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Patrick Edward Connor
March 17, 1820(1820-03-17) – December 17, 1891 (aged 71)
GenPEConnor.jpg
General Patrick Edward Connor
Place of birth County Kerry, Ireland
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 Brevet Major General; Brigadier General (final permanent rank)
Commands held 3rd Regiment California Volunteer Infantry
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 in the American Old West.

Contents

Early life and career

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]

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Mexican War

In Texas he joined the Texas Volunteers in May 1846 giving the name "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

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. However his geography was bad, the Trinity River empties into the Klamath River, not 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

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 established a post and became discontent 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 Connor Federal troops were sustained 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 being 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 Mormon 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 Mormon Church on every-day affairs in the territory. Reference is given to Connor's estensive military correspondence that was published in 1897 under The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

Battle of Bear River

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 Shoshoni encampment along the Bear River. Before Connor personally arrived on the field, a few troops crossed the river and attacked the camp, but they were easily repulsed as the Indians knew that the soldiers were coming.

When Connor arrived, he sent additional troops to block the Indian escape route through a ravine. He 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 Theatre. The Union Vedette on January 30, 1864 gives a full account of the anniversary oration of the Battle of Bear River. The town of Frankln, Idaho also has an excellent detailed history of this battle.

Powder River Expedition

After the Battle of Bear River, Connor was appointed brigadier general in the Volunteer Army and given command of the District of Utah. He made his district headquarters at Fort Douglas. In 1865, he led the Powder River Expedition against the Sioux and Cheyenne Indians, who were disrupting travelers along the Bozeman Trail and overland mail routes. In August, 1865, Connor defeated a combined Sioux-Arapaho force at the Battle of the Tongue River and effectively brought an end to the campaign.

The Powder River Expedition for some time brought peace to the territory. In another sense it was the beginning of a long struggle for subjugation by the U.S. military against the peoples of the Great Sioux Nation. Twenty-five years later the campaign to subdue these indigenous people climaxed at the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Postwar activities

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.[11]

See also

References

  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. ^ Patrick Edward Connor at Find a Grave Retrieved on 2008-12-24
  • Rogers, Fred B., Soldiers of the Overland: Being some account of the services of General Patrick Edward Connor & his Volunteers in the Old West, Grabhorn Press (1938), hardcover, 292 pages
  • "Patrick Connor", Military Museum
  • "Patrick Connor", University of Utah

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