Family Ties – Kilpatrick Part I

21 04 2008

Some of the more intriguing threads I like to pull are the ones that link well known figures by blood or marriage – family ties.  I’ve explored this before in the case of Peyton Manning (establishing that such a link probably doesn’t exist, see here, here and here), and you probably know the story of how a descendant’s relationship to First Bull Run Medal of Honor recipient Adelbert Ames led him to a memorable and often repeated encounter with the 35th President of the United States (if not don’t fret, I’ll talk about it later).  Today let’s take a look at one of Ames’s classmates who had not one, but two descendants who are household names in the US today.

In May, 1861 Hugh Judson Kilpatrick graduated from the US Military Academy 17th out of his class of 45.  Commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 1st US Artillery on May 6, 1861, three days later he accepted a captaincy in the 5th New York Infantry, Duryee’s Zouaves.  He was with that regiment in the expedition to Big Bethel in June, and in the battle there on June 10th he was severely wounded but did not retire from the field until too weak from loss of blood.  Later he organized the 2nd NY Cavalry and by Dec. 1862 had risen to the colonelcy of that regiment.  In June of 1863 he became a brigadier general of volunteers in command of a division of cavalry in the Army of the Potomac.  He was hand-picked by Sherman to lead his cavalry in Georgia and the Carolinas, and ended the war a Major General USV and Brevet Maj. Gen. USA.  After the war he twice served as US envoy to Chile, and he died in that country in 1881, of Bright’s disease at the age of 46.

Today, he serves mainly as a punch-line for Civil War authors working backwards from their conclusions and assumptions regarding his character.

Kilpatrick and his Chilean wife Luisa had a daughter, Laura Delphine, who married an American diplomat named Harry Morgan (no, not that Harry Morgan, though a like-named son would become an actor).  Laura and Harry had a daughter named Gloria Laura Mercedes Morgan, who married Reginald Claypoole Vanderbilt, an heir to the Vanderbilt fortune.  The fruit of that union was Gloria Laura Vanderbilt, the poor little rich girl who became the centerpiece of a bitter custody battle between her widowed mother and the powerful Vanderbilt clan.  Eventually, her name graced the butts of hundreds of thousands of women in the 1970’s and ‘80’s.  Little Gloria Vanderbilt is the great-granddaughter of Hugh Judson Kilpatrick.

Little Gloria’s fourth marriage, to Wyatt Emory Cooper, produced two sons.  Older brother Carter committed suicide in 1988, jumping from the window of the family’s 14th floor apartment before his mother’s eyes.  Kilpatrick’s other great-great-grandson, Anderson, pursued a career in journalism, and today has his own news program on CNN.  See the resemblance?


By the way, another CNN talking head is named Campbell Brown.  She gets her first name from her mother’s side and her last from her father’s.  So it seems she’s not related to the stepson of Richard S. Ewell, a Confederate brigade commander at First Bull Run.  That Campbell Brown wrote a Century Magazine article on his step-dad at Bull Run that can be found in Volume I of Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, and also published The First Manassas: Correspondence between Generals R. S. Ewell and G. T. Beauregard in further defense of Ewell in the face of Beauregard’s unfairly critical recollections.  This book is a collection of his Civil War related writings.

See Part II here.

add to : Add to Blinkslist : add to furl : Digg it : add to ma.gnolia : Stumble It! : add to simpy : seed the vine : : : TailRank : post to facebook



13 responses

21 04 2008
Eric Wittenberg


Actually, Campbell is her middle name. Her first name is Alma (which, I suppose, is why she uses her middle name). If I recall correctly, Campbell was either her mother’s maiden name or her grandmother’s name.

Nice piece on Little Kil. And there is a resemblance there.



21 04 2008
Harry Smeltzer


Yes, her full name is Alma Dale Campbell Brown. Her mother was an artist, Dale Campbell, and her maternal grandmother’s name was Alma.


22 04 2008
Mike Peters


Kilpatrick’s wound has been described by biographer Samuel Martin as a buttock wound, as to indicate, it seems, that he was a coward. It was, more accurately, a thigh wound which exited the buttock. In his official report Kilpatrick wrote about “having received a grape through my thigh, which tore off a portion of the rectangle on Colonel Duryea’s left shoulder, passed through my leg, and killed a soldier in my rear.”

“Kill Cavalry” is definitely in need of a modern bio. Brian Pohanka suggested “Sherman’s Horsemen” as the closest to getting his character right. In it David Evens wrote the following:

“Aside from Rousseau, Judson Kilpatrick was the only one of Sherman’s cavalry commanders who consistently projected the charisma and elan that makes tired men win desperate battles. He was also an arrogant, conceited, prevaricating braggart, but as a veteran sergeant of the 92nd Illinois explained, ‘He is the _Prince of Raiders_. I would sooner go under him on a raid than any other man I know of.'”

Quite a character!



22 04 2008
Harry Smeltzer


I remember Brian Pohanka’s comments on Martin’s Kilpatrick bio, particularly the bit about his wounding, and as a result have never purchased the book.


23 04 2008
Mike Peters


I had just purchased the book but had only perused it. I looked a little closer following Brian’s comments. The source cited for the wounding commentary was an official report which didn’t say any such thing.

I got rid of the book, as well as his Butler & Ewell bios.



24 04 2008
Lee’s Real Plan Update « Bull Runnings

[…] be posting a few ORs next.  Then I’ll have more on the fascinating family ties of Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, some developments concerning the history of the 30 pounder Parrott rifle that opened the First […]


28 04 2008
Family Ties - Kilpatrick Part II « Bull Runnings

[…] Ties – Kilpatrick Part II In this post I told you about some of the noteworthy descendants of the Class of ‘61’s Hugh Judson […]


29 04 2008
“What Hath Kilpatrick Wrought” on Harry Smeltzer’s blog « Hoofbeats and Cold Steel

[…] of his descendants and some extremely interesting stories about them to boot.  The first post is here, the second […]


4 05 2008
Family Ties - Kilpatrick Part III « Bull Runnings

[…] Ties – Kilpatrick Part III This should be the last entry in the Kilpatrick thread (see Part I and Part […]


15 05 2008
14th Military History Carnival « Bull Runnings

[…] Military History Carnival Brett Schulte of TOCWOC nominated my recent series of posts (see here, here, and here) on the Family Ties of Hugh Judson Kilpatrick for inclusion in the 14th Military […]


17 05 2008
14th Military History Carnival Is Up

[…] Investigations of a Dog.  There are quite a few Civil War entries this month, including Harry Smeltzer’s multi-part investigation of “Kill Cavalry’s” heirs.  My own review of Christian Keller’s Chancellorsvile and the Germans is also listed as […]


13 08 2008
Investigations of a Dog » 14th Military History Carnival

[…] home, where a white woman and a black woman worked together to overcome their disabilities. And at Bull Runnings Harry Smeltzer traces the famous descendants of Hugh Judson Kilpatrick who fought on the Union side […]


26 07 2011
Rantings of a Civil War Historian » Threads

[…] stuff No comments yet My fellow blogger Harry Smeltzer is fond of pulling threads and examining family ties. And no, I am not referring to the popular Michael J. Fox television show from the 1980′s. […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: