Patrick Kelly was born about 1822 in Castlehacket, County Galway, Ireland. He immigrated with his wife Elizabeth to New York City.
When the Civil War started Kelly enlisted, and was made a Captain in the 69th New York Infantry. He saw his first action at the First Battle of Bull Run. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the 88th New York Infantry on September 14th 1861, and had command of the regiment during the Battle of Antietam. Kelly received his promotion to Colonel on October 20th 1862. He led the regiment in its failed frontal attack of Marye’s Heights at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Following the Battle of Chancellorsville, the commander of the Irish Brigade Union Brigadier General Thomas Francis Meagher resigned and Kelly was placed in command of the brigade. The Irish Brigade with Kelly saw heavy fighting in the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, losing 37% of the Brigade. As the Union Army was reorganized more senior officers returned and Kelly went back to leading his regiment. At the Battle of Cold Harbor, with the death of Union Colonel Richard Byrnes in June 1864, Kelly was placed back in command of the Irish Brigade.
Kelly was leading the Irish Brigade on June 14th 1864 during the Siege of Petersburg. They were moving on some Confederate earthworks when he was shot in the head and killed. His body was taken back to New York City, where Kelly is buried in the First Calvary Cemetery in Woodside, New York.
For more information about Patrick Kelly check out the web site News from the Irish Brigade Asscciation