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James Lawlor Kiernan, 26 October 1837 – 29 November 1869, Irish-born Brigadier General in USA Civil War.

Biography[]

Kiernan was born in Mountbellew, County Galway in 1837, his father being a retired British navy surgeon. Kiernan attended Trinity College, Dublin, before emigrating to the USA about 1854. On the outbreak of war in 1861, he joined the 69th New York State Militia as Assistant Surgeon. He served as such the 69th at Bull Run, and in the same capacity to the 6th Missouri at Pea Ridge.

Kiernan insisted on joining the fighting ranks, and in that capacity was seemingly appointed a major in the 6th. In May 1863 at Port Gibson, Missouri, he was wounded in the left lung and left on the field for dead. Recovered and imprisoned, he effected an escape back to Union forces, apparently resigning his commission but was on 1 August 1863 commissioned a Brigadier General by Abraham Lincoln of a volunteer group, commanding a post at Miliken's bend on the Mississippi. However ill-health as a result of his battlefield wounds forces him to resign on 3 February 1864.

About May 1865 he gained a US consular post at Chinkiang in China. However his continuing ill-health forced him to return from China to New York, where he became an examining physician for the pension bureau. He was still so employed upon his death on 26 November 1869, the official cause of death being 'congestion of the lungs.' He is buried in Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

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