Every now and then I found, when looking for subjects for my book, Civil War Trailblazers and Troublemakers, that some of the wildest, orneriest, most colorful men and women were also very good at their jobs. Judson Kilpatrick certainly fits into that category. See for yourself by getting the book at:
Here are some excerpts from the book about Judson Kilpatrick and why he earned the nickname “Kill Cavalry”:
“Looking at his picture, one might find it difficult to see “Kill Cavalry” Kilpatrick as a “ladies’ man” and a hard-driving military commander. However, these quotes from other Union generals explain it all:
“His notorious immoralities and rapacity set so demoralizing an example to his troops that the best disciplinarians among his subordinates could only mitigate its influence…the value of his services made his commander willing to be ignorant of escapades which he could hardly condone…he was quite capable of …dare-devil recklessness that dismayed his opponents and imparted his own daring to his men.” (General Jacob Cox).
“I know that Kilpatrick is a hell of damned fool, but I want just that sort of a man to command my cavalry on this expedition.” (General William T. Sherman)
Kilpatrick transferred to Sherman’s command for the Atlanta campaign and March to the Sea. During the latter, he performed effectively in implementing the “hard hand of war” against the Southern economy. Perhaps not surprisingly, during that campaign he was almost taken prisoner when Confederate troops raided his headquarters where he was asleep with a lady not his wife. Kilpatrick fled in his underclothes, but went on to further duties until Johnston surrendered to Sherman. ”