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Published on: Sunday, June 16, 2024 read more ...

Major General Philip Kearny Memorial Grave

A magnificent equestrian statue commemorates Major General Philip Kearny's cavalry leadership

Section 2, Grave S-8

Commissioned in 1837, Philip Kearny Jr. studied cavalry tactics at the famous French cavalry school at Saumur and fought with the Chasseurs d'Afrique in Algiers (1840). His fearless character in battle inspired his French comrades to nickname him "Kearny le Magnifique" (Kearny the Magnificent). After receiving the French Legion of Honor, he returned to the United States and prepared a cavalry manual for the U.S. Army based on his overseas experiences. 

Noted for his leadership in the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), Kearny led a daring cavalry charge at the Battle of Churubusco and suffered a wound to his left arm, which was later amputated. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Kearny returned to the Army in spite of his disability. Appointed as a brigadier general, he trained and commanded the First New Jersey Brigade. Kearny was killed in action on September 1, 1862, during the Battle of Chantilly.

Confederate General Robert E. Lee returned Kearny's remains to the Union under a flag of truce, to ensure that he would receive a proper burial. Kearny was originally buried at Trinity Church in his native New York. Fifty years later, in 1911, his remains were reinterred at Arlington, in the eastern part of the Officers' Section (Section 2). President William Howard Taft presided over the reinterment ceremony. 

The Quartermaster General of the Army and the General Kearny Commission desired an equestrian monument to commemorate Kearny's lifelong association with cavalry troops. In 1914, the major general's remains were disinterred and moved again, to "an artistic setting that would harmonize with the size and dignity of the Monument." President Woodrow Wilson dedicated the appropriately magnificent equestrian statue on November 11, 1914. Sculptor Edward Clark Potter, best known for the marble lions in front of the New York Public Library, designed the monument, which is one of two equestrian statues in the cemetery (the other honors Sir John Dill). The sculpture portrays Kearny in a Civil War-era U.S. Army uniform, with one arm holding the reins of his horse. Note that his left cuff is pinned — an allusion to his amputated arm. 

The Kearny Monument was most recently conserved during the summer of 2015. The treatment included cleaning and waxing of the bronze equestrian sculpture and restoration of its original patina; the stone granite base was also repaired.