Brigadier General Hugh J.
3rd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Potomac
"Kill Cavalry" was the nickname given to Brigadier General Hugh J. Kilpatrick because of the reckless tactics he used in combat. During the Battle of Gettysburg, he made a questionable cavalry charge against an infantry position of Confederate Lieutenant General James Longstreet. The mission was unsuccessful, and there were many casualties. During the Battle of 2nd Bull Run, he lost a full squadron of cavalry in a twilight charge. General Kilpatrick did have success in many battles with his aggressive and fearless attacks. In the Chancellorsville Campaign, his cavalry unit made a swing around the Confederate Army, and they destroyed many bridges. He participated in the Battle of Brandy Station which was the largest cavalry battle of the Civil War. In the Atlanta Campaign, he conducted a raid around the Confederate Army, and they destroyed railroad lines. General Kilpatrick was wounded on this mission. It was his second wound. At the Battle of Big Bethel, he had been the first Union Army officer to be wounded in the Civil War. He later participated in Sherman's "March to the Sea" and the Carolinas Campaign. In these operations he continued to use his skill of destroying property.
The personal character of General Kilpatrick could be questioned because of many incidents. He was jailed in 1862 on charges of corruption for selling captured goods for his personal profit. He was jailed for a drunken spree in Washington, D. C. It was also alleged that General Kilpatrick accepted bribes in horse purchases for his unit. His camps were notorious for the presence of prostitutes and poor maintenance.
Hugh Kilpatrick possessed the talent of acquiring influential friends. This helped him attain an appointment from New Jersey to the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1861 with the rank of 17th in a class of 45. After the Civil War, Hugh Kilpatrick was appointed as the U. S. Minister to Chile. He died in Santiago, Chile on December 4, 1881.
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