A soldier for three and a half decades, Edward Richard Sprigg Canby (1813-1873) was the only full rank Regular Army general to die in hostilities against native-Americans. Born in
and raised in Indiana, he was appointed to West Point and graduated second to last (30/31) in 1833.
Trail of Tears
Battle of Glorietta PassOn January 1862, in one of the larger – and completely overlooked - battles in the far west, Canby was defeated at
Battle of Mobile BayHe was then recalled to
The Murder of CanbyNow promoted to brigadier general in the regular army, he worked on various Reconstruction efforts, but his sympathy for the defeated south angered his superiors, especially Army Commander Philip Sheridan, who ordered him back to the west. At the height of the bitter struggle with the Modoc tribes, Canby arranged a parley on April 11, 1873 to discuss peace. Anxious to show his good will, and sincere in his desire to end the war, he went to the meeting unarmed. The Modoc Chief Captain Jack suddenly pulled a gun and killed Canby in the midst of the negotiations. It shocked the entire country. The senior officers of the army were outraged and Captain Jack was hunted down and hanged and in an appalling act of collective punishment, his people were deported to
No fallen American flag officer killed in battle ever served longer as a general – 11 years.