Category Archives: Killed in Action

Alfred King King

No. 5510 Class of 1916. His Service, the circumstances of his death needs to be read in detail. FA Killed in Action at approximently two PM, Lanenville, France November 10,1918. Awarded DSC

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John Howard Wills

No. 5477. Class of 1916 Reported in list of casualties August 4, 1918, as “Killed in Action”, aged 23 years DSC

When the casualty lists of early August, 1918, came to us we learned that Major John Howard Wills, Class of 1916, had laid down his life for the cause for which we are fighting.
Major Wills was born in Auburn, Alabama, on June 21, 1895, the son of Nannie Fleming Wills and Lieutenant John H. Wills, Class of 1881. He spent his boyhood days in Auburn and received his early education there, in the Primary and High Schools. After
finishing High School he attended the Alabama Polytechnic Institute for two and one half years. In his Junior year he left the Institute to prepare for entrance to the Military Academy.

He was appointed to the Academy from the Third Alabama District and entered on June 15, 1912, prior to his seventeenth birthday. He was the youngest member of his class.
In spite of his youth, his hard work and natural abilities led him, at graduation, to the highest position of honor.

As a cadet his life was saddened by the death of his mother, leaving him an orphan, for his father had died while he was still a baby.

He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Engineers June 13, 1916, and promoted to First Lieutenancy July 1, 1916. He was promoted to Captain on May 15, 1917, and was appointed temporarily a Major in the Corps of Engineers, early in April, 1918.

He was assigned to the First Regiment of Engineers after Graduation, went to France with that Regiment, and, as far as we are able to learn, was still on duty with it at the time of his death.

The Class of 1916 and the Army suffer an irreparable loss by the death of this classmate and officer. Johnny, as he was affectionately known by his classmates and friends, possessed a strong end lovable character. His never failing good humor, his sunny disposition, his generosity, and his ready willingness to aid his less gifted classmates, made him universally admired and esteemed. Our sadness for his loss is tempered by our deep feeling of pride for this son of our Alma Mater, who has made the supreme sacrifice for his country.

Hall of Valor <bnr>

Alabama in European War

James Andrew Shannon

No. 4158. Class of 1903. Dennis Nolan said of him “I conversed with him shortly after he was wounded and gave him the information that his regiment had just completed taking its assigned objective, Hill 244, (Chatel Chehery) in a splendid attack. Though mortally wounded, he had me tell him the details of the attack that had occurred after he was wounded, and he interrupted me frequently to say,
‘That’s fine; that’s fine,’ speaking of the conduct of his officers and men which I was describing to him.” October 8, 1918. Aged 39 years. Distinguished Service Cross. French Croix de Guerre.

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Emory Jenison Pike

No. 4066. Class of 1901 As division machinegun officer, near Vandieres, France, September 15, 1918, having gone forward to reconnoiter new machinegun positions, Colonel Pike assisted in reorganizing infantry units, during a heavy artillery shelling. Locating about 20 men, he advanced and, when later joined by several Infantry platoons, rendered inestimable service in establishing outposts. When a shell had wounded one of the men in the outpost, Colonel Pike immediately went to his aid, and was severely wounded himself when another shell burst in the same place. While waiting to be brought to the rear, Colonel Pike continued in command. Died of wounds near September 16, 1918, aged 41 years. Medal of Honor
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Robert Jayne Maxey

No. 3862. Class of 1898. At the Battle of Cantigny, in command of the 2d Battalion,28th Infantry, received wounds of which he died May 28th. He was cited for having advanced with his first wave in the face of heavy shell and machine-gun fire. Aged 45. DSC

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William David Davis

The following is taken from 600 DAYS’ SERVICE – A HISTORY OF THE 361st INFANTRY
Twice wounded – Cited “for gallantry in action against Spanish forces at Santiago, Cuba, July 1, 1898.”
361 Inf 91 Division – in early Sept 1918, fought in the St. Mihiel Offensive, followed up on 26 September as part of the Meuse-Argonne offensive. The 17th – 19th Oct, the Regiment moved to Ypres Belgium attached to the French 7th Corps. Colonel Davis, commanding the 361st Regiment of Infantry of the 91st Division, was killed in action November 1, 1918, while personally supervising the disposition of the companies of his regiment on the front line.
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Peter Howland Monfore

17661 10 August 1927 – 19 September 1951
Killed in Action 19 September 1951, in Korea, aged 24 Years

“Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die.” – On September 19, 1951, Bloody Heartbreak Ridge, Hill 851, Korea, Love Company Commander, Lt. Peter Howland Monfore, and many comrades of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division, met their death. These are the facts as told by the one surviving officer of Love Company.

“The morning of September 12, attack orders came. The Battalion was to cross the L.D. with ‘H’, ‘I’, ‘K’, and ‘L’ Company spearheading. Heartbreak Ridge was reached and we managed to fight our way up about two hundred yards before dark. On the days following this move, the push for HiII 851 started and the objective was almost reached. Peter was always up front with the assault platoon. He said the men liked to see their commanding officer around when the chips were down. The night of the 18th, Pete received orders for a night attack on 851. We moved through ‘K’ Co. at 10:00 PM o’clock and made our way right up on the hill. We dug in, everyone was so tired and happy. Four o’clock on the mornIng of the 19th, the Reds hit Love Company with two battalions. They cut off ‘K’ Company from us and soon had us completely surrounded. Peter had been reading his Bible. Sensing something was wrong, he put it down, picked up his carbine. As soon as we were out of our bunks we knew it was more than just a probing attack. The fight was overwhelming. We used up all our ammunition. Peter grabbed a BAR, then found a machine gun. The fighting became closer and bitter. We were surrounded. At about two PM o’clock I saw Pete coming toward me. An enemy burp gun got him in the chest, one bullet found his heart. Peter died very shortly, conscious all the time, and very calm and cool. He smiled at me, tried, but couldn’t speak. We put him on a litter, and I covered him with a blanket. I think he tried to tell me to take care of the remaining men. Finally ‘K’ and ‘I’ companies came up from behind and helped us to pull back. We, of Love Company, had only forty-four (44) men left out of one hundred and sixty-seven (167).”

“On October 12, Love Company was given the mission of retaking Hill 851. We took it. I am sure every man had Peter on his mind when we finally got up there. The battle of September 18th lasted fourteen hours. I have never seen Pete’s equal in or out of the Army. Peter was a Christian man, and lived every minute of his life as such, always saying his daily prayers and blessing his ‘C’ rations whenever he ate, doing for others, constantly bringing hope and encouragement to his men and being very considerate and thoughtful. I shall never forget him as long as I live. The men are putting him in for the Congressional Medal of Honor. We hope he gets it. We all thought so much of him.”

Thus, ended the short but full und glorious life of Lieut. Peter Howland Monfore, oldest of five children of Mr. and Mrs. Howland Swift Monfore of Springfield, South Dakota.

Peter was born in South Dakota on August 10, 1927. His childhood and early youth were spent in the ordinary activities of most boys. He was always a good student and very active in all school activities. He loved sports and participated and was a leader in them. Football was his great love.

Peter was baptized and confirmed in the Ascension Episcopal Church of Springfield, South Dakota.

