September 2: Philip Kearny (1862)

General Winfield Scott called Philip Kearny “the bravest man I ever knew and the perfect soldier.” Kearny was born into affluence in New York City. His father owned an investment firm and was a founder of the New York Stock Exchange. Despite his family’s wishes for him to be a minister or a lawyer, Kearny’s chosen avocation was the military. After receiving a million dollar inheritance at age 21, Kearny pursued his dream. He traveled the world, attended a French cavalry school and saw action in Algiers. Kearny returned to the U.S., specifically Washington, D.C., in the early 1840’s to serve as Aide-de-Camp to Winfield Scott. While in Washington, Kearny’s first daughter, Susan, was baptized at Epiphany in 1842, just eight months after the congregation was founded. Susan’s burial followed six months later. Second daughter, Diana, was baptized in 1844, still before the church was even built. Shortly thereafter Kearny left Washington. During the Mexican War, Kearny lost his arm in combat and returned to Europe to fight with French troops in the Italian War.

At the start of the Civil War, Philip Kearny had the most combat experience of any general of either side. He took command of the First New Jersey Brigade, and trained it to be an outstanding fighting force. He commanded a division in the Peninsular Campaign and the Second Battle of Bull Run. He was responsible for the Union Army Corps identification markers, and a medal awarded in his honor, The Kearny Patch, became the inspiration for the Congressional Medal of Honor. He was killed in the Battle of Chantilly on September 1, 1862 when he inadvertently rode into Confederate lines, and was shot as he turned away. His body was forwarded to the Union line by Robert E. Lee under a flag of truce, and his death was lamented by commanders on both sides. Philip Kearny is buried in Arlington National Cemetery today. On his grave is an equestrian statue, one of only two in the entire cemetery, placed by the state of New Jersey.

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