Boy General of the Confederacy

Several generals are buried in Mobile’s [Alabama] Magnolia Cemetery. They include Braxton Bragg, A. H. Gladden, Danville Ledbetter, J. M. Withers, James Hagan, and Thomas K. Irwin. For me the most interesting general buried in the cemetery is John Herbert Kelly, the Boy General of the Confederacy.
Kelly was born in Pickens County, Alabama in 1840. At the age of 17 he recieved an appointment to West Point and in 1860 he resigned and joined the Confederate Army. By 1861 he was a lieutenant in the artillery. As a captain he served on Hardee’s staff and at Shiloh he was a major with the 14th Arkansas. At Peryville he was a colonel with the 8th Arkansas. By the time Kelly was 21 years old he was a brigadier general with a cavalry command under General Wheeler. At Chickamauga he became known as the “Boy General of the Confederacy”. John Herbert Kelly served through the Atlanta Campaign under Wheeler. At Pickett’s Mill Kelly earned the title of hero. In August of 1864 Kelly was involved in a raid on Union communications. During this raid Kelly was killed and was 24 years old.
It is also worthy to note that Kelly signed Cleburne’s memo regarding the emancipation of slaves who were willing to fight for the Confederacy.
The WBTS would produce almost a thousand generals. Unlike the seasoned veterans of the Mexican War many would earn their right to manhood in battle. And many, like John Herbert Kelly, would earn the title of hero.

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