Archive for Kirkpatrick

Death of Lt. Col. James N. Kirkpatrick

Posted in 40th Haversack, Regimental History with tags , on November 2, 2015 by 40thindiana

An article from the Lafayette Daily Courier, June 12, 1862.


Lt. Col. Kirkpatrick’s grave, Wildcat Cemetery, Lafayette, IN.

Col. Kirkpatrick’s Death

D.M. Osburn, of Co. A, 40th regiment sends us a detailed statement of the melancholy circumstances attending the death of Lieut. Col. Kirkpatrick:

“Yesterday morning (June 8, 1862) our regiment took two days’ rations and marched for Bear Creek to help build a railroad bridge where one had been destroyed by the 10th Indiana Regiment in the effort to bag the rebels. After we arrived at the place we were marched above the road into the shade and stacked arms. The Colonel and two other men got into a canoe and started across the stream, and when about two-thirds over, the front end dipped water and the canoe sank. All were good swimmers, and when within about fifteen feet of shore it appears that Col. Kirkpatrick took a cramp, and Col. Blake, seeing that he was sinking, cried out for some men who were in another canoe to hasten to his relief, but none got there until to late. Several of our boys swam across and dove after him, but the water was too deep to find him. He was under water about fifteen minutes, when he was brought up with a hook, but all efforts to resuscitate him were fruitless.”


Wagner’s Brigade, Kennesaw Mountain

Posted in Atlanta Campaign, Wagners Brigade with tags , , , on February 27, 2014 by 40thindiana

“ Kennesaw Mountain, June 1864, Bitter Standoff at the Gibralter of Georgia”
By Richard A. Baumgartner and Larry M. Strayer, Blue Acorn Press, 1998; pp 125-128


“Delegated for the effort from the 4th Corps was Newton’s entire division of three brigades, commanded left to right by Generals Nathan Kimball, George Wagner and Charles G. Harker. Newton and corps commander O.O. Howard had examined with field glasses the terrain to be traversed, and decided to organize the brigades in close-packed columns of reqimental divisions, each presenting a two-company front and a depth of 30 lines. “That formation,” wrote Howard years afterward, “seemed best for the situation; first to keep the men concealed as well as possible beforehand and during the first third of the distance, the ground being favorable for this; second, to make as narrow a front as he could with many men, so as to make a sudden rush with numbers over their works.” In other words, they were to become a human battering ram.”

“…At 9 A.M., one hour behind schedule, the advance began. In front of Wagner, Lt. Col. Willis Blanch’s 57th Ind. Deployed as skirmishers, each man 5 paces apart. Following close behind were the brigade’s five other regiments, headed by the 40th Indiana. The Hoosiers no sooner had crossed the Union breastworks when the left of Cleburne’s line exploded in a blaze of musketry. “Unmindful of the terific havoc in their ranks,” Wagner reflected, “the column moved forward.”

Before the Rebel pickets’ rifle pits could be overrun, their occupants loosed a volley and ran up the slope to saftey. The opposing lines here were separated by only 500 yards, so little time was consumed by Wagner’s leading elements in reaching the Confederate obstructions, 40 yards from the trenches. The 40th Indiana having caught up with the 57th Indiana skirmishers, began tugging and slashing at the abatis in order to clear a pathway. Captain Kirkpatrick, commanding the 40th’s Company G, drew abreast of Wagner and asked him, “Where shall I strike the enemy’s lines?” The general pointed and Kirkpatrick passed on. Suddenly, wrote Sergeant Walter Wilson of the 57th,” the hillside was transformed into the hottest place I ever was in.”

At that moment, two Napoleon 12-pounders loaded with canister fired into the Hoosiers’ faces. The guns belonged to a section of Capt. William B. Turner’s Mississippi Battery, and were commanded by 2nd Lt. W.W. Henry. The young officer’s cannoneers swabbed the barrels, reloaded and fired again into the tightly packed blueclad mass. Among those instantly killed were Kirkpatrick, Capt. Charles Elliott of Co. A, and 1st Lt. John C. Sharp commanding Co. F. An eyewitness recalled: “The enemy reserved their artillery fire till the 40th advanced to within a short distance of their works, had raised the yell, and were moving forward on the double-quick, when they opened a withering fire of grape and canister … The assaulting party was checked, and the men laid down.”

“Behind them the rest of the brigade pushed on, as did Kimball’s seven regiments supporting Wagner’s left……..”

“….It was a nightmare on Wagner’s front. The 57th and 40th Indiana were stymied at the abatis, unable to punch through of find shelter rearward as the 28th KY, 100TH Ill., 26th and 97th Ohio bunched inextricably together behind them. To Capt. Robert D. Smith, a Tennessean serving on Cleburne’s staff, “the slaughter was terrific as our troops literally mowed them down.” Cleburne’s adjutant, Capt. Irving A. Buck, stated that Polk’s Arkansans and Tennesseans “cooly and rapidly poured a murderous fire into the massed Federals, causing losses to them entirely out of proportion to those inflicted upon the Confederates……”

Wagners men twice surged uphill, but all efforts to bypass the inhibiting obstructions failed. In the column’s hindmost regiment, the 97th Ohio, 1st Sergeant John W. Marshall saw his company had no chance to proceed further. “As advance was impossible, the line falters, breaks, and comes rushing back on the next line, which in turn breaks, causing the wildest confusion.” Another non-commissioned officer, Ashbury Kerwood of the 57th Indiana, wrote: “The order was given to fall back by companies from the rear, but in the confusion and excitement it was misunderstood, and a general retreat commenced. The slaughter among our troops at this moment was even greater than when they advanced, for the enemy now rose from behind their works, fearless of danger from the retreating force, and fired with greater precision than when the column advanced.”

