Portrait of Philip Kearny

Union Major General Philip Kearny was killed by a Confederate minie ball during the Battle of Chantilly on September 1, 1862. [Wikimedia Commons]

Philip Kearny - Facts

June 2, 1815 - September 1, 1862

Key facts about Philip Kearny, a prominent Union general who was killed in action at the Battle of Chantilly during the American Civil War.

Advertisements

Full Name:

  • Philip Kearny

Birth Date:

  • June 2, 1815

Birth Location:

  • New York City, New York

Parents:

  • Philip Kearny, Sr. and Susan (Watts) Kearney

Education:

  • Columbia College (1833)

Occupation:

  • Lawyer
  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Captain (USA)
  • Major General (USVA)

Spouses:

  • Diana Bullitt (1841)
  • Agnes Maxwell (1858)

Nickname(s):

  • Kearny the Magnificent
  • The One-armed Devil

Place of Death:

  • Chantilly, Virginia

Date of Death:

  • September 1, 1862

Place of Burial:

  • Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Significance:

  • Kearny’s father, a wealthy financier, was a founder of the New York Stock Exchange and his maternal grandfather, John Watts, was one of the wealthiest men in America.
  • Philip Kearny graduated from Columbia College with a law degree in 1833.
  • Philip Kearny’s inherited over one million dollars in 1836 when his grandfather died.
  • In 1837, Philip Kearny obtained a commission as a second lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Dragoons of the United States Army.
  • In 1839, Philip Kearny traveled to France to study cavalry tactics at the French Cavalry School.
  • Philip Kearny’s bravery and skilled horsemanship prompted members of the French Army to nickname him “Kearny the Magnificent.”
  • On June 24, 1841, Philip Kearny married Diana Bullitt. The marriage produced five children but ended in divorce because Kearny’s desire for a life of military adventure proved to be incompatible with his wife’s social aspirations.
  • Philip Kearny resigned his commission in 1846, but returned to the army a month later when the Mexican-American War began.
  • Philip Kearny was promoted to captain in December 1846.
  • In a spell of despair, he reportedly said that “I would give my arm for a brevet.” On August 20, 1847, at the Battle of Churubusco, Philip Kearny’s left arm was severely wounded by grapeshot, requiring amputation. Kearny later received a brevet promotion to major.
  • In April 1858 Philip Kearny married Agnes Maxwell after obtaining a divorce from his first wife. The marriage produced three children.
  • Philip Kearny was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1859 for fighting with the French Army during the Franco-Austrian War.
  • When the American Civil War began, Philip Kearny secured a commission as a brigadier general in the volunteer army commanding the 1st New Jersey Brigade.
  • Philip Kearny was highly critical of his commanding officer, Major General George B. McClellan.
  • Philip Kearny was promoted to command the third division of General Samuel P. Heintzelman’s 3rd Corps of the Army of the Potomac on May 1, 1862.
  • Philip Kearny distinguished himself by leading a charge during the Battle of Williamsburg (May 5, 1862).
  • Philip Kearny’s daring on the battlefield prompted Rebel soldiers to call him “the one-armed devil.”
  • Philip Kearny was promoted to major general of volunteers on July 4, 1862.
  • Philip Kearny was rumored to be the leading candidate to replace George B. McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac after the latter’s Peninsula Campaign unraveled.
  • Philip Kearny’s division reinforced Major General John Pope’s Army of Virginia during Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s Northern Virginia Campaign in August 1862.
  • Philip Kearny led his forces in an unsuccessful charge against Stonewall Jackson’s division at Groveton on August 29, during the Second Battle of Bull Run.
  • Philip Kearny was killed by a Confederate minie ball during the Battle of Chantilly on September 1, 1862.
  • Philip Kearny was originally buried at Trinity Churchyard in New York. In 1912, his remains were exhumed and re-interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Philip Kearny was credited with developing the concept of corps badges, which would go on to be adopted by the entire army.
Advertisements

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Philip Kearny - Facts
  • Coverage June 2, 1815 - September 1, 1862
  • Author
  • Keywords Philip Kearny
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date November 29, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 29, 2021
GET THE BEST OF AMERICAN HISTORY CENTRAL DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX!
SIGN UP
By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to receive news, offers, updates, and additional information from R.Squared Communications, LLC and American History Central. Easy unsubscribe links are included in every email.
CLOSE [X]