John Reese Kenly

John Reese Kenly was a lifetime resident of Baltimore, where he was born on January 11, 1818. He obtained his education in the public schools of the city, studied law, was admitted to the Maryland bar in 1845, and was a member of the "Eagle Artillery" of Baltimore. During the Mexican War he served with distinction as captain and major of Maryland and Washington, D. C, volunteers; for his gallantry in the storming of Monterey he was awarded subsequently the thanks of the state legislature. On June 11, 1861, Kenly was commissioned by President Lincoln colonel of the 1st Maryland (Union) Infantry, a regiment with which he was posted to defend the upper Potomac. In the course of Stonewall Jackson's famous Shenandoah Valley campaign in the spring of 1862, Kenly was wounded and taken prisoner at the engagement of Front Royal, where at the cost of some six hundred casualties—most of whom were captured—the command "by its heroic resistance saved Banks' army." Exchanged on August 15, Colonel Kenly became brigadier general on August 22, 1862, and was assigned to command the "Maryland Brigade," which joined the Army of the Potomac after the battle of Sharpsburg. It consisted of the 1st, 4th 6th, 7th, and 8th Maryland Infantry regiments, and during the autumn of 1862 and in 1863 was in western Maryland repelling—or attempting to repel— Confederate raids on the Baltimore and Ohio. This duty was punctuated by his command of the 3rd Division, I Corps, in the Bristoe (Virginia) campaign in the fall of 1863. Shortly after being relieved from duty with the Army of the Potomac at the beginning of General Ulysses S. Grant's Richmond campaign in 1864, General Kenly was assigned to command of the District of Delaware, with headquarters at Wilmington. In the course of General Jubal Early's celebrated raid on Washington, Kenly pursued the retiring Confederates with a brigade of home guards and militia. Near Winchester part of a train which he was guarding was destroyed by the Confederates; an official inquiry seems ultimately to have resulted in his assignment to the command of the District of Eastern Shore, Maryland, with headquarters at Salisbury, Maryland, where he remained until the end of the war. He was brevetted major general in the omnibus promotions of 1865 and was mustered out in August of that year. Thereafter he resided in Baltimore, the recipient of a second vote of thanks from the Maryland legislature and a sword from the city itself. He died there on December 20, 1891, and was buried in Green Mount Cemetery.

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