C'ville has Civil War connection
Friday, January 18, 2008 9:30 PM
Edward Richard Sprigg Canby was one of six Civil War generals who at one time in their lives called Crawfordsville home. Born in Kentucky in 1817, Canby moved with his father and siblings to Crawfordsville in 1830. Canby enrolled at Wabash in 1834, but the following year he accepted an appointment to West Point.
Canby received poor marks at the military academy, graduating 30th in a class of 31. Upon graduation, he received a commission as Second Lieutenant, and returned to Crawfordsville to marry Louisa Hawkins before he undertook his first assignment.
In 1842, Canby's first military service involved combating the Seminoles in Florida. When the hostilities stopped, Canby escorted about 120 Seminoles to the Indian Country.
Beginning in 1846, he served in the Mexican-American War. His commanders cited him for rendering "gallant and meritorious conduct" at the battles of Contreras and Churubusco. Major Canby returned from the war and served in California, trying to keep the peace during the gold rush. The next ten years of his career were mostly administrative positions, although he also undertook a mission against the Mormons in Utah and sought peace with the Navajos in New Mexico.
When the Civil War began, Colonel Canby commanded the Department of New Mexico. In 1862, Canby frustrated Confederate plans to conquer the Southwest at the Battle of Valverde. Canby became a general in March 1862. In September, the War Department reassigned Canby to Washington where he served most of the Civil War as Secretary of War Edwin Stanton's chief aide. In 1863, the War Department temporarily dispatched Canby to New York City to maintain peace in the wake of the draft riots. In 1864, he assumed command of the Military Division of West Mississippi. There he worked with Admiral Farragut to capture Mobile. In May 1865, the final regular Confederate forces surrendered to Canby.
Canby continued to serve in the military after the war. He held many important posts in the South during Reconstruction. In 1873, Modoc Indian chief Captain Jack murdered Canby during tribal resettlement negotiations. Canby's body was brought back to Indiana and interred at Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis.