Thomas Jefferson McKean

Thomas Jefferson McKean was born on August 21, 1810, in the northern Pennsylvania hamlet of Burlington. He was graduated from West Point in 1831, but after several tours of garrison duty resigned his commission in 1834 to become a civil engineer. This occupation was interrupted by his service as adjutant of the 1st Pennsylvania Volunteers in the so-called "Florida War" of 1837-38. He moved to Marion, Iowa, which was to be his home for the rest of his life, in 1840 and four years later was a member of the state constitutional convention. He had the curious distinction of serving throughout the Mexican War as an enlisted man, failing to obtain a commission despite his age and experience. In 1861, however, his talents were recognized by appointment as paymaster of volunteers in June and brigadier general to rank from November 21. Since a man in his fifties was then deemed too old for field duty, most of McKean's service was performed in command of a succession of military districts, including several in Missouri; those of Nebraska and South Kansas; West Florida; Mor-ganza, Louisiana; and the post of Corinth, Mississippi. During the battle of Corinth in October, 1862, he commanded the 6th Division of the Army of West Tennessee and for a month in the autumn of 1864 was chief of cavalry of the Department of the Gulf. He was brevetted major general of volunteers at the end of the war and was mustered out in August, 1865. General McKean then returned to Marion where he was elected mayor. From 1866 until 1869 he farmed near the town and in 1868 was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Chicago which nominated U. S. Grant. For his efforts in the latter's behalf he was tended the post of pension agent for the eastern district of Iowa the following year but he declined the appointment. On April 19, 1870, General McKean died in Marion and was buried there in Oak Shade Cemetery.

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Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.