Thursday, June 28, 2012

His Nickname Was Kill-Cavalry

Union General Judson Kilpatrick received an appointment on June 28th 1863 to command the Third Division of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps.

Hugh Judson Kilpatrick was born on the family farm in Wantage, New Jersey on January 14th 1836 the son of Simon and Julia [Wickham] Kilpatrick.  He graduated just before the start of the Civil in from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1861.  Kilpatrick received a commission to Second Lieutenant in First United States Artillery.

At the start of the Civil War Kilpatrick was made a Captain in Duryee’s Zouaves, the 5th New York Infantry.  He was wounded at the Battle of Big Bethel June 10th 1861, hit in the thigh while leading a company.  Kilpatrick was made a Lieutenant Colonel in the 2nd New York Cavalry in September 1861.  He was an aggressive, ambitious leader, who had a willingness to use up men and horses in suicidal charges, earning himself the nick name “Kill-Cavalry”.  In February 1863 Kilpatrick moved up to command of the First Brigade of the Second Division of the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry.  During the Chancellorsville Campaign Kilpatrick made a ride around Lee’s Army burning bridges and reaching almost to Richmond, Virginia.

Kilpatrick fought at Brandy Station on June 9th 1863, receiving his commission to Brigadier General on June 13th 1863.  Three days before the Battle of Gettysburg June 28th 1863 he assumed command of a division.  Following Pickett’s Charge on July 3rd 1863 he ordered a controversial charge against the Confederate infantry located at base of Big Round Top in which Union Brigadier General Elon J Farnsworth was killed. 

In the spring of 1864 Kilpatrick was involved in the Dahlgren Affair.  After this he was sent to the Army of the Cumberland, where he was placed in command of the third Division of the Cavalry under Union Major General William Tecumseh Sherman.  Sherman said of Kilpatrick, "I know that Kilpatrick is a hell of a damned fool, but I want just that sort of man to command my cavalry on this expedition."  He started in the Atlanta Campaign and on May 13th 1864 was wounded at the Battle of Resaca badly enough he out of the fight until July 1864.

Following the war Kilpatrick became active in Republican politics.  President Andrew Johnson appointed him the Minister to Chile.  He married Luisa Fernandez de Valdivieso while in Chile.  Kilpatrick died while in Santiago, Chile December 4th 1881.  He is buried in the West Point Cemetery at West Point, New York.

Another web site you might want to look at for more about this is Judson Kilpatrick, Vernon's Civil War hero (sort of)

No comments: