No longer able to withstand the wrenching moans of the suffering wounded and dying Union soldiers, 19 year old
Confederate Sergeant Richard Kirkland of the 2nd South Carolina approached Brigadier General Joseph Kershaw, CSA, seeking permission
to go to their aid. Initially hesitant, the General acquiesced, refusing however to allow the white flag that would ensure his safety.
Despite the danger, Kirkland sprang forward over the stone wall with canteens full and ventured out between the hostile lines. At first,
Federals fired upon the young man but ceased as they soon discovered his merciful intent. Then cheers rang out from both sides as the
man to become known as the "Angel of Marye's Heights" offered water to one adversary after another. After helping those that he could,
he crossed back to the safety of his lines, and resumed his duties as a Confederate soldier defending those lines.
In September of
1863, Sergeant Kirkland would find himself fighting in the western theater as a detachment from Lieutenant General Longstreet's Corps
moved west to support General Braxton Bragg's efforts to stop Union Major General William Starke Rosecrans and the Army of the
Cumberland. They would do just that during the Battle of Chickamauga which would produce both a Southern victory and 34,600 casualties.
Sadly, the valiant Sergeant ranked among those killed during this colossal battle. Mortally wounded in a failed charge, Kirkland
exhorted his comrades to, "Save yourselves" adding "Tell Pa, I died right".
Click here for a picture of the Kirkland monument at the National Civil War Museum
in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania