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Captain James Leonidas Kennedy

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Taken 1910/1911 in Mississippi

Submitted by Ed Kennedy


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Captain James Leonidas (Lee) Kennedy

Co. B, 32nd Mississippi Infantry

1862 - 1865


            Captain James Leonidas (Lee) Kennedy was the first of the Kennedys to be born in Mississippi.  Based upon the census of 1880 and his headstone, he was born in 1841.  His exact birthdate was not recorded on the census form.  The census of 1850 for Tippah County is the first federal census to list everyone in the households by name.  It lists James Lee's name as "Leonidas", a name from which "Lee" was derived.  He was known throughout his life as Lee, probably to distinguish him from his father, James H. Kennedy.   James L. Kennedy ws the first Kennedy born in Mississippi.


            James H. Kennedy moved to Mississippi with his family about 1838 or 1839 from South Carolina.  James Lee was born probably on the 1,000 acre farm that his father owned in Tippah County.  He was the third of six children.  His brothers and sisters were:  Augustus, Elizabeth, Ross, Oliver, and Samuel L.   Lee named one of his sons William Ross and another Samuel.


            James L. Kennedy enlisted at the town of Lebenon, Mississippi on 6 March 1862. His regiment, the 32nd Mississippi Infantry, was one of several raised in Tippah County.  It would probably be safe to assume that James L. Kennedy was a farmer prior to the war since that is what is the postwar census cites as his occupation.  Official muster records show that James L. Kennedy joined the Confederate Army at the age of 20 as a private.  His unit was Captain W. R. Nelson's Company, Mississippi Volunteers.  Nelson's Company subsequently became Company B, 32nd Mississippi Infantry Regiment.  His enlistment was for "3 years or war".

          Subsequent records show that he was absent "by orders of the surgeon" due to sickness in May and June.  On 22 August his company elected him 2nd Lieutenant as was the custom of the time in volunteer units.  He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on 24 August 1862.  By December 1862 he was signing the company rolls as "Comdg" (commanding) indicating that his commander had probably been replaced due to battle death.


            On 1 February 1863 he was promoted to the rank of Captain, the proper rank for a company commander.  By January - February 1864 the unit had suffered enough casualties to force the amalgamation of units.   Companies B and I of the regiment were combined and Captain James L. Kennedy signed the rolls as the commander of both.


            The 32nd Infantry Regiment fought under General Cleburne in the western theater.  By late war it was sent to fight in the battles around Chattanooga and later Atlanta.  The 32nd Regiment was in the right wing of the attack at Chickamauga on 20 September 1863 when Rosecrans' army of the Cumberland was driven from the field in a rout.  The 32nd Regiment had been combined with the 45th Mississippi Infantry at this stage in the war due to the high casualties.   Consolidation of regiments was not unusual at this stage of the war when the regimental strengths were lowered by attrition.  It was known as the 32 / 45 Infantry Regiment and was commanded by Colonel M.P. Lowry and assigned to the brigade of BG S.A.M. (Sam) Wood.  About 9 April 1865, this regiment was consolidated with the 3rd Battalion, and the 5th and 8th Regiments Mississippi Infantry and formed the 8th Battalion Mississippi Infantry.


            Captain Kennedy returned to Lee County (formed from Tishamingo, Tippah and Ponotoc counties) after the war and became a farmer, raising his family near Guntown.   In latter life, he went to live with his son, Dr. William Ross Kennedy, in Merwin or Gloster, Amite County.  In latter years he lost a leg somehow (we now speculate that it was diabetes).  He used to tell his grandchildren (my grandfather Ken) that it had been "shot off by a cannon in the war". 


            Until July of 2002 we have been unable to find the burial site of Captain Kennedy.   We know the family of Dr. William Ross Kennedy (one of his sons) moved to Shelby, Mississippi, the delta about 1910.  Apparently Captain Kennedy went to live with a brother, Charles Kennedy, in Oklahoma.   A search of the county records in Tippah County show a recent annotation next to his service records that he moved to Wynnewood, Oklahoma.   A search of sites in Wynnewood showed he was buried in Oaklawn Cemetery, Wynnewood, Lot 1 Block 133, after his death March 19, 1913 from emphysema.   The grave is one of seventy Confederate graves being cared for by Mr. Michael Grissom, S.C.V., and Mr. Erik McBroom, S.C.V. of Wynnewood, Oklahoma.


Submitted by Ed Kennedy

Complied & Contributed by:
Michael Andrew Grissom

Return to the Wynnewood Confederate Veterans main page

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