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A. B. Farquhar meets “Kill-Cavalry” at Gettysburg

You could not imagine two more different men. Both were young, self-confident, well connected, and ambitious. That’s where the similarities stopped.

Arthur Briggs Farquhar was the son of a Quaker family from Maryland, Educated at the Hallowell School in Alexandria, Virginia, he counted Confederate general Fitz Lee among his personal friends. He bought a company in York, Pennsylvania, and expanded it into a profitable farm implement manufacturing form that lasted for nearly 100 years. During the Gettysburg Campaign, he openly negotiated with Confederate generals John B. Gordon and Jubal Early, repeating an unauthorized visit to Fitz Lee during the Maryland Campaign. In both cases, he was trying on his own initiative to spare his factory (and the town of York) from potential harm. He went on to meet President Lincoln and later became a powerful voice for labor laws in Washington, D.C., serving as Secretary of Labor.

Hugh Judson Kilpatrick was a New Jersey-born son of an Irish farmer. He graduated from West Point in 1861 and became a lieutenant in the 1st U.S. Artillery. By the time of Gettysburg. he commanded a division of Union cavalry. Fond of mistresses and fine living, he was caught napping with a lady friend in a surprise attack by Rebels at Monroes Crossroads. Later a diplomat to Chile, his descendants include CNN reporter Anderson Cooper and socialite Gloria Vanderbilt.

Here is A. B. Farquhar’s account of his visit during the Battle of Gettysburg…

“We knew that a great battle was impending. In a little while we learned that it had begun on the hills about Gettysburg. I was always interested in hospital practice and the best way that I knew of to be of help was in the Hospital Corps. I drove up to Gettysburg in my buggy, being enabled to pass through the Confederate lines by using the passes given me by Generals Gordon and Early some days before.

On the second day of the battle I entered that part of the Union lines which was in command of General Kilpatrick. Having been seen coming out of the Confederate lines, I was arrested, but fortunately, as I seldom go anywhere without meeting someone I know, a soldier who knew me told the officer by whom I had been arrested that I was all right. The officer said: “Then you would better see General Kilpatrick mighty quick. He is just about fifty yards away. You run for him and I will follow.”

“I jumped out of my buggy and started for the General, the officer closely following. After saluting, my officer friend told the General my mission, and upon hearing my reason for being there and how I got there, and remarking gruffly: “If you are an imposter, you are more dangerous than Jeff Davis,” I was not only released, but permitted to join his division in the Medical Corps. It was evening.

During the night General Kilpatrick threw himself on the ground, saying, “I am going to get an hour or two’s sleep; wake me up when I am wanted.” I needed sleep badly, too, and laid down by him with my head across his knees. He asked, “What in the are you doing?” I told him nobody was going to take the trouble to wake me up, but when they woke him I would be on hand for any emergency. We were at once fast asleep. It seemed but a few moments afterwards, altho it might have been several hours, that the Louisiana Tigers made their attack.

My horse and buggy were taken to care for the wounded, and altho Major Van Voorhees gave me a receipt for them, I have never seen them since. Capt H. B. Blood, Assistant Quartermaster, wrote me after the battle that he had found the wreck of a buggy with some papers under the seat showing that it had belonged to me. The best makeshift for a hospital I could find was a big shed with a hay loft above and there the wounded stretched out on the ground side by side.

“As the surgeons were engaged elsewhere and there seemed to be no one in command, I took charge myself. We could do but little for the poor fellows except give them water and make their lo’t perhaps a little easier until they died or came under a doctor’s care. While we were caring for the wounded soldiers, a number of cavalrymen rode up and began lo throw some hay down from the loft above, which scattered dust upon the wounded, and I caused them to stop.

“About 2 o’clock of the afternoon of the next day there commenced a tremendous cannonade of some three hundred guns in one great battery to clear the way for a charge on which the Confederates were to stake their all. They did not have enough ammunition, I learned afterwards. Anyway, the cannonade ceased and then began a terrific din — the rattle of small arms, shouts, yells, orders — for Pickett and his men were making their famous charge up Cemetery Hill. I saw the men rushing forward and dropping, wave after wave, each wave gaining a few rods over the last. Then they stopped and seemed to clutch, as does a drowning man at a stick, and went down. The battle of Gettysburg was over.”

McClure’s Magazine, April 1922. pp 114-15.