AUTHOR: Joel W. Rose; edited and vetted by Cheri Todd Molter
The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads (also known as Kilpatrick’s Shirttail Skedaddle) took place in Cumberland County on the grounds of the present-day Fort Bragg Military Reservation. [Click on image to enlarge.] Involving about 4,500 men, it pitted mounted Confederate cavalry against dismounted Union cavalry. It was one of the last battles of the Civil War, and it occurred early on the morning of March 10, 1865. The Confederate attack delayed the Federal cavalry’s movement toward Fayetteville, denying Brevet Maj. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick the honor of entering the town first.
The main Confederate assault was at dawn against a poorly guarded, sleeping Union camp. In command of the Confederate forces was Lt. Gen. Wade Hampton. One of the unrealized goals of the attack was to capture Kilpatrick using a small elite squadron of hand-picked troopers. Kilpatrick, ensconced with his mistress in a small log cabin near the farmhouse of Charles Monroe, managed to flee the chaotic scene in his nightshirt. It’s been said that when asked by Confederate troops as to the location of General Kilpatrick, the unrecognized man himself—Kilpatrick—answered by pointing and stating, “He went that way.”
After hiding for a while in a nearby swamp, Kilpatrick, despite still being clothed in only a nightshirt, regained his composure and reorganized his troops. His men soon recovered and counterattacked, eventually pressuring the Confederates to withdraw from the camp.