MCDOWELL, IRVIN (1818-1885), American soldier, was born in Columbus, Ohio, on the 15th of October 1818. He was educated in France, and graduated at the U. S. military academy in 1838. From 1841 to 1845 he was instructor, and later adjutant, at West Point. He won the brevet of captain in the Mexican War, at the battle of Buena Vista, and served as adjutant-general, chiefly at Washington, until 1861, being promoted major in 1856. In 1858-1859 he visited Europe. Whilst occupied in mustering volunteers at the capital, he was made brigadier-general in May 1861, and placed in command during the premature Virginian campaign of July, which ended in the defeat at Bull Run. Under McClellan he became a corps commander and major-general of volunteers (March 1862). When the Peninsular campaign began McDowell's corps was detained against McClellan's wishes, sent away to join in the fruitless chase of " Stonewall " Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley, and eventually came under the command of General Pope, taking part in the disastrous campaign of Second Bull Run. Involved in Pope's disgrace, McDowell was relieved of duty in the field (Sept. 1862), and served on the Pacific coast 1864-68. He became, on Meade's death in November 1872, major-general of regulars (a rank which he already held by brevet), and commanded successively the department of the east, the division of the south, and the division of the Pacific until his retirement in 1882. The latter years of his life were spent in California, and he died at San Francisco on the 4th of May 1885. As a commander he was uniformly unfortunate. Undoubtedly he was a faithful, unselfish and energetic soldier, in patriotic sympathy with the administration, and capable of great achievements. It was his misfortune to be associated with the first great disaster to the Union cause, to play the part of D'Erlon at Quatre-Bras between the armies of Banks and McClellan, and finally to be involved in the catastrophe of Pope's campaign. That he was perhaps too ready to accept great risks at the instance of his superiors is the only just criticism to which his military character was open.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)