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Tributes to Richard R. Kirkland

Richard Rowland Kirkland:
Confederate Corner:
Catawba Wateree Genealogical Society, Chapter of SCGS: Society for Kershaw and Lancaster Counties of South Carolina

Story of Carolinian Who Won the Gratitude of Yankee Foes

Camden Chronicle
March 20, 1908
Page 4, col. 1
Camden, South Carolina

The following appeared in a recent issue of the 
Philadelphia Ledger

Richard Kirkland of South Carolina could thank his lineage in colonial days. He was quite
a young man when the South seceded, and he became a soldier under the Stars and Bars.
At the battle of Fredericksburg, it was in December he proved himself a hero.

Through the long winter night he heard the moans and cries of the Union wounded. Gen.
Kershaw, the Confederate general, was approached and saluted by this young sergeant
who said: “ I cannot stand it, all all night long the Yankee wounded have been crying for
water. With your pemission I will succor them”. The general explained that no truce
existed between the contending forces. Sergeant Kirkland requested the privelege of
displaying a white handkerchief, but the general would not permit it. Finally this brave
American said: “ With your permission, I will cross the field unarmed and without the
display of white, climb over the parapet and give those wounded Yankees water”. The
general could not resist that brave magnamimous spirit and said “ Seageant, the enemy is
hehind yonder redoubts with guns ready to have you fordeit our life, but if you will, go
and may God protect you”. With a bound  he was off. 

The Union troops were amazed at his intre-pidity and when they noticed him raise the
wounded and nourish them they broke into cheers and after several hours of service he
returned unharmed to his station to later lose his earth-life at Chicamauga by a bullet,
saying to a companion: Tell father I die doing my duty”. 

His dust reposes in a little country graveyard in South Carolina, a weather beaten board at
the head of his grave giving his name. Sergeant Richard Kirkland is not seen as a “Reb”
but a hero. Possibly some who read this may have lain that bleak December day upon the
battlefield and been succored by him and this incident, along with the knowledge of his
soldier’s death and his almost unmarked grave, may induce them to start a movement for a
monument to him, either where buried or in the Capitol of our country, and with suitable
inscription thereon relative to his unselfishness of service, have his heroism inspire all

William T. Tatten
February 18, 1908

The hero mentioned above is an uncle of Mr Shannon Kirkland of our town, and the two
comrades by whom Richard Kirkland sent the message to his father were Mr Arin Niles
and Mr Jas. R. Arrants - the latter fact we get from an address delivered by Mr W. D.
Trantham on Memorial Day several years ago. - Ed. Chroncile

From the book : The Angel of Marye's Heights By Les Carroll

Kirkland was loved and honored by his contemporaries as well, 
including his pal T.  Rembert of Company E. Second Regiment. 
Rembert and Kirkland were together in many battles. Years after 
the war, from his home in Ridgeway, South Carolina, Rembert penned 
a brief tribute to his dear friend. The short narrative was 
published in "The Confederate Veteran" in 1903

" Richard Kirkland belonged to Company E, Second Regiment, South
 Carolina  Volunteers. He was at the siege of Fort Sumter, and went
 from there to Virginia and was in the battles of Manassas. 
The incident referred to occurred at Fredericksburg, and shows 
how he was actuated by feelings of pure humanity.

"(The Union) dead and dying for hundreds of yards in front were 
literally piled on each other, and the cries of the wounded for 
water were distressing. The heart of the noble and  brave Richard
Kirkland, a mere boy, could stand it no longer. He left our lines 
and went to the brave peerless Kershaw.....Kershaw refused
 and told him he would be killed; but the  noble boy insisted and
 Kershaw at last consented.

"The enemy saw him, and supposing his purpose was to rob the dead 
and wounded, rained shot and shell upon the brave Samaritan. God took 
care of him. Soon he lifted the head of one of the wounded enemy, 
placed the canteen to his lips, and cooled his burning thirst. His 
motivation was then seen and the fire silenced. Shout after shout 
went up from friend and foe alike in honor of this brave deed.

" I knew this brave boy; he was my friend and chum; we shared each 
other's blankets. He was a noble boy....... He fought through all 
the Virginia battles in Longstreet's Corps, and was killed on the
 bloody field of Chickamauga....... He did his duty and always 
answered the roll call. 
No nobler soul ever winged its flight from the field of battle.......
than that of Richard Kirkland........Sleep on, dear friend.
Your old comrades will soon join you in your home of rest." 

Shelby Pittman - Webmaster
Confederate Corner
Catawba Wateree Genealogical Society