Kilpatrick’s “Shirt-Tail Skedaddle”

Kilpatrick in 1863On March 10, 1865, Confederate Gen. Wade Hampton surprised Union Gen. Hugh J. Kilpatrick at Monroe’s Crossroads. Kilpatrick’s 3rd Cavalry Division was protecting the left flank of Gen. William T. Sherman’s army as troops headed north.

On the night of March 9, Kilpatrick’s division camped at Monroe’s Crossroads, in what is now Hoke County. Confederate cavalrymen led by Hampton approached the camp from behind and found the rear of it completely defenseless. They retreated to plan a surprise attack.

The next morning, Kilpatrick woke up early and stepped outside of the house in his nightshirt. At that point, Confederate cavalrymen charged through the camp. Groggy Federal soldiers rose from their bedrolls, clumsily took their weapons and headed for shelter. Still only in his nightshirt, Kilpatrick ran across the yard in his bare feet, mounted a horse and escaped.

In just a few minutes the Confederates had overrun the camp. Union troops regained control when a lieutenant reached the unguarded Confederate artillery pieces and fired them into a mass of Confederates. By 9 a.m., the Confederates had retreated.

Today, the battlefield site is an artillery impact area at Fort Bragg. The gravestones of Union and Confederate soldiers who lost their lives that day are hidden throughout the woods.

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