After attending school at Springfield and Tyndall, South Dakota, Peter progressed to graduation with honors from Washington High School, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and immediately enlisted in the Navy, where he remained until 1946, when he received a letter from the Secretary of War, notifying him of an appointment to the United States Military Academy.

After much deliberation, he decided to accept and was given an honorable discharge from the Navy and entered West Point July 1st, 1946.

While taking Naval training at the University of Wisconsin, Pete became interested in boxing and under the splendid coaching of Dewitt Portal, John Walsh, and Julius Menendez, he became very proficient, receiving the Best Contenders trophy award. He followed this sport at U.S.M.A, and Peter “The Rock”, as he was affectionately called, went on to Captain the Army boxing team, and to make many splendid NCAA showings, and to win the Eastern Intercollegiate lightheavy weight title championship for two successive years, 1949 and 1950.

Peter’s character expanded and increased in strength, and he became a proud aud worthy cadet, meeting and encountering the new ways of life, with a serious and business-like attitude. He truly abided by the West Point code of “Duty, Honor, Country”, but added to it, love of God.

Peter was well known and respected by the cadets, and was a bulwark to which any in need could turn; perhaps this is made clearer by the facts that he was chosen a member of the Honor Committee and Cadet CO of “E-2” Company, besides remaining well up in his class scholastically, teaching Sunday School, playing football and boxing. Peter was a good student, a Christian, a fine athlete, a capable leader, and an outstandIng cadet, but he was never too busy to help. He was admired and loved by all who knew or came in contact with him, and they were many, for when the news of his tragic death became known, hundreds of letters of sympathy, praise and comfort came pouring in from all over the nation and abroad. We marveled at how many had been affected by his personality, unselfishness, kindness, helpfulness, sportsmanship, leadership, honesty, integrity, thoughtfulness, love of God, and love for his fellow men, which were all displayed with modesty and humility,
Peter developed and devoted much time to growth in spirit. He adopted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior and wished for all his friends to find his own firm belief and comfort in the knowledge of God, wherein lies our salvation. The will of God was of great importance to Pete. He was active in many religious groups and was constantly trying to give others the strength and comfort received from his belief.

Peter chose for his tour of duty the Far East Command, feeling that there with the Infantry he could best serve his Lord and country. Following graduation from U.S.M.A. in June 1950, he spent a few weeks among friends and at home. In August 1950, with his spiritual and military background so fresh and new, he was shipped to the battlefield of Korea. In three days he received his first wounds while leading a platoon. After three weeks’ hospitalization and convalesence he returned to the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division, and served with it in various capacities, such as platoon leader, regimental liaison officer, etc. Twice he turned down opportunities to become “General’s Aide”. That was not for him. He wanted to be with the front line men. Finally, he was given Love Company to command. Now he was supremely happy. He said, “It is the best job in the whole Army”. He was ever looking after, not only the physical needs but the spiritual needs of his men.

Peter was a member of the Christian Military Men’s Committee, and their first member to be killed. This is the spiritual report of his life as written by a member:

“Several months previous to his death, Lieut. Monfore had sent us the names of his friends and military associates who were either unsaved or needing the Lord Jesus Christ, or Christians in need of spiritual encouragement. From that time on a regular prayer program for the men has been begun and Gospel messages designed to meet their individual needs sent to them, that witness shall result in their salvation. ‘For none of us liveth to himself, and no mail dieth unto himself, for whether we live, we live unto the Lord and whether we die, we die unto the Lord, whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lords.’ Romans 14:7-8. The eternal truth of this statement of God’s word is beautifully illustrated in the life and death of Lieut. Peter Howland Monfore. How gloriously true are God’s words, ‘He being dead, yet Speaketh.’

“Peter was courageous. He was awarded a French medal and citation by General Monclar, Commander of the French U.N. forces, for great courage, in spite of fierce enemy cross fire, in rescuing a French battalion which had been surrounded by the enemy”.

Great comfort and pride were found in these excerpts from letters which paid tribute to his character:

“My loss could not have been greater had it been my own family. As fine a man as ever walked the face of the earth. What a fiercely precious thing this freedom must be when it is bought and paid for with the lives of young men such as Pete. May God give us the sense of values to appreciate what it means.”

“I cannot think of any boy that has left the impression that Pete left with me. I can’t count the times that I have talked to my friends and boys in my classes about him. Peter was the model athlete. When you meet a boy in athletics or physical education like Pete, then you know you are in the right business. I shall always try to develop the fine qualities Peter possessed.”

“Your boy was certainly as fine a soldier as West Point has ever produced. He lived up to every part of, ‘Duty, Honor, Country’, Among all the the men we lost in this grinding battle, it is hard to say who could be the hardest to lose, but Pete had every attribute of greatness, and was potentially one of the Army’s bright young stars. For several hours we couldn’t believe he was really gone, and kept praying for his return. As a soldier, there is little in war to recommend itself to me. The only recompense is in the sense of duty performed for our country, and the great comradeship and respect engendered for our fighting brothers. Ernie Pyle could have written of this battle and your son. I cannot. We of the 23rd lnfantry share your grief and participate in your fierce pride.”

“Peter was an exceptionally fine young officer and was on my staff until he took over Love Company in August, and he immediately established it as a top outfit. The night preceding his death he executed a brilliant attack on a dominant hill of Heartbreak Ridge of unparalleled success and daring. We all predicted a shining future for your son and his men had a deep affection for him. Only a few days before, I signed a recommendation for his promotion to Captain. We are asking one of the country’s highest awards for your son, the highest decoration our government can give.”

“Pete was one of my best friends. I feel it a genuine privilege to have been his friend and feel that I am a better man today for having known him. Pete had many friends, probably as many as any man that ever graduated from the Point. Ours was a special friendship, a little stronger than ordinary. Peter and I had a common understanding of each other. I understood his religious views, his strict adherence to physical conditioning, his unflinching honesty. I respected him for it and he knew It. He never failed to make me laugh when I was down. The news of Peter’s death left me more stunned and grieved than I have ever been in my entire life. I last had seen Peter in Korea in April, 1951, near the IittIe town of Hong Chon. He hadn’t changed a bit, but looked like he did when he entered the boxing ring, grim and ready for the job ahead, yet ready with a smile.”

“As a member of my battalion, Pete, as he was affectionately called, was highly respected and beloved by all the officers and men of the unit. He was an outstanding officer, considerate, kind, gentle, yet firm. His regular attendance at church service was an indication of his true character in the spirit of love of God. This was a form of his duty, and with Pete the word duty was but another name for the will of the Almighty and to perform this was the sole aim of his life. News of his death stunned every member of this unit, and his loss will be felt keenly in the organization.”

These are just a few of the many, many tributes paid to Lieut. Peter Howland Monfore, no longer present on this earth.

We who survive him are proud to look back on his accomplishments and let them be examples which he set forth to serve us and inspire us in our attempt to fulfill the tasks that he would have completed. Pete met death pridefully and manfully in the service of his country, and with faith in his devotion to duty and in defense of all that we and the free people of the world hold most dear. Let us hope that it has helped us on the long hard road by which we may expect to reach a just, honorable, and enduring peace.

