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George Walter Kelley, U.S.V.
Captain George Walter Kelley, U.S.V.
Captain George Walter Kelley, the subject of this sketch, is a fine
type of those enthusiastic boys who, prompted by love of country, sprang
at once to its defence when in peril. Mr. Kelley comes of good
Scotch-English ancestry, identified with the earliest Puritan settlements
of New England. His people took honorable part in the Revolution and in
the War of 1812.
Mr. Kelley is the youngest son of Captain Walter Kelley and Eliza Simmons,
and was born in New York City on January 22, 1843, -but removed to
Philadelphia in infancy.
As a boy he was shy and retiring, but gave early evidence of the spirit
and love of adventure, which took form in many pedestrian trips taken when
from fourteen to seventeen years of age only, some of them extending many
hundred miles, and in all but one of which he traveled entirely alone.
The news of the firing on Sumter found him convalescing from a severe
attack of typhoid fever, and just able to walk. The next morning, Monday,
he volunteered in the First Regiment National Guards, under the first call
for troops; was mustered out in August, 1861.
Mr. Kelley seems to have attracted the favorable notice of his commanding
officers, for he was offered a commission in the new three years' regiment
of guards about to be formed; also a commission in the Fire Zouaves by
Feeling from his youth and inexperience that these offers could not be due
to any merit in himself, he declined both, and, relying entirely upon
himself, went to the oil regions of Western Pennsylvania, where he had
been the previous year on one of his pedestrian trips, and where he raised
a company at his own expense; was commissioned its first lieutenant on
Nov. 11, 1861, and was attached to the One Hundred and Third Penna. Vols.
Attached to the Army of the Potomac, Mr. Kelley's life was now that of
the soldiers of that day,-a continual round of exposure, suffering, and
privation, with constantly recurring battles and heavy losses incident to
the time. His naturally good constitution stood it well, and he has the
proud satisfaction of never having been off duty during his entire service
of nearly four years.
With the Army of the Potomac, under McClellan, he tool: part at Yorktown,
Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, and those of the Seven Days' fights from Savage
Station to Malvern Hill. His company of ninety-eight men lost twenty-six
by death as the direct and indirect result of that campaign. From Suffolk,
Va., he took part in four skirmishes on the Blackwater. Ordered to North
Carolina, his brigade led the advance on Kinston, Whitehall, and
Goldsborough. At Kinston, where his regiment again lost heavily, he
received special mention. He was afterwards engaged in several minor
affairs in that State.
At Plymouth, his regiment having re-enlisted as veterans, Mr. Kelley
was sent North to prepare for its return on "veteran furlough," though
placed ostensibly on recruiting service. Some days after, Generals Pickett
and Hoke, en route to General Lee, after a stubborn three days' fight,
aided by the ram " Albemarle," captured the post with its seventeen
hundred men. Naturally chagrined at this his first absence from his
regiment in any of their engagements, Mr. Kelley asked to be relieved and
ordered into the field, and two days later was on his way to the front
where Grant's campaign was opening, and where he tendered his services to
Major-General " Baldy" Smith, commanding the Eighteenth Corps (where were
many of his old comrades), and was by him assigned to duty on his staff as
acting assistant adjutant-general. In this capacity he served through the
ensuing campaign, including Cold Harbor, Petersburg assaults, Battery
Harrison, Chapin's Farm, second Fair Oaks, the Mine, and others, under the
successive commands of Generals Smith, Ord, and Weitzel.
On consolidation of the Eighteenth and Tenth Corps, Captain Kelley, who
had received his promotion and whose term of service was nearly expired,
was ordered to North Carolina and placed in command of Fort Parke, Roanoke
Island, and was honorably mustered out February 21, 1865.
|Captain Kelley soon commenced business in the oil
country. His severe army exposures told on him and he became very
ill. Returning to Philadelphia, he afterwards established a
successful manufacturing business, but here again severe
application and old army exposures combined forced him to seek a
more genial clime and occupation. For the past twenty years he has
been a successful and prominent stock-broker in San Francisco. He
now lives a quiet, domestic life with his family.
Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who
served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419
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