Submitted by Carolyn Kelly Camoriano
JAMES KELLY HISTORY
James Kelly was born in La Grange County, IN on November 6, 1839. He was the oldest of 4 sons and 4 daughters born to John B. and Jane (Ford). In 1846 his parents moved to Cedar County, Iowa, where he attended school and worked on the family farm. On September 21, 1861, he enlisted in Company D, 11th Iowa Infantry. (His younger brother served in Company B of the 24th Iowa). James was sent to Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, then to Jefferson City, MO. His company was stationed at Fulton, MO on guard duty until March 1862. From there they were sent into Tennessee, where James participated in the battles of Pittsburg Landing and Shiloh. Later he took part in the battles of Iuka and Corinth, as well as the Siege of Vicksburg. Re-enlisting in the winter of 1863-64 as a veteran, he was present at the fall of Atlanta and accompanied Sherman on his March to the Sea. Despite being in many battles, he was never wounded, sick or off duty during his service. Many of his descriptive letters sent during this time to his sweetheart Laura, his sister Nancy and his father John, have been preserved. James was also a member of Crocker’s Iowa Brigade, 4th Division, 3rd Brigade, 17th Corps, which was organized April 27, 1862 as part of the Army of the Tennessee, whose commander was General U.S. Grant. James Kelly attained the rank of captain in 1864. One of his letters tells of his attendance at the Grand Review in Washington, D.C. in May 1865, in which 65,000 from the Army of the Tennessee marched in review under President Johnson. He was mustered out on July 15, 1865 in Louisville KY, and returned home to the business of stock raising. On February 11, 1866, he married Laura R. Heywood. James and Laura were the parents of eight children: William, George, Jess and Bess (twins), Jennie, (who died in early childhood), Nell, Florence and Dorothy. In 1873 the family moved to a farm in Jasper County. During the following years he raised cattle and was active on the school board and in the Methodist church. He died on his farm near Newton, IA on February 29, 1896 at age 56 after a short illness. Among the pallbearers were former members of Company D, 11th Iowa Regiment: Ira Shiflets, W.H. Russell, Samuel Steffy, J.N. Edge and Peter Pentico, as well as former members of Company B, 13th Iowa: B. Battels, J.L. Mathews, D. Stover, J.A. Seaton, Henry Kiisel and J.B. Eyerly, who all served in Crocker’s Iowa Brigade with James. His wife, Laura, later received a Civil War pension of $40 per month and lived to the age of 95 years. His letters were passed down from his son, George Orville to his grandson, George Burton Kelly, and are now are in the possession of his great granddaughter Carolyn Kelly Camoriano of Kansas City.
April 23, 1864
Miss Laura Johntson
Good Morning. As this is morning and very muddy one at that. We arrived here safely on the eavening of the 26th our camp is in the suburbs of this forsaken city Mud (?)Iowa is know comparison However we entertain(ed) ourselves as well as possible the eavening we arrived here. The weather was very pleasant our corps was camped on this bottom I felt just at home when the camp fires was lit up & the Bugles & drums sounded the tattoo. Some of the boys are a little home sick I judge. When there minds is settled on something besides Play they will be better satisfied. For my part I’m Perfectly satisfied never felt better am ready to lend a helping hand when ever my services are needed Yesterday it commenced to rain and has been very blustery ever since. I trust it will moderate in cours of time. We got started from Wilton just before dusk the eavening you left there went into camp McClelan that night about 9 P.M was Paid there on Sunday that eavening Johnny & I went up to Mr. Bentleys and took tea with the ladys. Their beaux steped in whilst we were there so after a sojourn of one hour we returned to camp thinking I had better leave them regions If courting had not of played out with me after leaveing home I should of tried my hand as I think these Davenport Sharks has know business with the fair ones of Iowa. I told them I had the prettiest lady there was in Cedar County I was as saucy as I could be before I left I was bound they should remember me. So enough of that Well as there is know news of interest to write you I shall close
As ever yours
Miss Laura Johntson
P.S. You must excuse my short epistle Please remember & write soon Friend Laura
Letter from James Kelly to Laura Heywood, Camp Near Atlanta, Georgia
July 31, 1864
