Friday, June 15, 2012

The General from Ayr Mount

William Whedbee Kirkland presents the world with a mystery. First, a quick rundown of his life. Born in 1833 in Hillsborough, North Carolina, at Ayr Mount, a beautiful estate featuring a brick Federal style house completed circa 1815 -- still standing, restored and open to the public as of this post. Wounded in the leg by his older brother by a gunshot wound. Attends the United States Military Academy at West Point in the 1850s. Kicked out. Joins the US Marine Corps as a second lieutenant. Stationed in China. Resigns his commission on the eve of the American Civil War. After North Carolina joins the Confederacy, becomes Colonel of the Eleventh North Carolina Infantry. Is shot by enemy troops during the Valley Campaign in 1862; after recuperating, assigned to the West. Transferred back East in time for Gettysburg. Is wounded twice more, then assigned to the defense of his home state, where he eventually surrenders (with the rank of Brigadier General) with General Joseph E. Johnston.


At some point, Kirkland marries Susan Hardee, a niece of Confederate Lieutenant General William J. Hardee (1815-1873), who had before the war served as commandant at West Point.

After the war, Kirkland relocates to Savannah, Georgia, and resides there with Susan. They have three kids together (so far as I know). Two of them become involved with the theatre and, almost surrealistically, Hollywood. Kirkland works for the US Postal Service in New York City for a time, and ends up at the Old Soldier's Home in Washington, D.C., where he dies a year into the Great War of 1914-1918. He is buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, next to "Susan H. Wilkins," who died in 1905.

That's the set up. (To be continued).

Today's Rune: Warrior. (Sources: Brochure for Ayr Mount Historical Site; Dickinson College crop of WIlliam W. Kirkland from Walter Clark, ed., Histories of the Several Regiments and Battalions from North Carolina in the Great War, 1861-1865, Vol. IV (Goldsboro, NC: State of North Carolina, 1901), page 535; photo I took quite a little while ago at the West Virginia cemetery).     

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

Kicked out of West Point eh? Intersting. I don't know much about this fellow.