Edmund Kirby

Edmund Kirby, born at Brown-ville, New York, March 11, 1840, grandson of Major General Jacob Brown, commander in chief of the U. S. Army from 1815 until his death in 1828, and a second cousin of General Edmund Kirby Smith of the Confederacy, had perhaps the most singular career of any officer who took part in the Civil War. His father was Brevet Colonel Edmund Kirby, a paymaster in the army, who died in 1849, and his mother was Eliza Brown. Young Kirby received an appointment to West Point in 1856; he was graduated in May, 1861, tenth in a class of forty-five members. Immediately posted to the 1st Artillery, he was promoted from second lieutenant to first lieutenant in a matter of eight days. This was to be his last promotion until he lay upon his deathbed. He commanded a section of a battery and later the battery itself throughout all the battles in the eastern theater of war, beginning with First Manassas and ending at Chancellorsville, and including Ball's Bluff, Seven Pines, and the Seven Days battles, the Maryland campaign, and the battle of Fredericksburg. On May 3, 1863, Lieutenant Kirby was in command of a II Corps battery near the Chancellor House, when his thigh was fractured by a piece of case shot. It was proposed to move him to the rear, but he instantly commanded, "No! take off that gun first." Eventually he was taken to Washington, where he lingered for some weeks in a base hospital, condemned to death by a wound which in World War II would have been considered routine. Lincoln sent him a commission as brigadier general of volunteers "in recognition of his brilliant abilities, undaunted courage, and faithful service." Oddly enough, although the appointment and confirmation is set forth by both F. B. Heitman's Register and the Memorandum Relative to the General Officers . . . , USA, General G. W. Cullum in his Register ignores it completely. Despite this, Kirby was subsequently referred to in the Official Records as "General Kirby." One of the youngest full-rank general officer in the Federal army at the time of his appointment, he died on the day of his appointment, May 28, 1863. He lies buried in the village of his birth.

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