The Monfore Family

JOHN P. LAVELLE on February 20, 2005 –


Edmund Jones Lilly

Edmund Jones Lilly, III, was born in Colon, Republic of Panama, on May 26th 1928, while his father was serving at Fort Davis, Canal Zone, with the 14th Infantry. He moved about the world in typical “army brat” fashion, getting his formal education here and there, making new friends and parting with old ones. After stations in Michigan and Georgia, he went to Manila with his parents and two sisters in January of 1941. At Fort McKinley, where his father served with the 57th Infantry (PS), he lived in Quarters 44, and attended the American grade school. Here he was graduated in a class of three, with Major General Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright (USMA 06) as the speaker. His two classmates were Gail Francis Wilson and Frank Riley Loyd. Gail and Frank were also his classmates at West Point. In May, 1941, because of mounting tension in the Far East, he was evacuated with his Mother and sisters back to the United States. During his father’s stay in the Orient, Ted lived in Fayetteville, North Carolina, his father’s birthplace. Here he finished High School in 1945.

Ted enjoyed the out-of-doors – hunting, fishing, swimming, or even picnicking. He took part in sports in both high school and The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina, which he entered in the Fall of 1945. He was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville and took part in activities of the Young People’s League. At this time he considered the Episcopal ministry as a career and had many long talks with his rector on the subject. At The Citadel he decided to try for the U.S. Military Academy and the Army. He entered West Point in the Summer of 1946 with the Class of 1950.

Though dedicated to the military, he deplored warfare as the final means of settling international disputes, as fragmentary writings found among his school papers will attest. The following lines are an example:

“Oftentimes I feel a great despair

That fills my soul with unrelenting fear,

and fires of bell burn deep within my heart.

My mind is doubtful and my view unclear.

Yet through this fog that covers my real self,

That blackens all my hopes and all my prayers,

I have unfaltering trust in Things Divine,

And with this trust I cover up my cares.”

His dreams of a better tomorrow are revealed in the following fragment:

“But now in reminiscing through days of long ago,

I realize how methods change of fighting off one’s foe.

A gun that shoots a hundred rounds a thousand yards or more

Has ta’en the place of sword-play in this world of constant war.

But soon we know that this gun too will will be entombed in dust,

And then we’ll see a newer world that’s once more free and just.”

At West Point he was a member of Company I-A-2. His room was often a gathering place and many happy evenings were spent listening to records or discussing the last week-end in New York.

On June 7, 1950, the day following graduation, Ted took as his bride, Mary Alma Russ, a lovely El Paso girl he had met on a blind date while on a cadet visit to Fort Bliss. While at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, on honeymoon leave, he became concerned about radio and newspaper reports of world conditions and notified his unit, the Second Division, of his exact location. Several days later his leave was cancelled and he reported to Fort Lewis, Washington. By July’s end he was in Korea with Company B, 9th Infantry. In early September his platoon was on an isolated peak overlooking the Naktong River in the Yongson Sector. The rest of the regiment had been driven from its position. Why Ted’s platoon did not withdraw, we do not know. Death occurred September 3, 1950, according to the D.A. wire. The posthumous Silver Star citations read in part: “During the intense automatic weapons fire and grenade explosions, Lieutenant Lilly walked among his men, encouraging them to greater efforts in their valiant defense against insurmountable odds.” In other words, he was in the place he should have been, performing his duty – as he had been taught to do. He was the first member of the Class of 1950 to be killed in action.

He is survived by his widow – now happily remarried since 1952 – by his parents, Colonel and Mrs. Edmund J. Lilly, Jr., and his sisters, Mrs. Jack. D. Dade, Jr., whose husband is a Colonel in the Air Force, and Mrs. Ralph A. Koch, Jr., whose husband is a First Lieutenant, Signal Corps, US Army, and USMA ’53.

The last set of correspondence (1950-1951) revolves around the death of Colonel Lilly’s son, Lt. Edmund J. Lilly, III, who was killed in action in Korea. These letters are mainly condolences to the family. Two letters (September 21, 1950 and October 17, 1950) give specific accounts of the battle in which Lt. Lilly was killed. Also included is a poem written in the memory of Lt. “Ted” Lilly.

Hamilton Allen Smith

3559. Class of 1893. Before or near Soissons this brave officer met his death-heroically as he had lived-he died the death of a very fine gentleman and soldier; his last hours were characteristic of his whole life, his thoughts were always for others. Killed while directing an attack on a machine gun emplacement,in France (reported July 29, 1918). Aged 47 years.

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Thurston Elmer Wood

5749. Class of 1918 (Aug., 1917)

“And then I heard yelling, ‘Au secours! Les camarades! Je suis mort!

And Again – The horses were very near the guns and your brother was standing in the open encouraging the drivers and seeing that all men and animals were gotten under cover. Killed in action July 21, 1918, near Vierzy, France, aged 21 years.

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Earle Adams Billings

Photo page 60 Annual Report –

5889. Class of 1918 (Aug., 1917)
Killed in action July 18, 1918, at Vaux, France, aged 24 years.

First Lieutenant Earle Adams Billings, 9th Infantry, U. S. A., son of Charles and Grace Akers Billings, was born April 1, 1894, at Gor- ham, Maine. He received his earlier education in the public schools of Gorham and Portland, Maine, graduating from the latter High School. He was appointed to the United States Military Academy from the First District, Maine, and entered the same in June, 1914, as a member of the Class of 1918.

His career at the Academy was one of which anyone might well be proud in that he graduated with his class in August, 1917, nine months prior to the date set for the graduation of the Class of 1918. His kindness and thoughtfulness toward everyone with whom he came in contact was distinctively prominent in his every act and those characteristics, coupled closely with his loyalty, integrity and his everlasting determination to succeed through squareness to others, gained for him from his classmates a profound respect and admiration.

Lieut. Billings upon graduating was assigned to the 9th Infantry, which at that time was overseas. He was one of the few officers of
his class who was fortunate enough to receive an assignment to a
unit which had already embarked for foreign service.

Before sailing, he was married to Miss Ruth Dingley Jenkins, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Welsey Jenkins of Portland, Maine, on October 10th, 1917. He was with her only until November 2, 1917, at which time he sailed for England. He remained in London but a few days and then joined his regiment, the 9th Infantry, in France and was with it until sometime in January, 1918, when he was detailed to an officers’ school as an instructor. In the latter part of March, 1918, he was appointed range officer, which duty he performed until the thirtieth of May when he was sent to the front to rejoin his organization and was with the 9th Infantry up to the time of his death on July 18, 1918.

Prior to his death he was cited in orders and mentioned in French newspapers for bravery in action, since which time his wife has received a Croix de Guerre from the French Government.

Following is extract from Order.

General Headquarters of the Armies of the North and Northeast.
Personnel Bureau. Order No. 11,462. “D” Extract. (Decorations.)

