John H. Kelly

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For the twentieth century U.S. diplomat, see John Hubert Kelly.
John Herbert Kelly
John Herbert Kelly.jpg
John H. Kelly, Brigadier General in the Confederate Army
Nickname(s) The Boy General of the Confederacy
Born (1840-03-31)March 31, 1840
Carrollton, Alabama
Died September 4, 1864(1864-09-04) (aged 24)
Franklin, Tennessee
Place of burial Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Alabama
Allegiance United States of America
Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–1864 (CSA)
Rank Confederate States of America General.png Brigadier General (CSA)
Commands held 8th Arkansas Infantry Regiment
Kelly's Brigade
Battles/wars

American Civil War

John Herbert Kelly (March 31, 1840 – September 4, 1864) was, at the time of his promotion, the youngest brigadier general in the Confederate States Army.[1] He became one of the youngest generals to die during the American Civil War, at the age of 24.[2] His death occurred during an engagement at Franklin, Tennessee on September 2, 1862 during Major General Joseph Wheeler's raid into Tennessee in August and early September 1864 in an attempt to destroy the railroad that Union Army Major General William Tecumseh Sherman was using to supply his force from Chattanooga, Tennessee during the Atlanta Campaign.[3]

Early life and career[edit]

John Herbert Kelly was born in 1840 to Isham Kelly and Elizabeth Herbert at their home in Carrollton, Alabama.[4] Kelly's father died while in Cuba when John was four, and his mother died three years later.[5] His grandmother Harriet Herbert Hawthorne took responsibility of the young orphan.[5] When John was about seventeen he received an appointment to West Point through the help of his uncle, Congressman Philemon T. Herbert and another relative Congressman William W. Boyce.[4] A few months before his graduation in 1861 his home state of Alabama seceded from the Union. Hearing the news Kelly left West Point and headed to Montgomery.[6]

Civil War service[edit]

After arriving in Montgomery Kelly joined the Confederate Army with the rank of second lieutenant.[5] He then was assigned to Fort Morgan where he would stay until the fall of 1861. During that time Kelly left Fort Morgan with Brig. Gen. William J. Hardee to Missouri. It was here that he was appointed captain and assistant adjutant general on Hardee's staff.[6] In 1862 Kelly was appointed major of the 9th Arkansas Infantry Battalion, which he led into battle at Shiloh. One month later Kelly became colonel of the 8th Arkansas Infantry Regiment.

In October of that year he fought at the Battle of Perryville. Later in 1862 he fought at the Battle of Murfreesboro where he was wounded.[5] Kelly commanded a large brigade of men at Chickamauga consisting of the 5th Kentucky, 58th North Carolina, 63rd Virginia, and the 65th Georgia Infantry Regiments.[6] He lost 300 men at Chickamauga within the one hour.[6] Also during the battle while leading his troops Kelly had a horse shot out from under him.[6] Because of his bravery at the Battle of Chickamauga generals Cleburne, Liddell, and Preston asked for a promotion for Kelly.[4] General Cleburne told Confederate Secretary of War James Seddon of Kelly, "I know no better officer of his grade in the service."[4] On November 16, 1863, John Kelly was promoted to a brigadier general at age 23.[7] Kelly's brigade was one of the key factors at the Battle of Pickett's Mill that lead to the Confederate victory.[6]

Capture and death[edit]

In August and September 1864 Kelly's Brigade fought at Franklin, Tennessee during Wheeler's raid on Sherman's railroad supply line. While leading a charge at a skirmish near Franklin on September 2, Kelly was shot in the chest by a Union sharpshooter.[8] Kelly was immediately taken to the Harrison House to be seen by doctors. At the Confederate retreat he was too badly hurt to be moved and was forced to be left and captured by Union forces on September 3. Kelly died the following day in his bed at the Harrison House.[1][8]

John Herbert Kelly was one of the youngest generals to die during the Civil War at age 24.[2]

He was buried in the gardens of the Harrison House just south of Franklin on the day of his death. Local residents bought him a coffin and the new clothing he was buried in, except for the uniform coat which he was wearing when he died.[1] Later in 1866 his body was moved and reburied in the Magnolia Cemetery.[9]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Derek Smith's The Gallant Dead: Union and Confederate Generals Killed in the Civil War (2005) pg. 274
  2. ^ a b Derek Smith's The Gallant Dead: Union and Confederate Generals Killed in the Civil War (2005) pg. Introduction VII
  3. ^ This engagement at Franklin, Tennessee should not be confused with the November 30, 1864 Battle of Franklin (1864), which was part of the Franklin–Nashville Campaign.
  4. ^ a b c d Willis Brewer's Alabama, Her History, Resources, War Record, and Public Men: From 1540 to 1872 ( 1872) pg. 502
  5. ^ a b c d Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owens' History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography (1921) pg. 960
  6. ^ a b c d e f Clement Anselm Evans's Confederate Military History: A Library of Confederate States History (1899) pg. 421
  7. ^ Thomas McAdory Owen, Marie Bankhead Owens' History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography (1921) pg. 326
  8. ^ a b Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9. p. 169.
  9. ^ Jack D. Welsh's Medical Histories of Confederate Generals (1999) pg. 125

References[edit]

  • Brewer, Willis. Alabama, Her History, Resources, War Record, and Public Men: From 1540 to 1872. Spartanburg, SC: Reprint Co., 1975. Originally published 1872.
  • Eicher, John H., and David J. Eicher. Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8047-3641-1.
  • Evans, Clement A., ed. Confederate Military History: A Library of Confederate States History. 12 vols. Atlanta: Confederate Publishing Company, 1899. OCLC 833588. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  • Owen, Thomas McAdory and Marie Bankhead Owens. History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1921.
  • Smith, Derek. The Gallant Dead: Union and Confederate Generals Killed in the Civil War. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2005.
  • Sifakis, Stewart. Who Was Who in the Civil War. New York: Facts On File, 1988. ISBN 978-0-8160-1055-4.
  • Warner, Ezra J. Generals in Gray: Lives of the Confederate Commanders. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959. ISBN 978-0-8071-0823-9.
  • Welsh, Jack D. Medical Histories of Confederate Generals. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1999.