Born December 22, 1858, in Carthage, North Carolina. McIver was a West Point graduate and career military officer. He spent much of his years of service in the western region of the country, putting down labor disputes and riots, providing relief in times of natural disaster, and taking part in the violent campaign to drive the Sioux from their territory, a conflict that McIver later described as "one of the most tragic and unfortunate clashes that ever took place between Indians and soldiers." During World War I, McIver was commissioned a general and took command of the 161st Brigade of the 81st Division. He led his men in combat in the Meuse-Argonne offensive. He retired from military service in 1922.