Sunday, May 9, 2010
One Of Four Generals
An Officer in the United States Cavalry William Selby Harney died May 9th 1889.
William Selby Harney was born August 27th 1800 in Haysboro Davidson Tennessee. While visiting his brother Dr Benjamin F Harney who was an Army Surgeon in Baton Rouge Louisiana in 1817 met some high military officers. Harney was so impressed by these men that he worked to get a commission to Second Lieutenant through President James Monroe. He began his military carrer in the 1st Unites States Infantry under Andrew Jackson. He saw action in the Seminole and Blackhawk Wars. With an appointment to Colonel with command of the 2nd Dragoons he was a member of General Winfield Scott’s Army at the Battle of Cerro Gordo during the Mexican American War. After this Harney found himself fighting Indians in the west, at the Battle of Ash Hollow and with a then Captain George E Pickett serving under him in the Dept of Oregon.
Harney received a promotion to Brigadier General June 14th 1856 and was one of the only four generals serving in the regular army at the start of the Civil War [the other three being Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, and Brigadier Generals John E Wool and Edwin Vose Sumner]. He was in command of the Department of the West, stationed in St Louis Missouri at the out break of the Civil War. Although Missouri vowed neutrality at the beginning of the war, the “Camp Jackson Affair” where Union General Nathaniel Lyon captured some Missouri State Militia, and fired on a crowd, causing the Missouri General Assembly to authorize attacks on any Army North or South end the neutrality. Harney struck a deal with the Missouri State Guard and Governor Claiborne Jackson to remain neutral and finaly to swear allegiance to the Union. Harney was ordered to Washington DC April 1861 over the affair and was captured by Confederates at Harper’s Ferry Virginia on the way. The Confederates offered him a command, he refused it but found himself relieved of command when he reached Washington and was replaced by Lyon. Harney retired from military service in 1863.
Harney died May 9th 1889 in Orlando Florida. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.