Phil Kearney - Opinions

Specster

Sergeant Major
Joined
Sep 19, 2014
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2,024
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Mass.
#1
I think there is a lack of admiration for this man who from what I can tell was a great leader (B General) and fierce fighter....as far as I can tell he has not been mentioned here for over 2 year. Was great at fair oaks, peninsula campaign and Williamsburg especially... why is he forgotten???
 

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Dom71

Sergeant
Joined
May 12, 2017
Messages
694
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Long Island, NY
#2
I agree with you. He is one of my favorite Generals, not timid as many Union Generals were. I think part of the problem is he was killed relatively early in the war, and with so much that went on afterwards it's easy to forget he was their. I often think if he had lived maybe he would have been noticed before Grant, he certainly would have been a very good corps. commander IMO.
 

Bruce Vail

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
3,875
#3
Phil Kearney died Sept. 1, 1862. He was 47 years old and had been a professional military man all his adult life.

He was a divisional commander at the time of his death, and given the turmoil in the senior ranks of the U.S. Army in the ensuing two years, would certainly have risen to corps command in one of the Union armies, if not higher.

But he was reckless and vainglorious, which is why he died in the mud in Chantilly, Va., rather than winning an exalted place in the history of the Civil War.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,809
#5
I think there is a lack of admiration for this man who from what I can tell was a great leader (B General) and fierce fighter....as far as I can tell he has not been mentioned here for over 2 year. Was great at fair oaks, peninsula campaign and Williamsburg especially... why is he forgotten???
Why? Probably because he was lost so early in the war. And it was a war, anyone can get shot at any time and Kearny was at the front of it.

He was in fact aggressive and skilled. It's also true General Lee arranged a flag of truce for Kearny's remains to be returned into the Union line and sent to his family.

That says something. I imagine Lee would have left John Pope lying in the mud rather than go to the trouble.
 

Dom71

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Joined
May 12, 2017
Messages
694
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Long Island, NY
#6
Why? Probably because he was lost so early in the war. And it was a war, anyone can get shot at any time and Kearny was at the front of it.

He was in fact aggressive and skilled. It's also true General Lee arranged a flag of truce for Kearny's remains to be returned into the Union line and sent to his family.

That says something. I imagine Lee would have left John Pope lying in the mud rather than go to the trouble.
Your definitely right about Pope. Lee thought him a "miscreant" I believe he called him.
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,809
#7
Your definitely right about Pope. Lee thought him a "miscreant" I believe he called him.
That's exactly right. Philip Kearny, BTW, was not among the Union Army's 'political generals.' He was a Mexican War veteran who later went to Europe and served there. He was the first American to be awarded France's Legion d'honneur for military service.

One of Kearny's cousins (I think) wrote a book about his life. I read it years ago and it's floating around the internet somewhere. I can probably find it if anyone's interested.
 

Dom71

Sergeant
Joined
May 12, 2017
Messages
694
Location
Long Island, NY
#8
That's exactly right. Philip Kearny, BTW, was not among the Union Army's 'political generals.' He was a Mexican War veteran who later went to Europe and served there. He was the first American to be awarded France's Legion d'honneur for military service.

One of Kearny's cousins (I think) wrote a book about his life. I read it years ago and it's floating around the internet somewhere. I can probably find it if anyone's interested.
No not political by any stretch. Lost his arm in Mexico i believe routinely ignored orders to fall back, and detested George McClellan.

yes I would definitely read that.
 

67th Tigers

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 10, 2006
Messages
3,389
#13
When last asked my opinion of Kearny this is what I wrote:

Consider the basic story of Kearny.


Kearny is a spoilt rich kid who in 1837 buys himself a Commission in his uncle’s regiment without any training. Basically useless, being unable to command troops due to the lack of any military training, he’s employed as an aide de camp to his uncle and then another general. They then select him as one of three subalterns to go to Saumur in France to do an abridged and condensed one-year course base on that of French cavalry subalterns. Within six weeks of the year-long course he is dropped from training. He carouses around Paris for a bit and then wangles his way in as an honorary ADC to the Duc de Orleans in Algeria for about two months to observe ongoing operations there. He’s strictly an observer.


