Phil Kearney - Opinions


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Specster

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#84

It seems like many people are willing to **** him for having inherited wealth. He paid his dues early by entering the Mexican American War and losing an arm in the process. I just dont get it. He did not hide behind his inherited wealth. He could have avoided service all together. Even when the draft was implemented mid way during the ACW he could still have paid his way out. He died before that but when he served it was always voluntary. I think he deserves a modicum of respect for that alone.
 
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#85
Not really. He recognized a morally corrupt person when he saw one. Some of the other posts say basically the same thing.
So, how was he "morally corrupt?" Enquiring minds would like to know.
 
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#88
Thanks, I saw that. In other words, Howard has nothing specific with which to indict Kearney.

Only, perhaps, that Kearney knew how to fight and Howard did not. That's my speculation.
The problem with Kearny was that he didn't only fight the enemy.

As for his moral character, Howard was a stickler for the moral rules and Kearny was not.

Ryan
 
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#89
The problem with Kearny was that he didn't only fight the enemy.

As for his moral character, Howard was a stickler for the moral rules and Kearny was not.

Ryan
Do you mean Kearny fought Union Army politics, just like the rest of them?

I've asked for examples of General Kearny's lack of moral character and no one had provided any.

Did he dance with a prettier girl than Howard at the ball? Did he buy her a drink?

If there's no specificity here, it's just casting aspersion, nothing more.
 
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#90
Do you mean Kearny fought Union Army politics, just like the rest of them?

I've asked for examples of General Kearny's lack of moral character and no one had provided any.

Did he dance with a prettier girl than Howard at the ball? Did he buy her a drink?

If there's no specificity here, it's just casting aspersion, nothing more.
Kearny was tough to get along with. He often thought that he knew better than others, including his superiors, and would act as he saw fit, regardless of orders or any other circumstances. What he was was a fighter to a fault (for good or ill), something that was not all that common in the early days of the AotP.

Ryan
 
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#91
As for his moral character, Howard was a stickler for the moral rules and Kearny was not. Ryan
Yes, Howard believed that things like drunkenness and adultery were not only sins, but unmanly. And anyone who thinks that Howard wasn't a fighter simply doesn't know anything about him.

Be that as it may, Howard also seems to have considered Kearny a glory hog who liked to muscle in and take credit for things he didn't do. On 13 March 1862, General Howard's brother, Charles, wrote: "News has just arrived that Gen. Kearney is to command the Division. Otis is very much disappointed. Would rather have had any other General over him. He is a man reported to be without principle, morally. He took advantage of our start to the Rebels - relieving us at Burke’s & pushed on to Fairfax Ct. House, Centerville & Manassas."

Fortunately for the Howard brothers, they didn't have to serve under Kearny. Three days later, Sumner assigned the division to Richardson.
 
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#92
The narrative surrounding Kearney reminds me of that surrounding Cleburne for the Confederates: promising officer who was slowly rising through the ranks; polar opposites of their incompetent superiors: cut down before he was given a higher command, one which by that point had been earned many times over already.
The problem is of course the hero worship surrounding these figures may have muddled many people's evaluations of their skills, as well as the trend in the war for exceptional commanders in brigade and divional commands turning out to be mediocre or poor Corps commanders.
 

67th Tigers

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#93
Fortunately for the Howard brothers, they didn't have to serve under Kearny. Three days later, Sumner assigned the division to Richardson.
This isn't strictly true. McClellan assigned Sumner's old division to Kearny, as Kearny was the senior BG in the army without a division. Kearny actually refused the promotion. As he wrote his wife on 16th March:

"[McClellan gave] me the command of a division, but most unhandsomely refused to allow me to take me brigade with me. Whereupon I declined, for I had no idea, where they all so dirty and contemptible for the sake of an apparent promotion to yield a right, (for it was one) or to abandon men who have ever stuck with me."

and on the 17th:

"Genl. McClellan behaves most unhandsomely to me, he did not dare pass me over, but assigned me to command a division, but not to take me brigade with me. I flatly refused. It was a dirty trick. It pleased my men immensely, and although I feel vastly superior to them all, in asmuch as my heart is too southern to seek advance, as a mere ambition, and is asmuch, as our sad trials are consequent on my doing my dutu as a high toned gentleman, in returning to this country. I spurn with disgust entering with any of their low petty machinations. The most dirty thing of all was Genl Franklin..."

