Col. John Kidd Murphy (1796-1876) – Soldier and Citizen From Philadelphia

john-kidd-murphy

Born: March 22, 1796

Died: February 10, 1876

Plot: Section 128, Plot 3

John Kidd Murphy was born in Philadelphia, and holds the distinction of serving his country in both the War of 1812 and the Civil War. He joined the War of 1812 at the age of 16 as a private in the Army, and was one of the oldest field officers in the Civil War.

He became a member of the Junior Artillery Company at 18 and was later a captain of a company called the National Artillerists. In 1830 he was elected Constable of the Locust Ward and served as High Constable of the City of Philadelphia.

He was made a Freemason in the Montgomery Lodge 19 on October 2, 1817 and was elected as the Right Worshipful Master in December, 1828. He was the representative to the Grand Lodge for many years. He was one of the trustees of the Grand Lodge Dues Fund, and in 1864 was elected honorary life member.

In July, 1861 he recruited men for the 29th Pennsylvania Infantry Volunteers and was elected Colonel of the unit. The first major action was in May 24-28, 1862 at the 1st Winchester, VA battle. Union forces (6,500 men) were commanded by Major General Nathaniel Banks and the South (16,000) by Maj General T. J. Stonewall Jackson. The South won the battle and Col. Murphy was captured. A captain in the 29th in an after action report to his superior wrote “Col. John K. Murphy acted coolly and calmly during the engagement. He had lost his horse upon the field, and being advanced in age, was unable to make a successful retreat. He was captured by the rebel cavalry in the streets of Winchester after bravely attempting a resistance”.

He was sent to two notorious Rebel prisons–Libby Prison (Richmond) and Salisbury Prison (near Charlotte, NC), but was exchanged in December 1862. He returned to command the 29th PA, and was honorably discharged on April 23, 1863. At the end of the War for “gallant and meritorious service during the War” he was given the honorary rank of Brevet Brigadier General.

A biographer of his time wrote of him “General Murphy was a man of fine presence, of great physical strength, of indomitable courage, while the numerous responsible positions he held, both civil and military prove him to have been of exalted capacities. In the community where he spent so many years of an active and useful life his upright character commanded universal respect as one who faithfully performed all the duties of the citizen, the patriot, and soldier.”

He died in Philadelphia at the age of 81, and is interred at Mount Moriah (Section 128, Plot 3)

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