Returning in 1840 he’s an aide to General Macomb and then Scott until late 1844, when he’s sent back to his regiment. After not quite two years regimental service (mainly as his uncles aid) he tries to resign his Commission as a Lt in the 1st Dragoons to secure a captaincy in the new Mounted Rifles. With the Mexican War starting he withdraws his resignation but his company (Coy F) is then reduced to zero strength and Kearny sent away to command the recruiting depot. The regiment literally has no use for a Lt who doesn’t even know the words of command. At Springfield, Illinois Kearny uses his money basically to buy a new company and takes it to Mexico. They are kept out of harm’s way by assignment to be Scott’s camp guard.


In Mexico Kearny decides, against orders, to charge the gates of Churubusco. Ignoring the recall call, Kearny along with Dick Ewell and a handful of troopers get to within about 400 yards of the gate where he is felled by a canister shot destroying his arm. Ewell carried him back to the American lines.


Kearny is then assigned to recruiting duty in New York until 1851. On being reassigned to active duty in July ’51 he boards ship and arrives in San Francisco in August ’51, having missed the punitive expedition of June ’51 (which later biographers claimed he commanded, the confusion is that Coy F participated without Kearny). In October ’51 his demands to be made a Lieutentant-Colonel were rebuffed and he resigns his Commission again. He buys his way onto a round the round voyage and leaves the US.


For the next decade Kearny moved between his estate in New Jersey and a rented small palace in Paris. In summer 1859 as war with Austria breaks out he approaches GdD Morris (commanding the Guard Cavalry Division) and is taken on as a volunteer ADC. At Solferino he leaves his post (with permission) and plays private soldier all day. Like almost all officers of the army he is awarded the Legion d’Honneur, in this case the 5th class. He returns to America on the rumour of a war.

Initially he decides he's going to be a general of NY troops. However the state of NY didn't offer him one of their assigned generalships. Kearny is offended when they finally offer him the mere colonelcy of the 1st NY cavalry regiment, and refuses the offer (which goes to McReynolds). He cast around and in August '61 was finally successful when New Jersey had a BG slot they couldn't fill. He gained a lot of seniority on the Army Register as when the first register was published with the new volunteers they ordered the new generals by seniority in the regular army despite being one of the last appointed.

As brigadier he seems to have been mediocre. His only action was during the pursuit of Johnston from Manassas, where he claimed to have chased whole rebel army away with one regiment. However, seniority rears its head, and when Lincoln appoints corps commanders it opens up five new division commander slots, and McClellan appoints Kearny to replace Sumner. Kearny however replies that he wants Franklin's division instead (which isn't missing a commander) and Lincoln intervenes asking for Richardson to be appointed to a division out of turn. McClellan then revokes the order assigning Kearny to Sumner's old division and assigns Richardson to it. This starts Kearny's feud with McClellan, with him convinced that McClellan is conspiring with the War Department against him.

At the end of April Hamilton (who'd been appointed to take Heintzelman's old division) has become such a problem that McClellan fires him. This angers the Republicans and Lincoln asks if it was possible to return Hamilton to command, and McClellan replies that Hamilton was terrible and essentially says he won't do it unless Lincoln issues an order to that effect. Lincoln doesn't and McClellan again offers Kearny a division, and this time he accepts. As an aside Lincoln sent Hamilton to Grant's army, and Grant ended up firing him for the same reasons.

Almost immediately Kearny participates in Williamsburg. He has 5 regiments under his command at the battle and throws they around almost randomly in a series of charges at an entrenched confederate position covered by an abatis, sometimes attacking with single companies. It is a disaster with huge casualties and every attack repulsed. The battle is won when Hancock turns the enemy entrenchments, seizing empty fortifications and holding them until McClellan orders him reinforced. This starts Kearny's feud with Hancock, who in Kearny's mind is part of the conspiracy against him to deny him a second star.

