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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of May 6, 1861

Vol. II

(Born N. J.)

Judson Kilpatrick

(Ap'd N. J.)


Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1856, to May 6, 1861, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Second Lieut., 1st Artillery, May 6, 1861.

Served during the Rebellion of the Seceding States, 1861‑66: en

(Captain, 5th New York Volunteers, May 9, 1861)

route with 5th New York State Militia from Ft. Schuyler, N. Y., to Ft. Monroe, Va., May, 1861; in garrison at Ft. Monroe, Va., May‑June,

(First Lieut., 1st Artillery, May 14, 1861)

1861, being engaged in the Expedition to Big Bethel, June 9‑10, 1861, participating in the Action of Big Bethel, June 10, 1861, where he was wounded; on sick leave of absence, disabled by wound, June 24 to July 30, 1861; on Recruiting service, Aug. 1‑14, 1861; in Organizing

(Resigned Volunteer Commission, Aug. 14, 1861)

and in command of Regiment of Cavalry Volunteers, Aug. 14 to Sep. 30, 1861; in the Defenses of Washington, D. C., Sep., 1861, to Jan. 29, 1862;

(Lieut.‑Colonel, 2d New York Cavalry Volunteers,
Sep. 25, 1861)

in Kansas, Jan.‑Feb., 1862, to accompany Brig.‑General Lane's Texas

(Lieut.‑Colonel, Staff — Additional Aide-de‑Camp,
Jan. 29 to Mar. 21, 1862)

 p785  Expedition, as Chief of Artillery, but, it being abandoned, he returned to his regiment, at Arlington, Va.; in Operations in the Department of the Rappahannock, Mar. to July, 1862, being engaged in Skirmishes near Falmouth, Va., Apr. 16, 1862, — Movement to Thoroughfare Gap, May, 1862, — and Raids on the Virginia Central Railroad, July, 1862, skirmishing at Carmel Church, July 23, 1862; in the Northern Virginia Campaign, Aug.‑Sep., 1862, being engaged in Skirmishes at Brandy Station, Freedman's Ford, Sulphur Springs, Waterloo Bridge, Thoroughfare Gap, and Haymarket, Aug., 1862, — and Battle of Manassas, Aug. 29‑30, 1862; in command of Cavalry Brigade in Expedition to Leesburg, Va., Sep. 19, 1862; on leave of absence and Recruiting service, Sep., 1862, to

(Colonel, 2d New York Cavalry Volunteers, Dec. 6, 1862)

Jan. 27, 1863; in the Rappahannock Campaign (Army of the Potomac), Jan. to June, 1863, being engaged in command of Cavalry Brigade, Feb. 25, 1863, — on "Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stoneman's Raid" towards Richmond, Apr. 13 to May 2, 1863, — and Combat of Beverly Ford, June 9, 1863; in the Pennsylvania Campaign, commanding Cavalry Brigade and Division, from June 29, 1863 (Army of the Potomac), June‑July, 1863, being engaged

(Brig.‑General, U. S. Volunteers, June 13, 1863)

in the Action of Aldie (in command), June 17, 1863, — Skirmishes

(Bvt. Major, June 17, 1863, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Aldie, Va.)

at Middleburg, June 19, and Upperville, June 21, 1863, — Action of Hanover, Pa., June 30, and of Hunterstown, July 2, 1863, — Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, — and Pursuit of the enemy, July 4‑15, 1863, with

(Bvt. Lieut.‑Colonel, July 3, 1863, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Gettysburg, Pa.)

