b. 07/04/1840 Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. d. 19/06/1907 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 29/09/1864 Chapin’s Farm, Virginia.
He was born in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania in 1840, and is believed to have been a “mulatto” which indicated mixed ancestry. His parents died when he was 10, and he was raised by his uncle, David Kelly, a salt boiler, and when old enough Alexander found work in the nearby coal mines.
In August 1863, when his older brother Joseph was sent enlistment papers, Alexander went in his place. Stationed initially with the 6th USCT Fortress Monroe and Yorktown, Virginia, he participated with his regiment and other Union troops in the capture of Confederate earthenworks near Petersburg on June 15, 1864. Two months later, they were involved in fortification duties at Dutch Gap on the James River under heavy enemy artillery fire. Kelly then went on to earn the rank of First Sergeant in Company F of the 6th U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment. On September 29, 1864, as his unit was engaged in the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, Virginia, he prevented the national colors from falling into enemy hands as his regiment was storming an abatis of a Confederate States Army regiment from Texas, and also then “rallied the [6th USCT] men at a time of confusion and a place of great danger” — actions which resulted in his being awarded the U.S. Medal of Honor on April 6, 1865.
With the war over and Reconstruction efforts underway, Alexander Kelly mustered out on September 20, 1865. Following his honorable discharge from the military, Kelly returned home to Pennsylvania, married in 1866 and, together with his wife, Victoria, welcomed the birth of William. Residents of Coutlersville, he and his wife also adopted homeless orphans during their more than 30 years of marriage. Employed as a coal miner, he was later joined on the job by his son. After relocating with his wife to the east side of Pittsburgh sometime during the early 1890s, he was widowed by her in 1898. An aging veteran who was active with the Grand Army of the Republic’s Robert G. Shaw Post (No. 206), he then obtained less labor intensive work as the night watchman at the Pittsburgh Police stables sometime after 1900 while his son worked as a music teacher.
Gallantly seized the colors, which had fallen near the enemy’s lines of abatis, raised them, and rallied the men at a time of confusion and in a place of the greatest danger.
BURIAL LOCATION: ST PETER’S CEMETERY, PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA.
DIVISION 3, GRAVE 13.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: UNKNOWN.