At Seven Pines he is again a disaster, not coordinating his division at all. He rides to the front with two regiments (63rd and 105th Pa) and doesn't coordinate his division at all. He issues orders to Birney that countermand Heintzelman's and removed the brigade from the battle (Birney gets court martialed for disobeying Heintzelman's orders). On reaching the front rather than stabilising Casey's division he launches his two regiments to attack an entire rebel division and they are easily repulsed and broken. Riding back he finds that Heintzelman has posted Berry's brigade to stabilise the line and Berry isn't as easily browbeaten as Birney, so Kearny rides over to the left hand regiment (37th NY) and grabs the left wing of that regiment without telling the colonel and leads it forward in another reckless charge that is easily repulsed.

Seven Pines is illustrative of Kearny as a division commander. The corps commander is compelled to command the division directly as Kearny is busy playing at being a more junior officer.

During the Seven Days Kearny see little combat. At Oak Grove Kearny is ordered to stay back with the reserve, and the front line (including one of Kearny's brigade) given to Hooker. At Glendale McClellan had personally placed Kearny's division (amongst others) and it seems Kearny was kept on a bit of a leash. There are two conflicting accounts of what happened, but it seems that Kearny did his usual gallop around and sent for his old brigade from another division to recapture the lost battery, which McCall's division did without aid. See EB Grubbs' account. As an aside, it was Kearny's fault that McCall's weak division ended up in the centre - that was Kearny's assigned position but for hours Kearny refused to take his assigned position and eventually Sumner is forced to move McCall from the reserve to fill the gap.

He next was "engaged" at Second Bull Run, where he was so unimpressed by Pope that he started to ignore his orders. He refused to march or attack when ordered, and then launched his own attack without orders (which failed) whilst Longstreet was busy rolling up the rest of the army. The next day at Chantilly Kearny turned up at the 21st Massachusetts, a regiment of a completely different division and essentially took command of it directly, ignoring being told that there was an enemy battleline in front of them (even when two prisoners from the 49th Georgia were presented to him) and that they needed to get the sopping wet cartridges out of their muskets, and forced them to advance blind and without working muskets on threat of turning a battery on them. Riding ahead of the 21st Mass he literally ran into the battleline of the 49th Ga and was shot in the anus as he turned his horse away.

Porter described him: “a natural and persistent objector and complainant, and when under the influence of passion or stimulant was obnoxious and unbearable to all about him, especially in the army. Thought not quite as bad as Generals Butler and Logan, he could see no good in the acts of his superiors or in much other than his own ideas.”. WF Smith: “General Phil Kearny [was] always irritable, and ungovernable— his disposition had been additionally soured by his domestic and social cares, and like most of the old officers he could not conform himself to the new regime …”, and George Townsend: “He was known as the ‘one-armed Devil,’ and was, by odds, the best educated of all the Federal military chiefs. But, singularly enough, he departed from all tactics, when hotly afield. His personal energy and courage have given him renown, and he loved to lead forlorn hopes, or head storming-parties, or ride upon desperate adventures.”

This isn't far from the truth. As a commander he was daring and reckless, most happy leading an assault at the head of a company. As a general though he was an utter failure, unable to execute simple plans or to retain command and control of a formation larger than a brigade in action. He had passed his threshold of competence when he was given a division.
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,809
#16
When last asked my opinion of Kearny this is what I wrote:

Consider the basic story of Kearny.


Kearny is a spoilt rich kid who in 1837 buys himself a Commission in his uncle’s regiment without any training. Basically useless, being unable to command troops due to the lack of any military training, he’s employed as an aide de camp to his uncle and then another general. They then select him as one of three subalterns to go to Saumur in France to do an abridged and condensed one-year course base on that of French cavalry subalterns. Within six weeks of the year-long course he is dropped from training. He carouses around Paris for a bit and then wangles his way in as an honorary ADC to the Duc de Orleans in Algeria for about two months to observe ongoing operations there. He’s strictly an observer.


