John B. Kelley (or Kelly) was born in Pennsylvania to Irish immigrants in 1837. By the 1850s, his family had moved to the Brandywine and his father began working for DuPont. John B. Kelley started working for the company in the powder yards in July 1859. One year later he worked for the company as a keg maker. In September 1861 John B. Kelley worked at the salaried rate of $1 per day, presumably doing carpentry or some other type of skilled labor.
Kelley left the DuPont Company in August 1862 to enlist in the First Delaware Battery of artillery. This unit was better known as "Nields' Independent Battery, Delaware Light Artillery," named for its commanding officer Captain Benjamin Nields. It was organized in Wilmington on 30 August 1862 and immediately entered Federal service.
The battery served in the Washington, D.C. defenses from September 1862 to April 1863. It saw combat in eastern Virginia from April to July 1863, then was ordered back to Washington, D.C. Nields' Battery served briefly in New York City until September 1863, when it was ordered to attend a camp of instruction [training camp] near Washington, D.C. The battery then moved to the Gulf coast in February 1864 and saw combat service in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Nields' Battery finished its service in Little Rock, Arkansas, staying there from December 1864 until mustered out of Federal service on 23 June 1865.
Image: Petit Ledger, 1862, entry for John Kelly (Hagley Digital Archives)