Fox Conner was born Nov. 2, 1874, at Slate Springs, MS. He got his unusual first name from his mother, Nancy Fox. (It’s a tradition in the South to name a son with his mother’s maiden name.) He attended and graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1898 and was commissioned as an artillery officer. He served with the occupation force in Cuba after the Spanish-American War.
Conner served at Washington Barracks in Washington, D.C., and Fort Hamilton, NY, before attending Army Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, KS, in 1905. After graduating from the Army War College in 1911, Conner was attached to the French artillery in 1911-12. He was a major attached to the Inspector General’s office when the United States entered World War I.
In June 1917, Conner was selected by Gen. John Pershing to work in the operations section of the American Expeditionary Force, where one of his subordinates was Major George C. Marshall. At the end of the war, Conner helped write the official history of World War I.
In 1920, a House subcommittee investigated the large number of casualties experienced between the signing of the Armistice, and its taking effect. Conner was criticized for not stopping a scheduled attack, but the committee held no one person accountable.
Conner was introduced to Capt. Dwight Eisenhower at a Sunday dinner at the George Patton’s in 1920. Two years later, Conner requested Eisenhower join his staff in Panama, where he mentored Eisenhower for the next three years.
Conner had three rules of war:
Never fight unless necessary
Never fight alone
Never fight for long
As a major general, Conner was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army. He was passed over for Chief of Staff in 1930 in favor of Douglas MacArthur. After two strokes, Conner retired in 1938. He died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., in 1951.
To find other items that the Marshall Foundation has on Fox Conner, search “Fox Conner” in the library catalog: https://www.marshallfoundation.org/library/results/
Digitized items in the George C. Marshall archives: