Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Kearny, Lawrence

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Appletons' Kearny Lawrence - signature.jpg

KEARNY, Lawrence, naval officer, b. in Perth Amboy, N. J., 30 Nov., 1789; d. there, 29 Nov., 1868. He entered the U. S. navy as a midshipman in 1807, and served, during the continuance of the embargo and non-intercourse acts, on the flotilla of gun-boats under Com. John Rodgers. Subsequently he was on the frigates “Constitution” and “President” until 1810, when he was transferred to the “Enterprise,” and in March, 1813, was promoted lieutenant. He was actively employed in the defence of the coast of South Carolina and adjacent states during the war of 1812-'15, and after its close distinguished himself in clearing the West Indies and Gulf coast of pirates. In 1826 he was given command of the “Warren,” and sent to the Levant, where he successfully attacked the Greek pirates, broke up their strongholds, and finally dispersed them, frequently capturing several vessels in a day, and at one time had more than 100 prisoners on board his vessel. On his return to the United States in 1832, he was made captain, and after various appointments on shore duty was given command of the “Potomac,” and in 1841 advanced to the command of the East India squadron. He hoisted his broad pennant on the “Constitution” in the harbor of Rio de Janeiro, the first instance of that act being performed at a foreign station. While in the east he was active in the suppression of opium smuggling, and secured the rights of American merchants in China. Learning that a commercial treaty was about to be concluded between the English and Chinese governments, he at once communicated with the officials and secured a promise on the part of the Chinese government to extend similar facilities to American merchants. In consequence of this action, the U. S. government sent Caleb Cushing as special envoy to China, who negotiated the treaty that was ratified in July, 1845. While on his homeward voyage in 1843, Capt. Kearny stopped at the Hawaiian islands, and there protested against the treaty then in progress of settlement leading to the transfer of these islands to the British government. He afterward held various shore appointments, including the command of the New York station, the presidency of one of the naval boards of inquiry, and membership in the lighthouse board. In April, 1867, he was made commodore on the retired list, and he was also a member of the New Jersey board of pilot commissioners. — Lawrence's second cousin, Stephen Watts, soldier, b. in Newark, N. J., 30 Aug., 1794; d. in St. Louis, Mo., 31 Oct., 1848, was a student at Columbia, but at the outbreak of the war of 1812 entered the army as a lieutenant in the 13th infantry. At the assault on Queenstown heights, on 13 Oct., 1812, he distinguished himself by his bravery, and on 13 April, 1813, was made captain. He was retained in the army after the war, and by successive promotions became lieutenant-colonel of the 1st dragoons, 4 March, 1833, and brigadier-general on 30 June, 1846. At the beginning of the Mexican war he had command of the Army of the West, which set out from Bent's fort on the Arkansas, crossed the country, and took possession of New Mexico. He established a provisional civil government in Santa Fé, and then continued his march to California, when, on 6 Dec, 1846, he fought the engagement at San Pasqual, where he was twice wounded. Subsequently he commanded the sailors and marines and a detachment of dragoons at the passage of San Gabriel river and the skirmish on the plains of Mesa, 8 and 9 Jan., 1847. For his services in this campaign he received the brevet of major-general on 6 Dec, 1846, and was made governor of California, holding that office from March till June, 1847. He then joined the army in Mexico, and was military and civil governor of Vera Cruz in March, and of the city of Mexico in May, 1848. Illness, caused by disease contracted in Mexico, resulted in his death. Gen. Kearny published a “Manual of the Exercise and Manœuvring of U. S. Dragoons” (Washington, 1837) and “Laws for the Government of the Territory of New Mexico” (Santa Fé, 1846). —

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Stephen Watts's nephew, Philip, soldier, b. in New York city, 2 June, 1815; d. near Chantilly, Va., 1 Sept., 1862, was graduated at Columbia in 1833, and then studied law under Peter A. Jay, but in 1837 accepted a commission in the 1st dragoons, and was stationed at Jefferson barracks, Mo., serving on the staff of Gen. Henry Atkinson. He was sent to Europe by the war department in 1839 to examine the tactics of the French cavalry service, and for the thorough accomplishment of this purpose entered the cavalry-school in Saumur. After six months of this experience he went to Algiers as a volunteer with the 1st chasseurs d'Afrique, and served with Col. Le Pays de Bourjolli. He made the passage of the Atlas mountains, and participated in the engagements at the plains of Metidjah and of the Chelif, at the siege of Milianah, and passage of the Mousaia. His daring exploits during these campaigns attracted the attention of the French army. In the autumn of 1840 he returned to the United States, and was almost immediately appointed aide-de-camp to Gen. Alexander Macomb, holding this appointment until the death of the commander-in-chief. For some months he was then stationed at the cavalry barracks in Carlisle, Pa., but he was soon recalled to Washington to serve on the staff of Gen. Winfield Scott. In 1845 he accompanied his uncle, Gen. Kearny, on the march to the South Pass, which was the first expedition that penetrated so far from settlements into the Indian country. During the Mexican war, at the head of a magnificently equipped company of cavalry, he operated at first along the Rio Grande, but later joined Gen. Scott on his march to Mexico. His command served as the body-guard of the general-in-chief, and Kearny was promoted captain in December, 1846. He took part in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco, and at the close of the latter, as the Mexicans were retreating into the capital, Kearny, at the head of his dragoons, charged the enemy and followed them into the city of Mexico itself; but as he fell back he was shot in the left arm, which necessitated amputation. When Gen. Oliver O. Howard lost his right arm at the battle of Fair Oaks, Kearny happened to be present when the amputation was performed, and Howard, looking up, said: “We'll buy our gloves together hereafter.” A month later Gen. Scott with his army entered the city of Mexico, but the first man who had entered, sword in hand, the gate of the captured capital was Capt. Kearny, who was rewarded with the brevet of major. On his recovery he was stationed in New York on recruiting service, and was presented with a sword by the members of the Union club. Early in 1851 he went to California, and was engaged in the campaign against the Rogue river Indians, but resigned from the army in October, 1851. He then went around the world by way of China and Ceylon, and, after spending some time in Paris, settled at Belle Grove, opposite Newark, N. J. In 1859 he returned to France, and, joining his old comrades of the chasseurs d'Afrique, participated in the war in Italy. At Solferino he was in the charge of the cavalry under Gen. Louis M. Morris, which penetrated the Austrian centre, capturing the key-point of the situation. He is described on this occasion as charging “holding his bridle in his teeth, with his characteristic impetuosity.” He received the cross of the Legion of honor, being the first American that had ever been thus honored for military service. In 1861, soon after the beginning of the civil war, he returned to the United States, and tendered his services to the National government. After their rejection by these authorities and those of New York state, his claims were pressed by New Jersey, and he was made brigadier-general on 17 May, 1861, and assigned to the command of the 1st New Jersey brigade in Gen. William B. Franklin's division of the Army of the Potomac. Gen. Kearny was present at the battle of Williamsburg, where his timely arrival changed the repulse into a victory, and served through the engagements in the peninsula, then with the Army of Virginia from the Rapidan to Warrenton. In May, 1862, he was given command of the 3d division, and his commission as major-general bears date 7 July, 1862, but was never received by him. At the second battle of Bull Run he was on the right, and forced Gen. Thomas J. Jackson's corps back against Gen. Longstreet's men. A few days later, at Chantilly, while reconnoitering, after placing his division, he penetrated into the Confederate lines, and was shot. His remains were sent by Lee under a flag of truce to Gen. Hooker, and found their last resting-place in Trinity churchyard, New York city. Gen. Scott referred to Gen. Kearny as “the bravest man I ever knew, and the most perfect soldier.” See “Personal and Military History of Philip Kearny,” by J. Watts De Peyster (New York, 1869).