Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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HARNEY, John Milton, poet, born in Sussex county, Delaware, 9 March, 1789; died in Bardstown, Kentucky, 15 January, 1825. He was a son of Thomas Harney, an officer in the war of the Revolution. In 1791 the family emigrated to Tennessee, and subsequently removed to Louisiana. Young Harney studied medicine and settled at Bardstown, Nelson County, Kentucky While on a visit to Europe he received a naval appointment, and spent several years in Buenos Ayres. In his return to the United States he edited a paper at Savannah, G a., for a time, but, being seized with a violent fever in consequence of his exertions at a fire, he returned to Bardstown in broken health and died there. Before his death he had become a Roman Catholic and joined the order of Dominican monks, entering a monastery at Bardstown. With the exception of "Crystalina," a fairy tale in six cantos, published anonymously (1816), Mr. Harney's poems were not printed until after his death, and then appeared only in magazines. The lines "To a Valued Friend," "Echo and the Lover," "The Whippoorwill," and "The Fever Dream" have been the most admired.--His brother, William Selby, soldier, born near Haysboro, Davidson County, Tennessee, 27 August, 1800, was appointed from Louisiana 2d lieutenant in the 19th United States infantry, 13 February, 1818, and promoted to be 1st lieutenant, 7 January, 1819. He was commisioned captain, 14 May, 1825; major and paymaster, 1 May, 1833; lieutenant-colonel, 2d dragoons, 15 August, 1836; colonel, 30 June, 1846; and brigadier-general, 14 June, 1858. He took part in the Black Hawk war in 1833, and also in the Florida war, distinguishing himself in action at Fort Mellon and in the defence of a trading house at Carloosahatchie, 23 July, 1839. He commanded several expeditions into the Everglades, and in December, 1840, was brevetted colonel "for gallant and meritorious conduct." He was also mentioned for his bravery at Medellin, Mexico, 25 March, 1847, and was brevetted brigadier-general for gallantry at Cerro Gordo. On 3 September, 1855, he completely defeated the Sioux Indians at Sand Hills, on the north fork of the Platte river. In June, 1858, he was placed in command of the Department of Oregon, and on 9 July, 1859, took possession of the island of San Juan, near Vancouver, which was claimed by the English government to be included within the boundaries of British Columbia. A dispute with Great Britain and the recall of Harney followed. He was subsequently assigned to the command of the Department of the West, and in April, 1861, while on his way from St. Louis to Washington, was arrested by the Confederates at Harper's Ferry and taken to Richmond, Virginia Here he met with many old acquaintances, who urged him to join the south. On meeting General Lee, Harney said to him: "I am sorry to meet you in this way." Lee replied: "General Harney, I had no idea of taking any part in this matter; I wanted to stay at Arlington and raise potatoes for my family; but my friends forced me into it." General Itarney also met General Joseph E. Johnston, who told him that he was opposed to the war, but that he would be execrated by his relatives, all of whom lived in Virginia, if he did not side with the south. Harney was speedily released, and departed for Washington. On his return to St. Louis he issued several proclamations warning the people of Missouri of the danger of secession, and the evil effects that would follow from a dissolution of the Union. On 21 May he entered into an agreement with General Sterling Price, commanding the Missouri militia, to make no military movement so long as peace was maintained by the state authorities. He was soon afterward relieved of his command, and was placed on the retired list, 1 August, 1863. On 13 March, 1865, he was brevetted major-general "for long and faithful service." General Harney now (1887) resides in St. Louis. See "The Life and Military Services of General William Selby Harney, by L. U. Reavis" (St. Louis, 1887).
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