With the approbation of the Commander in Chief of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, the General Commander in Chief of the French Armies of the North and Northeast cites in the Order of the Army Corps:

First Lieutenant Earle A. Billings, 9th Reg., Inf.
“July 1, 1918, at Vaux, he led his men to the assault under violent
bombardment without losing track of the wounded. He himself saw too that they were carried to the rear. Inspired his men by his bravery
and his coolness.” * * *

At General Headquarters, November 11, 1918.
The General Commander in Chief.

From a French newspaper:
“First Lieut. Earle A. Billings, 9th Infantry, led his men through heavy barrage, working continuously during the entire bombardment, locating and directing evacuation of the wounded. By his valor and coolness, in spite of high explosive and gas shelling, he was an incentive to his men. This at Vaux, July 1, 1918.”

Following is extract from letter written to Mrs. Billings by the Commanding Officer Co. A, 9th Infantry:

Ninth Infantry, France, Sept. 18, 1918.
My Dear Mrs. Billings:

Earle was second in command of Company A when we started over the top on the morning of the 18th. He was assigned to command of the left wing of the company. We had gone about 1500 yards when I was notified that Earle was wounded-I believe by machine-gun fire. I immediately sent two men to assist him, but had to continue the advance without being able to see him. It was not until after the engagement that I learned of his death. He had been killed by shell fire. This occurred south of Soissons, about 500 yards southwest of Beaurepaire Farm. He was buried in the same locality with other officers of the 9th who fell on the “Field of Honor.”

I offer you my heartfelt sympathy. The whole regiment shares with you the sadness of your loss. But in your grief please remember that Earle gave his life for a noble cause; his sacrifice has not been offered in vain. Earle fell while gallantly and fearlessly leading his men in action. The whole Company loved him and would have followed him anywhere. While he served under me I twice had the pleasure of recommending him for distinguished conduct in the face of the enemy, from which I hope you will hear further.
I shall not ask you to bear your loss bravely, for I know that you shall, for anyone related to Earle could not do otherwise.

Most sincerely,
Captain 9th Infantry.

All of us who knew Earle can easily realize the deep sorrow which must surround the relatives, particularly the mother and the young wife of the deceased, who like many other mothers and wives of America made sacrifices and played such an important part in making the world safe for Democracy.

The Class of 1918 extends to the parents, wife and relatives of Lieutenant Billings their profound sympathy for their loss which is only made easier to bear in taking pride in his bravery knowing that he so nobly did his duty in the time of intense danger, with coolness and little regard for himself, all of which is symbolical of the motto we all love so well-Duty, Honor, Country.

R.H. Place

Croix de Guerre from the French Government

Enter – Billings Earle at –

Arthur Edward Bouton

Photo page 55 – 1919 Annual Report

No. 4731 Class of 1908. His battalion was one of two battalions of regiment which remained in line continuously for six weeks. He was especially valuable during those trying days as his calmness under fire and his ability to promptly and efficiently meet conditions as they arose, inspired great confidence in all his subordinates and helped in a great measure to crown each engagement of his battalion with the wreath of victory. He met his death from a shell fragment while valiantly directing his battalion in the advance in the open fields near Soissons, July 18, 1918, near Chateau Thierry, France, aged 32 years.

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Betram Tracy Clayton

3141 Killed in action May 30, 1918, by a bomb dropped by a German aviator. At the time Colonel Clayton wae in company with three others in France, aged 55 years

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Albert Francis Ward

No. 6010. Class of June, 1918.

Killed in action Novitskn Siberia, June 22, 1919, aged 24 years.

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Jo Hunt Reaney

Company Commander 7th Inf 3d Divison

At midnight and morning of the 15th of July the Boche delivered an extraordinarily severe bombardment along the front, from Chateau Thierry to Rheims. The Company (7th Inf 3d Div) was in position on the south bank of the Marne directly in front of the village of Gland, occupied by the Germans who held the high ground across the river.. Gland is only a few kilometers east of Chateau Thierry. The unit been in position since the 2nd of July and the bombardment took was a surprise, as the first fourteen days were quite quiet. Major Reaney and his Orderly were killed- they were buried together.

Photo page 52 – 1919 Annual Report

Killed in Action July 15, 1918, in France, aged 26 years.

Of all those gallant officers and men who have stood the courage of battle and who now return with their comrades, in spirit only, but whose bodies remain over there as a monument to their divine virtues, none leaves a fonder remembrance among his friends than Major Jo Hunt Reaney, lovingly known to his friends as “Spec.”

Major Reaney was born in Osage, Iowa, October 17, 1891; graduated from West Point in 1915, and was assigned to the Infantry.

To his friends, who for years have known his charming personality, his loss means an absence that can never be replaced; and to his country is lost a soldier of the rarest quality. It is sad indeed that his death should come so early in his promising career. No man ever possessed a more wonderful combination of splendid traits. He was simple, fair, honest and industrious. His cheerful optimism was always present to lift the cloud of depression from a melancholy atmosphere. He was a man through whose friendship one felt the sense of having gained an indefinable something by simply having known him. Untiring in his efforts, moving steadily towards the possession of higher qualities of life, towards a greater usefulness and efficiency.

Major Reaney was devoted to his parents and his friends; his friendship was rare, possessing subtle qualities of a rich though retiring nature; he gave with the ease and unobtrusiveness of one who loves to give but knows not that he is giving. His balance and poise and keen sense of proportion were always a helping influence to those of a less stable disposition.

It is seldom that grief ever penetrates below the surface; a few weeks, a few months, a few years and all is forgotten, but men like our noble friend never die. Recollections of him are too firmly linked with our hearts, and while regretting his death we know that his life was a splendid preparation for a life beyond and that he was happy in contributing his part to the greatest cause the world has ever known.

Following are extracts from letters received from a brother officer to Major Reaney’s mother:

“Captain Reaney made the supreme sacrifice at probably the crisis of the many crises of the war, when -the Allies wrestled the initiative from the Hun and started him back.
At twelve o’clock midnight on the morning of the 15th of July the Boche delivered an extraordinarily severe bombardment on our whole front, from Chateau Thierry to Rheims. We were in position on the south bank of the Marne directly in front of the village of Gland, occupied by the Germans. Gland is only a few kilometers east of Chateau Thierry. We had been in position since the 2nd of July and the bom- bardment took us a little by surprise. The first fourteen days were quite quiet.

During the first two weeks, however, Captain Reaney, always a soldier and an expert machine gunner, had kept busy day and night, and had kept us busy too, preparing for what we knew was to come. By constantly looking for new positions, better positions, and plenty of alternative ones, he so protected our front with bands of fire when it came time to open up, that not a German crossed the Marne in front of us, although they had planned to.

His extreme conscientiousness, absolute fearlessness, his subjugation of personal safety and comfort to the immediate demands of the situation, were largely responsible for his personal sacrifice, but not until his work was completed.

Even when he did not show up at his headquarters, the next morning, his company as a result of his untiring efforts carried out his mission.

As to the facts. He decided to move his headquarters further front, and took over mine. I had moved forward to one of my section positions. He came through the barrage into my post of command about 12:30 a.m., after making arrangements for spare guns and ammunition to go forward. In addition to the high explosive and shrapnel, he had encountered some gas on his way down. The night was hot and blacker than indigo. He stayed with me fifteen or twenty minutes to rest and cool off a bit. He then started out with his orderly, saying that he was going to go to the other platoon P. C.’s to see that everything was all right. I know that his main idea was to encourage the men by his presence, to let them know that they had a company commander who would not ask them to stay at a gun while he remained in a dugout. That was the last any of us ever saw him alive: I left two or three minutes after he did.

