss arrived in Ponce, Puerto Rico in early August and was appointed as the Chief of Staff, 1st Division, I Army Corps, under Major General James H. Wilson. Concurrent assignments included being a board member to select camp sites in Cuba and Chief Commissary of the I Army Corps.
Time in Cuba
Bliss was ordered to Havana, Cuba on 15 December 1898, as Collector of Customs for the Island of Cuba and the Port of Havana. On 13 June 1899 LTC Bliss received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Volunteers and returned to the Regular Army. While serving as Chief, Collector of Customs for the Island of Cuba and the Port of Havana he was also the President of the Commission to Revise the Cuban Tariff Treaty in 1901 and was appointed to the Army War College Board as Special Envoy to Cuba to negotiate the treaty ratification in November and December 1902. The Treaty was ratified and signed on 17 December 1903.
General Staff (1st tour)
Lieutenant Colonel Bliss was commissioned as a Brigadier General in the Regular Army by an Act of Congress under direction of the U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. On 15 August 1903 Brigadier General (BG) Bliss was appointed a member of the General Staff, Chief, 3rd Division and President of the Army War College. In September 1904 he participated in the Manassas Maneuvers in Virginia.
On 7 June 1905 BG Bliss was ordered the Philippine Islands to Command the Department of Luzon. On 9 January 1906 he was assigned as Commander of the Department of Mindanao and appointed Governor of the Moro Province. While still Governor of the Moro Province, BG Bliss was ordered to command the Philippine Division on 14 December 1908. He relinquished all Philippine Islands commands on 6 April 1909, and returned to the U.S. after touring China and Manchuria.
General Staff (2nd tour) and Pre-WWI
BG Bliss was assigned to the General Staff and President of the U.S. Army War College, 19 June 1909. On 12 August 1910 he was assigned to Command the Department of California, in San Francisco, California. On 13 August 1911 he was assigned as Commander, Department of the East, Fort Totten, New York and subsequently assigned to Commander, Department of the South, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas on 26 February 1913.
WWI and Paris Peace Conference
On 13 February 1915 BG Bliss was detailed to the General Staff as Assistant Chief of Staff, Army until his promotion to Chief of Staff on 22 September 1917. He was promoted to Major General (MG), U. S. Army on 20 November 1915 and to full General on 6 October 1917. On 17 November 1917 he was assigned as the American Permanent Military Representative, Supreme War Council, concurrent with the U.S. Army Chief of Staff position.
General Bliss was forced to retire due to age limitations, 31 December 1917 but by order of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, was recalled to active duty on 1 January 1918 and sent to Versailles, France, 23 January, to better carry out his duties on the Supreme War Council. He was relieved as U.S. Army Chief of Staff, 19 May 1918 and returned to the grade of Brevet General on 20 May 1918. After the signing of the Armistice ending World War I, on 11 November 1918, General Bliss held two titles, the American Permanent Military Representative, Supreme War Council, and also, Plenipotentiary at the Paris Peace Conference. This assignment was concluded on 10 December 1919.
On 1 May 1920 Bliss was assigned as Governor of the U.S. Soldiers Home, Washington, D.C. He retired from active duty on 1 May 1927. He was reinstated as a full general, retired, on 21 June 1930 and died on 9 November 1930. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
Bliss was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant-16 June 1875, 1st Lieutenant-ca. November 1881, Captain (Commissary of Subsistence)-20 December 1892, Major (Commissary of Subsistence)-30 April 1898, Lieutenant Colonel (Commissary of Subsistence)-9 May 1898, Lieutenant Colonel (Regular Army)-13 June 1899*, Brigadier General-21 July 1902, Major General-20 November 1915**, General-6 October 1917
Bliss was never commissioned as a colonel. He was promoted to brigadier general from lieutenant colonel by an act of Congress at the President's request.
Bliss was also never commissioned as a lieutenant general. He was appointed a general by the U.S. President under U.S. Code, Title 10, Subtitle A, Part I, Chapter 6, § 164.
Edward Goring Bliss was the son of Tasker and Eleanor E. Bliss. Born on 2 June 1892 he graduated from the USMA in 1916 and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the Engineer Corps. He saw service in Siberia in 1918-1919 and through World War II. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Eleanor F. Bliss was Tasker H. and Eleanor E. Bliss’ daughter, born in 1885, who attended Bryn Mawr Girls School and later married Adolph Knoff.
The USS Tasker H. Bliss was named for him.
Awards and decorations
- Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (UK)
- Grand Croix Légion d'honneur (France)
- Grand Cross Order of the Crown (Belgium)
- Grand Cross Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus (Italy)
- War Cross (Italy)
- Grand Cordon Order of the Rising Sun (Japan)
- Polonia Restituta (Poland)
- Medal of Solidarity, 1918 (Panama)