b. 23/03/1873 Baltimore, Maryland. d. 27/06/1944 Baltimore, Maryland.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 14/09/1918 near Revillon, France.
Miles was born March 23, 1873, in Baltimore and was destined to be a scholar. He got a bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 1894. Soon after, he earned a degree in medicine from the University of Maryland and worked at the university’s hospital for a time. His desire to continue learning took over, though, so he went back to Hopkins to get his doctorate in English in 1902. For more than a decade, he taught German and English to students from grade school to college.
Miles also happened to be the nephew of a former Army Chief of Staff, Major General Hugh L. Scott, so service to the country wasn’t lost on him. Shortly after the U.S. entered the war on April 6, 1917, Miles put aside his teachings at Princeton University and joined the school’s ROTC unit. He was 44 years old, an assistant professor and a married father of three, but he wanted to serve his country.
By the end of the academic year, Miles was granted a leave of absence from Princeton and went to officers’ training camp, where he earned his commission as a lieutenant. Not long after that, he was sent to France with the Army’s 308th Infantry Regiment, 77th Infantry Division.
On September 14, 1918, Miles volunteered to lead Company M in an attack on an enemy trench near Revillon, France — a trench that other troops had previously tried to overrun without success. As Company M closed in on the trench, they were immediately hit with intense machine gun fire, and they had no artillery assistance to back them up.
Miles pushed on anyway, stepping to the front of the group to cut a passage through German wire entanglements. In doing so, he was shot five times with the bullets fracturing both of his legs and one arm. Instead of staying down, Miles ordered his men to physically pick him up and carry him forward to the enemy trench, which they stormed ”like maniacs,” according to an article in the 1923 Index-Journal, a South Carolina newspaper. Once in the trench, Miles had his men put him on a stretcher so he could direct the fire of his company and encourage his soldiers, who had already suffered numerous injuries.
After two hours, Company M managed to consolidate their front line and hold the enemy trench – a feat many thought was impossible. Despite his wounds, Miles was so invested in the fight that, when it was over, he had to be carried to an aid station against his will. Miles survived his injuries, but the wounds to one of his legs were so bad that it had to be amputated. He was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions, but that was later upgraded to the Medal of Honor. It’s unclear exactly when or where he actually received the award.
When the war ended, Miles returned to civilian life. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Maryland and went on to serve for seven years as headmaster at a boys’ school in Baltimore. In 1927, he published a book about the 308th Infantry’s history during World War I. From that year on, he worked as a professor at his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, until about 1940, when he was named professor emeritus. At some point, he and his wife had a fourth child. Unfortunately, one of their two sons died in 1942 while fighting in the Pacific during World War II.
On June 27, 1944, Miles himself died at the age of 71 from a long illness. He was buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.
Volunteered to lead his company in a hazardous attack on a commanding trench position near the Aisne Canal, which other troops had previously attempted to take without success. His company immediately met with intense machine-gun fire, against which it had no artillery assistance, but Capt. Miles preceded the first wave and assisted in cutting a passage through the enemy’s wire entanglements. In so doing he was wounded five times by machine-gun bullets, both legs and one arm being fractured, whereupon he ordered himself placed on a stretcher and had himself carried forward to the enemy trench in order that he might encourage and direct his company, which by this time had suffered numerous casualties. Under the inspiration of this officer’s indomitable spirit his men held the hostile position and consolidated the front line after an action lasting two hours, at the conclusion of which Capt. Miles was carried to the aid station against his will.
BURIAL LOCATION: GREEN MOUNTAIN CEMETERY, BALTIMORE, MARYLAND.
HEMLOCK SECTION, LOT 49.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: BELIEVED TO BE FAMILY.