1794 - 1848 (54 years)
Has 28 ancestors but no descendants in this family tree.
||Stephen Watts Kearny |
||30 Aug 1794
||Newark New Jersey
||31 Oct 1848
||St. Louis, Missouri
||4 Jan 2002 |
Events in the military career of Stephen Watts Kearny reflected the expansionist intentions of a post-colonial U.S. Not merely a man of his age, Kearny's military expeditions served to enlarge United State's territorial holdings by more than a million square miles, while helping to shape the young nation's burgeoning frontier legacy. Kearny lived in the wild and uncharted West during most of his remarkable 36 years of service. Soldier, explorer, builder, writer, and statesman; Kearny commanded the Army of the West, and is called "The Father of the U.S. Cavalry."
From the first days of his military career as a First Lieutenant in the War of 1812, to his months as Military Governor of New Mexico and then California, he explored the Western frontier and marched into the annals of the West's romantic history.
By that next Spring, thousands of gold seeking "Fourty-niners" would surge westward from points in that same state, toward a territory Kearny had just secured for the United States. Their paths would converged at a new fort named in the late general's honor, Fort Kearny was the first major stop on the Oregon and California trails.
Kearny's military career began, and nearly ended in the Battle of Queenstown Heights during the War of 1812, when he was wounded and taken prisoner. After Kearny's release, he joined Henry Atkinson on several expeditions of the Missouri and it's tributaries, including an exploration trek to the mouth of the Yellowstone River in 1825. Kearny was in the Matthew McGee party, which opened a new trail to Camp Cold Water (now Fort Snelling). Later, Kearny lead explorations throughout Iowa and Minnesota. The young soldier helped to locate, build, and command a number of Missouri River and frontier forts.
In 1826, he was appointed Commander of the new Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. By 1830, he had moved to Fort Leavenworth, where he was charged with protecting the freight and travelers on the Santa Fe, Mormon, and Oregon Trails. In addition to these duties, Kearny published the Manual for the Exercise and Maneuvering of United States Dragoons in 1837.
At the outset of the Mexican War, President Polk asked Kearny to muster an army, and march 1,000 mile into the Southwest in order to claim that region for the United States. Along the way, he was to organize territorial governments. The Mexican administration had been weakened by years of occupation and political turmoil. Some historians suggest that Polk had secretly negotiated the sale of the northern states with a cash poor faction of Mexico's ruling elite, and that some hostilities were contrived at that time to persuade reluctant Senators, and patriotic Mexicans of the inevitable outcome. Perhaps that is why Kearny was able to take the important northern commercial center of Santa Fe without firing a shot. He won over the local leaders, stayed to assure a peaceful transition to a new civilian government, and implemented a new legal code for the territory, before he continued his march into Arizona and California. Kearny's party encountered the famous western scout, Kit Carson, who was returning from California with a message from Lt. Col. John Fremont, describing how the territory had been taken by American settlers in the Bear Flag Revolt. Kearny sent 200 of his troops back with the news, before proceeding with 100 men and the Carson party to San Diego as he was ordered. Fremont, who had been involved in the revolt, had overstated its success. Before Kearny's men reached their destination, the trail weary troop encountered a group of angry Californios intent on keeping more US soldiers from entering their homeland. Kearny's weary men were overwhelmed by the primitively armed resistance in the Battle of San Pasqual. Low on supplies and ammunition, several of Kearny's men were killed in skirmishes while awaiting reinforcement from troops under the command of Commodore Stockton and Fremont. After first refusing help, they eventually relented. Despite his serious injuries, Kearny immediately resumed the march to San Diego in pursuit of his mission. Kearny soon discovered that Califonios were not his only problem.