Patrick Edward Connor

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Patrick Edward Connor
GenPEConnor.jpg
General Patrick Edward Connor
Born (1820-03-17)March 17, 1820
County Kerry, Ireland
Died December 17, 1891(1891-12-17) (aged 71)
Place of burial Salt Lake City, Utah
Allegiance  United States of America
Union
Service/branch Union Army
Years of service 1839-1844; 1846-1847; 1861-1866
Rank Brigadier General
Brevet Major General
Commands held California 3rd Regiment California Volunteer Infantry
District of Utah
Battles/wars

Seminole Wars
Mexican-American War
American Civil War

Patrick Edward Connor (March 17, 1820[1] – December 17, 1891) was a Union General during the American Civil War. He was most famous for his campaigns against Native Americans (Indians) in the American Old West.

Early life and career[edit]

Patrick Edward O'Connor was born in rural County Kerry, Ireland on St. Patrick's Day, 1820.[1] He came to the United States and enlisted, as Patrick Edward O'Connor, in the United States Army on November 28, 1839.[1] In addition to service in the Seminole Wars.,[2] he saw service as a dragoon at Fort Leavenworth, Fort Atkinson, Fort Sandford, and at the second Fort Des Moines. He was honorably discharged, as a private, on November 28, 1844 and after two years in New York[3] went to Texas.[4] On April 5, 1845, he became a naturalized citizen.[citation needed]

Mexican War[edit]

In Texas the joined the Texas Volunteers in May 1846 using the name "P. Edward Connor", serving as a first lieutenant in the Texas Foot Riflemen.[3][5] On July 7, 1846, at Galveston, Texas, he was mustered into the United States Army as a first lieutenant, enlisting for 12 months. His independent company of Texas Volunteers under the command of Captain Charles A. Seefield was ordered to Port Lavaca on Matagorda Bay as a part of General John E. Wool's Army of the Center which was slated to invade Mexico. Marching through Monclova, Parras, and Saltillo the company, now under his command as Captain Connor, and attached to the 2nd Illinois Volunteers under the command of Colonel William H. Bissel, fought in the Battle of Buena Vista. The company saw heavy action, Connor being wounded in the hand; two of his lieutenants and 13 men were killed.[6] He was honorably discharged on May 24, 1847 near Monterey, Mexico, resigning due to rheumatism. When the California Gold Rush developed he crossed Mexico from Texas and arrived in California on January 22, 1850.[7][8]

California[edit]

Shortly after his arrival in California he was involved in a boating accident in the surf while attempting to reach the mouth of the Trinity River and found a settlement. Connor and his men were unaware that the Trinity River empties into the Klamath River instead of the Pacific. Of the 10 people in the whale boat attempting to navigate heavy surf, 5 were drowned.[9] On May 28, 1853, he was called by Harry S. Love to be his lieutenant in the company of California State Rangers with 20 other experienced Mexican War veterans. They hunted down and killed the Mexican outlaw Joaquin Murrieta and three others of his gang, captured two others, breaking up the Five Joaquins. He and the rest of the Rangers were well rewarded by the state before being disbanded.

Civil War[edit]

When the Civil War broke out, Connor was in command of the "Stockton Blues," a unit in the California Militia. He brought the strength of the unit up to regimental size and it became the 3rd Regiment California Volunteer Infantry.[10] His regiment was ordered to the Utah Territory to protect the overland routes from Indians and quell a possible Mormon uprising.

While in Utah, Connor as senior officer became commander of the District of Utah, Department of the Pacific, on August 6, 1862, establishing Camp Douglas at Salt Lake City in October, but became discontented with his assignment. He and his men wished to head to Virginia where the real fighting and glory was occurring. When major general Henry W. Halleck (a personal friend of Connor's) became the general-in-chief of the Union armies, Connor pleaded that his men had enlisted to fight traitors. He offered to withhold $30,000 from the regiment's pay to ship the troops to the eastern battlefields. Halleck suggested that Connor reconnoiter the Salt Lake City area. Connor did so and established Fort Douglas in a commanding position over the city, despite the wishes of the Mormons. Brigham Young tried through his personal representative Kinney to Congress to displace Federal troops. However, through the efforts of Governor Doty and Colonel Connor, Federal troops were sequestered at Fort Douglas by Washington and the Pacific Theatre commanding general.

In October 1863, Connor along with Governor Doty signed peace treaties with the remaining hostile Indian tribes thereby bringing to a close all Indian hostilities within the Utah Terrority. Shortly after the signing of the treaties, officers and enlisted men of the California Volunteers stationed at Fort Douglas established the first daily Utah newspaper called The Union Vedette. This newspaper offered a balance of news unavailable through the LDS Church owned Deseret News.

Connor provided protection for non-Mormons and those wishing to leave the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during his three years of service in Utah. He also discovered valuable mineral wealth in Utah that was reported to his superiors. This led to the gradual immigration of non-Mormons into Utah that led to weakening of the power of the LDS Church on every-day affairs in the territory. Connor engaged in extensive military correspondence which was published in 1897 under The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Connor remained in command of the District of Utah until it was merged in March 1865 into the District of the Plains, established at his suggestion that a "Department of the Plains" be created which he would command. The new district, in the Department of the Missouri, combined the former districts of Utah (re-designated West Sub District), Nebraska (East Sub-District), Colorado (South Sub-District), and Territory of Idaho (North Sub-District). Connor was named commander of the new District.

Bear River Massacre[edit]

See main article: Bear River Massacre

In the early 1860s, population pressures in the Washington Territory (present day Idaho-Utah border) led to conflicts between immigrant settlers and native Americans. After an attack on miners with depositions given in Salt Lake City by the survivors, Connor marched his regiment 140 miles over the frozen winter landscape to 'deal' with the Indians. On January 29, 1863, Connor's troops encountered the Shoshone encampment along the Bear River. Connor and his militia crossed the river and attacked the camp, they feigned a retreat only to encircle the camp and renew their attack.

Connor sent additional troops to block the Indian escape route through a ravine; and sent the rest of the soldiers on a flanking maneuver to a ridge, from where they fired down into the Indians. The soldiers also fired on Indians as they attempted to escape by swimming across the bitterly cold river. The troops killed nearly all the Indians, including women and children, with fatalities estimated at 200-400.

The Indians had been supplied by the Mormons and large quantities of wheat and articles of war were captured by Connor's command after the battle at Bear River. An Indian survivor later said that the large band of Indians were planning on destroying the town of Franklin in modern day Idaho. Connor's dispatches are detailed in The War of the Rebellion - A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies of the Pacific Theater. For a less biased view, Brigham Madsen's book "The Northern Shosoni" tells a different story.[11]

Powder River Expedition[edit]

See main article: Powder River Expedition (1865)

After the Bear River Battle (or massacre), Connor was appointed brigadier general in the Volunteer Army. From July to September 1865, he led the punitive Powder River Expedition against the Sioux, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians, who were attacking travelers along the Bozeman Trail and overland mail routes. Connor's 2,600 men were organized into three widely separated units which traversed hundreds of miles of what would become Montana and Wyoming. The soldiers were harassed by Indians who avoided pitched battles. Connor established Fort Connor, later Fort Reno, and destroyed an Arapaho village at the Battle of the Tongue River. His Pawnee scouts also ambushed and killed a band of 24 Cheyenne warriors. Most of the time, however, Connor's three units were on the defensive, fending off Indian raids on their horses and supply wagons which left many soldiers on foot, in rags, and reduced to eating raw horse meat.[12] On the whole, the expedition was " a dismal failure" carried out with "large, ungainly columns filled with troops anxious to get home now that the Civil War was over."[13]

As the expedition began, Connor's orders to his officers were, "You will not receive overtures of peace or submission from Indians, but will attack and kill every male Indian over twelve years of age." Connor's superiors countermanded this order.[14]

Postwar activities[edit]

When the Civil War ended, Connor was appointed a brevet major general in the Volunteer Army and mustered out of the volunteer service in 1866. Never having been in combat against the Confederacy in the East, he continued to command troops on the frontier. He recruited Confederate veterans for service against the Indians.

Making his permanent residence in Salt Lake City, Connor established one the city's first newspapers. He also got involved in mining again. He founded a city in Utah and named it Stockton in honor of his California militia unit.

Connor died in Salt Lake City, Utah and was buried there.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Page 1, Rodgers, Soldiers of the Overland
  2. ^ Page 96, The saints and the Union: Utah Territory during the Civil War By E. B. Long
  3. ^ a b Page 96. The saints and the Union: Utah Territory during the Civil War By E. B. Long
  4. ^ Pages 1 and 2, Rodgers, Soldiers of the Overland
  5. ^ Page 2, Rodgers, Soldiers of the Overland
  6. ^ Pages 2 and 3, Rodgers, Soldiers of the Overland
  7. ^ Page 4, Rodgers, Soldiers of the Overland
  8. ^ Pages 96 and 97. The saints and the Union: Utah Territory during the Civil War By E. B. Long
  9. ^ Pages 5 to 8, Rodgers, Soldiers of the Overland
  10. ^ The California State Military Museum; 3rd Regiment of Infantry
  11. ^ "The Northern Shoshoni" by Brigham Madsen[full citation needed]
  12. ^ Hampton, H. D. "The Powder River Expedition 1865" Montana: The Magazine of Western History Vol 14, No. 4 (Autumn 1964), p. 11
  13. ^ "Major General Patrick Edward Connor" The California Military Museum http://www.military.museum.org/Conner.html, accessed 9 Aug 2012
  14. ^ Countant, Charles Griffin, "History of Wyoming, Chapter xxxvi, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~wytttp/history/countant/chapter36.htm, accessed 6 Aug 2012
  15. ^ "Patrick Edward Connor". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 

Further reading[edit]