Kearny, Stephen W. (1794–1848)

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Kearny, Stephen W. (1794–1848)

Stephen W. Kearny (b. 30 August 1794; d. 31 October 1848), a soldier who gained fame during the Mexican War (1846–1848). Kearny, of Dutch and Irish parentage, was raised in New Jersey and New York City. He served with distinction during the War of 1812 and as an officer commanding various posts on the western frontier. When the Mexican War broke out, he was given the command of the Army of the West. He marched 1,600 troops into Santa Fe, New Mexico, and served as military governor from August to September 1846.

From Santa Fe Kearny led an army of about one hundred to California to assist in the American conquest of the far West. On 6 December 1846, at San Pasqual, near San Diego, in a brief but bloody skirmish, he encountered a Californio force led by Andrés Pico that blocked his advance for several days. Later Kearny assisted in the recapture of Los Angeles. For many months he quarreled with John C. Frémont over who was the chief commander of California. Eventually Kearny was vindicated and Frémont was court-martialed.

In 1847 Kearny was sent to Mexico and served as the civil governor of Vera Cruz and later of Mexico City. He died the following year in St. Louis, of a tropical disease contracted in Vera Cruz.

See alsoMexico, Wars and Revolutions: Mexican-American War .


Dwight Clarke, Stephen Watts Kearny: Soldier of the West (1961).

Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of California, 7 vols. (1884–1890).

Justin Harvey Smith, The War with Mexico, 2 vols. (1919).

Allan Nevins, Frémont (1922; repr. 1963).

Additional Bibliography

Ricketts, Norma B. The Mormon Battalion: U.S. Army of the West, 1846–1848. Logan: Utah State University Press, 1996.

                         Richard Griswold del Castillo

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Kearny, Stephen W. (1794–1848)

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