Fredericksburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
At the risk of his life, this American soldier of sublime compassion, brought water to his wounded foes at Fredericksburg. The fighting men on both sides of the line called him “The Angel of Marye’s Heights.”
Born Kershaw County, S.C., August, 1843 • Sergeant at Fredericksburg, December 1862 • Lieutenant at Gettysburg, July, 1863 • Killed in action at Chickamauga, September 1863.
Dedicated to National Unity and the Brotherhood of Man.
Erected 1965 by The State of South Carolina, The Commonwealth of Virginia, Collateral Descendents of Richard Kirkland, and Citizens of the United States. Dr. Richard Nunn Canier, Executive Director of the Richard Rowland Kirkland Memorial Foundation.
Topics. This historical marker monument is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil.
Location. 38° 17.787′ N, 77° 28.096′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker can be reached from the intersection Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Angel of Marye's Heights (a few steps from this marker); The Original Wall (within shouting distance of this marker); Brompton (within shouting distance of this marker); The Ebert House and Store (within shouting distance of this marker); Seeking Cover (within shouting distance of this marker); The Killing Fields (within shouting distance of this marker); Sunken Road (within shouting distance of this marker); Innis House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fredericksburg.
Also see . . .
1. Richard Kirkland, The Angel of Marye’s Heights. Part 33 of a series of articles by Donald C. Pfanz in Fredericksburg’s The Free Lance-Star. (Submitted on June 12, 2007.)
2. Kirkland Monument at the National Civil War Museum. The actions of Sgt. Kirkland are also recreated in a monument at the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. (Submitted on June 29, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia.)
3. Experts battle over story of Marye's Heights ‘Angel’. Article by Kevin Kirkland in Fredericksburg’s The Free Lance-Star. “Schaffner says Kershaw’s account is essentially a children’s story that not only trivializes the horror of Civil War battle, but does a disservice to soldiers such as Kirkland. He knows it’s an unpopular stance. ‘It’s a little like shooting down Santa with a Stinger missile on Christmas Eve,’ he said.” (Submitted on August 4, 2015.)
1. Story of a Carolinian Who Won the Gratitude of Yankee Foes
This short account has been attributed to a 1908 article in the Philadelphia Ledger and may have been reprinted the same year in the Camden (S.C.) Chronicle.
Richard Kirkland of South Carolina could trace his lineage to 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 night long the Yankee wounded have been crying for water. With your permission I will succor them.” The general explained that no truce existed between the contending forces. Sergeant Kirkland requested the privilege 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
The Union troops were amazed at his intrepidity 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 earthly life at Chickamauga 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, to have his heroism inspire all readers.
— Submitted June 12, 2007, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
Credits. This page was last revised on February 10, 2021. It was originally submitted on June 12, 2007, by Dawn Bowen of Fredericksburg, Virginia. This page has been viewed 7,071 times since then and 49 times this year. Last updated on August 6, 2015, by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico. It was the Marker of the Week August 9, 2015. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on June 12, 2007, by Dawn Bowen of Fredericksburg, Virginia. 3, 4, 5. submitted on June 29, 2008, by Craig Swain of Leesburg, Virginia. 6. submitted on July 26, 2015, by Brandon Fletcher of Chattanooga, Tennessee. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.