Before dawn I had had occasion to return to my P. C., and was some thirty meters away from it on my return trip forward, when the concussion of a shell landed me in a ravine. I was overheated and took off a large sheepskin coat I had been wearing. I threw it to one side and it landed on top of a body. It was still too dark to recognize anyone
and as it was an urgent necessity for me to get back to my gun position, I didn’t investigate.

The next morning the Captain was reported missing. We sent out searching parties. As this little ravine where I had discarded my coat was under direct observation and constant machine gun fire in the day- time, it was not examined until dusk. Then the detail, seeing and recognizing my coat, knowing that I was all right, thought the Captain had been wearing it. They carried him back under cover and it was the Captain. He never suffered; he was killed instantly, with his orderly. We buried them side by side.

Captain Reaney’s loss was a severe one to the company and to the service. He was without doubt one of, if not the highest respected and best thought of officer in the regiment in the opinion of both his senior and junior officers. The men in his company thought there was never anyone like him. When you have said that, you have said all that possibly can be said about an officer.

Personally, I didn’t have a better friend in the army. I got very well acquainted with him in the States.

The bombardment was so sudden that some of us wrote a last note home. As he was killed instantly, there was no chance for the spoken word. But if he did not speak the word, he lived it. He honored me with his confidence once or twice -and I know that the reason for his clean living was that he might be able to go back clean to you, his mother.”

Family History



Graduation assignment
(Link to Google Books chapter)

Needs Confirmation
At the time of his death he was writing and had nearly completed a “History of Knight Templarism in America.” Captain Jo Hunt Reaney was born at Osage, Iowa

(Link to Google Books chapter)

Bradley Visit
(Link to Google Books Chapter)

Gland France map at

John Williams Gunnison

Vol. I p662 892

(Born N. H. Ap’d N. H.)

Born Nov. 11, 1812

Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1833, to July 1, 1837, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to Second Lieut., 2d Artillery, July 1, 1837.

Served: in the Florida War, as Ordnance Officer, 1837-38; in the Cherokee Nation, 1838, while transferring the Indians to the West; as (Second Lieut., Topographical Engineers, July 7, 1838) Asst. Topographical Engineer in the Florida War, 1839, – on the improvement of Savannah and St. Mary’s Rivers, Ga., 1840-41, – on Survey of Lake Michigan, 1841-42, and of Northwestern Lakes, 1842-49.

(First Lieut., Top. Engineers, May 9, 1846) Explorations in Utah and Survey of Great Salt Lake, Utah, 1849-51, and on Survey of Northwestern Lakes, 1851-53; and in charge of Explorations and Survey of Central Route for Railroad from (Captain, Top. Engineers, Mar. 3, 1853, for Fourteen Years’ Continuous Service) the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, 1853.

Massacred, Oct. 26, 1853, near Sevier Lake, Utah: Aged 41, with seven of his exploring party, by a band of Mormons and Parvan Indians, his body being pierced by seventeen arrows, and otherwise horribly mutilated. a

Bill Thayer’s Note:

a Whether there was Mormon complicity in the attack by the Parvan (i.e., Piute, Paiute or Pahvant) Indians – now usually referred to as the “Gunnison Massacre” – is a matter of controversy. According to most sources, he is buried in Fillmore, UT; others have it that he was buried near the site of the massacre itself, along with the half-dozen others who died there. >…

Roderic Stone

Vol. II p727 1838

(Born Me. Ap’d Min.)


Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1854, to July 1, 1859, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to Bvt. Second Lieut. of Infantry, July 1, 1859.

Served on frontier duty at Ft. Ripley, Min., 1859, Ft. Defiance, (Second Lieut., 5th Infantry, Aug. 22, 1859) N. M., 1860-61, – and Ft. Fauntleroy, N. M., 1861.
Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861-62, in Operations in New Mexico, 1861â╢ł62, being engaged in the Battle of “Valverde”, (First Lieut., 14th Infantry, May 14, 1861) (Captain, 14th Infantry, Oct. 24, 1861)

(Bvt. Major, Feb. 21, 1862, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Valverde, N. M.)

Feb. 21, 1862, where he was Mortally Wounded, and Died of Wounds, Mar. 3, 1862, at Ft. Craig, N. M.: Aged 25.

Buried, Santa Fe National Cemetery, Santa Fe, NM.


Edward R. S. Canby

Vol. II
p18 1015

(Born Ky. Ap’d Ind.)

Edward Richard Sprigg Canby – Born Nov. 9, 1817, Piatt’s Landing, KY.

Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1835, to July 1, 1839, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to Second Lieut., 2d Infantry, July 1, 1839.*.html

Served: in the Florida War, 1839-42, being on Quartermaster duty, 1840-41; in transferring Indians to Arkansas, 1842; in garrison at Ft. Niagara, N. Y., 1842-45; on Recruiting service, 1845-46; as Adjutant, (First Lieut., 2d Infantry, June 18, 1846, to June 11, 1851) 2d Infantry, Mar. 24, 1846, to Mar. 3, 1847; in garrison at Detroit Barracks,
(Bvt. Captain, Staff Asst. Adjutant-Gen., Mar. 3, 1847, to Mar. 3, 1855) Mich., 1846, – and Newport, Ky., 1846.

In the War with Mexico, 1846-48, being engaged in the Siege of “Vera Cruz”, Mar. 9-29, 1847, – Battle of “Cerro Gordo”, Apr. 17-18, 1847, – Battle of “Contreras”, Aug. 19-20, 1847, – Battle of “Churubusco”, Aug. 20, 1847, – Assault
(Bvt. Major, Aug. 20, 1847, for Gallant and Meritorious Conduct in the Battles of Contreras and Churubusco, Mex.) and Capture of the City of Mexico, Sep. 13-14, 1847, – and as Asst. Adjutant – (Bvt. Lieut.-Col., Sep. 13, 1847, for Gallant Conduct at the Belen Gate of the City of Mexico)

General of General Riley’s brigade, 1847-48; as Asst. Adjutant-General of Pacific Division, Feb. 27, 1849, to Feb. 22, 1851, – in the Adjutant-General’s Office, Washington, D. C., Feb. 22, 1851, to Mar. 3, (Major, 10th Infantry, Mar. 3, 1855) 1855, being on a tour of inspection of posts on the Arkansas and Red Rivers, in Florida, and on the Gulf Coast east of the Mississippi, Nov. 30, 1853, to July 15, 1854; in garrison at Carlisle Barracks, Pa., 1855; and on frontier duty at Ft. Crawford, Wis., 1855-56, – Ft. Snelling, Min., 1856, 1857, – Utah Expedition, 1857-60, – Ft. Garland, N. M., 1860,- and commanding Navajo Expedition, 1860-61.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861-66: in command (Colonel, 19th Infantry, May 14, 1861) of the Department of New Mexico, June 23, 1861, to Sep. 18, 1862, being engaged in the Defense of “Fort Craig”, Jan.-Feb., 1862, – Combat of “Valverde”, Feb. 21, 1862, – and Action of “Peralta”, Apr. 15, 1862; in command (Brig.-General, U. S. Volunteers, Mar. 31, 1862)

Draft Rendezvous, at Pittsburg, Pa., Nov. 7, 1862, to Jan. 15, 1863; on special duty in the War Department at Washington, D. C., Jan. 15, 1863, to May 7, 1864, except while detached, July 14 to Nov. 15, 1863, in command of the City and Harbor of New York, to suppress “Draft Riots”.

