Saturday, November 29, 2008

Civil War trivia time!

You may be wondering why I'm starting a Civil War trivia post with a picture of CNN celebri-journalist Anderson Cooper.

Well, as I wrap up the book "The Class of 1861"on the May and June graduates of West Point at the start of the war, I find an interesting series of genealogical ties.

The foreword to the book, for instance, is written by George Plimpton, the author, above.

He is the great-grandson of this man:

Adelbert Ames, a member of the May 1861 class, who was the last living Civil War general at the time of his death (which statement somehow is grammatically incorrect, but I can't say how).

However, I think it likely that to today's tele-centric audience, the late Plimpton is not the most famous descendant of a member of the Class of 1861.

You see, the not-so-handsome man above, Judson "Kill-Cavalry" Kilpatrick — so nicknamed for his reckless disregard for his men's lives — is the great-great-grandfather of the handsome anchorman who tops the page.

Kilpatrick, who went on to serve as a minister to Chile, had twin granddaughters, one of whom became the second wife of Reginald Vanderbilt and gave birth to Gloria Vanderbilt; who is, of course, the mother of the host of CNN's "360."

(The other, by the way, was the mistress of the Prince of Wales in the early 1930s, until she made the tactical error of introducing the future Edward VIII to her friend, Wallis Simpson. That turned out about as well for all involved as Kilpatrick's cavalry charges at Gettysburg did for Brig. Gen. Elon Farnsworth.)

Aside, at the top of the May class, ahead of both Ames and Kilpatrick, was a fellow whose ancestors and descendants were among the rich and famous: Henry Algernon du Pont — of those du Ponts.

The "goat"of the May class (the last-place graduate) was a fellow named Sturgeon. He had the good sense, after the war, to retire from the cavalry sometime before the "goat" of the June 1861 class led the regiment to the Little Bighorn.