constant fighting, at Monterey, July 4, Smithsburg, July 5, Hagerstown, July 6, Boonsborough, July 9, Hagerstown, July 12, and Falling Waters, July 14, 1863; on leave of absence, July 15 to Aug. 4, 1863; in Operations in Central Virginia, commanding Cavalry Division (Army of the Potomac), Aug. 4 to Nov. 25, 1863, being engaged in the Expedition to Hartwood Church to destroy the enemy's gunboats "Satellite" and "Reliance," in the Rappahannock, Aug. 14, 1863, — Action at Culpeper, Sep. 13, 1863, — Skirmish at Somerville Ford, Sep. 15, 1863, — Reconnoissance to Liberty Mills, Sep. 20‑24, 1863, — Action at James City, Oct. 10, and at Brandy Station, Oct. 11, 1863, — Movement to Centreville, Oct. 12‑18, and Action at Gainesville, Oct. 19, 1863; on leave of absence, Nov. 25 to Dec., 1863; in command of Cavalry Division (Army of the Potomac), Feb. 28 to Apr. 15, 1864, being engaged on Raid to Richmond, and down the Virginia Peninsula, Mar., 1864, participating in the Action of Ashland, Mar. 1, 1864, and numerous Skirmishes, with much destruction of public property; in command of 3d Cavalry Division (Army of the Cumberland), in the Invasion of Georgia, Apr. 25 to May 13, 1864, being engaged in the Action at Ringgold, Apr. 29, 1864, — and Operations about Dalton, May 7‑13, 1864, when he was severely

(Bvt. Colonel, May 13, 1864, for Gallant and Meritorious Services at the Battle of Resaca, Ga.)

wounded; on sick leave of absence, disabled by wound, May 13 to July 22, 1864; in command of Cavalry Division in the Invasion of Georgia, July 22 to Dec. 21, 1864, being engaged in guarding General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Sherman's communications and making Raids, with constant heavy Skirmishes with the enemy, — and "March to the Sea," Skirmishes at Lovejoy, Nov. 15, Walnut Creek, Nov. 20, Sylvan Grove, Nov. 26, Rocky Creek, Nov. 28

(Captain, 1st Artillery, Nov. 30, 1864)

 p786  and Dec. 2, and Waynesborough, Dec. 4, 1864; in the Invasion of the Carolinas, commanding Cavalry Division, Jan. 15 to Apr. 26, 1865, being engaged in various Actions and Skirmishes, particularly at Salkahatchie, S. C., Feb. 3, near Aiken, S. C., Feb. 11, Monroe's Cross-roads, N. C., Mar. 10, near Raleigh, N. C., Apr. 12, and Morrisville, N. C., Apr. 13,

(Bvt. Brig.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865, for Gallant and Meritorious Services in the Capture of Fayetteville, N. C.)

(Bvt. Maj.‑General, U. S. Army, Mar. 13, 1865, for Gallant and Meritorious Services during the Campaign in the Carolinas)

1865; in command of 3d Division of Cavalry Corps, Military Division of the Mississippi, Apr. 26 to June 13, 1865; and on leave of absence and awaiting orders, June 13, 1865, to Jan. 1, 1866.

Major-General, U. S. Volunteers, June 18, 1865.

Resigned Army Commission, Dec. 1, 1865.

Resigned Volunteer Commission, Jan. 1, 1866.

Civil History. — U. S. Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Chili, Dec. 1, 1865, to Aug. 22, 1868, and June 1 to Dec. 2, 1881. U. S. Director of Union Pacific Railroad, 1880. Delegate from New Jersey to National Convention, at Chicago, Ill., to nominate Republican Candidate for President, 1880.

Died, Dec. 2, 1881, at Santiago, Chili: Aged 46.

Buried, West Point Cemetery, West Point, NY.

Biographical Sketch.

Brevet Major-General Judson Kilpatrick was born, Jan. 14, 1836, near Deckertown, N. J. He was graduated, May 6, 1861, from the Military Academy, and stepped at once into the war for the maintenance of the Union. His Cadet-mate, Major-General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.James H. Wilson, has kindly furnished the following graphic sketch of his brief, active, and romantic career, much instructive and highly interesting matter contained in the memoir being necessarily omitted: —

