the uniform of a Serbian Cavalry
Soldier of Fortune
Dec 25 1841 - May 1907
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
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
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
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
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.
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.