Black and white photo of Irvin McDowell.

Irvin McDowell was a prominent Union general during the American Civil War and a career army officer. He commanded the Army of Northeastern Virginia during the First Battle of Bull Run. [National Archives]

Irvin McDowell - Facts

Key facts about Union General Irvin McDowell.

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Full Name:

  • Irvin McDowell

Birth Date:

  • October 15, 1818

Birth Location:

  • Columbus, Ohio

Parents:

  • Abram Irvin and Eliza (Seldon) McDowell

Education:

  • United States Military Academy (1834)

Occupation:

  • Miltary officer

Career Summary:

  • Major General (USA), Major General (USVA), Army of Northestern Virginia commanding officer

Spouse:

  • Helen Burden (1844)

Nickname:

  • Squash McDowell

Place of Death:

  • San Francisco, California

Date of Death:

  • May 4, 1885

Place of Burial:

  • San Francisco National Cemetery, San Francisco, California

Significance:

  • Irvin McDowell attended the College de Troyes in France.
  • Irvin McDowell entered the United States Military Academy in 1834, at the age of sixteen.
  • Irvin McDowell graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1838, twenty-third in his class.
  • One of Irvin McDowell’s classmates at West Point was P.G.T. Beauregard, his future adversary at First Bull Run.
  • Irvin McDowell entered the U.S. Army as a brevet second lieutenant with the First Artillery on July 1, 1838.
  • After graduating from West Point, Irvin McDowell served on the Maine frontier until 1841.
  • Irvin McDowell was promoted to second lieutenant on July 7, 1838.
  • Irvin McDowell served at the United States Military Academy as an assistant instructor of infantry from 1841 to 1845.
  • Irvin McDowell was promoted to first lieutenant on October 7, 1842.
  • Irvin McDowell married Helen Burden at the Second Presbyterian Church in Troy on November 13, 1844.
  • Irvin McDowell served in the Mexican-American War (1846 – 1848).
  • Irvin McDowell was promoted to brevet captain on February 23, 1847, for gallant and meritorious conduct at the Battle of Buena Vista (February 23, 1847).
  • Irvin McDowell was promoted to brevet major on May 13, 1847.
  • Irvin McDowell was promoted to brigadier general on May 14, 1861.
  • Irvin McDowell commanded the Army of Northeastern Virginia from May 27 – July 25, 1861.
  • Irvin McDowell was the commanding general of the Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run (July 21, 1861).
  • Irvin McDowell was a corps commander in the Army of the Potomac from March 13 – August 12, 1862.
  • Irvin McDowell was promoted to major general of volunteers on May 14, 1862.
  • Irvin McDowell was promoted to brevet major general in the regular army on March 13, 1865.
  • Irvin McDowell was mustered out of volunteer service on September 1, 1866.
  • Irvin McDowell was promoted to major general in the regular army on November 25, 1872.
  • Irvin McDowell retired from active service in the U.S. Army on October 15, 1882.
  • Irvin McDowell died of pyloric disease of the stomach at San Francisco, California on May 4, 1885.
  • Irvin McDowell was buried at San Francisco National Cemetery, San Francisco, California.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Irvin McDowell - Facts
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 31, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
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