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Biography

Edward R. Kennedy (1836-1913)
33rd Massachusetts Infantry

Edward R. Kennedy was born in Milton, Chittenden County, Vermont on May 20, 1836, the 8th of 14 children born to Thomas and Mary (Cavenaugh) Kennedy. His parents had emigrated to the U.S. from Ireland in the early 1820's. Edward was one of two Kennedy brothers to volunteer during the civil war. His brother Thomas B. enlisted as a private in October 1861 in Company K of the 6th Vermont Regiment and attained the rank of Captain before being wounded at the Battle of Cedar Creek, VA in October 1864.

Edward Kennedy moved from Vermont to Lowell, Mass. about 1860. On March 22, 1861 he married Lydia Dale Holman, the daughter of Abner Holman and Lydia Dale Hutchinson. He enlisted in the 33rd Mass. Infantry on July 16, 1862, thirteen months after their first child (Marcella) was born. He was mustered into service on August 5, 1862 in Lowell, Mass. Enlistment documents describe him as age 26, height 5 feet 10 inches, light complexion, blue eyes and dark hair. The 33rd Mass was attached to the U.S. Army XI Corps until April 1864, and then to XX Corps until the end of the war. Over its three years of service, the 33rd Mass. lost 111 from battle and 77 by disease.

By chance the two brothers' units were in some of the same battles and campaigns: Fredericksburg in Dec. 1862, the "Mud March" of Jan. 1863, Chancellorsville in May, and Gettysburg in July 1863. However, Edward was not with his unit during those engagements. From Oct.1862 to Nov. 1862 he was ill in Wolfe Hospital in Alexandria VA, and then for the next 11 months was in or was assigned to work at the army's Mower General Hospital in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia. After spending a month of two at a "convalescent camp" in Virginia in Oct/Nov 1863, he returned to duty with the 33rd Mass in December. He was wounded at the Battle of Resaca in northern Georgia on May 15, 1864 at the beginning of Sherman's march toward Atlanta. Kennedy was mustered out of service as a private on June 11, 1865 and received a pension for the rest of his life.

In 1868, Edward Kennedy and his family moved to a farm in Medo Township, Blue Earth County, Minnesota. In 1883 they moved into Mankato, Minn. where he was a police officer, then a merchant, was appointed Deputy County Coroner in 1896 and was elected County Coroner of Blue Earth County in November 1898, a position he held until 1912. He was very active in the Mankato G.A.R., serving as post commander at one time. Edward and Lydia Kennedy raised two daughters, Marcella (b. June 25, 1861) and Bertha (b. August 2, 1865) both born in Mass., and one son Clayton Leon (b. August 4, 1873) born in Medo Twp., Minn. Edward Kennedy died of a stroke in Mankato in 1913 at the age of 77. His son Clayton Leon became auditor for Blue Earth County, serving in that capacity from 1912 to 1930. A great granddaughter of Edward Kennedy currently (Feb. 2004) resides in a Minneapolis suburb.


Contributed by Ed Daniel