“The assault cost Kimball 194 dead, wounded and missing. Wagner’s losses totalled 215. Not all these casualties, however, resulted from bullets or cannon shot.”

While the battered Federals headed rearward, orange flames began flickering along the ground where the fighting had raged fiercest. Soon a sizeable brushfire, ignited by embers from hundreds of discharged weapons falling amidst dry leaves, twigs and pine needles, cracked in front of Polk’s Brigade. The Confederates watched in horror as the flames crept toward the bodies of dead and severely wounded Yankees still lying on the battlefield. Screams rent the air. Lt. Col. William H. Martin of the 1st/15th Arkansas realized that if something was not done instantly, dozens of helpless men would be burned alive.”

“At this stage”, recounted William T. Barnes, an Arkansas private in Co. G, “our colonel sang out, ‘Boys, this is butchery,’ and mounting our head logs with a white hankerchief, he sang out to the Yanks as well as to our own mwn: ‘Cease firing and help get out those men,’ It is needless to add that the Feds never once refused to comply with this request. Our men scaling the head logs as though for a counter charge, were soon mixed with Yankees, carrying out dead and wounded Feds with those who, a few minutes previous were trying to ‘down our shanties.’ Together, the Rebs and Yanks soon had the fire beat out and the dead and wounded removed to the Federal side of the fence.”

Masonic Resolution for Capt. Kirkpatrick

Posted in Atlanta Campaign, Soldier Profile with tags , , on January 27, 2011 by 40thindiana

Grave of Captain Kirkpatrick, New Richmond, IN.

Montgomery County, Indiana
“The Crawfordsville Journal”
Thursday, July 28, 1864

RESOLUTIONS – At a meeting of the members of Pleasant Hill Lodge, No. 63, held at the Lodge room on Friday evening. July 15th, 1864, the following Preamble and Resolutions were adopted:

WHEREAS, Our beloved brother, Capt. Absalom Kirkpatrick, fell on the 27th of June, lost in the advance on Kenesaw Mountain, while gallantly leading his company to the charge;


WHEREAS, The virtues of our deceased brother, as a man and as a Mason, demand a tribute to his memory; therefore, be it.

RESOLVED, That while we mourn our sad affliction and bereavement, in the death of this brother, we desire to bow to the will of Him whom we as Masons and creatures, are bound to revere and honor, for “He ever doeth all things well.”

RESOLVED, That in all his relations of life, in his social and Masonic intercourse, our deceased brother was a man of integrity and exalted virtue, a cheerful companion and friend, and therefore, in him was a model worthy of the imitation of all true Masons.

RESOLVED, That in his death, this Lodge has lost a faithful member, the country a gallant soldier, the wife an affectionate husband, and the father a dutiful son.

RESOLVED, That we deeply sympathize with the family of the deceased, and tender our heartfelt grief in their afflictions.

RESOLVED, That the Lodge be draped in mourning, and the members wear the usual regalia for thirty days.

RESOLVED, That these resolutions be recorded in the minutes of this Lodge, and copies be forwarded to the wife, and father of the deceased.

RESOLVED, That the above resolutions be presented to the “Crawfordsville Journal” and the “Crawfordsville Review” for publication.


Capt. Absalom B. Kirkpatrick, along with his brothe Cyrus H. Kirkpatrick, enlisted as a members of company G, on October 15, 1861. Absalom was 23 years old and a resident of  the Pleasant Hill area; modern day New Richmond, Indiana. He was commissioned 1st lieutenant on December 12, 1861, Absalom would recieve a quick pronotion to Captain, being commissioned on May 19, 1862.

Captain Kirkpatrick had led company G through many battles, he was always in the thick of the action. June 27, 1864 was no diffrent, as Kirkpatrick and the Fortieth Indiana were preparing to asault a well fortified Confederate position on Kennesaw Mountain, Georgia. Wagner’s brigade was placed in column of regiments, the 40th Indiana would be at the head of the assaulting column. Only 500 yards of ground was between Wagner’s Brigade and the Confederate line commanded by Gen. Patrick Cleburne. When the 40th cleared the protection of their own brestworks, Gen. Cleburne’s line “exploded in a blaze of musketry.” The Hoosiers quickly reached the Confederate obstructions, (40 yards from the C.S. trenches), the men began to pull, rip, and cut at the abatis trying to make a pathway. The regiments of the brigade were starting to stack upon one another. At this point Gen. Wagner stated that Captain Kirkpatrick asked, ” Where shall I strike the enemy’s lines?” Wagner pointed out a direstion to him and rode off. Captain Kirkpatrick directed his men toward the point of attack the Confederate line still alive with musket fire. Confederate artilley started cutting through the ranks as Kirkpatrick kept his men moving. The 40th seems to have been directing their attack at  Turner’s Mississippi Battery.

In the 1868 book “Annals of the Fifty-Seventh Regiment, Indiana Vols.,the attack of the Fortieth is recounted: ” The enemy reserved their fire till the 40th advanced to within a short distance of their works, had raised the yell, and were moving forward on the double quick, when they opened a withering fire of grape and canister …. The assaulting party (was) checked, and the men laid down.” Many men from the 40th went down in this artillery hell storm, among them was Captain Kirkpatrick, who was killed instantly by cannon fire. The attack would fail, not for the lack of bravery, the Confederate position was just too strong .

Absalom B. Kirkpatrick was a Master Mason, belonging to the Pleasant Hill Lodge No. 63 F.&A.M. After the news reached Montgomery County, the Pleasant Hill Lodge passed the above Resolutions. This was a common Masonic practice for the rememberance of a brother in the 19th Century lodge. Captain Kirkpatrick was laid to rest in the New Richmond Cemetery, New Richmond, Indiana.