September 18: Henry Walter Kingsbury (1862)

The Army was Henry Walter Kingsbury’s life from the time he was born in Chicago on Christmas Day 1836. His father was a professional soldier and a graduate in the West Point Class of 1823. Henry idolized his army officer father and dreamed of a military career. At the age of 19, he entered the U.S. Military Academy, the same month his father died. Close friend General Ambrose Burnside (yes, the “sideburns’ man) became Henry’s legal guardian. Kingsbury excelled at the Academy and in his final year he was named adjutant of the Corps of Cadets. He was graduated fourth in his class. Tall and handsome, he was a natural leader and was considered by many classmates to be the “best soldier, greatest gentleman, and most promising officer graduated in May 1861.” The Civil War had begun less than a month before the Class of 1861 was graduated. Kingsbury was assigned to the 5th Artillery and promoted to 1st Lieutenant. He was an aide-de-camp to General McDowell at First Manassas and then assigned to train volunteer batteries before being given command of Company D, 5th U.S. Artillery.

In December 1861, Henry Kingsbury married Eveline “Eva” McLean Taylor at the Church of the Epiphany. Eva’s maternal grandfather was Supreme Court Justice John McLean and a paternal uncle was President Zachary Taylor. Shortly thereafter, Kingsbury was commissioned as colonel and commander of the 11th Connecticut Infantry. In September 1862, the 11th marched to Sharpsburg, Maryland where the Confederates drew up battle lines. At the Battle of Antietam, Colonel Kingsbury was mortally wounded. He lingered through the night.  Burnside, his old friend and former guardian, came to see him, sitting for some time beside his bed and comforting the dying colonel. At age 26, Kingsbury died on September 18. His body was taken to Washington with a funeral at Epiphany before being laid to rest at Oak Hill Cemetery. In December, Eva Kingsbury gave birth to a son and he was named for his father. On Palm Sunday 1863, Henry Walter Kingsbury, Jr. was baptized at the Church of the Epiphany.

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