Edward Richard Sprigg Canby

Edward Richard Sprigg Canby was born at Piatt's Landing, Boone County, Kentucky, on November 9, 1817. After attending the local school at nearby East Bend and Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, where his father had bought property, Canby received an appointment to the Military Academy. He was graduated, ranking next to last in the class of 1839. Until the outbreak of the Mexican War, Canby fought Seminoles in Florida; assisted in removing the Creeks, Cherokees, and Choctaws to Arkansas; and served in garrison and on recruiting duty. As chief of staff of a brigade in the Mexican War, he won the brevets of major and lieutenant colonel; in subsequent staff duty on the Pacific Coast and in Washington, he was promoted to major of the 10th Infantry in the army reorganization of 1855. In the five years preceding the Civil War, Canby did considerable frontier duty, and the bombardment of Fort Sumter found him operating from Fort Defiance, New Mexico Territory, which then included all of present-day Arizona. On May 14, 1861, he was appointed colonel of the newly authorized 19th Infantry and put in command of the Department of New Mexico. There, the following January, he opposed the invasion of Confederate General Henry H. Sibley, whose ultimate object was the conquest of California. Although defeated at Valverde, Canby drew Sibley away from his supplies and saw the demoralized and half-starved Confederates retreat to Texas. In the course of this campaign Canby's Fabian tactics gave rise to the widely circulated untruth that Sibley and Canby were brothers-in-law. On May 31, 1862, Canby was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers and ordered to the East. For the next eighteen months he performed staff duties, except for a period following the draft riots of 1863 when he commanded at New York City. He was promoted to major general of volunteers to rank from May 7, 1864, and was placed in command of the Military Division of West Mississippi, an area embracing the states from Missouri to the Gulf Coast and from Texas to Florida. After reorganizing the forces of N. P. Banks who were retreating from the abortive Red River campaign, Canby set about the capture of Mobile and its forts—an enterprise which was at length undertaken in August in conjunction with the navy. Admiral David G. Farragut's passage of the forts protecting Mobile Bay was followed by the reduction of the forts themselves by General Gordon Granger in September, 1864. For planning the expedition, Canby received official thanks from President Lincoln. When the town of Mobile surrendered on April 12, 1865, Canby received acknowledgment from the President and the War Department. In May, at the end of the war, Canby accepted the surrender of the forces commanded by Generals Richard Taylor and Edmund Kirby Smith. Having been brevetted through all the grades in both the volunteer and regular services, Canby was promoted to brigadier general, U. S. Army, in the reorganization of 1866. For five years he served at various points in the occupied Southern states and in Washington. In 1870 he accepted the command of the Department of Columbia and in 1873 that of the Division of the Pacific. On April 11, 1873, while negotiating with the Modoc Indians for removal from their stronghold in the Lava Beds of Siskiyou County, California, General Canby was attacked without warning by Captain Jack and mortally wounded. He was shot through the head and killed by another Indian and stabbed by yet another. His remains were taken to Indianapolis for burial in Crown Hill Cemetery.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.