Edward Needles Kirk

Edward Needles Kirk was born February 29, 1828, in Jefferson County, Ohio. He was educated at the Friends' Academy in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, taught school for a time, in 1853 was admitted to the bar, and after a year of practice in Baltimore, Maryland, settled in Sterling, Illinois. Kirk was instrumental in recruiting the 34th Illinois Infantry in August, 1861, and on September 7 was commissioned its colonel. The regiment was stationed at various points in Kentucky until the battle of Shiloh where Kirk commanded a brigade of four regiments, including his own, in Alexander Mc.D. Mc-Cook's division of D. C. Buell's Army of the Ohio. The brigade was heavily engaged on the second day and sustained 346 casualties— Kirk himself was wounded. That fall his brigade was attached to Sill's division of McCook's Corps, but it did not fight at either Richmond or Perryville, although it took an active part in Braxton Bragg's invasion of Kentucky. At the same time McCook applied for Kirk's promotion, and as a result he was made a brigadier general of volunteers on November 29, 1862. The following month in the battle of Murfreesboro the XIV Corps, or Army of the Cumberland, under W. S. Rosecrans, who had replaced Buell, was pitted against the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Bragg. The right wing was commanded by McCook, its 2nd Division by Brigadier General R. W. Johnson, and the 2nd Brigade of the latter by Kirk. At daybreak on December 31, 1862, three Confederate infantry brigades overwhelmed McCook's extreme right, consisting of the brigades of Kirk and August Willich; the latter being the flank brigade, while J. A. Wharton's cavalry came in on the right and rear. Kirk's outposts were ready for the assault, having seen the oncoming gray-ciad masses, but Willich's men were caught with their arms stacked, cooking breakfast. Another Confederate attack under P. R. Cleburne succeeded the first, completing the rout. Willich's horse was shot and he was taken prisoner; Kirk "received a severe wound, which disabled him." He was ultimately taken to his home in Sterling, where he lingered for nearly seven months, dying on July 21, 1863. General Kirk was buried in Rosehill Cemetery, Chicago.

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