"He led no charge, won no thrilling victory. But men honor his memory because, in the midst of slaughter, he dared death to bring solace to his wounded foes... He was Sergeant Richard Kirkland of the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers."
We honor him on this page because he was one of the few men in war who simply refused to submit himself entirely to the savage spirit of war and surrender all sense decency.
On a cold Virginia day in 1862, Kirkland and his Carolinians were locked in a bitter struggle with Federal infantry. It was not a good day for the men in blue, and many of their wounded lay on the ground crying out for help. During the few lulls in the firing Kirkland decided he could take their cries no more and ventured out onto the killing ground bringing water and blankets:
"The Union men were thunderstruck when a Confederate soldier, laden with canteens, suddenly climbed into view. Their surprise was probably what saved Dick, for in a few seconds he had sprinted to the nearest wounded man, given him water, covered him with an overcoat, and gone on to the next... Dick was the talk of both armies that day."