Kearny honestly believed that McClellan not completely rearranging two divisions (Sumner's and Franklin's) to suit Kearny was a plot. He would whine about it continuously until his death, believing the entire US government to be engaged in a conspiracy to keep him down.

Lincoln asked McClellan to make Richardson a division commander, and McC accepted Kearny's refusal and assigned Richardson the division.
 
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#94
Kearny honestly believed that McClellan not completely rearranging two divisions (Sumner's and Franklin's) to suit Kearny was a plot. He would whine about it continuously until his death, believing the entire US government to be engaged in a conspiracy to keep him down.

Lincoln asked McClellan to make Richardson a division commander, and McC accepted Kearny's refusal and assigned Richardson the division.
This is just a bit overwrought, don't you think?
 

67th Tigers

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#95
This is just a bit overwrought, don't you think?
No, it is, if anything, an understatement.

"I ought to like New Jersey because my old New Jersey soldiers were so true to me, although their Governor, and rulers acted like dogs, in never taking any desire for proper appointments into consideration, and thwarting me underhandedly with McClellan and the Secretary [Stanton] and "all that tribe"." - date unknown, between 22nd and 26th June

"But Mr Stanton and McClellan are both my enemies. Both are jealous of me, one militarily, and the other, Stanton, lest I in my military sagacity, and boldness, display to public gaze some of his rascalities in military management." - 1st July

"Is it not wicked, that Gen'l McClellan works against me. Gen'l Heintzelman [elsewhere described as an "old brute"] is equally envious, and thus Hooker and other intriguing men take advantage of it. The whole Army has however been saved by me several times. - 5th July

"I am the first General officer, whose feats of arms have been ignored by all. Cheated of prestige by the falsity of McClellan, not thanks by Congress, passed over in promotions... So too Genl Halleck visits us - again I am omitted..." - 31st July

"The President has sent me, and every other General command a division, the grade of Maj. General, thus confounding me with the hero, and ignoring my achievements. I feel more indignant than had they omitted it. I however was forced to take it, or else would have been passed by the others" - undated but between 15th and 19th August.

This is a quick survey. Kearny considered there was a great conspiracy, including McClellan, Stanton, Henitzleman, Hancock (especially Hancock), every other general in the army, the governor of New Jersey, and ultimately the President, to rob him of his true glory. He wanted to be made out to be special. Hence when McClellan recommended first all his corps commanders be promoted Major-General, Kearny was furious because in his eyes he was the only officer worthy of promotion. When McClellan got all the division commanders promoted, Kearny was furious because again, he was special, and should be promoted ahead of them. The whole thing was a grand conspiracy, and he in his head he was the only competent general in the whole army (apart from CF Smith, he complemented CF Smith back in March '62).
 

Andy Cardinal

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#96
No, it is, if anything, an understatement.

"I ought to like New Jersey because my old New Jersey soldiers were so true to me, although their Governor, and rulers acted like dogs, in never taking any desire for proper appointments into consideration, and thwarting me underhandedly with McClellan and the Secretary [Stanton] and "all that tribe"." - date unknown, between 22nd and 26th June

"But Mr Stanton and McClellan are both my enemies. Both are jealous of me, one militarily, and the other, Stanton, lest I in my military sagacity, and boldness, display to public gaze some of his rascalities in military management." - 1st July

"Is it not wicked, that Gen'l McClellan works against me. Gen'l Heintzelman [elsewhere described as an "old brute"] is equally envious, and thus Hooker and other intriguing men take advantage of it. The whole Army has however been saved by me several times. - 5th July

"I am the first General officer, whose feats of arms have been ignored by all. Cheated of prestige by the falsity of McClellan, not thanks by Congress, passed over in promotions... So too Genl Halleck visits us - again I am omitted..." - 31st July

"The President has sent me, and every other General command a division, the grade of Maj. General, thus confounding me with the hero, and ignoring my achievements. I feel more indignant than had they omitted it. I however was forced to take it, or else would have been passed by the others" - undated but between 15th and 19th August.

