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Major General Philip Kearny

The next street as you travel north on 10th avenue is Kearney street. This street, named after Major General Philip Kearny, who was born on June 2, 1815, in New York City. He joined the army and served under, of all people, Jefferson Davis, who would later become president of the Confederate States of America.

Raised by his wealthy grandparents, General Philip, who resided in New Jersey and after their passing, he inherited millions. He also earned a law degree from Colombia College but never practiced law. He volunteered for the US cavalry and served in several positions across the country, including a stint of service under General Winfield Scott. (Another General who has a Port Huron street named after him). He left the army at that time because he didn’t think there was enough action.

He re-enlisted in the army and went on to fight in the Mexican American War, wherein one of the battles, he lost his left arm. Oh, by the way, did I mention that Jeff Davis was his uncle? In 1839, Kearny went to France, where he studied cavalry tactics at a military school and then went and fought in Algeria before returning to the US.

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When the Civil War started, he offered his services to the union but was rejected because of his handicap. After the disaster that took place at Manassas, Virginia, otherwise known as the Battle of Bull Run, the union needed experienced officers. As you may remember from my first article, business people or politicians didn’t always make good military leaders.

Kearny was given command of the third division, which participated in the battle of Malvern Hill. After a union victory, overall commanding general McClellan ordered him to retreat. This did not sit well with General Kearny who accused him of treason. He was still able to hang onto his command despite his accusations.

At the second battle of Manassas, General Kearney was killed while the 3rd division was acting as the rearguard after another Confederate victory. General Lee had his body shipped back to Washington, along with all his personal effects showing respect for such a gallant soldier. Buried in Arlington national cemetery, a statue of him representing New Jersey is among the other fifty figures in Statuary Hall in the nation’s capital. As many veterans know, the 3rd division has gone on to win fame in every major war since then.

This article was originally published on November 19, 2018, and has since been updated.

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