Returning in 1840 he’s an aide to General Macomb and then Scott until late 1844, when he’s sent back to his regiment. After not quite two years regimental service (mainly as his uncles aid) he tries to resign his Commission as a Lt in the 1st Dragoons to secure a captaincy in the new Mounted Rifles. With the Mexican War starting he withdraws his resignation but his company (Coy F) is then reduced to zero strength and Kearny sent away to command the recruiting depot. The regiment literally has no use for a Lt who doesn’t even know the words of command. At Springfield, Illinois Kearny uses his money basically to buy a new company and takes it to Mexico. They are kept out of harm’s way by assignment to be Scott’s camp guard.


In Mexico Kearny decides, against orders, to charge the gates of Churubusco. Ignoring the recall call, Kearny along with Dick Ewell and a handful of troopers get to within about 400 yards of the gate where he is felled by a canister shot destroying his arm. Ewell carried him back to the American lines.


Kearny is then assigned to recruiting duty in New York until 1851. On being reassigned to active duty in July ’51 he boards ship and arrives in San Francisco in August ’51, having missed the punitive expedition of June ’51 (which later biographers claimed he commanded, the confusion is that Coy F participated without Kearny). In October ’51 his demands to be made a Lieutentant-Colonel were rebuffed and he resigns his Commission again. He buys his way onto a round the round voyage and leaves the US.


For the next decade Kearny moved between his estate in New Jersey and a rented small palace in Paris. In summer 1859 as war with Austria breaks out he approaches GdD Morris (commanding the Guard Cavalry Division) and is taken on as a volunteer ADC. At Solferino he leaves his post (with permission) and plays private soldier all day. Like almost all officers of the army he is awarded the Legion d’Honneur, in this case the 5th class. He returns to America on the rumour of a war.

Initially he decides he's going to be a general of NY troops. However the state of NY didn't offer him one of their assigned generalships. Kearny is offended when they finally offer him the mere colonelcy of the 1st NY cavalry regiment, and refuses the offer (which goes to McReynolds). He cast around and in August '61 was finally successful when New Jersey had a BG slot they couldn't fill. He gained a lot of seniority on the Army Register as when the first register was published with the new volunteers they ordered the new generals by seniority in the regular army despite being one of the last appointed.

As brigadier he seems to have been mediocre. His only action was during the pursuit of Johnston from Manassas, where he claimed to have chased whole rebel army away with one regiment. However, seniority rears its head, and when Lincoln appoints corps commanders it opens up five new division commander slots, and McClellan appoints Kearny to replace Sumner. Kearny however replies that he wants Franklin's division instead (which isn't missing a commander) and Lincoln intervenes asking for Richardson to be appointed to a division out of turn. McClellan then revokes the order assigning Kearny to Sumner's old division and assigns Richardson to it. This starts Kearny's feud with McClellan, with him convinced that McClellan is conspiring with the War Department against him.

At the end of April Hamilton (who'd been appointed to take Heintzelman's old division) has become such a problem that McClellan fires him. This angers the Republicans and Lincoln asks if it was possible to return Hamilton to command, and McClellan replies that Hamilton was terrible and essentially says he won't do it unless Lincoln issues an order to that effect. Lincoln doesn't and McClellan again offers Kearny a division, and this time he accepts. As an aside Lincoln sent Hamilton to Grant's army, and Grant ended up firing him for the same reasons.

Almost immediately Kearny participates in Williamsburg. He has 5 regiments under his command at the battle and throws they around almost randomly in a series of charges at an entrenched confederate position covered by an abatis, sometimes attacking with single companies. It is a disaster with huge casualties and every attack repulsed. The battle is won when Hancock turns the enemy entrenchments, seizing empty fortifications and holding them until McClellan orders him reinforced. This starts Kearny's feud with Hancock, who in Kearny's mind is part of the conspiracy against him to deny him a second star.

