Kelly, Alexander

ACTION: Chaffin's Farm (Fort Harrison), VA.

DATE: 29 September 1864.

NAME: Kelly, Alexander.

RANK/UNIT: First Sergeant, Co. F, 6th U.S. Colored Troops.

CITATION: "Gallantly seized the colors, which had fallen near the enemy's lines of abatis, raised them and rallied the men at a time of confusion and in a place of the greatest danger."

MEDAL PRESENTED: 6 April 1865.

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA: Born: Saltsburg, PA. April 7, 1840.

ENTERED SERVICE: Allegheny City, PA. 19 August 1863.


OTHER: Kelly enlisted as a substitute for a man named Joseph Kelly. He was a 23-year-old coal miner who stood 5 feet 3 and one-half inches in height. On September 3rd, 1863, he was appointed First Sergeant of his unit, at that time stationed at Camp William Penn, Chilton Hills, PA. Although Kelly was reduced in rank to private on July 12th, 1865, he was promoted back to Sergeant on August 1st 1865. Kelly was mustered out of the U.S. Army at Wilmington, NC, on September 20, 1865.

Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1978, Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1979 pp. 136-7
Bearss, Edwin C., "Black Medals of Honor Received a New Market Heights, 29 September 1864." National park Service Memo in Richmond NBP files, 2 April 1979.
Davis, William C., Death in the Trenches: Grant at Petersburg. Alexandria, VA Time-Life books, 1986. p. 124
Deffield, A.M., Deeds of Valor, 2 vols. Detroit: Perrien-Keyel Co., 1907. p. 435
Mulholland, St. Claire A., Military Order Congress Medal Of Honor Legion of the United States, Philadelphia: Town Printing Co., 1905 p. 517.


An order from Gen. Benjamin Butler dated 11 October 1864 had this to say:

Alexander Kelly, first sergeant Company F, Sixth U.S. Colored Troops, gallantly seized the colors, which had fallen near the enemy's inner line of abatis, raised them, and rallied the men, at a time of confusion and a place of the greatest possible danger. He has a medal for his gallantry.

Official Records, #89, p169.

postwar image of Alexander Kelly
Alexander Kelly, First Sergeant, 6th USCT, Co. F

Library of Congress

Last updated: February 26, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

3215 E. Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23223


(804) 226-1981

Contact Us