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.

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]

Full Name:

  • Philip Kearny

Birth Date:

  • June 2, 1815

Birth Location:

  • New York City, New York


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


  • Columbia College (1833)


  • Lawyer
  • Military officer

Career Summary:

  • Captain (USA)
  • Major General (USVA)


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


  • 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


  • 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.

Citation Information

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  • Article Title Philip Kearny - Facts
  • Date June 2, 1815 - September 1, 1862
  • Author
  • Keywords Philip Kearny
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 22, 2024
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 17, 2024