This is a quick survey. Kearny considered there was a great conspiracy, including McClellan, Stanton, Henitzleman, Hancock (especially Hancock), every other general in the army, the governor of New Jersey, and ultimately the President, to rob him of his true glory. He wanted to be made out to be special. Hence when McClellan recommended first all his corps commanders be promoted Major-General, Kearny was furious because in his eyes he was the only officer worthy of promotion. When McClellan got all the division commanders promoted, Kearny was furious because again, he was special, and should be promoted ahead of them. The whole thing was a grand conspiracy, and he in his head he was the only competent general in the whole army (apart from CF Smith, he complemented CF Smith back in March '62).
Your post points to the fact that Kearny had a large ego, which was probably true. And yet, his point is not totally invalid. Many of the corps and division commanders at the time were not particularly competent. Some would learn from experience and grow into respectable if not very good commanders. Others would not and would be set aside.

Kearny's comments also point to the politicization of the Army of the Potomac. Whether or not Kearny's comments were overwrought or accurate, it certainly paid to be in McClellan's good graces to be recognized and promoted at that time. Even after McClellan was relieved of command in November 1862, the Army of the Potomac officer corps could be divided into pro-McClellan and anti-McClellan groups. The last vestiges of this probably didn't go away until well into the Overland Campaign in 1864 (if then).
 

67th Tigers

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#97
Kearny's comments also point to the politicization of the Army of the Potomac. Whether or not Kearny's comments were overwrought or accurate, it certainly paid to be in McClellan's good graces to be recognized and promoted at that time. Even after McClellan was relieved of command in November 1862, the Army of the Potomac officer corps could be divided into pro-McClellan and anti-McClellan groups. The last vestiges of this probably didn't go away until well into the Overland Campaign in 1864 (if then).
I'm not sure they do. In general terms, the changes in organisation McClellan instituted after Kearny joined as a BG were:

1. Divisions were organised. The division commanders were appointed based on seniority, and it took me ages to work this out, but Kearny went sick in Q4 1861. He was so sick it was expected to invalid him out. It was, in modern terms, a cadiac arrhythmia which the doctors recorded as irregularities of his pulse.

Of the infantry division commanders appointed, on paper he ranked Baldy Smith only. He was, on reporting, not even the senior general in the NJ Brigade - Wm Montgomery of the 1st NJ had been appointed BG(V), and seniority for those appointed before 5th August was settled by regular rank, and Montgomery was an ex-Lt Col and Kearny an ex-Maj. This was sorted out by appointing Montgomery military governor of Alexandria on 14th August, allowing Kearny to assume the brigade command.

2. Corps are organised. McClellan pulls out the divisional chair for Kearny. Kearny refuses.

3. McClellan fires Hamilton, and offers Kearny a division again. Kearny accepts.

4. Williamsburg. Kearny thinks he should be promoted MG. McClellan makes no nominations.

5. Seven Pines. ditto

6. Seven Days. On 5th July McClellan nominates all corps commanders to be MG(V) and to be breveted one grade up in the regular army (Sumner to MG, the others to BG). Sumner's, Heintzelman's and Keyes' brevets were dated to 31st May (Seven Pines), Porter's to 27th June (Gaines' Mill) and Franklin's to the 30th. These promotions were published in orders on 2nd August 1862.

7. On 25th July, Lincoln issues orders making every division commander in the AoP a MG(V). This was probably something Halleck recommended IMHO.
 

Saphroneth

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#98
Corps are organised.
And as I recall - which may be wrong - McClellan was offered the opportunity to choose who the corps commanders were and demurred? That doesn't entirely concord with the idea of someone seeking influence for his own clique.
 

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