Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Private Kirkland, Battery D, First Missouri Light Artillery

Posted in African Americans, Genealogy, Leadership, Memory by Andy Hall on January 4, 2013
A postwar image of part of Wilson’s Creek Battlefield, believed to be the cornfield behind the Ray family springhouse. Image via Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 31376.


Like probably a lot of people, I was surprised by the scene in Lincoln where Elizabeth Keckley, Mary Lincoln’s modiste and confidante, says to the president, “as for me: my son died, fighting for the Union, wearing the Union blue. For freedom he died. I’m his mother. That’s what I am to the nation, Mr. Lincoln. What else must I be?”

I was unaware that Keckley’s son had died as a Union soldier, but it’s true — at Wilson’s Creek, in 1861. Over at The Sable Arm, Jimmy Price has the details.



12 Responses

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  1. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on January 4, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    This is very interesting. My great-great grandfather served in Co. L of the 2nd Missouri Light Artillery. Apparently, the 2nd – unlike the 1st Missouri Light Artillery – missed such delightful locales as Wilson’s Creek and Shiloh, which may be why I’m able to post this comment. Thanks for connecting to the post, Andy.

    • Andy Hall said, on January 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      Neat. I think I had a collateral ancestor at Wilson’s Creek, on the other side — the only branch of my family not in the South at the time of the war; they lived near Jeff City.

      • Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on January 4, 2013 at 11:38 pm

        It’s always a bit of an eye-opener to see how close one’s ancestors came to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  2. Bummer said, on January 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Half of Bummer’s kin lived near Wilson’s Creek and either joined the local Union militia or fled the state, for what they thought was the duration, returning in 1864. Missouri was a strange mix of sentiment and the mere notion of the wrong politcal inclination could get one horse-whipped, shot or hung. Journals and diaries of the day relate the fear and apprehension of daily life in Southwest Missouri. Can’t even imagine what Keckley’s son experienced.


    • Andy Hall said, on January 5, 2013 at 1:09 pm

      The branch of my family that lived around Jeff City relocated to Texas after the war (where one of the sons had ended his military service and married a local girl), saying (according to family tradition) that Missouri in that period was “no place to raise boys,” what with the Youngers and Jameses and their sort running loose across the countryside. The family were Confederate sympathizers, but (as I gather) wanted no truck with the “partisan ranger” type guerrillas. I’m inclined to agree.

  3. Jeff Bell said, on January 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    By the end of the War, S.W. Missouri was a wasteland, almost like something out of a Stephen King novel. After Quantrill and his force raided and burned Lawrence in August 1863, Union General Thos. Ewing issued General Order No. 11, which allowed U.S. troops to evacuate four western Missouri counties. The partisan violence continued to worsen however and by the time the war was over, southwest Missouri was almost a burned-out husk and outlaws still haunted the area. A popular term at the time was “Jennison’s Tombstones”, named after Union Colonel Doc Jennison for the charred remains of homes (with the upright chimneys still intact) his command left throughout the region, thought to belong to Rebel sympathizers. Contrary to popular history, the level of partisan violence and depredation was roughly equal, with the citizens of Missouri suffering the bulk of it.

  4. Jimmy Price said, on January 9, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Thanks for reposting this, Andy! I’ve been getting a steady stream of emails asking why Kirkland would join a Missouri unit when he was in Ohio at the outset of the war. My theory is that a lot of the Home Guard units that eventually came under the command of Blair and Lyon were radical anti-slavery ideologues and former Wide Awakes. So, rather than joining a white unit out of some sort of shame felt about his mixed heritage, perhaps Kirkland was joining up with like-minded individuals who were fighting specifically to strike a blow against slavery. If anyone here has any further thoughts or opinions, I’d love to hear them!



  5. Jimmy Price said, on January 25, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I have posted a short follow-up to my initial post here:

  6. raiford kirkland said, on February 17, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    would like to know what battery D first missouri flag looked like

    • Andy Hall said, on February 17, 2016 at 8:29 pm

      Hello, Mr. Kirkland. I don’t know what sort of flag they would have had, especially early in the war. A field artillery battery is a small unit, typically of six guns. Later in the war they were standardized, I believe, with each battery carrying its own, small guidon, which would be divided red over white, like so:

      Others were based on the U.S. national colors:

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