William S. Harney

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William Selby Harney (1800-1889) - Born 22 Aug 1800, Haysborough, Tennessee to Thomas and Margaret (nee Hudson) Harney. He died 9 May 1889, Orlando, Florida and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

William S. Harney

Harney started his military career in 1818 as a 2nd Lt. in the 1st U.S. Infantry. He forced the pirate Jean Lafitte to move his operations to the Spanish Main. He served with distinction during the First Seminole War, the Black Hawk War, the Second Seminole War and Third Seminole War.

During the Mexican War he was appointed colonel and commanded the 2nd U.S. Dragoons. The 2nd U.S. Dragoons were attached to John E. Wool's command during the Chihuahua Expedition and the battle of Buena Vista. Harney joined Winfield Scott's Army as senior cavalry officer Fighting with distinction at the battle of Cerro Gordo he received a promotion to brevet brigadier general.

On September 3, 1855, General Harney lead his 600 troops to Ash Hollow, Nebraska, where Little Thunder and his band of Brules were encamped on Blue Water Creek. Harney attacked the village in retaliation for the Grattan fight a year earlier. Harney killed 86 Indians and took another 70 women and children captive. Harney then proceeded to Fort Laramie for a council with a delegation of Sioux chiefs. Harney threatened the Indians with continuing military action if any further depredations occurred along the trail. Harney again played a significant role in Plains Indian affairs in 1868 as part of the Indian Peace Commission held at Fort Laramie.

Harney's military encounters included the "Pig War" with Great Britain in 1859 in which Harney almost single-handedly caused a shooting war between Royal Marines and U.S. forces over the killing of a British pig rooting in an American garden on San Juan Island. For his involvement he was officially rebuked. By 1861 Harney was commander of the Union Army of the West. Suspected of being a Southern sympathizer he was relieved of command. While attempting to report to Washington he was captured by the Confederates, held for a time and released. In 1863, he was brevetted brigadier general and retired.

After the War, Harney lived in retirement on his estate at Pass Christian, Mississippi and home in St. Louis, Missouri. He died on 9 May 1889 in Orlando, Florida, and was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Oregon named the town of Harney, Harney Valley, Harney Lake, and Harney County after General Harney. North Dakota's Harney Peak was named after General Harney who mapped it in 1857. Florida has Lake Harney.

Father: Thomas Harney (-)

Mother: Margaret Hudson (-)


  • Mary Mullanphy (18??-1861) married 1833, died Aug 1861, Paris, France
  • Mary Elizabeth Cromwell St. Cyr (1826-1907) married 12 Nov 1884 in St. Louis, Missouri, born 24 Jan 1826 in Frederick, Maryland, died 22 Oct 1907


  • Anna Harney (abt 1835-) born abt 1835 in Missouri
  • Elizabeth Harney (abt 1838-) born abt 1838 in Misouri
  • John Harney (abt 1842-) born abt 1842 in Missouri


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