On August 5, U.S. Army Major General Harold Greene was assassinated at Marshal Fahim National Defense University, Afghanistan. His assassination marks the first targeted killing of an American general since U.S. Major General Edward Canby was assassinated in 1873.
Greene’s assassination appears singularly unique in modern history–an American general killed by soldiers from an allied army, rather than current or former enemies. While Canby’s is the closest approximation to the incident, killed during peace negotiations with the Modoc Native American tribe, the Modocs had recently conducted a war against the United States that precisely led to those talks.
During the spring of 1864–the next to last spring of the Civil War–Canby became a Major General. He was shot and wounded in Arkansas in November, and upon recovering spent the remaining months of the war in Alabama and eastern Texas.
According to The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, Canby “commanded the military district of the Carolinas” from September 1867 to September 1868. Thereafter he was in Texas and Virginia, before going to “the Pacific northwest in 1870.”
In 1873, Canby represented the U.S. in discussing peace terms with the Modocs following the Modoc War 1872-1873.
It was April 11, 1873 when he sat unarmed, “offered the Modocs cigars,” and smoked with them “for a little while.” Thereafter talks began and “the Modocs felt disrespected” when Canby would not acquiesce to their wishes. During the meeting the Modocs attacked, shooting Canby and then slitting his throat.
The National Park Service says plainly: “[Canby] was assassinated by negotiators of the Modoc tribe.”
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