Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Kearny and California

Stephen W. Kearny may not have been a sweetheart, but he was perhaps the top pre-Civil War officer in the US Army. He is important for his part in the conquest of California. The Kearny ("Kar-ney") code for governing government behavior towards Californios may not have been great, but was many times better than what that behavior became. What it became may not have been as bad as government behavior during Reconstruction, but it was comparable.

Kearny was born in 1794 in New Jersey and died in Missouri in 1848. He was of good family, being able to trace his roots back through general William Alexander and Sara(Lady Sterling)Livingston.

In 1826 he was appointed as fist commander of Jefferson Barracks in Missouri. While there he married Mary Radford, the stepdaughter of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

While at the Jefferson Barracks, Kearny organized a regiment of dragoons on the lines of a cavalry unit. The U.S. Cavalry eventually grew out of that unit.

Kearny left for California with a fighting force of 300. Arrived tired in California and was stopped dead in his tracks by Capitan Leonardo Cota of the Californio-Mexican cavalry under Andres Pico at the battle of San Pasqual where Kearny was wounded. Even after Kearny was helped by Commodore Stockton's naval force at San Diego it remained a 'Mexican Stand-off, for some time. After the Battles of San Gabriel and La Mesa with the subsequent control of Los Angeles the Anglos gained the upper hand. They were helped a bit by lack of trust for the Mexicans which had been developing in the Californios.

Still for a short time, a bit like Camelot, the "days of the Dons" had been a bit like the dreams of the Caliphs.

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