- Sep 4, 2014
- Lexington, SC
Some here may not be aware of the heroic actions of Sgt Richard Rowland Kirkland of the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers, following the cease-fire of Alexander’s guns on Maryes Heights at the battle of Fredericksburg. I thought I’d take a moment to share this truly unique story.
As the smoke cleared on that cold December day the carnage of what had just transpired began to reveal its awful truth. The ground leading up to Marye’s Heights was littered with dead and wounded Union soldiers. The cries of the wounded men laying in that cold wet environment was horrific, the kind of horror that nightmares are made from.
The sites and sounds became to much for one Confederate soldier to take. Sgt Richard Rowland Kirkland of the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers. Kirkland became so distraught at the suffering of the poor Union soldiers that he requested permission from his superior officer to lend aide to the suffering men. His first request was denied. As time went on the sites and the sounds of the suffering men became to much to bare. Kirkland made his request once more. This time his CO granted his request with one exception. Kirkland would be denied his request to carry a white flag onto the battlefield. A denial that all but assured his death if he attempted this insane humanitarian effort. The denial of carrying the white flag did not deter Kirkland from attempting to lend aid to those in need. Kirkland gathered as many canteens as he could carry and set out on his mission of mercy.
To all the Confederates surprise Kirkland was not fired upon. The Union soldiers simply watched in amazement. Kirkland went right to work giving water and words of encouragement to the wounded enemy soldiers. This went on for at least an hour and a half and several trips over the stone wall to be resupplied. All that witnessed these events became truly inspired and the story of The Angel of Marye’s Heights would forever be told by soldiers in the field.
I wish I could tell you the story has a happy ending but it does not. 2nd Lt Richard Rowland Kirkland was killed in action 10 months later on September 20, 1863 at the battle of Chickamauga.
I hope you enjoyed this true and heart warming story.