Born near Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, March 12, 1847, he graduated from West Point in 1870. He was appointed Second Lieutenant, 6th U.S. Cavalry, June 15, 1870 and thereafter promoted through the ranks to Brigadier General, April 13, 1908.
His military duty was on the Western frontier in Texas, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), Kansas, Arizona, and New Mexico, 1870-1888. He was active in movements against and engagements with hostile Indians and was honorably mentioned in General Orders, June 25, 1888 “for meritorious conduct in defeating an attempt made by Navajo Indians to rescue from custody prisoners between Fort Wingate and Gallup, New Mexico.”
He engaged in campaigns against the Sioux Indians, under General Nelson A. Miles, 1890-97; he received the Medal of Honor for “distinguished bravery while commanding his troop against the Sioux at White River, South Dakota, January 1, 1891” (he received the Medal on April 25, 1891).
He commanded the 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry, against Santiago de Cuba in the Spanish-American War, and was wounded in the assault on San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898. He was military attaché to Germany, 1900-02; Assistant Adjutant General, July 15, 1901; Chief of Staff, Philippines Department, 1903-04 and the Atlantic Division, 1904-06; He received many medals for marksmanship.
He died in Washington, D. C. on November 14, 1926 and was buried in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery.
His wife, Evelyn Paddock Kerr (Born at Alton, Illinois, on October 1863 and Died at Washington, D. C. January 15, 1927), who he married on June 7, 1894, is buried with him.
From Spanish-American War Report:
Captain John B. Kerr of the Sixth Cavalry, who was wounded on Friday last (battle of Santiago, Cuba), had notably distinguished himself in service against the Indians. He was born in Kentucky and appointed from that State to the Military Academy. Brigadier General Francis Vinton Greene and Clarence A. Postley of this city were among his classmates, the former standing at the head of the class. J. B. Kerr was graduated on June 15, 1870 and promoted to a Second Lieutenancy in the Sixth Cavalry, and almost his entire military service has performed on the frontier.
Lieutenant Kerr spent the Winters of 1870-71 in frontier duty at Fort Richardson, Texas, and in the following Summer in scouting. After duty at Indian Territory and Kansas posts, he was detailed to escort the famous Indian prisoners Santan and Big Tree to Fort Sill, Indian Territory, in the Summer of 1878. He then resumed scouting duty, and on August 1, 1874 was made First Lieutenant. After service at Fort Hays, Kansas, he joined the expedition of the Indian Territory, with which he remained until March 1878. Lieutenant Kerr was Regimental Adjutant from September 1876 to May 1883. He served at various posts in the Indian Territory, New Mexico, Arizona, Dakota and Texas.
On January 3, 1885, he was appointed Captain in the Sixth Infantry, and has since been chiefly engaged in scouting. Captain Kerr ranks twelfth in the list of Cavalry Captains and has been awarded a Medal of Honor for distinguished bravery in command of his troop in action against hostile Sioux Indians on the north bank of the White River, near the mouth of Little Grass Creek, South Dakota, on January 1, 1891.
- BRIGADIER GENERAL J. B. KERR DIES IN 81ST YEAR
- Won Congressional Medal For Distinguished Bravery In Battle Against Sioux
- Cited In Cuban Campaign
- Wounded At San Juan Hill
- Chief of Staff In Philippines And With Atlantic Division
WAHINGTON, February 28, 1928 – Brigadier General John B. Kerr, U.S.A., retired, who served with distinguished gallantry in the Indian campaigns of the West and in Cuba, died in his eighty-first year at his home here yesterday. He had undergone an operation a week ago.
He was born in Fayette County, Kentucky, on March 12, 1847, and appointed to the Military Academy in 1866. His early service was as a cavalry officer on the Western frontier against hostile Indians. The Congressional Medal of Honor was conferred on him for most distinguished bravery in command of his troops in action again the Sioux at White River, South Dakota, on January 31, 1891.
In the Spanish War General Kerr was twice cited for gallantry in action. He was wounded at San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898. He represented the United States at the Paris Exposition in 1900 and was later military attaché at Berlin.
He reached the grade of Brigadier General on April 13, 1908, and was retired at his own request after forty years’ service on May 20, 1909. His nearest relative is James Thomas Wilson, a nephew, of Cynthiana, Kentucky.
Funeral services will be held at the chapel at Fort Myer, Virginia, on Thursday. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.
On his graduation from West Point in 1870, General Kerr was commissioned as a Lieutenant with the Sixth Cavalry. Twenty-eight years later he commanded the Second Squadron of that regiment in the campaign against Santiago de Cuba. The first eighteen years of his service were spent in frontier duty in the Southwest. He won honorable mention in general orders in 1888 “for meritorious conduct in defeating an attempt of the Navajo Indians to rescue from custody Indian prisoners, between Forts Wingate and Gallup, New Mexico.” He supported General Miles in the Sioux campaign of 1890-91.
General Kerr in 1903-04 was Chief of Staff in the Philippines Division, and for the next two years held the same post with the Atlantic Division. He was a winner of many medals as a marksman, including the Army Gold Medal in the Army competition of 1890. He married Eva Paddock of St. Louis in 1894.
KERR, JOHN B.
Rank and organization: Captain, 6th U.S. Cavalry. Place and date: At White River, South Dakota, 1 January 1891. Entered service at: Hutchison Station, Kentucky. Birth: Fayette County, Kentucky. Date of issue: 25 April 1891.
For distinguished bravery while in command of his troop in action against hostile Sioux Indians on the north bank of the White River, near the mouth of Little Grass Creek, South Dakota, where he defeated a force of 300 Brule Sioux warriors, and turned the Sioux tribe, which was endeavoring to enter the Bad Lands, back into the Pine Ridge Agency.
- KERR, JOHN B
- BRIG GEN USA
- DATE OF DEATH: 02/27/1928
- BURIED AT: SECTION SW SITE 1950
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
- KERR, EVELYN P W/O JOHN B
- DATE OF DEATH: 01/15/1927
- BURIED AT: SECTION SN SITE 1250
- ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard