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Too Brave to Live: Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny

 
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Too Brave to Live: Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny - 12/12/2008 9:58:34 PM   
Battleline


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Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny (b. 1815, d. 1862) Inventive, intelligent, wealthy and brave, Philip Kearny’s rising star in the U.S. Army burned out with his death at the Battle of Chantilly (Ox Hill), Virginia, Sept. 1, 1862. Kearny met his end when he inadvertently rode into the Confederate lines and was shot to death while trying to escape. “He was the bravest man I ever knew, and a perfect soldier,” said Gen. Winfield Scott, who worked with Kearny prior to the Civil War. Born in New York City June 2, 1815, Philip Kearny entered life in a family of great wealth and social stature. His uncle, Stephen Kearny, became a general in the Mexican War. After attending private schools early in life, Kearny graduated from Columbia University in 1833 and then studied law. In 1836, he inherited $1 million from his grandfather. In 1837, he realized a lifelong ambition by joining the military. Commissioned a second lieutenant, he joined his uncle’s 1st Dragoons. In 1839, he attended the French Cavalry School at Saumur. In 1840, he was with the Chasseurs d’Afrique in Algiers. Returning to the United Sates, Kearny became aide-de-camp to the army’s general-in-chief. First he served Gen. Alexander Macomb and then Gen. Winfield Scott. In 1846, Kearny’s commanded Scott’s bodyguard during the advance to Mexico City. At the Battle of Churubusco, Kearny was severely wounded while leading a charge and his left arm was amputated. For gallant conduct, Kearny received brevet promotions to major. After a tour in California, Kearny resigned from U.S. Army in 1851. In 1859, Kearny served in Napoleon III’s Imperial Guard during the Italian War and received the Cross of the Legion of Honor. It was reported he took part in every cavalry charge at Magenta and Solferino with the reins clenched in his teeth. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Kearny returned home to offer his services to the U.S. Army. Kearny was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers Aug. 7, 1861, to rank from May 17, 1861, and was one of the first commissioned at that grade. He took over a brigade of New Jersey regiments under the division of Brig. Gen. William B. Franklin. During the Peninsular Campaign, Kearny rose to divisional command in the III Corps of Maj. Gen. Samuel Heintzelman, made official April 30, 1862. He supported the division of Brig. Gen. Joseph Hooker at Williamsburg, May 5, 1862, receiving commendation from Maj. Gen. George McClellan. At the Battle of Seven Pines, Kearny supported the IV Corps of Maj. Gen. Erasmus Keyes. Kearny’s division fought through the Seven Days Campaign and distinguished itself at White Oak Swamp (June 30, 1862). Kearny was promoted to major general to rank from July 4, 1862. Kearny was an innovator as well, coming up with the Kearny patch, which helped to inspire the corps patches designed by Maj. Gen. Daniel Butterfield. At the close of the campaign highlighted by the Second Battle of Bull Run, Aug. 29-30, Federals under Brig. Gen. Isaac Stevens ran into Maj. Gen. Thomas Jackson’s forces between the battle site and Washington, D.C. On Sept. 1, 1862, the Battle of Chantilly took place. Kearny’s command was called in to support Stevens. “By God, I will support Stevens anywhere!” Kearny exclaimed. Arriving on the battle site at 5:15 p.m. Kearny was at the head of the brigade of Brig. Gen. David Birney. While coordinating his late afternoon attack on the Confederate positions, Kearny rode into Confederate troops and was shot trying to escape. After his death, the battle ended at nightfall with the Federals suffering over 1,300 men, including Kearny. Kearny’s remains were forwarded, under flag of truce, by Gen. Robert E. Lee. When Kearny’s widow requested his horse and equipment, Lee used personal funds to purchase the equipment and return it. First buried in Trinity Churchyard in New York, Kearny was moved to Arlington National Cemetery in 1912.
Post #: 1
RE: Too Brave to Live: Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny - 12/15/2008 5:23:53 PM   
Gil R.


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Joined: 4/1/2005
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Great bio on a general who hasn’t received the attention he deserves. No significant changes, other than my removing the bit about McClellan praising him for Williamsburg and that his brigade was in Franklin’s division – deletions made so that I could fit in my addition. I also moved the information about patches to the top so that it wouldn’t interrupt the narrative.

I wanted to include that when leading his men into battle for the first time at Williamsburg he exhorted them, “Don’t worry boys, they’re shooting at me, not at you.” Sadly, there’s no space.

I’m making Kearny a 25-percenter, since he was too good to remain a mere 9-percenter.


Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny (b. 1815, d. 1862). Inventive, intelligent, wealthy and brave, Kearny’s rising star in the U.S. Army burned out with his death in the Battle of Chantilly on September 1, 1862. Kearny met his end when he inadvertently rode into the Confederate lines and was shot to death while trying to escape. “He was the bravest man I ever knew, and a perfect soldier,” said Gen. Winfield Scott, who worked with Kearny prior to the Civil War. Kearny was also an innovator, coming up with the “Kearny patch,” which helped to inspire the corps patches designed by Gen. Daniel Butterfield. Born in New York City on June 2, 1815, Kearny entered life in a family of great wealth and social stature. His uncle, Stephen Kearny, became a general in the Mexican War. After attending private schools early in life, Kearny graduated from Columbia University in 1833 and then studied law. In 1836, he inherited $1 million from his grandfather. In 1837, he realized a lifelong ambition by joining the military. Commissioned a 2nd lieutenant, he joined his uncle’s 1st Dragoons. In 1839, he attended the French Cavalry School at Saumur, and in 1840 he was with the Chasseurs d’Afrique in Algiers. Returning home, he became aide-de-camp to the army’s general-in-chief, first serving Gen. Alexander Macomb and then Scott. In 1846, Kearny commanded Scott’s bodyguard during the advance to Mexico City. At the Battle of Churubusco, he was severely wounded while leading a charge and his left arm was amputated. For gallant conduct, Kearny received brevet promotion to major. After a tour in California, he resigned from the army in 1851. In 1859-61, Kearny served in Napoleon III’s Imperial Guard during the Italian War and received the Cross of the Legion of Honor. It was reported that he took part in every cavalry charge at Magenta and Solferino with the reins clenched in his teeth. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Kearny returned home to offer his services to the Union, and was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers on August 7, 1861, to rank from May 17 – one of the first commissioned at that grade. He took over a brigade of New Jersey regiments, and during the Peninsula Campaign rose to divisional command in the III Corps of Maj. Gen. Samuel Heintzelman, effective April 30, 1862. He supported the division of Gen. Joseph Hooker at Williamsburg on May 5, arriving and taking up the fight just as Hooker’s men were wavering after hours of intense combat. (He also rallied some of Hooker’s men, including his old brigade, waving a sword in his one arm and shouting, “I am a one-armed Jersey son-of-a-gun, follow me!”) At the Battle of Seven Pines, Kearny supported the IV Corps of Gen. Erasmus Keyes, and his division fought through the Seven Days Campaign, distinguishing itself further at White Oak Swamp on June 30. Kearny was promoted to major general to rank from July 4, 1862. During the retreat following the crushing defeat in the Battle of 2nd Bull Run, Union forces under Gen. Isaac Stevens ran into Gen. “Stonewall” Jackson’s corps between the Manassas and Washington, D.C., precipitating the Battle of Chantilly (Ox Hill) on September 1. Kearny’s command was called in to support Stevens. “By God, I will support Stevens anywhere!” Kearny exclaimed. Arriving on the battle site at 5:15 p.m., Kearny was at the head of Gen. David Birney’s brigade. While coordinating his attack on the Confederate positions, Kearny rode into enemy lines and was shot trying to escape. The battle ended at nightfall with the Union losing over 1,300 men, including Kearny. His remains were forwarded under flag of truce by Gen. Robert E. Lee. When Kearny’s widow requested his horse and equipment, Lee used personal funds to purchase the equipment and return it. First buried in Trinity Churchyard in New York, Kearny was moved to Arlington National Cemetery in 1912. (Bio by Bill Battle)

Leadership: 7
Tactics: 6
Initiative: 6
Command: 6
Cavalry:

Teaches: Chargers (13), Brave (2), Sustained Volley (20), Stalwart (27)

Start date: 15
Death date: 40


_____________________________

Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I torment eager potential customers by not sharing screenshots of "Brother Against Brother." Everyone has a talent.

(in reply to Battleline)
Post #: 2
RE: Too Brave to Live: Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny - 12/15/2008 7:54:43 PM   
jkBluesman


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Joined: 2/12/2007
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I love the phrase "son-of-a-gun".
Confederates will need good sharpshooters or good luck with captures to get rid of that new Union corps or army commander.

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 3
RE: Too Brave to Live: Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny - 12/15/2008 8:07:40 PM   
Gil R.


Posts: 10821
Joined: 4/1/2005
Status: offline

quote:

ORIGINAL: jkBluesman

I love the phrase "son-of-a-gun".
Confederates will need good sharpshooters or good luck with captures to get rid of that new Union corps or army commander.



That might be a sanitized quote -- Civil War soldiers loved to mention it when their commanders used profanity, but to my knowledge they never transmitted the profanity. Kearny was probably a son-of-something-else.

I was tempted to make Kearny a 100-percenter, but those ratings I'm giving him made me opt to have him appear just 25% of the time. I do think they're justified, though, based on what I've read. (I almost gave him "Superb" leadership, but decided that rating should be reserved just for generals of Lee/Grant stature.)

(in reply to jkBluesman)
Post #: 4
RE: Too Brave to Live: Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny - 12/16/2008 1:44:00 AM   
Battleline


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Joined: 10/5/2006
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Changes look good. Kearny is the type of guy who needs more than 3900 characters. I would have loved to have met him. Professionally and socially set, he still went into the military. Even after losing an arm, the military adventure still had a calling for him. He was well respected and seemed to have a good sense of humor. He was charismatic and had friends on both sides of the lines. He met an awful ending.
He was the type of man who, if born a century later, would have been "The Great Gatsby."
Battleline

(in reply to Gil R.)
Post #: 5
RE: Too Brave to Live: Maj. Gen. Philip Kearny - 12/16/2008 1:49:30 AM   
Gil R.


Posts: 10821
Joined: 4/1/2005
Status: offline
I fully agree. One of the most interesting characters of the Civil War. There's a bio of him out there that I wish I had time to read. (On a related note, I did read somewhere on the web recently that there have been renewed efforts to preserve parts of the Chantilly battlefield. Since it's about 30 min. from where my brother lives I'll try to visit sometime this coming year.)

There's also that anecdote that when a fellow general lost an arm in the Peninsula Campaign at Seven Pines?) Kearny upon greeting him suggested that they could start buying their gloves together.

(in reply to Battleline)
Post #: 6
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