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Kearny - Other People of the Civil War - The Participants of the War - Mikitary & Civilian - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
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 Posted: Fri Apr 19th, 2013 10:15 pm
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Root Beer Lover

Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
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Ok so I just got Tim Rowland's Strange and Obscure Stories of the Civil War for Christmas (actually it was one of three books I got from my baby sister who's active duty Navy and was able to visit last month so we exchanged Christmas presents then (i.e. the presents she was giving to us and the presents we were giving to her)) and finally just got around to looking through it. Ended up reading the fifth chapter, The North Finds Its Hero, Briefly, which is about Philip Kearny. I've gotta say it did remind me of the number of times I read about this officer or that who got their place in the Federal army through their political connections. Some proved themselves worthy of their rank, others who weren't worthy of the term offcer. According to Rowland at th time the war broke out Kearny offered himself up as an officer but was turned down until after 1st Bull Run (1st Manassas) when he was appointed Brigadier General in charage of the 1st NJ Brigade. However, according to this site,, Kearny was appointed Brigadier General of Volunteers in May. One thing that did get me was that it was said Kearny didn't have any political connections, but at the same time he initially mentions that a midwestern attorney helped Kearny secure 120 horses for his unit during the Mexican-American War. And then goes on to explain, after suggesting Kearny had no political connections, that that attorney was Lincoln. So that would suggest he did have some political connections in Washington.

At the same time Rowland discusses how Kearny felt about McClellan. Not exactly a fan as he moved too slowly for his liking and he tended to overestimate the size of the Confederate forces he faced. Not to mention his disgust at retreating back down the Penninsula.

The picture painted of Kearny might be considered a soldier of fortune who didn't hire out his services for fortune. He enjoyed war and wanted to be engaged as often as possible. He'd joined the 1st US Dragoons, commanded by his uncle Colonel Stephen Kearny (whose adjutant was Jeff Davis), as a 2nd Lt. After serving a few years on the frontier he was sent to France to learn cavalry tactics. While he was supposed to be doing this he took part in several engagements in Algiers which earned him the nickname Kearny the Magnificent from his French comrades. A year later he returned to the US and authored a cavalry manual. He'd again find himself on duty on the frontier and then the Mexican-American War broke out. He'd loose left arm in that war. Following the Mexican-American War and a stint as a recruiter in NYC he'd take part in action against the Rogue River Tribe in Oregon. After this he'd end up resigning his commision and in 1859 would return to France where he'd take part in the Second Italian War of Independence against the Austrians, earning the French L├ęgion d'honneur for actions in the Battle of Solferino. Even in the Civil War he wanted to be engaged and seemed to relish battle like others might relish a New Year's Eve party. At least that's how Rowland seems to paint him.

I must defend Rowland's portrayal of Kearny a little as it seems his portrayal of Kearny was based somewhat on John Watts de Peyster's portrayal of him in his biography of Kearny. Keep in nind te de Peyster was Kearny's own cousin.

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