This letter was written by Joseph H. Kennedy (1814-1864), the son of William Kennedy (1772-1844) and Mary Gladney (1785-1860). Joseph ‘s parents emigrated from Ireland to Fairfield County, South Carolina, around 1800. He married Eliza Ann Watson (1820-1847), the daughter of Hardaway Davis Watson (1800-1826) and Harriet Moore (1798-1852), and the couple had several children before her premature death in September 1847 at the age of 26.
Kennedy served as Captain of Company G in the Palmetto Regiment during the War with Mexico. From mid-June 1847 until the date of this letter, however, Capt. Kennedy was absent from his company, ordered to recruiting duty in the United States. He may have volunteered for this duty knowing that his wife was gravely ill following the birth of their sixth child in March 1847. Only a couple of their children grew up to be adults.
Addressed to James K. Polk, President United States, Washington D. C.
Camden, South Carolina
24th December 1847
His Excellency, James K. Polk
President United States
Understanding that the Palmetto Regiment, ¹ South Carolina Volunteers which was enlisted into the service of the United States in Charleston by Major Wade ² on the 14th day December 1846 to serve during the War with Mexico is about to be disbanded, I deem it my duty to state that I was one of the officers sent to the States, “on recruiting service (by Major General Winfield Scott) to fill up the ranks in the above Regiment.” To this duty I have attended to and have devoted time and trouble to raise men. I have at this time 40 able bodied men at Fort Moultrie, Charleston, South Carolina, to fill the ranks of The Palmettos.
If the regiment is disbanded, I ask only as a right that I should be empowered to raise either an Infantry Regiment or one mounted — the latter could be more readily raised. In other words, from the loss of time, devotion to the State that sent me, from your hands I expect at least a commission equal to the one it was my fortune to hold in Mexico. Should this meet your favorable consideration, I have the honor to be your obedient servant, — Joseph Kennedy
Address line to the care of Samuel J. Young, Camden, S. C.
¹ The Palmetto Regiment — a South Carolina Volunteer Regiment — entered service in December 1846 and was part of Winfield Scott’s army. At the Battle of Churubusco, its Commander, Pierce M. Butler, was killed leading a charge. The unit was in the vanguard of the final assault on Mexico City and the first to plant its flag on the city walls.
² This was Richard Dean Arden Wade (1796-1850), an 1820 graduate of West Point. He was brevetted Major in 1841 for gallant service in the war against the Florida Indians. He was severely wounded at Churubusco (Mexico) and was breveted Lieutenant Colonel (1847).