William Whedbee Kirkland

Confederate General William W. Kirkland        William Whedbee Kirkland was born in Hillsboro, North Carolina, on February 13, 1833. Appointed to West Point in 1852, he did not graduate. Nevertheless, he was directly commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1855. He resigned in 1860. When the War began, Kirkland was colonel of the 11th North Carolina Volunteers, later designated the 21st North Carolina. He fought at First Manassas and the following spring participated in Thomas J. Jackson's Shenandoah Valley Campaign. Kirkland was badly wounded at the battle of First Winchester, shot through the thighs. This resulted in his incapacity for months. He recovered to become chief of staff to Patrick Cleburne during the Murfreesboro campaign in December 1862. 

        He returned to active service with his old regiment at Gettysburg, taking part in the first two days of fighting. Promoted to brigadier general in August 1863, Kirkland commanded a brigade in fighting at Bristoe Station where he was wounded a second time, when his left arm was fractured by a bullet. In 1864 he participated in the fighting at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania before being wounded once again Cold Harbor on June 2, when a minie ball struck him in the right thigh. Assigned to the command of another brigade in Hoke's Division in August 1864, he served under James Longstreet at Richmond, taking part in the attack on Fort Harrison in October 1864. Transferred to North Carolina in December, Kirkland assisted in the defense of Fort Fisher by forcing back the Federal advance under the command of Ben Butler. Later, when the Confederates abandoned the fort and withdrew to Wilmington, he commanded the rear guard and directed events in the fighting at Wise's Fork. He fought at Bentonville and surrendered with Joseph E. Johnston on April 26, 1865. Kirkland fought with honor and distinction throughout the War and gained the respect of all who knew him. 

        After the War, William W. Kirkland settled in Savannah, Georgia where he worked in the commission business. He later moved to New York and worked for the post office there. An invalid by the end of the century, he spent the last years of his life in a soldier's home in Washington, D.C.. General Kirkland died on May 12, 1915 and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. His daughter Bess became famous on the Broadway stage under the name "Odette Tyler."

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