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A Soldier’s Legacy



NAME Calvin Kelley
DATES 1834(?) to May 22, 1864
ALLEGIANCE Confederate
RANK Private
UNIT 8th Arkansas Infantry, Company K
SERVICE RECORD Enlisted on October 12, 1861. Wounded in the December 31, 1862-January 2, 1863, Battle of Murfreesboro. Wounded in the September 1863 Battle of Chickamauga. Died from a wound received on May 15, 1864, during the Battle of Resaca, Georgia.


Calvin Kelley’s three-year stint in Confederate gray was difficult and ultimately tragic. Battle wounds twice laid the private up for months on end. But fortune also smiled on him; after his second stretch in a Southern hospital, he met a special young woman.

Kelley signed on with Company K of the 8th Arkansas Infantry on October 12, 1861. After working as a cook at Pitman’s Ferry, where he had enlisted, Kelley saw his first combat in the brutal Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, fought from December 31, 1862, through January 2, 1863, along Stone’s River. There he was badly wounded in the leg. Fit for action again by late summer, he fought in the September 1863 Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, and was wounded again. He returned to a hospital bed.

While recovering in Georgia, Kelley met Cordelia H. McSpadden and fell in love with her. The couple married on January 28, 1864. Three months later, Calvin gave his new bride a two-dollar gold piece and a photograph of himself and bade her farewell. It was the last time Cordelia saw her husband alive. On May 15, 1864, he was wounded in the head during the Battle of Resaca, Georgia. He was sent by rail to Fairgrounds Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where he died a week later. He was buried in the city’s Oakland Cemetery. Cordelia never remarried.

In addition to the photograph, it turned out that Calvin had left his wife another legacy. Five months after his death, on October 12, 1864, Cordelia gave birth to his daughter, Martha Frances Kelley. It was three years to the day after Calvin’s enlistment.