KIRKWOOD, ROBERT. (1730–1791). Continental officer. Delaware. Born in New Castle County, Delaware, in 1730, Kirkwood was commissioned lieutenant of the Delaware Regiment on 17 January 1776 and fought with them at Long Island, Trenton, and Princeton. Promoted to captain on 1 December 1776, he led his company in all the important actions in the campaigns in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in 1777 and 1778. In 1780 he went south with General Horatio Gates. The Delaware Regiment lost ten officers in the battle of Camden, and the unit was reorganized into two 96-man companies commanded by the senior remaining captains, Kirkwood and Peter Jaquett. Attached to General Henry Lee's light infantry, these units performed brilliantly throughout Nathanael Greene's southern campaign.
Kirkwood distinguished himself at Cowpens, Guilford, Hobkirk's Hill, and Eutaw Springs. On 30 September 1783 he was brevetted as a major. He moved to Ohio after the war. He was commissioned captain in the Second U.S. Infantry, on 4 March 1791, and was killed in action on 4 November of that year.
Turner, Joseph, ed. The Journal and Order Book of Captain Robert Kirkwood of the Delaware Regiment of the Continental Line. Wilmington, Del.: Historical Society of Delaware, 1910.
Ward, Christopher. The Delaware Continentals. Wilmington, Del.: Historical Society of Delaware, 1941.
revised by Michael Bellesiles