Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick

Judson Kilpatrick commanded the Third Division of Alfred Pleasonton's cavalry corps. Kilpatrick was somewhat of controversial figure during the Civil War. Early in the War he was serving time for a "financial indiscretion." Described as "a lady's man," he was caught, literally, with his pants down by Wade Hampton late in the War.

He was given command of the Third Division on 28 June, and two of Pleasonton"s "boy generals," George Custer and Elon Farnsworth, were among his brigade commanders. At the time, Kilpatrick was 27, Farnsworth, 25, and Custer, 23.

He earned the nickname "Kill-Calvary" at Hanover, PA on 30 June, when his horse dropped dead in the town square during a battle with J. E. B. Stuart. The battle forced Stuart to the northeast, assuring that he would not join up with Robert E. Lee before the Battle of Gettysburg.

On 2 July, Kilpatrick's division was ordered to Two Taverns. It is not clear, however, why Custer's brigade did not ride with the rest of the division, but it was good that he did not because it allowed him to join David McM. Gregg's Second Division in the encounter with Stuart's cavalry on 3 July.

On 3 July, Kilpatrick, south of Gettysburg, was ordered by George Meade and Pleasonton to use Farnsworth's brigade to attack, without infantry support, Philip A. Work's 1st Texas and Evander M. Law's brigade. Though outnumbered 4-to-1, the thin line of Confederates held. Farnsworth was killed during the action, and it is likely that the loss of his much-liked lieutenant further infuriated Kill-Cavalry's detractors then and now.

Ref: Phipps, M., "They Too Fought Here." Proceedings of the Sixth Annual Gettysburg Seminar, National Park Service, Gettysburg, PA, 1997.

Back to Little Round Top Back to Cemetery Hill

Photo: Library of Congress
Created 04 OCT 1999; Modified 23 JUL 2014