I again seat my self to the ever pleasurable task of writing to you, after a long interval. Your last and short epistle received on the 11th of the present month..We have been on the move ever since and through several severe engagements. D Co. has been very lucky in every respect-lost none killed
yet and only one that is severely wounded and four none of those that you know. The Sugar Creek are all right and ready for action, one of the wounded your dad knows, Samuel Edwards, very slight though did not hinder him from doing his duty. Well, after long marches, long sieges, hard fighting and many sleepless nights Shermans army is at last across the Chattachoochee river and now fronting Atlanta. Since our arrival on the lines there has been two severe engagements on the 22 and 28 of this month, the former in which our corps stood the blunt of the battle. The rebels drove us from our position about half mile when our boys got behind works and held there position, the rebels making 5 different charges being repulsed every time. 7 Companys of our Regt. Was in the severest of the fights. Company D was on picket and we had to run the gauntlet or betaken prisoners. Our picket line was in front of the rebel strong works covering Atlanta, the rebels got between us and our regt. Our condition was critical for a short time but we made good our excape and came out all right. During the whole of the conflict Co. D had three wounded and two missing. Mr. B. Bowles the only one you have heard of, he is missing. There was 139 killed wounded and missing in our regt. Out of four Iowa Regts. Which composed our Brigade 800 hundred is the loss about one half of the Brigade. The 16th Iowa was surrounded and taked prisioners. Our whole loss during the engagement is about 3300, that is in three different army corps that was engaged. The rebels loss is 3 times that of ours. The day after the fight there was a truce to bury the dead. One division of our corps carried 978 dead rebels from our lines to theirs that did not exceed half of their killed. After that fight was over and every thing straightened out again our position was changed to the extreme right again, that is the army of the Tennessee. As you will understand, there is three different armys here, the Army of the Cumberland, the Army of the Ohio & Army of Tennessee; the former commanded by Thomas, the next by Schofield, the latter by Howard which was comdg. By General McPherson who was killed on the 22nd, also General Hooker has an independent command. Well as I started to tell about our movement from left to right, I will finish. On the 27, we took up our line of March arriving on the extreme right at dark, halted for the night. 3o’clock the next morning our movement commenced three A.C. all advancing in line. This morning it fell to Co. D to skirmish so at it we went without breakfast. I did not get anything to eat that day but hard tack and cold water. The line was advanced until about 11 A.M. when our position was taken. The troops commenced throwing up breast works at 12 M(?). The enemy attacked the ___Army corps commanded by General Logan, the fight raged furiously for about 3 hours when the rebels was repulsed, there loss was very heavy as our boys was ___works. Our loss is reported 500, theirs I have not learnt, such butchers, the rebs had in those two fights, can’t last a great while or they will have no men left. I have written you all the news for the present. The boys are all well, that is from our neighborhood. You spoke of my photograph. They have played out in this country. I have not seen an artist since I left Cairo. You can leave a vacancy in your album and if I’m spared I’ll try and fill it some future day, that is if you so see proper to do so. Laura you must excuse my long delay as circumstances would not permit an answer any sooner. I had no papers and have not had time even if I had the papers. I sent home for paper which Capn. Shrop brought with him. I should love to have a long chat with you. I think I could enjoy myself well and I hope it would be agreeable to you. I fear the time is long ere I see you again,
for our countrys in danger and calls for her sons.
To leave their loved ones and shoulder their guns
To crush the rebellion that’s striving with might
To destroy fair fabric of freedom so bright.
Excuse my poetry for you know I’m no poet.
You must write often, write long letters & write soon. This the sixth one for me and I have only received the third one from you, who is to blame. I should like to hear from you every week, This is Sabbath and raining, I should like to sit by your side dining, but alas the distance is to far for me to make to-day or I would be there tonight. I shall close trusting the future will reveal brighter days.
But will faithfully remember you
Miss Laura R, Haywood
Please write soon