Miles Oviatt was born on December 1, 1840, in Cattaraugus County, New York. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on August 19, 1862, in Brooklyn, New York, and served aboard the sloop-of-war USS Brooklyn during the U.S. Civil War. Then Corporal Oviatt was awarded the Medal of Honor on December 31, 1864, for action aboard the USS Brooklyn during the Battle of Mobile Bay on August 5, 1864, and he was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps as a Sergeant on August 18, 1866. Miles Oviatt died on November 1, 1880, and was buried at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Olean, New York.
His Medal of Honor Citation reads:
On board the U.S.S. BROOKLYN during action against rebel forts and gunboats and with the ram TENNESSEE in Mobile Bay, 5 August 1864. Despite severe damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire raked the deck, Corporal Oviatt fought his gun with skill and courage throughout the furious 2-hour battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram TENNESSEE.