None Dare Call It Murder!
The Death of Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Kimball


     Times present as times past, sometimes justice will never cease to amaze the populous. Human nature never seems to change, nor does it appear the justice system does. You are liable to give it the slip, should you be a part of the politically elite, however, in the end everyone answers up for their actions somehow.

     The Ninth New York Infantry had reached Suffolk, Virginia after a disheartening march from Portsmouth, the night of 11 April 1863. The regiment quickly made themselves at home within the unoccupied camp of the 103rd New York Infantry, out on patrol. Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Kimball, taking care of duties, went off to announce the arrival of the regiment at Brigadier General George Getty's Headquarters.

     In passing, the executive officer's attention was drawn to the pickets who had been engaged in a confrontation with a mounted party. It appeared that the standing orders of the sentry were unacceptable to them, and demand for the countersign that night was refused.

     Rendering assistance, the colonel approached the sentry and in backing his soldiers, demanded the countersign himself. Word came back that the identity of the party was that of General Michael Corcoran. Not being the least satisfied, Kimball blocked the party with his determined stance before them. The act provoked the Irishman, where his sidearm was then drawn and a single shot rang out into the night air. Lieutenant Colonel Kimball fell to the ground shot through the throat and instantaneously died.

     The following day, Brigadier General Corcoran attempted to explain his actions to Colonel Rush Hawkins, the commanding officer of the regiment. Within the content of a written letter, he proceeded only with informing the colonel that Kimball had been doing his duty. Without the countersign, he was not going to let the general pass on his word, and the general elected to use his weapon on him.

     It had been a letter that would have convicted anyone within a court of law, of wanton murder. The members of the 9th New York Infantry felt certain justice would be served towards an admitted murderer, but no such case would evolve. As time past, so did any hope of finding a conviction.

     General Getty had quickly issued orders for the 9th New York Infantry to the front. The Zouaves were thus separated from causing an outbreak of chaos among themselves and General Corcoran's headquarters. Although, General Getty made promises of a thorough investigation, one would never come. Perhaps political connections prevented it.

     Slightly more than eight months later, General Corcoran's horse, while out riding with Brigadier General Thomas Meagher near Fairfax, Virginia, stumbled, sending the rider crashing to the ground. Striking his head upon a rock, the Irish General soon died of his injury. Perhaps justice had been served, as a reckoning, in that Kimball's unwarranted death may have gone in search of General Corcoran itself.

Dan (Aldie) Daniel Moran
© 2002

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a feature writer on the US-Civilwar.com writers staff. He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at dmoran@us-civilwar.net