"Having been detailed, like the rest of the graduating class, to assist in drilling new troops, he was one of the first officers of the Regular Army to perceive that the war was to be one in which the Volunteers would have to do most of the fighting. Accordingly he resolved to cast his lot with them, and, although commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the First U. S. Artillery, he was, within a week after leaving West Point, elected a Captain of the Fifth New York Volunteers, known as Duryea's Zouaves. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Warren, of the Topographical Engineers, and subsequently the distinguished commander of the Fifth Corps, was shortly afterwards appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of the same regiment. Both accompanied it to Fort Monroe, and thenceforth, till called to higher duties, did all in their power to fashion it into a model regiment. . . . Within thirty days from his acceptance of the rank of Captain he participated with a part of his regiment in the Battle of big Bethel, and, although severely wounded, he pluckily refused to leave the field till, overcome with the loss of blood, he was no longer able to prevent his men from carrying him to the rear. He was the first Regular officer wounded in battle during the Rebellion, and his conduct was so plucky as . . . to secure for him the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Second New York Cavalry, . . . soon followed by his detail as Inspector-General on the staff of General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McDowell. Here his thorough education in all arms of the service made him exceedingly useful, but he was of too impatient a temper to rest satisfied with staff duty, however honorable; and when the Army of the Potomac began its advance upon Manassas, he hastened to place himself  p787 at the head of his regiment, and to lead the advance of the Union forces. . . . When Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.McClellan transferred his army to the James, he left Kilpatrick and his regiment to assist in covering Washington, . . . and for the next two years he took an active and conspicuous part in all the cavalry operations connected with the Army of the Potomac. He was constantly in the field, except for four months of the winter of 1862‑63, during which he was on leave of absence and recruiting service. . . .

"The severest criticism he said made of Kilpatrick was that he did not take proper care of his horses, and the sufficient answer to this is that neither he nor anybody else could have done any better under the system then in vogue. At a later day, under Sheridan, the cavalry was used more in masses, and both men and horses were cared for in a manner unknown before. Kilpatrick himself, under Wilson in the West, although engaged in the exacting work of covering Sherman's flanks, front, and rear in the March to the Sea and through the Carolinas, took as good care of his men and horses as any other cavalry commander of the war could have done.

"During his cavalry days he could never have weighed over one hundred and forty pounds; his height was about five feet seven inches; his figure lithe, erect, and muscular. His eyes were bluish-gray, nose prominent, mouth large, lips thin and mobile, and his hair and complexion sandy. All of his movements were quick, energetic, and decided, while his intelligence was of a high order. He was withal a self-reliant man, pleasant in his manners, independent in his judgment, prompt in his decisions, arbitrary in action, and terribly in earnest. That he was ambitious follows, of course, but his ambition was that of a patriot and a soldier. Without it he must have remained in obscurity, for he had neither family nor friends to sound his praise or further his interests. . . .

"Although Kilpatrick had been serving with cavalry several months, his active character as a cavalry leader began with the accession of Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Pope to the command of the Army of Virginia, immediately after which he was directed to break the Richmond and Gordonsville Railroad, and thus sever Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Lee's communication with his base of operations. Breaking at once through the Rebel lines, he struck the Virginia Central Railroad at Beaver Dam, and followed it to Hanover Junction, burning bridges, stations, and stores, tearing up the track, and spreading alarm throughout the country-side. This was one of the earliest raids of the war, and extended over a circuit of eighty miles, which he covered in thirty hours. As he had been followed almost to Fredericksburg by a rebel force, he paused only long enough to rest his command before sallying out to find and puh his pursuers. Leaving Fredericksburg late in the afternoon, he marched some sixteen miles before drawing rein to feed and rest. At an early hour the next morning he resumed the march, striking a detachment of the enemy at Mt. Carmel about daylight, and driving it rapidly to and beyond the North Anna River, where it formed a junction with the main body to which it belonged. Here a spirited fight took place, in which the audacity of Kilpatrick more than the weight of his squadrons gave him a handsome victory, the fruits of which were a railroad train loaded with commissary stores, grain, wagons, and tools. But finding himself confronted and outnumbered by a force from Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Stuart's Cavalry, he resolved to return to Fredericksburg, which he did by the next night (July 23, 1862), having marched seventy-five miles in twenty-four hours. . . .

"During the operations of Pope's and the Antietam Campaign, 'Kilpatrick was constantly in the saddle, and constantly facing the enemy on the marching flank. He skirmished gallantly with Stuart's Cavalry at Brandy Station, Freedman's Ford, Sulphur Springs, Waterloo Bridge, Haymarket, Thoroughfare Gap, and finally with both infantry and cavalry  p788 at the bloody Battle of Manassas. He handled his regiment boldly and well, showing courage and resources of a high order.' . . .

