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This biography is from HEROES OF ALBANY, by Rufus W. Clark, D. D.

Capt. James Kennedy

Capt. James Kennedy was born in the city of Albany, February 15, 1833. He was the eldest son of John and Elizabeth Kennedy. In early life he received a fair education, and, as he grew up, he manifested more than ordinary ability.

Before the war he was deeply interested in national affairs, and was firm and zealous in the advocacy of his political views. He possessed, in an eminent degree, the qualities of a leader, and made his influence felt in whatever cause he engaged.

At the breaking out of the great rebellion, he was in the Comptroller's office, and was filling his position with zeal and fidelity. But when the flag of his country was insulted at Fort Sumter, his patriotism was thoroughly aroused, and he resolved to do all in his power to defend the flag and support the government.

At the call of the President for three hundred thousand men, he joined the army, and was commissioned First Lieutenant in Company B, of the One Hundred and Thirteenth N. Y. Infantry, on the 4th of August, 1862.

He served faithfully with his regiment in the defences of the National Capital, until February 12th, 1864, when he was promoted to the Captaincy of Battery L, in the same regiment. Soon after he left with his command for the front, where he distinguished himself on the bloody fields of Spottsylvania and North Anna river, by the courage which he imparted to his men, as well as by his own unflinching bravery.

At Coal Harbor, on the morning of the memorable 3d of June, in that terrible charge, when the gallant Seventh lost six hundred of their brave comrades, he led his men over the enemy's works, in the face of a battery whose every shot dealt death to his fast thinning- ranks, and there received the surrendered sword of the officer in command.

Then quickly turning their own guns on the flying foe, he was fast achieving a victory, when the enemy rallied, and charged en masse on the unsupported band. They were forced to retire to a neighboring wood to reorganize, when the Captain received a severe flesh wound in his left thigh, from a case shot, which exploded almost in his face. "While being carried from the field he exhorted his men to bravery, and said cheerfully, "I shall soon be with you, boys."

He was sent home to recruit, but was so anxious to be at his post that he joined his regiment on the 21st of July, in spite of the advice of surgeons, and the entreaties of friends. From this time to that of the battle at Reams' Station, he was in every engagement. In this battle, August 25th, he received a severe wound in the right hip, and was subsequently captured.

From Petersburg he was transferred to the horrors of the Libby prison. Of that prison, a friend of the Captain writes:

"No pen has ever yet described, no heart, except it were walled within, has ever yet conceived the terrible sufferings that have been endured in that den of misery. A prisoner in the hands of an enemy, defiant, imperious, cruel! To know that the weakened body will be denied the common necessaries of life, and the prostrate spirit be trodden under the heel of tyranny! Waiving all physical suffering, what loneliness of spirit; what longings for active life; what agonies of suspense for the absent and loved ones, have our brave men felt as prisoners of war! All this was endured by the Captain without complaint. His fortitude was equal to his extremity."

His last act was to write to his beloved young wife, and two of his letters came the day after the news of his death.

He died in Libby prison, of typhoid fever, September 10, 1864, at the age of thirty-two. His remains were consigned to the earth by the hand of traitors, in the prison burying ground.

Capt. Kennedy was greatly beloved by his officers and men, and when the tidings of his death reached them, many a veteran turned away, to hide emotions which are the involuntary tribute to the memory of the good.

Of him it can be truly said he was among "the bravest of the brave," and had it been his fortune to have been called to a higher position, he would undoubtedly have enrolled his name on the brightest pages of the Nation's history. It should be mentioned that a commission, promoting him to the rank of Major, was made out, but it arrived too late. He was dead when it arrived.

In the death of this pure patriot and noble hero, a wife mourns the loss of a devoted husband, a little daughter of a fond and indulgent father, and a large circle of relatives and friends of one honored and respected as a citizen and soldier.

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