Alexander Kelly

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For other people named Alexander Kelly, see Alexander Kelly (disambiguation).
Alexander Kelly
Alexander Kelly.jpg
First Sergeant Alexander Kelly
Born (1840-04-07)April 7, 1840
Died June 19, 1907(1907-06-19) (aged 67)
Place of burial Saint Peters Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1863 - 1865
Rank First Sergeant
Unit 6th United States Colored Infantry Regiment
Battles/wars American Civil War
*Battle of Chaffin's Farm
Awards Medal of Honor

Alexander Kelly (April 7, 1840 – June 19, 1907) was an African American Union Army soldier during the American Civil War and a recipient of America's highest military decoration—the Medal of Honor—for his actions at the Battle of Chaffin's Farm.


Alexander Kelly was born in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania on April 7, 1840.[1] He enlisted as a substitute in August 1863 and by September 29, 1864, was serving as a First Sergeant in Company F of the 6th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment. On that day, his unit participated in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm in Virginia, and it was for his actions during the battle that he was awarded the Medal of Honor six months later, on April 6, 1865. He was mustered out in September 1865.

Before the war, he worked as a coal miner in Western Pennsylvania. He went to Homestead, Pennsylvania after the war and for a time, served as the night watchman at the Pittsburgh Police stables.

Alexander Kelly married but never had children. He and his wife took in orphans from the street. He died at age 67 and was buried in Saint Peters Cemetery, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Kelly's courage at New Market Heights is depicted in a painting, Three Medals of Honor by artist Don Troiani. The painting was scheduled to be unveiled June 24, 2013 at the Union League of Philadelphia. Also portrayed in the painting are two fellow Medal of Honor recipients from the battle, Nathan H. Edgerton and Thomas R. Hawkins.[2]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

First Sergeant Kelly's official Medal of Honor citation reads:

Gallantly seized the colors, which had fallen near the enemy's lines of abatis, raised them and rallied the men at a time of confusion and in a place of the greatest danger.[3]

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