In command of the Military Division of West Mississippi, (Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, May 7, 1864) May 11, 1864,1 to June 3, 1865, being, while on a tour of inspection, severely wounded by Rebel guerrillas, on White River, Ark., Nov. 4, 1864; in command of the forces in the Mobile Campaign, Mar.-May, 1865, resulting in the Capture of the “Spanish Fort”, Apr. 8, – and of Blakely, Apr. 9, (Bvt. Brig.-General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of “Valverde”, N. M.) 1865, -Occupation of Mobile, Apr. 12,2 – and of Montgomery, Apr. 27, (Bvt. Maj.-General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865, for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Capture of “Ft. Blakely”, and Mobile, Ala.) (p19) 1865.

Ssurrender of Lieut.-General R. Taylor’s Rebel Army, May 4, 1865, and of the Rebel Forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department, under General E. K. Smith, May 26, 1865; in command of the Department of the Gulf, June 3 to July 17, 1865, – of the Department of Louisiana and Texas, July 17 to Aug. 5, 1865, – and of the Department of Louisiana, Aug. 5, 1865, to May 27, 1866. Brig.-General, U. S. Army, July 28, 1866.

Served: in command of the Department of Washington, Aug. 13, (Mustered out of Volunteer Service, Sep. 1, 1866) 1866, to Aug. 26, 1867; as President of Special Commission for Decision of Claims in the War Department, Aug. 9, 1866, to Aug. 26, 1867; as Member of Board to prepare plan for a new War Department Building, Oct. 4, 1866, to Aug. 26, 1867; in command of Second Military District, Sep. 5, 1867, to July 28, 1868, – of Department of Washington, Aug. 14 to Nov. 12, 1868, – of Fifth Military District, Dec. 1868, to Apr. 8, 1869, – and of First Military District and Department of Virginia, Apr. 8, 1869, to Apr. 30, 1870; under special orders, Apr. to Aug. 1870; and in command of the Department of Columbia, Aug., 1870, to Jan., 1873, – and of the Division of the Pacific, Jan. to Apr. 11, 1873.

Degree of LL. D. conferred by Wesleyan College, 1870.

Buried, Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, IN.


Bvt. Major-General Edward Richard Sprigg Canby was born, Aug. 1817, in Kentucky, and was mortally wounded, April 11, 1873, by the hand of the treacherous savage, “Captain Jack,” while he was endeavoring to mediate for the removal of the Modoc Indians from their rocky fastness, the “Lava Beds,” near the northern border of California, to a reservation where the tribe could be maintained and protected by the proper civil agents of the government. Modoc George then shot him through the head, and another savage stabbed him behind the ear with a knife.

Comment – the material is from a different time in our history and the reader should keep in mind the attitude we had toward the Indian in the past.

While Canby was yet a boy, his parents removed from Kentucky to Indiana, where he was liberally educated, and at the age of sixteen sent to West Point. Upon graduating from the Military Academy, he was promoted, July 1, 1839, to be a Second Lieutenant in the Second Regiment of Infantry. Immediately he was sent to Florida to fight the Seminole Indians, where he remained three years, most of the time being engaged on Quartermaster duty. At the close of this war, in 1842, he was employed in removing the Creeks, Cherokees, and Choctaws beyond the Mississippi to the present Indian Territory, where they have become good, civilized, and industrious citizens. From this time till 1846, he was in garrison at Ft. Niagara, N. Y., and on Recruiting service. Already he had shown such soldierly qualities that he was made, May 24, 1846, the Adjutant of his regiment; soon after, Jan. 18th, became a First Lieutenant; and, Mar. 3, 1847, an Assistant Adjutant-General, with the rank of Captain, in the Staff. Upon his promotion to the latter position he left his regiment, then in the field, to become the Chief of Staff of General (p20) Riley’s brigade of General Scott’s army, with which he served from the Siege of Vera Cruz to the Capture of the City of Mexico, winning two brevets for his distinguished gallantry.

After the Mexican War he was ordered to California, where for two years, during the conversion of this Mexican Province into an American State, he performed the onerous duties of Assistant Adjutant-General of the Pacific Division. In 1851 he was transferred to Army Headquarters in Washington city, and soon after, upon his promotion, June 11, 1851, to a Captaincy of Infantry, he relinquished his line for his staff appointment. In 1853-54 he made an extended tour of inspection of the posts on the Arkansas and Red Rivers, in Florida, and on the Gulf coast east of the Mississippi, which admirably prepared him for his future command over all of this vast territory during the Civil War.

Under the Act of Congress creating four new regiments, Canby was appointed, Mar. 3, 1855, Major of the 10th Infantry, with which he was engaged on frontier duty in western Wisconsin and Minnesota till 1857, when he joined the Utah Expedition, taking, in 1858, command of Ft. Bridger, garrisoned by portions of the Second Dragoons, and Seventh and Tenth Infantry. He held this post till 1860, when he was appointed commander of the expedition against the Navajo Indians. On the advent of the Civil War, he was in command of Ft. Defiance, N. M., and, though of Southern birth,b he promptly sided with the national cause, his loyalty being soon brought to a severe test.

Upon the increase of the Regular Army, consequent upon the outbreak of the Rebellion, Canby was appointed Colonel of the Nineteenth Infantry, his commission dating from May 14, 1861, and was put in cdm of the Department of New Mexico, after the defection of his seniors. He successfully defended this territory against General Sibley’s formidable inroad from the direction of Texas, at Fort Craig, Valverde, and Peralta, in which conflicts he exhibited admirable judgment, cool courage, and excellent generalship. After these severe trials he had the satisfaction of seeing the invaders retreat, leaving behind them, in dead, wounded, sick, and prisoners, one half of their original forces.

Leaving New Mexico when notified of his promotion, Mar. 31, 1862, to be a Brigadier-General, United States Volunteers, he took command in November of the Draft Rendezvous at Pittsburg, Pa., which he relinquished, June 15, 1863, when ordered on special duty in the War Department, becoming there the trusted adviser of its head in the many momentous matters connected with the conduct of the Civil War. So great was Secretary Stanton’s confidence in Canby’s ability, firmness, and discretion, that he placed him, July 14, 1863, in command of the city and harbor of New York, where his courage, skill, and judgment did so much to successfully suppress the Draft Riots which threatened the prosperity of the commercial metropolis of the nation. Except the victories of Gettysburg and Vicksburg, the preservation of peace and order here did most to turn the trembling scales of fate in favor of the loyal North.

