BIRNEY, David Bell, soldier, was born at Huntsville, Ala., May 29, 1825, son of James Gillespie Birney, abolition leader. He studied law in Cincinnati, Ohio, where his father was publishing a newspaper, and removed with him to Bay City, Mich., where he engaged in business. At the outbreak of the civil war he was practicing law in Philadelphia, but abandoned his profession to join the army. He recruited largely at his own expense the 23d Pennsylvania volunteer regiment, of which he was made lieutenant-colonel, and afterwards colonel, being promoted from this rank in successive steps to that of brigadier-general and major-general of volunteers. He served gallantly at Yorktown, Williamsburg, Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, and upon the death of General Berry he succeeded him as commander of the division. His commission as major-general was received May 23, 1863, and at the battle of Gettysburg he commanded the 3d corps after General Sickles was wounded, and on July 23, 1864, was made commander of the 10th corps. He returned home with greatly impaired health, and died Oct. 18, 1864.
Rossiter Johnson, ed., “ Birney, David Bell,” The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, vol. 1 (Boston: The Biographical Society, 1904).