At Seven Pines he is again a disaster, not coordinating his division at all. He rides to the front with two regiments (63rd and 105th Pa) and doesn't coordinate his division at all. He issues orders to Birney that countermand Heintzelman's and removed the brigade from the battle (Birney gets court martialed for disobeying Heintzelman's orders). On reaching the front rather than stabilising Casey's division he launches his two regiments to attack an entire rebel division and they are easily repulsed and broken. Riding back he finds that Heintzelman has posted Berry's brigade to stabilise the line and Berry isn't as easily browbeaten as Birney, so Kearny rides over to the left hand regiment (37th NY) and grabs the left wing of that regiment without telling the colonel and leads it forward in another reckless charge that is easily repulsed.

Seven Pines is illustrative of Kearny as a division commander. The corps commander is compelled to command the division directly as Kearny is busy playing at being a more junior officer.

During the Seven Days Kearny see little combat. At Oak Grove Kearny is ordered to stay back with the reserve, and the front line (including one of Kearny's brigade) given to Hooker. At Glendale McClellan had personally placed Kearny's division (amongst others) and it seems Kearny was kept on a bit of a leash. There are two conflicting accounts of what happened, but it seems that Kearny did his usual gallop around and sent for his old brigade from another division to recapture the lost battery, which McCall's division did without aid. See EB Grubbs' account. As an aside, it was Kearny's fault that McCall's weak division ended up in the centre - that was Kearny's assigned position but for hours Kearny refused to take his assigned position and eventually Sumner is forced to move McCall from the reserve to fill the gap.

He next was "engaged" at Second Bull Run, where he was so unimpressed by Pope that he started to ignore his orders. He refused to march or attack when ordered, and then launched his own attack without orders (which failed) whilst Longstreet was busy rolling up the rest of the army. The next day at Chantilly Kearny turned up at the 21st Massachusetts, a regiment of a completely different division and essentially took command of it directly, ignoring being told that there was an enemy battleline in front of them (even when two prisoners from the 49th Georgia were presented to him) and that they needed to get the sopping wet cartridges out of their muskets, and forced them to advance blind and without working muskets on threat of turning a battery on them. Riding ahead of the 21st Mass he literally ran into the battleline of the 49th Ga and was shot in the anus as he turned his horse away.

Porter described him: “a natural and persistent objector and complainant, and when under the influence of passion or stimulant was obnoxious and unbearable to all about him, especially in the army. Thought not quite as bad as Generals Butler and Logan, he could see no good in the acts of his superiors or in much other than his own ideas.”. WF Smith: “General Phil Kearny [was] always irritable, and ungovernable— his disposition had been additionally soured by his domestic and social cares, and like most of the old officers he could not conform himself to the new regime …”, and George Townsend: “He was known as the ‘one-armed Devil,’ and was, by odds, the best educated of all the Federal military chiefs. But, singularly enough, he departed from all tactics, when hotly afield. His personal energy and courage have given him renown, and he loved to lead forlorn hopes, or head storming-parties, or ride upon desperate adventures.”

This isn't far from the truth. As a commander he was daring and reckless, most happy leading an assault at the head of a company. As a general though he was an utter failure, unable to execute simple plans or to retain command and control of a formation larger than a brigade in action. He had passed his threshold of competence when he was given a division.
Alright, I hate to do this, but the dreaded question is in order.

Sources, please?
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,809
#17
When last asked my opinion of Kearny this is what I wrote:

Consider the basic story of Kearny.


Kearny is a spoilt rich kid who in 1837 buys himself a Commission in his uncle’s regiment without any training. Basically useless, being unable to command troops due to the lack of any military training, he’s employed as an aide de camp to his uncle and then another general. They then select him as one of three subalterns to go to Saumur in France to do an abridged and condensed one-year course base on that of French cavalry subalterns. Within six weeks of the year-long course he is dropped from training. He carouses around Paris for a bit and then wangles his way in as an honorary ADC to the Duc de Orleans in Algeria for about two months to observe ongoing operations there. He’s strictly an observer.


Returning in 1840 he’s an aide to General Macomb and then Scott until late 1844, when he’s sent back to his regiment. After not quite two years regimental service (mainly as his uncles aid) he tries to resign his Commission as a Lt in the 1st Dragoons to secure a captaincy in the new Mounted Rifles. With the Mexican War starting he withdraws his resignation but his company (Coy F) is then reduced to zero strength and Kearny sent away to command the recruiting depot. The regiment literally has no use for a Lt who doesn’t even know the words of command. At Springfield, Illinois Kearny uses his money basically to buy a new company and takes it to Mexico. They are kept out of harm’s way by assignment to be Scott’s camp guard.


In Mexico Kearny decides, against orders, to charge the gates of Churubusco. Ignoring the recall call, Kearny along with Dick Ewell and a handful of troopers get to within about 400 yards of the gate where he is felled by a canister shot destroying his arm. Ewell carried him back to the American lines.


Kearny is then assigned to recruiting duty in New York until 1851. On being reassigned to active duty in July ’51 he boards ship and arrives in San Francisco in August ’51, having missed the punitive expedition of June ’51 (which later biographers claimed he commanded, the confusion is that Coy F participated without Kearny). In October ’51 his demands to be made a Lieutentant-Colonel were rebuffed and he resigns his Commission again. He buys his way onto a round the round voyage and leaves the US.


For the next decade Kearny moved between his estate in New Jersey and a rented small palace in Paris. In summer 1859 as war with Austria breaks out he approaches GdD Morris (commanding the Guard Cavalry Division) and is taken on as a volunteer ADC. At Solferino he leaves his post (with permission) and plays private soldier all day. Like almost all officers of the army he is awarded the Legion d’Honneur, in this case the 5th class. He returns to America on the rumour of a war.

Initially he decides he's going to be a general of NY troops. However the state of NY didn't offer him one of their assigned generalships. Kearny is offended when they finally offer him the mere colonelcy of the 1st NY cavalry regiment, and refuses the offer (which goes to McReynolds). He cast around and in August '61 was finally successful when New Jersey had a BG slot they couldn't fill. He gained a lot of seniority on the Army Register as when the first register was published with the new volunteers they ordered the new generals by seniority in the regular army despite being one of the last appointed.

As brigadier he seems to have been mediocre. His only action was during the pursuit of Johnston from Manassas, where he claimed to have chased whole rebel army away with one regiment. However, seniority rears its head, and when Lincoln appoints corps commanders it opens up five new division commander slots, and McClellan appoints Kearny to replace Sumner. Kearny however replies that he wants Franklin's division instead (which isn't missing a commander) and Lincoln intervenes asking for Richardson to be appointed to a division out of turn. McClellan then revokes the order assigning Kearny to Sumner's old division and assigns Richardson to it. This starts Kearny's feud with McClellan, with him convinced that McClellan is conspiring with the War Department against him.

At the end of April Hamilton (who'd been appointed to take Heintzelman's old division) has become such a problem that McClellan fires him. This angers the Republicans and Lincoln asks if it was possible to return Hamilton to command, and McClellan replies that Hamilton was terrible and essentially says he won't do it unless Lincoln issues an order to that effect. Lincoln doesn't and McClellan again offers Kearny a division, and this time he accepts. As an aside Lincoln sent Hamilton to Grant's army, and Grant ended up firing him for the same reasons.

Almost immediately Kearny participates in Williamsburg. He has 5 regiments under his command at the battle and throws they around almost randomly in a series of charges at an entrenched confederate position covered by an abatis, sometimes attacking with single companies. It is a disaster with huge casualties and every attack repulsed. The battle is won when Hancock turns the enemy entrenchments, seizing empty fortifications and holding them until McClellan orders him reinforced. This starts Kearny's feud with Hancock, who in Kearny's mind is part of the conspiracy against him to deny him a second star.

At Seven Pines he is again a disaster, not coordinating his division at all. He rides to the front with two regiments (63rd and 105th Pa) and doesn't coordinate his division at all. He issues orders to Birney that countermand Heintzelman's and removed the brigade from the battle (Birney gets court martialed for disobeying Heintzelman's orders). On reaching the front rather than stabilising Casey's division he launches his two regiments to attack an entire rebel division and they are easily repulsed and broken. Riding back he finds that Heintzelman has posted Berry's brigade to stabilise the line and Berry isn't as easily browbeaten as Birney, so Kearny rides over to the left hand regiment (37th NY) and grabs the left wing of that regiment without telling the colonel and leads it forward in another reckless charge that is easily repulsed.

Seven Pines is illustrative of Kearny as a division commander. The corps commander is compelled to command the division directly as Kearny is busy playing at being a more junior officer.

During the Seven Days Kearny see little combat. At Oak Grove Kearny is ordered to stay back with the reserve, and the front line (including one of Kearny's brigade) given to Hooker. At Glendale McClellan had personally placed Kearny's division (amongst others) and it seems Kearny was kept on a bit of a leash. There are two conflicting accounts of what happened, but it seems that Kearny did his usual gallop around and sent for his old brigade from another division to recapture the lost battery, which McCall's division did without aid. See EB Grubbs' account. As an aside, it was Kearny's fault that McCall's weak division ended up in the centre - that was Kearny's assigned position but for hours Kearny refused to take his assigned position and eventually Sumner is forced to move McCall from the reserve to fill the gap.

He next was "engaged" at Second Bull Run, where he was so unimpressed by Pope that he started to ignore his orders. He refused to march or attack when ordered, and then launched his own attack without orders (which failed) whilst Longstreet was busy rolling up the rest of the army. The next day at Chantilly Kearny turned up at the 21st Massachusetts, a regiment of a completely different division and essentially took command of it directly, ignoring being told that there was an enemy battleline in front of them (even when two prisoners from the 49th Georgia were presented to him) and that they needed to get the sopping wet cartridges out of their muskets, and forced them to advance blind and without working muskets on threat of turning a battery on them. Riding ahead of the 21st Mass he literally ran into the battleline of the 49th Ga and was shot in the anus as he turned his horse away.

Porter described him: “a natural and persistent objector and complainant, and when under the influence of passion or stimulant was obnoxious and unbearable to all about him, especially in the army. Thought not quite as bad as Generals Butler and Logan, he could see no good in the acts of his superiors or in much other than his own ideas.”. WF Smith: “General Phil Kearny [was] always irritable, and ungovernable— his disposition had been additionally soured by his domestic and social cares, and like most of the old officers he could not conform himself to the new regime …”, and George Townsend: “He was known as the ‘one-armed Devil,’ and was, by odds, the best educated of all the Federal military chiefs. But, singularly enough, he departed from all tactics, when hotly afield. His personal energy and courage have given him renown, and he loved to lead forlorn hopes, or head storming-parties, or ride upon desperate adventures.”

This isn't far from the truth. As a commander he was daring and reckless, most happy leading an assault at the head of a company. As a general though he was an utter failure, unable to execute simple plans or to retain command and control of a formation larger than a brigade in action. He had passed his threshold of competence when he was given a division.
Here is the version held out by the National Museum of the U.S. Army. It's brief, but a tad different than your version.

https://armyhistory.org/major-general-philip-kearny/
 
Joined
Oct 22, 2012
Messages
7,809
#18
No not political by any stretch. Lost his arm in Mexico i believe routinely ignored orders to fall back, and detested George McClellan.

yes I would definitely read that.
Here, I found the book, publicly available:

https://books.google.com/books?id=NTFCAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA46&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false

Note the author's introduction carefully. There were two versions of this work and he is alleging publishers made material changes to the original without his consent.

Like I said, it's been years, but IIRC, Kearny lost use of his arm in a riding accident, not in the Mexican War. A bridge collapsed and his horse landed on top of him, if memory hasn't completely failed.
 

WJC

Brigadier General
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11,515
#20
I think there is a lack of admiration for this man who from what I can tell was a great leader (B General) and fierce fighter....as far as I can tell he has not been mentioned here for over 2 year. Was great at fair oaks, peninsula campaign and Williamsburg especially... why is he forgotten???
He was one of the greatest leaders of the time. He has been largely forgotten because his service in the rebellion was cut short.
 



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