Upon Canby’s return to the War Department he soon won the good opinion of the President and the Secretary of War that he was promoted, May 7, 1864, to be a Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, and placed in command of the Military Division of West Mississippi, extending from Missouri to the mouth of the Mississippi, and from Texas to Florida. His first act in his new command was to take charge of General Banks’s retreating forces at Atchafalaya, and conduct them safely to New Orleans.

Canby had brought with him from Washington instructions to carry out, if possible, the contemplated movement against Mobile; but not having an adequate force he could not undertake it at once, particularly as the successes of the Confederates against Banks emboldened them to p21threaten several points on the Mississippi and the whole line of the Arkansas River. As soon as possible, however, he sent a division to Dauphin Island. Farragut’s gallant passage of the forts into Mobile Bay, Aug. 5, 1864, and Granger’s subsequent reduction of Forts Gaines and Morgan with the assistance of the Navy, are familiar and memorable events, adding lasting laurels to our gallant tars, which the land forces were joyous and proud to share. To Canby, as the Commander of the Military Division, the National Thanks were thanked by the President of the United States, Sep. 3, 1864, for the “skill and harmony with which the recent operations in Mobile harbor, and against Ft. Powell, Ft. Gaines, and Ft. Morgan, were planned and carried into execution.”

Two months later we find Canby engaged in making a tour of inspection on White River, where, Nov. 4, 1864, he was severely wounded by hostile guerrillas.

Though we now had possession of Mobile Bay and the forts at its entrance, the strongly fortified city at its head had yet to be taken. While the Confederates were actively adding new intrenchments and redoubts to Spanish Fort and other defensible points on the approaches to Mobile city, Canby, just recovering from his wound, was drawing together forces from all quarters of his command. With his admirable administrative talent, he organized and equipped these to form a respectable army. In person, with the Thirteenth Army Corps under Granger, and the Sixteenth commanded by A. J. Smith, Canby moved along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, while Steele’s column marched from Pensacola on the Pollard road to cut the Confederate communications between Montgomery and Mobile. Spanish Fort, the most advanced work on the route to Mobile, was carried by assault, Apr. 8, 1865, after a siege of thirteen days; Blakely stormed on the 4th, at the end of eight days of open trenches; Forts Huger and Tracy, with the aid of the Navy, reduced, Apr. 11th; and the commercial capital of Alabama occupied, Apr. 12, 1865. Thus, with an army of 45,000 men, was terminated the Mobile campaign of twenty-two days. Again were tendered, May 16, 1865, the Thanks of the President and the War Department “to General Canby, and the officers and soldiers of his command, for their gallantry, energy, and successful military skill, in the siege and reduction of the strongly fortified city of Mobile, and for the achievements that have rendered their campaign one of the most brilliant and important of the war.”

Soon after, Canby had the honor to occupy Montgomery, the first Confederate capital, and May 4th to receive the surrender of the army of Lieut.-General Richard Taylor; followed, May 26, 1865, by the capitulation of the rebel forces in the Trans-Mississippi Department under General E. K. Smith, which terminated the Civil War.

On Mar. 13, 1864, for his meritorious services at the Battle of Valverde, N. M., Canby was brevetted a Brigadier-General in the Regular Army, and a Major-General for his gallantry in the Capture of Fort Blakely and Mobile, Ala.

The war having closed, Canby returned to New Orleans, where he remained in command of a Department, under various names and with changing limits, from June 3, 1865, to May 27, 1866, when he was relieved at his own request, having been several times overruled by his superior officer, while, however, enjoying the full confidence of the Government at Washington. Canby, throughout the war, had shown himself an excellent military commander, and with the return of peace highly distinguished himself as a civil governor. Clear-headed, just to all, he controlled his Department with unflinching firmness, and with dexterity and discretion nipped in the bud every attempted disorder essayed in the turbulent city where he held his headquarters. No riots took place in (p22) New Orleans till after he relinquished his command in Louisiana.c Canby also saved the United States millions of money by stopping ruinous raids upon the Treasury under bogus southern claims and carpet-bagger cotton swindlers. Had he held supreme control in his Department, many salutary reforms would have been effected, and the Mississippi levees been rebuilt in the autumn of 1865 out of the $800,000 realized from the sale of abandoned crops. Official interference and red-tape routine, however, put off the application of this fund till the following year, after the river had risen and swept away all that had been done, and destroyed millions of property. His civil administration had the foresight of wise statesmanship, and was maintained with the rigor of military justice, which won for him the highest esteem and goodwill of President Lincoln and Secretary Stanton, both of whom had such unbounded confidence in his integrity and wisdom that he was appointed a Brigadier-General in the Regular Army, to rank from July 28, 1866.

Upon being relieved from his Southern duties, Canby was put in command of the Department of Washington, and made President of a Special Commission for the Decision of Claims in the War Department; and, subsequently, Member of the Board to prepare plans for a new War Department building. Here he rendered most invaluable services, and again saved the nation millions of treasure. Hardly had he completed these duties when there were disturbances in Texas, and Canby was immediately sent to that State. Again there were troubles in Virginia, and he was transferred to Richmond. Then came difficulty in South Carolina, and at once Canby was ordered to Charleston. Wherever he went, order, good feeling, and tranquility followed his footsteps.d His superior knowledge of law and civil administration were only equaled by his chivalrous devotion to his profession, and his constant fidelity to the wishes of the Government.

When fatigued by a long and laborious career, in 1869, he voluntarily consented to take command of the Department of Columbia, where he expected to enjoy the repose he so much coveted; but ere long his rest was suddenly disturbed by the Modoc difficulty, which it was all-important should be ended by peaceful means, and it seemed almost providential that it should have occurred in the sphere of Canby’s command, for he was specially adapted for this duty. He had never shared the fierce hatred of the Indians so common on our border, but had ever leaned to the side of humanity in his dealings with them. Only four days before his death he sent a dispatch to Washington, which, read in the tragic light of after events, shows plainly and touchingly both his generosity to his slayers, and his sagacious doubts of them: “I do not,” says he, “question the right or the power of the General Government to make any arrangement that may be thought proper, but I think they should make such as to secure a permanent peace, together with liberal and just treatment of the Indians. In my judgment, permanent peace cannot be secured if they are allowed to remain in this immediate neighborhood. The Modocs are now sensible that they cannot live in peace on Lost River, and have abandoned their claim to it, but wish to be left in the Lava Beds. This means license to plunder and a stronghold to retreat to, and was refused. Their last proposition is, to come in and have the opportunity of looking for a new home not far away, and if they are sincere in this the trouble will soon be ended. But there has been so much vacillation and duplicity in their talk that I have hesitated about reporting until some definite result was attained.”

The untimely taking off by assassin hands of the noble Canby in the fullness of all his faculties, in the pride of his strength, and in the midst of his usefulness, gave a sudden shock to the entire nation, which mourned its knightly soldier, who had so borne himself, for more than a third of a p23century, that not a stain tarnished his shining escutcheon, nor marred the beauty of his unsullied life. “Thus perished,” says the General-in-Chief in his touching Obituary Order, “one of the kindest and best gentlemen of this or any country, whose social equaled his military virtues. . . Though dead, the record of his fame is resplendent with noble deeds well done, and no name on our army register stands fairer or higher for the personal qualities that command the universal respect, honor, affection, and love of his countrymen.”

