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Kearny's equestrian statue at Arlington   Philip Kearny at the Battle of Chantilly
This equestrian statue at Arlington Cemetery was erected upon the gravesite of Philip Kearny in 1914. The statue was refurbished in 1995, thanks to efforts led by William Styple, historian of Kearny, New Jersey.
Photo by CNO

The Battle of Chantilly (Ox Hill) was fought on September 1, 1862, following the Battle of Second Manassas (Second Bull Run). General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson encountered the Union troops of General Isaac Stevens as they were retreating from Manassas, and a battle ensued late that afternoon amidst a torrential downpour.

Stevens's desperate request for reinforcements was answered by General Philip Kearny who came to his aid. Stevens led a charge against the Rebel line, nobly bearing the flag of the 79th New York (Highlanders), and in the fury of the raging battle was shot through the temple and killed. Meanwhile, the battered Union line was broken in several places and in total disarray. In a fervid attempt to assess and remedy the situation, an infuriated Kearny dashed forth through blinding sheets of rain and inadvertently rode into Confederate lines. Learning all too late that he had met the enemy, Kearny spurred his steed and sped off, but a miniť ball struck him in the spine and he fell into the mud, killed instantly. (See the lithograph "
Death of General Kearny, September 1, 1862" by Allen C. Redwood.)

Kearny's aide de camp wrote about his experience that fateful night in a piece entitled "The Death of General Philip Kearny":

I was Aide de Camp to General Kearny, and accompanied him during the Battle of Chantilly, when he rode on in advance of his Division to see the position occupied by the troops of General Stevens whom we were to relieve or reenforce. We rode along the line, and General Kearny sent off one staff officer after another with orders, until I was the only one left with him. We finally arrived at the right of Stevens' line, where a battery was shelling the opposite woods. The General ordered me to ride at a gallop, back to General Pope, commanding one of our Brigades, and order him to "double-quick" his brigade to that point and go into line. I did so, and returned as quickly as possible to the Battery. The rain was falling fast and darkness was coming on. I inquired of the Battery men which way General Kearny went, and they replied, pointing down to the right and front, "that way." "My God," was my exclamation, "we have no troops there, he has ridden right into the enemy lines." And so it proved. Wishing to know the nature of the ground and whether the woods were occupied or not, he rode with his usual bravery, to his death, as we learned from the Confederates, who next day brought in his body under a flag of truce. The General rode up to a whole company of the enemy, paid no attention to their demand that he surrender, wheeled his horse and started back. The whole company fired a volley, but only one bullet struck him; that entered his hip as he lay low along the horse, and came out at the shoulder. And so fell the most picturesque and gallant soldier that it was my fortune to meet during the war.*

Philip Kearny's body and personal effects were passed over the lines under a flag of truce. He was buried at Trinity Churchyard in New York City, then moved to his final burial spot at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in 1912. Two years later, Kearny's former soldier Charles Hopkins erected an equestrian monument bearing the general's likeness in bronze upon his gravesite. The following year, 1915, Hopkins had monuments to Stevens and Kearny placed on the battlefield. These stone markers were spared destruction in recent years due to the caring work of local historians. (See images of these monuments and read their inscriptions in the section "Ox Hill Battlefield Park" below.)


* William B. Styple, Letters from the Peninsula: The Civil War Letters of General Philip Kearny (New Jersey: Belle Grove Publishing Company, 1988), p. 173.

Special thanks to Bill Styple and to Brian Pohanka for their contributions to the body of this article.

Ox Hill Battlefield Park

Established in the late 1980s, Ox Hill Battlefield Park sits amidst housing units and a shopping center: an island of a plot representing all that remains of the Battle of Chantilly. Thanks to the work done by Chantilly Battlefield Association—co-founded by Ed Wenzel and Brian Pohanka—and the trustees of the monument plot at Ox Hill Battlefield Park, these monuments and what little there is left of the battlefield still exist.

Despite the efforts of these individuals, however, the park suffers from a lack of funding from its own Fairfax County. To show your support for enhancements to this park, write to Katherine Hanley, Chairman, Board of Supervisors, 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA, 22035.


To the left is the marker of Major General Isaac Stevens: Here fell Major General Isaac Ingalls Stevens with the flag of the Republic in his dying grasp September 1, 1862.

To the right is the marker of Major General Philip Kearny: Major General Philip Kearny killed on this spot September 1, 1862. The tribute of Kearny's First New Jersey Brigade and friends.

Thanks to Brian Pohanka for contributing this text.

  markers for Stevens and Kearny

Photo by DLO


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