George Willcox McIver was born on December 22, 1858, at Carthage, N.C., and died in 1947 at the age of eighty-nine. He was the son of Alexander McIver, a noted North Carolina educator, and Mary Ann Willcox. McIver was appointed to West Point in 1877 and graduated with the class of 1882. Upon graduation, he began a military career of forty years of active service including duty in the United States, Alaska, Cuba, France, and the Philippine Islands.
McIver’s military career began with service in the West (1883-1891) with the 7th U.S. Infantry. He was stationed at various forts, including Pembina, Fred Steele, Laramie, Logan, and Bridger. He was sent to Rock Springs, Wyoming (1885), along with other troops to put down civil unrest between Chinese and white miners. McIver’s unit participated in the “Sioux Campaign” of 1890-1891 which culminated in the Battle of Wounded Knee. He served as a tactical officer at West Point (1891-1893); duty officer to Camp Pilot Butte, Montana (1893); and Regular Army officer with the California National Guard (1894), where he observed the civil unrest of the California Railroad Strikes. In 1898, McIver was reunited with the 7th U.S. Infantry, which was mobilized at Chickamauga Park, Georgia, for service in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, where McIver’s unit participated in the Battle of El Caney.
From 1898-1900, McIver was stationed at Ford Brady, Michigan, and at Leech Lake Indian Agency in Walker, Minnesota. From 1900 to 1903, he was stationed at Nome and Fort St. Michael, Alaska. He was assigned to the Philippine Islands from 1903 until July 1905, when he returned to California as the Commandant of the U.S. military prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. In 1907, he became the Commandant of the army’s first musketry school at Monterey, California. In 1911, he began work on a revision of the Army Small Arms Firing Manual. McIver served a second tour of duty in the Philippines (1914) before becoming executive officer of the Militia Bureau of the War Department (1915).
Before U.S. intervention in World War I, McIver was promoted to Brigadier General and took command of the 161st Brigade of the 81st (Wild Cat) Division which trained at Camp Jackson and Camp Sevier, South Carolina. This unit became incorporated into the American Expeditionary Force and participated in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. From 1919 until his retirement in 1922, McIver was stationed at Fort Pike, Arkansas, and Fort Slocum, New York.