History Of The "Old High School" 1828-1840
by Charles Wells Chapin

        RALPH W. KIRKHAM. — Born Feb. 20, 1821. Cadet at West Point, July 1, 1838, to July 1, 1842. Graduated and promoted brevet second lieutenant, 2d Infantry, July 1, 1842. In the war with Mexico was brevetted first lieutenant, Aug. 20, 1847; and captain, Sept. 13, 1847, for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battles of Contreras and Churubusco. He was wounded in the battle of Molino-del-Rey, Sept. 8, 1847. He was at the storming of Chapultepec, Sept. 13, 1847; for his gallant and meritorious conduct he was brevetted captain. He assisted in the capture of the City of Mexico, and was honorably mentioned in General Scott's dispatches. While in Mexico he was one of a party of six American officers and an Englishman who ascended to the summit of Popocatapetl. The original number that set out on the expedition was about one hundred. This mountain had never been ascended since the time of Cortez, A. D. 1519. From Nov. 6, 1848, to Oct. 1, 1849, he was acting assistant adjutant-general with headquarters at St. Louis, Mo.; and was quartermaster of the 6th Infantry from Oct. 1, 1849, until Nov. 16, 1854, when he was ordered to the Pacific coast, as chief of staff and assistant quartermaster. He built adobe barracks at Fort Tejon and a military post at Walla Walla, also constructed a military road from the latter place to Fort Colville, Washington Territory, and participated in the frontier Indian wars. During the civil war he served as chief quarter-master in the department of California, being commissioned major and made chief of staff Feb. 26, 1863. For faithful and meritorious services was made brevet lieutenant-colonel, brevet colonel, and brevet brigadier-general U. S. Army, the latter rank being conferred upon him March 13, 1865. He served as chief quartermaster of the department of California until his resignation in 1870. He was also acting chief of commissariat in 1866. Gen. Kirkham resides at Oakland, Cal. His grandfather was a soldier of the Revolutionary War and was wounded at the battle of Treton, N. J., Dec. 26, I776.

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