Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Fox

Last Name: Conner

Birthplace: Slate Spring, MS, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Army (1784 - present)

Date of Birth: 02 November 1874

Date of Death: 13 October 1951

Rank: Major General

Years Served: 1898 - 1938
Fox Conner

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1898

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)


Fox Conner
Major General, U.S. Army

Fox Conner was born on 2 November 1874 in Slate Spring, MS. After growing up on the family farm, he received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in 1894 from Senator H. D. Money. He graduated four years later with a class rank of 17 out of a class of 59. After brief assignments to Fort Adams in Newport, RI; Huntsville, AL; and Savannah, GA, the newly-commissioned Second Lieutenant Conner of Field Artillery was sent to Cuba for occupation duty in January 1899. It was there that he met his future wife, Virginia Brandreth.

Over the next 15 years, Conner advanced through the ranks and was soon recommended for the Army General Staff in Washington, DC. He taught at the Army War College and later served with the Third Infantry Division, where he developed artillery tactical doctrine. In 1917, under General Pershing, he was appointed as a member of Pershing's Operations Section, mapping the way for the arrival of troops overseas and overseeing military operations. Pershing made him his Chief of Staff, and promoted him to temporary Brigadier General on 8 August 1918. After the armistice was signed in November, Conner was assigned to the Army General Staff in Washington and was promoted to the permanent rank of Colonel on 22 August 1919

During this time, peace treaties needed to be drawn up at the Paris Peace Conference, of which the most important was the German treaty (later called the Treaty of Versailles). Conner helped to author much of the Treaty. As Pershing's Chief of Staff, he was the sole author of Pershing's End of the War Report to the President and Congress. For his service as the "brain" of the AEF in World War I, he received a number of foreign and American awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal, the Purple Heart and the French Croix-de-Guerre. Following the war, he became Military Governor of the Panama Canal Zone in 1921.

From 1921-25, Conner commanded a brigade in Panama, which consisted of little more than keeping up a network of jungle trails for the use of troops and pack animals.

It was there that he requested a young Major, Dwight D. Eisenhower, to become his Chief of Staff and Executive Officer, and began mentoring him for the responsibilities of higher rank. Eisenhower would later credit Conner with educating him for his later duties as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II.

Realizing that Eisenhower had little interest in military history, Conner invited him to use his personal library, first selecting two or three historical novels for him and later suggesting books on the military history of those periods. Conner would then ask Eisenhower probing questions on his readings, forcing the younger man to think about what he was reading.

Two comments from Eisenhower's autobiography indicate his admiration for Fox Conner and the esteem in which Eisenhower held Conner:

"- my tour of duty was one of the most interesting and constructive of my life. The main reason was the presence of one man, our brigade commander, General Fox Conner---a tall easygoing Mississippian---practical---down to earth---as open and honest as any man I have known - equally at home in the company of the most important people and with any of the men in the regiment. General Conner was a natural leader and something of a philosopher---he had an extraordinary library, especially in military affairs---The range and curiosity of his mind was not limited to military affairs. He quoted Shakespeare at length, and he could relate his works to wars under discussion.

It is clear now that life with General Conner was a sort of graduate school in military affairs and the humanities, leavened by the comments and discourses of a man who was experienced in his knowledge of men and their conduct. I can never adequately express my gratitude to this one gentleman, for it took years before I fully realized the value of what he had led me through. And then General Conner was gone. But in a lifetime of association with great and good men, he is the one more or less invisible figure to whom I owe an incalculable debt."

After the Panama tour ended, Conner was again sent to Washington and assigned as Assistant Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army. The next year, he was promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff, making him a Major General. The battles during these years were over the budget. In 1927, he was sent to command the entire Hawaiian Military Department, returning in 1930. He turned down President Hoover's offer of Army Chief of Staff, opting instead, to take command of the First U.S. Army with headquarters in Boston.

In 1933, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the Civilian Corps, he assigned Conner the task of mobilizing approximately 24,000 young men and World War veterans for the 125 Civilian Corps companies in the six New England States.

During the Depression in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt offered Conner the job of heading the Civilian Conservation Corps, a New Deal program to help put young men to work. Conner took on this task with dedication and enthusiasm.

In 1936 and again, in 1938, Conner suffered a stroke which ended his military career. In 1938, Major General Connor retired from active military service after serving his country for 44 years.

In Retirement

Conner spent the remaining 13 years of his life visiting with family and hunting and fishing at the family retreat at Brandreth Lake in the Adirondacks.

Comments about Major General Fox Conner

Fox Conner's service, contributions and significant accomplishments fall into three major areas: (1) as Chief, Plans and Operations staff officer for the American Expeditionary Forces during and following WW I; (2) as one of the Army's senior officers appointed to a number of responsible positions during the period between the two World Wars; and (3) as model, mentor and teacher of a select group of younger Army officers who rose to the highest positions of leadership during World War II, most notably Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Fox Conner was once described by Dwight D. Eisenhower as "the ablest man I ever knew." That is quite a compliment for any man, but especially for one born and raised in Calhoun County, Mississippi.

"Conner was a "good soldier" in more ways than one. From the beginning of his career, he had disappointment and bore them to the end. When his dis-satisfactions overtook him, he would turn to his own pursuits of language and the literature of war, particularly military history. In a branch he did not choose, Conner became a tactical and technical expert in great demand. His intelligence and drive marked him for staff eventually, and he was never able to escape from it to command troops in wartime. He had a significant influence over the National Defense Act of 1920 by formulating Pershing's own position on the future of the Army. However, his greatest contribution may have been his influence over the young Eisenhower. Conner was a fiercely loyal subordinate, a superb if stern and demanding teacher and a meticulous planner; and although Fox Conner is generally unknown to the public, Army professionals such as Pershing, Marshall, Patton, Eisenhower and others revered Conner and his work."

Death and Burial

Major General Fox Conner died on 13 October 1951 at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington; he was 77. There is confusion in regard to the burial place of Fox Conner. Some sources say he is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, other sources say he is buried at Dale Cemetery in Ossining, NY, and yet another source says he was cremated and his ashes scattered at Brandreth Park in the Adirondacks.

Honoree ID: 2364   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image