A Civil War Biography

Edmund Kirby

Kirby was born 11 March 1840 in Brownsville, New York. He entered West Point in 1856 and was graduated with the May class of 1861. Kirby was assigned as a 2nd lieutenant in Battery I of the 1st US Artillery on 6 May 1861. He was promoted to 1st lieutenant 8 days later on 14 May. He saw action at First Bull Run and then commanded his battery in the II Corps during the Peninsula campaign at Yorktown, Seven Pines and during the Seven Days battles. He continued in command of the battery at Fredericksburg and Antietam.

At Chancellorsville he commanded the 5th Maine battery which had lost all its officers. in the fighting through 3 May 1863. While trying to remove an exposed gun he fell wounded with a fractured thigh. He insisted the guns be removed before he was carried from the field. Kirby, who came from a military family which included combatants on both sides, was visited by Abraham Lincoln in the hospital on 23 May 1863. Kirby's wound had become infected and even amputation wouldn't save the young officer. Kirby told Lincoln that his concern was for his widowed mother and his sisters. Lincoln had Kirby promoted to brigadier general of US volunteers so that his mother would receive a larger pension. The promotion was dated 28 May 1863, the day that Kirby died.

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