Saturday, August 1, 2009

Second Lieutenant Dolsen Vankirk of the Ohio 65th

In the North Ridge section of Sandusky's Oakland Cemetery is a tombstone in memory of Lieutenant Dolsen Vankirk. At the top of the stone is the phrase "My Beloved Son." The inscription continues:

DEC. 31, 1862

Aged 20 Year 10 Mos.

A listing in the Ancestral File of the database FamilySearch states that Dolsen Vankirk was born in 1843 to Robert Vankirk and Helen Headley, in Sparta, New Jersey. By 1860, U.S. Census records show Dolsen living with his widowed mother and brother Edward in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio, living in the household of a Mr. C. Carr.

On May 10, 1862, Calvin Carr wrote a letter to Ohio's Governor David Tod, requesting that Dolsen Vankirk Orderly Sergeant of Co. B., Ohio 65th Infantry, be promoted. He wrote, in part, "he hoped Tod would promote Vankirk to 2nd Lieutenant which would be very gratifying to his many friends and widowed mother, and that if necessary, he could obtain for Vankirk the endorsement of 100 names of prominent men in Sandusky." This letter is transcribed in a collection of Civil War Documents available at the website of the Ohio Historical Society.

Referring to the Ohio 65th's Capt. J. Christophel and Second Lieutenant Dolsen Vankirk, the author of the military report of the Stone's River Campaign wrote these words in: THE WAR OF THE REBELLION (Additions and Corrections to Series 1: Volume XX.): "I can cannot close this report without paying a tribute of respect to the memory of the soldierly Sweet, the conscientious Christophel, and the intelligent and noble-hearted Van Kirk, who fell while manfully encouraging their men in the trying hour of battle."

Second Lieutenant Dolsen Vankirk died on December 31, 1862 at the Battle of Stone's River in Tennessee. It is clear that he was sadly missed by his family, as evidenced by the lovely monument which still is adorned with a flag at Oakland Cemetery.

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