Canby in stature was tall, slender, compactly built, and of commanding military presence; in manner modest, gentle, and reserved; and in disposition genial, open-hearted, and delicately refined, though terribly severe and stern to those who approached him with sinister designs. He was ceremoniously courteous, but studiously reticent with whoever sought him on official business, which prevented his winning marked influence with the multitude; but his frankness and truthfulness with his intimates inspired them with the most perfect trust and the highest confidence in his rectitude. His subordinates considered him almost infallible; hence, without apparent effort, he maintained the most perfect discipline in all his commands. Devoted to his profession, his great ambition was faithfully to perform the duties assigned to him, and secure the approbation of his superiors. Yet he was not a mere martinet, loving order and routine as matters of regulation formalism; but was a well-educated soldier, with fine literary attainments, general culture, and scholastic refinement. He not only understood and sagaciously applied the principles of war, but he was a General in a broader sense, for he knew how to command the hearts and actions of men, to administer to their comfort, and govern them with justice, and according to the laws of the country, in which he was well versed. In the field, though courageous and daring, he had little of the dash of the cavalry sabreur; yet was a tower of silent thought, grasping the whole theatre of operations, and selecting the true objective point where to strike the vigorous and fatal blow with which to terminate the campaign. Rarely making professional mistakes, and unselfish by nature, he commanded the universal respect and affection of his peers, with whom he had none of those jealousies and wrangles too often disgracing the military vocation. No one questioned his motives, for his pure and loyal heart was without guile, and the tongue of defamation never ventured to assail his spotless name. Though of Southern birth, in the Civil War he followed the flag under which he had been educated, and, after its termination, so just was his administration over the vanquished that even in the capital of the Confederacy a public meeting was called, and resolutions passed of high respect to his memory, when he was killed. The Rev. Dr. Baylis, in his funeral sermon over the remains of the Peace Commissioners slain by the Modocs, says: “Canby was a man of tireless industry, of vast culture in his profession, brave as a lion, and tender as he was brave; his sense of honor almost excessive; as profoundly sincere in his opinions and feelings as he was honest in his transactions; pure in speech and irreproachable in life; possessing silence, which is golden, and a clear, strong thinking power which is equally so; a man able to command and govern, and win the favor of the governed; wise in counsel; brave in war; strong in administration; a man of conscious power, therefore to be trusted in critical junctures, and who, more than once, during the war and afterwards, brought order out of chaos in all the fields to which he was assigned. . . . What we reverence, after all, is character, – broad, strong, noble character. We have ready applause for brilliant deeds, and are not slow to admire genius; and yet the thing which most commands our profound and abiding reverence is not the flash of some brilliant achievement, but the steady, strong, broad progress of noble character. And this is the kind of power with which the memory (p24) of General Canby comes to us to-day. He was great in war and good, and equally so in peace. There are no private discounts to reduce the excellency and glory of his public record.”

The Author’s Notes:

1 The National Thanks were tendered by the President of the United States, Sep. 3, 1864, to General Canby, for the “skill and harmony with which the recent operations in Mobile harbor, and against Ft. Powell, Ft. Gaines, and Ft. Morgan, were planned and carried into execution.”

2 The thanks of the President and the War Department were presented, May 16, 1865, “to General Canby, and the officers and soldiers of his command, for their gallantry, energy, and successful military skill, in the siege and reduction of the strongly fortified city of Mobile, and for the achievements that have rendered their campaign one of the most brilliant and important of the war.”

Bill Thayer’s Notes:

a For fuller and better details, see “Edward R. S. Canby, Modoc War, 1873” (Oregon Hist. Q. 33:70-78).

b This is at best very misleading. Kentucky is not a Southern state and was not part of the Confederacy; and Canby’s birthplace on the Ohio River, Piatt’s Landing – named, by the way, for his grandfather Robert Piatt who established it – is about as far north in Kentucky as you can get, sharing its history not with Dixie but with Ohio and Indiana, to which latter State Canby’s parents moved when he was still a child.

c For a local perspective on Canby’s brief regime in Louisiana, see Kendall’s History of New Orleans, pp297-300, 303-304.

d For a very different view, see Hamilton, History of North Carolina, III.94-96, and elsewhere in that chapter, passim.

West Point Graduates Killed in Action – Plains Indian Wars

Apache Chief Geronimo (right)_and_his_warriors_in_1886

Apache Chief  Geronimo (right) and his warriors in 1886

warrior copy.jpg

Class of 1836

“William H. Warner” Ten years on topographical service; killed by Indians in the line of duty, surveying mountain passes for the transcontinental railroad.

Class of 1837

John Williams Gunnison Killed by Indians as he was conducting a survey to determine the route to be taken by the transcontinental railroad.

Class of 1839

Edward R. S. Canby Fought in the Mexican War and for the Union in the War between the States; the rest of his thirty years in the Army was spent on the western frontier, often fighting Indians; killed at a parley Lava Beds, Oregon by Modoc Indians. April 11, 1873. age 56.

Class of 1842

“Henry W. Stanton” Cavalryman, killed by Apaches after a thirteen-year career on the western frontier.

Class of 1846

“Oliver H. P. Taylor” Fought in the Mexican War, and Indians on the western frontier; killed

“Edmund Russell” Infantryman, fought in the Mexican War, then against Indians in California, and was killed,

“Montgomery P. Harrison” Served in the Mexican War and on the western frontier, where he was killed

Class of 1848

“William A. Slaughter” Most of his career was on the Pacific coast; killed by Indians in Washington State.

Class of 1849

“William H. Lewis” Served in the Third Seminole War and on the western frontier, fought for the Union in the War between the States (in New Mexico); killed by Indians.

Class of 1853

“John L. Grattan”

Class of 1855

“Cornelius Van Camp” Fought against Indians in Texas.

“Jesse K. Allen”

Class of 1856

“William Gaston” Cavalryman, killed fighting Indians in the Pacific Northwest.

Class of 1861

“George A. Custer” Annihilated with Troops C, E, F, & I of his Regiment (Over 200 Men) Little Big Horn River MT, 25 June 1876. As listed in the Academy Register of Graduates

Not by Class


Henry,Stanton,1842,,Alumni,1155-1842,1/20/1855,”DOD: 01/20/1855 Place: Apache Indian War, NM Notified by: Burial: Cause: KIA Obit: Age: 32 ”

Calif, Utah, Oregon Indian

Edmund,Russell,1846,,Alumni,1327-1846,3/24/1853,DOD: 03/24/1853 Place: California Indian War Notified by: Burial: Cause: KIA Obit: Age: 31

James,Stuart,1846,,Alumni,1310-1846,6/18/1851,DOD: 06/18/1851 Place: Oregon Indian War Notified by: Burial: Cause: DOW Obit: Age: 26

Oliver,Taylor,1846,,Alumni,1302-1846,5/17/1858,DOD: 05/17/1858 Place: Utah Indian War Notified by: Burial: Cause: KIA Obit: Age: 33