A Civil War Biography
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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