William Whedbee Kirkland

Headstone: Find-a-Grave

William Whedbee Kirkland was born at "Ayrmont," Hillsboro, North Carolina, February 13, 1833. He was appointed to West Point in 1852, but did not graduate. He was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the U. S. Marine Corps in 1855 and resigned in August 1860. His name was sent to the Provisional Confederate Congress for appointment as captain of infantry in the Regular Army on March 16, 1861. Early in June he was elected colonel of the 21st North Carolina Infantry. This regiment he led at First Manassas and in Jackson's Valley campaign of 1862. At the first battle of Winchester in May of that year he was badly wounded and incapacitated for months; however, while still recuperating he acted as chief of staff to General Cleburne at the battle of Murfreesboro. Rejoining his regiment during the invasion of Pennsylvania, he fought gallantly at Gettysburg, and was again wounded at Bristoe Station in October, having been promoted brigadier general from August 29, 1863. During the Overland campaign of 1864 he was a third time badly wounded near Gaines's Mill on June 2. After his return to the army in August he was assigned to the command of James G. Martin's old brigade of Hoke's division, and served under Longstreet north of the James until ordered to North Carolina in December. He was present during both assaults on Fort Fisher, and took part in the battle of Bentonville, finally surrendering with Joseph E. Johnston. At the close of the war General Kirkland settled in Savannah, where he was engaged in the commission business for a number of years. His daughter, Bess, became famous on the Broadway stage under the name of Odette Tyler, and he subsequently moved to New York, where he held a position in the post office. He was invalided near the turn of the century and spent the last years of his life in a soldiers' home in Washington, D. C. He died on May 12, 1915, and is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Ref: Generals in Gray, Lives of the Confederate Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Printed by Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge and London.

Previous Page