"He was promoted Colonel on the 6th of December, 1862, and late in January rejoined the army to take part in the ill-starred 'Mud Campaign' beyond the Rappahannock. The cavalry had meantime been organized into a Corps under General Stoneman, and Kilpatrick was permanently assigned to the command of a brigade in the division of that sturdy and competent leader, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.David McM. Gregg. He took part in the ill-fated and abortive Stoneman raid, but, having been detached with his own regiment, for that purpose, he marched rapidly but by devious roads to the Chickahominy, where he burnt the railroad and highway bridges over that stream, and penetrated to within two miles of Richmond, capturing an aide-de‑camp and eleven men within the fortifications. Finding the place too strongly defended to admit of an attack by a single regiment, and feeling that the perils were thickening around him, he swung to the left by the Meadow Bridge, where he captured a train of cars, which he ran into the river. He then burned the bridge, and retired to the north by Hanovertown, near which place he turned upon a pursuing force, captured thirteen prisoners, and burned a train of wagons loaded with bacon. Bivouacking on the field, he resumed his march at one A.M., and the next morning he 'surprised a force of three hundred cavalry at Aylett's, captured two officers and thirty-three men, burned fifty-six wagons and the railroad station containing upwards of twenty thousand barrels of corn and wheat, quantities of clothing, and commissary stores.' From this time he was closely pressed by a superior force of cavalry, but succeeded in continuing his march northward across rivers and creeks without serious molestation. Later the same day he captured and destroyed a third wagon-train, after which he made a forced march of twenty miles, closely followed by the enemy. The next day he reached the Federal lines at Gloucester Point, having marched entirely around Lee's army, covering a distance of nearly two hundred miles in less than five days. During this time he 'had captured and paroled upwards of eight hundred prisoners, with a loss to his own command of only one officer and thirty-seven men. . . . In acknowledgment of his services he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General of Volunteers, and shortly afterwards assigned to the command of a division.'

"In the Gettysburg Campaign, Kilpatrick's command, with the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac, rendered excellent service, being engaged in many skirmishes with the Rebel cavalry, and in keeping close watch upon the Confederate movements prior to the battle. . . . In that memorable battle Kilpatrick took an active and glorious part. Moving from Hunterstown, he formed a junction with the main army at the Two Taverns at daylight of July 3d. Three hours later he was again in motion, and, aided by Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Merritt, he fell upon the enemy's right flank, and not only inflicted severe injury upon him, but contributed much to his defeat in that part of the field. In the distribution of praise, Kilpatrick received a full and equal share with Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Buford, Gregg, Merritt, Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Custer, and Devin, and his list of killed, wounded, and missing, shows conclusively that his division received more hard knocks than both of the other divisions.

"In the pursuit of the enemy from the battlefield of Gettysburg, Kilpatrick's division took a conspicuous part. Moving by a devious route, ultimately to the neighborhood of Williamsport, it had a series of success­ful engagements with the enemy's cavalry, at Monterey, Smithsburg, Hagerstown, and Boonsborough, destroying Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Ewell's wagon train and capturing 1,360 prisoners, one battle-flag, and a number of animals. . . .

"Some time during the winter [1863‑64] Kilpatrick conceived the idea of releasing the Federal prisoners from the Libby tobacco warehouse at Richmond, and late in February was permitted to undertake it. His  p789 plan had received the approval of the Secretary of War and the President, and, so far as the force at his disposal would permit, appears to have been ably executed. . . . The general results of this expedition were regarded as disastrous, and Kilpatrick was severely blamed, not only by military men but by the public, for its conception and failure. The President and Secretary of War were also censured by the press for giving it their approval. As a final consequence, Kilpatrick was relieved from further service with the Army of the Potomac, and sent to the army then gathering in Northern Georgia for the campaign against Atlanta.

