Monday, June 25, 2018

General Edward McConville: Civil War Veteran, Indian Fighter, and Philippines Casualty [otd 06/25]

General McConville.
Illustrated History.
General Edward McConville was born June 25, 1846 in Jefferson County, New York. Histories of the day noted that he came from a "martial family," whose members saw action in the Battle of Hastings in England, and later in the American Civil war. Moreover, a cousin died in the Spanish-American War during “the glorious assault on San Juan hill."

Edward himself enlisted for the Civil War as an under-age private in the 12th New York Regiment of Volunteers. During this first term of service, McConville’s regiment saw action in the First and Second Battles of Bull Run, the Peninsular Campaign, Antietam, and several other famous Army of the Potomac battles. Discharged in May 1863, within two months McConville re-enlisted in the 13th New York Cavalry Regiment. Edward’s new unit performed scouting duty and spent part of its time chasing Mosby’s Raiders in northern Virginia.

McConville re-enlisted yet again in 1866, in the Regular Army, and fought Apache Indians in New Mexico and Arizona. Discharged at Idaho's Fort Lapwai in 1873, he then took up residence in the state. Four years later, he raised a force of Idaho Volunteers for the Nez Percés War. In a fight along the Clearwater River in mid-July, Indians ran off many of their horses and pinned them down on a hill that came to be called “Fort Misery.” Even so, they are credited with getting word to the Army commander about the location of the Nez Percés camp.

The Volunteers soon replaced their horses and performed scout duty through most of August. After the Nez Percés escaped into Montana, McConville marched his men back to Lewiston. Even his fresher horses were worn down and sickness had weakened many of the men.

Although he fought the Nez Percés when he was called, he also tried to aid them later as Superintendent of the reservation school at Lapwai. Reappointed through several Federal administrations, he reportedly earned the respect and admiration of Indians and whites alike.

His program included sporting teams which did compete against white squads (Morning Olympian, Olympia, Washington, June 16, 1897): “Superintendent Ed McConville, of the Lapwai Industrial school, has made arrangements for his Indian boys’ base ball team and athletes to visit Spokane … A schedule of games has been arranged with the Spokane team and the Indian boys will engage with the pale face of that section in a number of athletic contests.”
First Idaho Waiting for Action, Caloocan.
Library of Congress.

When the Federal government called for soldiers to fight the Spanish-American War in 1898, Idaho recruited troops to supplement the state Guard [blog, March 14]. About half the officers and well over half the enlisted men in the First Idaho Infantry came from the Idaho Guard. McConville was appointed a major to lead the Second Battalion of the First Idaho.

Through all those years and bloody Civil War battles, and more years exposed to hit-and-run Indian raids, McConville had received only minor flesh wounds. Sadly, the old soldier was shot and mortally wounded in the regiment's first serious engagement in the Philippines on February 5, 1899. Before he died, he received a promotion to Brevet Brigadier General.

Although, according to Hawley, the 1903 Idaho legislature budgeted funds for a monument to General McConville, there's no evidence that any was ever erected.
References:  [Hawley], [Illust-State]
Jerome A. Greene, Nez Perce Summer, 1877: The U.S. Army and the Nee-Me-Poos Crisis, Montana Historical Society Press, Helena (2000).
Orlan J. Svingen (Ed.), The History of the Idaho National Guard, Idaho National Guard, Boise (1995).

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