Henry Ronald MacIver
In the uniform of a Serbian Cavalry
Henry Ronald MacIver
Soldier of Fortune
Dec 25 1841 - May 1907
Henry Ronald MacIver
available from Somerled Publishing
     

Henry Ronald MacIver was born on Dec 25 1841 within site of what was to become his beloved Virginia. His father was a Ross-shire gentleman, Ronald MacIver, a son of the chief of Clan MacIver, and well known in Edinburgh society.
His mother was, Anna Douglas, a Virginian by birth but descendant from the old Scottish Clan Douglas who had colonised the Plantations of Virginia for King James I of Great Britain (James VI of Scotland).
At the age of 22 she had travelled to Edinburgh to visit with a branch of the family who lived there. It was there she was introduced to her future husband Ronald MacIver. After obtaining her fathers permission the pair were married and proceeded to the Highlands to live in Ross-shire.
Not long after arriving there a letter arrived informing her of her fathers severe illness. The following day Ronald and Anna were on their way south to take a ship to Virginia. Storms, winds and other causes protracted the voyage longer than normal. Before landing Anna and Ronald were parents. Henry Ronald MacIver was born at sea on Christmas morning 1841.
Mr Douglas lived long enough to see his grandson and on his death Anna was his sole heiress, the MacIvers decided to stay and settle on their Virginia Plantation.
At the age of 11 it was decided that the young Henry should go to Scotland to placed under the guardianship of a foster-brother of his grandfather, one Donald Graham, a retired General officer.
It had been planned that young MacIver should carry on his training under Graham and when old enough return to America and enter West Point. But when the time came both the old man and the boy pleaded that he be allowed to stay in Scotland. This was the beginning of a remarkable career that was to find Henry Ronald MacIver serving under 18 flags instead of just one had he returned to America.
At 16 he entered the service of the Honourable East India Company and went to Calcutta, India where a severe head wound nearly ended his career and life before it had started.
He moved on fighting in the ranks of Guiseppi Garibaldi. It was here he met some of his comrades of a later conflict, the American Civil War, Robideau Wheat of the Louisiana Tigers, Lt Bob Scott(also Scottish) and Percy Wyndham who fought on the Federal side as Colonel in the 1st New Jersey Cavalry
At the outbreak of the Civil War, MacIver was unavoidably detaining in Britain and did not manage to sail until some months after the fighting had started. Unable to secure a passage on a Blockade Runner, he sailed for New York, hoping to make his way by land to the South. He had a good run across the Atlantic and on his arrival he found the 1st Manassas had already been fought. He made his way south to Washington and arrived just about the time General McClellan was forming his Army of the Potomac. MacIver managed to leave Washington and reached Alexandria in Virginia but there like in Washington he was suspected of having Southern sympathies. One night he got into a brawl with two Union officers and ended up being imprisoned for 2 months in Alexandria prison, he managed to escape and once again headed south.
After walking all night he thought he was far enough away to stop for breakfast, some bread and water, his elation was soon dashed as a Union cavalry unit came into view. When challenged by the officer he told them that he was looking for his brother, when asked for his pass he told the officer he had lost it. The officer ask where he came from, playing along he said he was a Highlander from Scotland, knowing this was not what the officer meant. He was then offered the chance of joining the unit which he declined saying "this is a cavalry unit my brother is in the infantry. He was taken along with the patrol to Warrington where to his suprise he was given a free rein. Once again during the night he stole off into the darkness to freedom. Using his bravado he stole a horse,gun and cloak from a Union sentry and rode towards the Confederate Lines.
Then next day MacIver was picked up by Confederate sentries and taken to the camp Colonel Scott, who in turn provide him with a pass to get him to Richmond where he had a meeting with Secretary Randolph. At Richmond he was told to hold himself in readiness to report to the Shenandoah Valley and General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson's command. While with Jackson's staff he was ordered to organise a small band of scouts to be used with General Trimbles command. It was here he again meet some of his comrades from Garibaldi days - General Wheat and Captain Atkins.
He fought in Battles at Fort Royal, Cross Keys, Fort Republic. During the Battle of Gaines Mill MacIver was sent to the headquarters of General J.E.B. Stuart by the time he reached it the battle was well under way, it was here he met up with his old friend Bob Scott who was a lieutenant with the 8th Alabama, Wilcox's Brigade. It was at Gaines Mill that General Wheat met his end leading his regiment "The Louisiana Tigers"
This was followed by fighting at Savage Station,Frazier's Farm and Malvern Hill and the Battle of Ceder Run and 2nd Manassas where MacIver was wounded and taken prisoner during the first days fighting he was with Fitz-Lee's command when they were cut off MacIver wounded in his sword hand was amongst those taken prisoner.
After being exchanged MacIver ended up in Winchester where he became friends with Major Pelham. After several more adventures MacIver was summoned to Richmond and told that he was required for a special mission to Europe, he had been promoted to Captain while serving with Jackson and now was promoted to Major. Heading towards Newbern he managed to get a blockade runner to Bermuda and from there an English steamer to Liverpool.
On his returning to America he caught yellow fever and but for the intervention of two fellow officer would have been thrown overboard by the Spanish crew. After reaching Havana he recovered from his sickness but by now the Civil war was over.
MacIver along with a lot of Confederate officers headed to Mexico to fight for the French ruler Maximillian in Mexico's revolution.
Letters These are letters one of introduction and the other booking a passage on a Blockade Runner, that seem to indicate that MacIver resigned his commission to return to Scotland to take care of personal business, rather than being sent on a special mission. He was also going to recruit men from Scotland if he could.