"On the 25th of April, 1864, he took command of the Third Cavalry Division, Army of the Cumberland, and when the campaign opened he led the advance. . . . His first conspicuous action was at the cross-roads near Resaca, where he led his men most gallantly and successfully against the Rebel position, but in the moment of victory he was severely wounded in the groin and hip by a rifle-ball. Of course he was carried to the rear, and as soon as he could travel was granted sick leave, with permission to return to his home on the Hudson. So severe was the injury he had received that it disabled him completely from May 13 to July 22. It is here worthy of note that he received the brevet of Colonel in the Regular Army for gallant and meritorious services in the Battle of Resaca. During the process of recovery from his wounds, he anxiously watched the daily papers for news from Sherman's army, and as his victorious chief neared the goal of his campaign, Kilpatrick became unable to restrain his impatience and set out for the field, determined if possible to take part in the final movement for the capture of Atlanta. He overtook his division at Cartersville, and, although still unable to sit his horse, with unusual fortitude he accompanied the troops in a carriage which he had fitted up for the purpose. . . .

"Shortly after the close of this campaign, General Wilson was sent from the Army of the Potomac to organize the Cavalry forces of Sherman's Military Division into a separate corps, detached from the control of army and department commanders. In the completed organization seven divisions were provided for, and Kilpatrick's old command was designated as the Third Division of the new corps. . . .

"In the northward march of Sherman's army through the Carolinas, Kilpatrick performed an important part in making feints, and in distracting, dividing, and fighting the Rebel forces, in breaking up railroads, and in maintaining communication between the marching columns, . . . and with it he closed his military record with undiminished honor. He had already won his double stars and the rank of Major-General, together with the confidence and respect of General Sherman. He was at this time only twenty-seven years of age, and, although he had been twice severely wounded, he was in the very prime of his vigor. . . .

"Peace was at hand, and Kilpatrick, being naturally a politician, resigned his commission in the army, January, 1866, to accept the position of Minister to Chili tendered to him by President Johnson. Shortly after the accession of General Grant to the Presidency, General Kilpatrick was recalled, and immediately entered the lecture field, taking at the same time a most active interest in politics. As a public speaker, he was fluent, incisive, and eloquent, and soon became exceedingly popular throughout the country. Resenting his recall from Chili by President Grant, he espoused the cause of Horace Greeley, and did all in his power to make him President. In 1876 he returned to full member­ship in the Republican party, and in 1880 received the nomination from his native district in New Jersey, and made an active and spirited canvass, for Congress, but unfortunately was beaten. In March, 1881, President Garfield re‑appointed him as Minister to Chili. Shortly after his arrival at his  p790 post, Chili became involved in a war with Peru. Kilpatrick, having married a Chilian lady and established friendly relations with the leading statesmen of that country, naturally enough espoused its cause, and almost immediately afterwards found himself engaged in a diplomatic conflict with Stephen A. Hurlbut,​a then United States Minister to Peru, and also to some extent with Mr. Blaine, at that time Secretary of State in Washington. But before the merits of these controversies could be arrived at or straightened out, General Kilpatrick fell seriously ill of Bright's disease of the kidneys, from which he died, at Santiago, Chili, Dec. 2, 1881. Always generous and charitable, he failed to accumulate a fortune, and died, as he had lived, a poor man, leaving his widow and two children dependent upon their friends and the Government for support.

"Engaged from the first to the last in the War for the Union, Kilpatrick participated in as many battles as it was possible for any man to take part in. Not always success­ful, but always doing his very best to achieve success, he was a brave, energetic, and capable officer, and one who loved his country with his whole heart. He was never afraid to speak out his opinions, and never failed to fight for them, no matter who the foe, or upon what field the issue was to be tried. He was enthusiastic, and it is said that his judgment was not always deliberate or sound; but, be this as it may, it is certain that the errors into which he fell were those of a bold, self-reliant, and aggressive man, who never missed his chance for fear of backing up his judgment, or by leaving a field on which a single chance was left for victory. Entering civil life while still a youth, with the halo of a success­ful general about him, and possessing an eloquent and captivating style of oratory, there is reason to believe that his ambition led him to aspire to the highest offices in the gift of his fellow-citizens, and that his failure to reach them filled him with a sense of disappointment which seems to have embittered the closing years of his life."

Thayer's Note:

a For Major-General Hurlbut, see note to Cullum #1210.

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