Phil Kearney was a man that you could make a legend out of. He was brave to the last moment of his life and gave his all for his country. All heroes also have their downfalls. Phil Kearney had both his ups and his downs and I will tell you about both.
Phil Kearney was born June 2, 1815 in New York, New York. He was the son of Philip kearney Sr. and Sarah Watts. When Kearney was a boy he was called “A perfect horse killer” because he was a very reckless rider. At the age of seven Kearney was struck by tragedy. His mother died. It took time as one would expect to recover from the grief but the young Kearney eventually returned to his normal hot tempered self.
Early in life Philip Jr. had aspirations to be in the army. When he was ready to take the entry exam for West Point his father and Grandfather paid him $1500 not to join. They wanted him to become a lawyer. Philip Jr. eventually accepted their decision. Kearney studied law and entered into the law firm of his cousin Peter Augustus Jay, but in the back of his mind the longing to be in the army was always there.
In 1836 Kearney’s Grandfather died and left him over one million dollars in inheritance making him one of the richest men in America at the time. Now that he was a legal adult without financial troubles and out from the control of his father Philip Jr. joined the army.
With the help of his uncle Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Watts Kearney and General Winfield Scott whom he had met and impressed while in law school received a commission as second lieutenant of the first dragoons a cavalry regiment. He reported to his uncle at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas on June 10, 1847. He served here for two years.
Kearney turned out to be a well-liked if not rather eccentric officer. He was always quick to encourage and praise the work of those below him in rank. His comrades often questioned why he would join the army if he had all that money and such a good social standing. Kearney often used his fortune to help outfit his company. After two years as 2nd lieutenant of the 1st dragoons he was assigned to the military district commandant Henry Atkinson as an Aide-de-camp. Kearney was not necessarily happy about his new assignment but there was an upside to it. Kearney fell in love with the commandants sister-in-law Diana Bullitt. Everyone thought that Diana and Philip would get married but Kearney did something that suprised everyone including Diana. He accepted an assignment overseas.
His new assignment was in the France. He was to observe the French Cavalry which at the time was thought to be the best in the world. The United States government sent three young men over and Kearney was choosen as one of them. He was chosen partly because his Uncle Stephen Kearney was the one making the selections. He arrived in France in 1839 just in time to take part in the Duke of Orleans’s expedition into the Algiers. This was just the opportunity that Kearney had been looking for. This assignment gave him the chance to fight in an actual war rather then just leading troops during peace time.
This is part One part two will go shortly