James Lawlor Kiernan

James Lawlor Kiernan was born at Mount Bellew, County Galway, Ireland, October 26, 1837, the son of a retired British navy surgeon. He appears to have been a most precocious young man, for after some preliminary studies at Trinity College, Dublin, he enrolled in 1854 at what is now the New York University Academy of Medicine and was graduated on March 4, 1857, some months before his twentieth birthday. He then practiced his profession on the lower East Side and, in conjunction with a brother-in-law who was also a physician, published the weekly New York Medical Press from 1859 until 1861. That spring he accompanied the famous 69th New York Militia to Washington and the battle of First Bull Run as an assistant surgeon. He subsequently became surgeon of the 6th Missouri (Union) Cavalry, serving under John C. Fremont and at the battle of Pea Ridge (Elkhorn). At this juncture he is said to have become "tired of the medical department" and was appointed major of the 6th Missouri, an appointment which can not be substantiated by reference to any official source. "Shortly afterward [he was] severely wounded through the left lung at Port Gibson, Mississippi, and left for dead in a swamp . . . was captured [but] succeeded in making his escape. . . ." He resigned, according to official account, as surgeon of the 6th Missouri on May 24, 1863, but was commissioned brigadier general of volunteers, it is said, by President Lincoln on August 1, 1863, and appointed to command of the post at Milliken's Bend on the Mississippi. Because of failing health he resigned as of February 3, 1864. Soon after the war ended he received a consular post at Chinkiang, China, but remained there only a short time because of his health. Upon his return to New York City he returned to the practice of medicine and was appointed an examining physician in the pension bureau. He seems to have occupied this office until his death, November 26, 1869, at his residence on West 33rd Street, from "congestion of lungs." General Kiernan was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York, on November 29, 1869, the stone marking his grave reciting that he was "aged 32 years."

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