Thursday, April 12, 2012

General Thomas Kane

 My Sword of Freedom Hero Report: Thomas Leiper Kane

By Olivia Sutter


 General Thomas Leiper Cane was a man of integrity and though small in stature he was mighty in character and in the will to do good. A friend to the Mormon’s, he gave everyone a chance, even, when it was not popular.

John Kintzing Kane and Jane Duval Leiper were blessed with a son on January, 27, 1822 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Thomas Leiper Kane.  Thomas grew up and quickly learned many things, his family was wealthy and, as a result, he received a classical American education.  After he had finished his studies in America he was privileged to go to other places to study, which included not only Great Britain but also France, where he was able to learn a great deal. He became quite excellent at speaking French. In fact, he submitted articles into several different French magazines. And while there, he became a staunch abolitionist.

After returning home, Kane, decided to study law. He was admitted to the bar of Pennsylvania in 1846. However, Kane was very upset over the fugitive slave law of 1850 and immediately resigned from his post in the courts because he could not in any way help the blacks by following what the act said. It was against his conscious to do that because of his abolitionist beliefs. His father, who was a U.S. District Judge,  unlawfully ordered him put in jail because he felt that it was a direct insult to law and to the bar. However, luckily for him the supreme court said that it was unconstitutional and that he must be released.

After he was released he joined the underground railroad and he enjoyed serving therein. He met and wrote to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Horace Greeley. He enjoyed the ‘discussions’ he had with them by mail. He also became quite active in writing for different magazines on matters of abolitionists and other social issues.

Kane was married to his English born cousin Elisabeth Dennistown Wood on April 21, 1853. They were blessed with three sons: Elisha, Evan and William (or Thomas Kane Jr.) and one daughter, Harriet. Elizabeth was a doctor and three of the four children became physicians in their later life, and Elisha became a civil engineer.

Kane first knew the Mormons because of their anti-slavery stance. He offered advice to them in matters regarding the government and helped them escape from trouble. He helped them get permits so that they could encamp along the Omaha Indian lands on the Missouri. 

Kane even received a patriarchal blessing by the third patriarch of the church, John Smith, on September 8, 1845 in Iowa. Part of it read “He hath given his angels charge over thee, to guard thee in times of danger, to deliver thee out of all of thy troubles to defend thee from all thine enemies; not a hair of thy head shall ever fall by the hands of an enemy for thou art called to do a great work on the earth and thou shalt be blessed in all thine understanding.”  These words were of great comfort to him later in his life.

On July 17,1846 Kane met with several of the leaders of the Church and helped them organize the Mormon battalion. Kane became quite popular with many of the LDS Pioneers.

While he was there he became very ill with pulmonary tuberculosis. This sickness left his body crippled and weak for the rest of his life, with his already having been a sickly child.

When people were discussing making Utah a state in 1850 he delivered a powerful speech to the Philadelphia Historical Society that stated all the reasons why Mormons were good people. He also described their heartaches and troubles, how they had recently been driven out of Nauvoo and he talked about how harsh their westward trek had been.

This lecture was very popular and 1000 copies ended up being printed with other notes and resources and congress used it as a guide. Eventually it was even published in the LDS Newspapers, the Frontier Guardian on August 7, 1850 and the Millennial Star on April 15 through July 15.

When Utah became a territorial government Millard Fillmore asked him be the first Governor of it, however, he politely refused and requested that Brigham Young be made governor.

Kane was very influential in the Utah War by making the 3000 mile journey from the east coast to Utah in the middle of winter. He was able to stop the shedding of much blood in doing so.

Kane was always a personal  friend to Brigham Young and he continued a close relationship with him for many years, even after he was not needed to protect the church.

Kane served faithfully in the civil war by enlisting others and creating the 42nd Pennsylvania Infantry. He recruited mostly men who he knew could shoot accurately and quickly. The regiment was often called the ‘bucktails’ because of an experience they had. Charles Biddle was named the colonel and Kane was the lieutenant colonel. The regiment was assigned to the Army of the Potomac and while there Colonel Biddle resigned his post to join congress, so Kane became first in command of the regiment. Later in the Battle of Dranesville he was shot on the right side of his face, and injured and lost several teeth and part of his vision.

In the spring of 1862 after he was only partially healed from his injury he returned to his regiment that was fighting in the Shenandoah Valley against Stonewall Jackson’s armies. But he was injured there again. On June 6 a bullet split the bone right below his right knee.  He went into shock from loss of blood and was thought dead and left on the field. Several hours later he tried to rise but an enemy soldier saw him and commenced in breaking his breastbone with a harsh blow. He was knocked unconscious and was captured.

He later was exchanged in August of 1862 and was promoted to Brigadier General and made the head of the 12th corps brigade. While leading that brigade he never saw any action. He was switched to a different brigade in March of 1863.He led them into the battle of Chancellorsville. While preparing for the battle his brigade was crossing the Rapidan River when his horse stumbled and he was thrown into the water. He later developed pleurisy from it. After the battle it worsened and turned into pneumonia, has was unwillingly forced to leave the army.

As he started hearing rumors about how Gettysburg was forming up he took up his sickbed in Philadelphia and took the hard journey to the battlefield. He was almost captured by Stuart’s men but he wasn’t because he disguised himself like a regular civilian.

He arrived at the battlefield around 6 AM on July 2. He tried to lead his brigade who were in the reserves behind cemetery hill.  But after only a couple of minutes he had to give it back to who had been leading the brigade because it was just too demanding. They were moved to Culp’s Hill that morning, then later the next day they got into the fighting for just a few hours. They lost very few men thankfully.

However, during all the excitement of the battle he fell seriously ill, his brigade however was successful. Kane was never well again and he suffered many more illnesses.

He was honored for his service by being promoted to Brevet Major General on March 13, 1865.

 Kane and his wife and children spent the winter of 1872 in Brigham Young’s private winter home in St. George, Utah. Part of the reason they did this was to help Kane’s increasingly failing health.

After he returned home he started and helped organize the town of Kane, Pennsylvania. He and his wife moved there and he loved it there. Originally it was called Kane Summit, but it was later shortened to “Kane.”

He later died on December 26, 1883, still plagued by illness. His Patriarchal blessing said “for thou art called to do a great work on earth” and he certainly did it.

This is one of the last things I had to do for a class I'm taking what do you think? Now I just have to write a 5 minute presentation on slavery for tomorrow! And I will be DONE!!!

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