Jones, J. William. "The Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond." Southern
Historical Society Papers, Vol. 13 (1889), pp. 515-560.
The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond. Compiled by J. WM. JONES.
We have several times expressed our purpose to publish a full account of this celebrated
raid, together with incontrovertible proofs that the infamous "Dahlgren Papers,"
were not (as charged by Northern writers) a "Rebel forgery," but were actually
found on the person of Colonel Dahlgren. We have delayed this publication from time to
time for various reasons, chief among which was a desire to secure a paper prepared for
Hon. A. H. Stephens by the late Rev. R. H. Bagby, D. D., who stood within a few feet of
Colonel Dahlgren when he was shot.
But we have determined to delay our task no longer, but to put the facts in our records,
not to stir up bitter memories, but to vindicate the truth of history and to refute the
slander against the Confederate authorities that they forged these papers in order to
PAGE 516 Southern historical Society Papers.
the character of an honorable foe, and make an excuse for cruelty to his officers.
We first give a Federal account, by one of Dahlgren's staff, which appeared in the Detroit
Free Press of March 11th, 1882.
STATEMENT OF LIEUTENANT BARTLEY, OR THE UNITED STATES SIGNAL CORPS.
The expedition of General Kilpatrick and Colonel Ulric Dahlgren to Richmond in the spring
of 1864 is, perhaps, less understood by the general public than any event of the late war
of the same magnitude and importance, more especially the part Dahlgren's column played in
that singularly unfortunate move. This comes from two causes; one that Colonel Dahlgren was
killed and the rest of us captured and lay in prison till the following year, and no
report of our doings was ever sent to the War Department; and the next was the disposition
on the part of General Kilpatrick to keep as quiet as possible on the subject, as there
was a desire on the part of some to hold him responsible for the sacrifice of Colonel
Dahlgren and his command.
I will now try and give your readers a short account of that memorable raid as I saw it. I
was the signal officer with Dahlgren- had all his plans- was to carry out the details in
regard to the destruction of public property- had the torpedoes, turpentine, signal
rockets, etc., all in my charge, with orders how and when to use them. Being the only
staff officer he had, I feel pretty certain I knew what he intended to do, and how it was
to be done.
The expedition started from Stevensburg, near Culpeper Court-house, Virginia, on the night
of February 28th, 1864, at seven o'clock. It was composed of details from the First Maine,
First Vermont, Second New York, Fifth New York, and Fifth Michigan cavalry regiments- in
all four hundred men- Major E. F. Cook, Second New York Cavalry, in command. I was sent
from army headquarters as signal officer, to act in conjunction with Captain Gloskoski,
who was General Kilpatrick's signal officer.
We proceeded to Ely's Ford on the Rapidan, where we captured a commissioned officer and
thirteen men, who were on guard at the ford. This was done by Lieutenant H. A. D. Merritt,
Fifth New York Cavalry, who had been put in command of the advance guard. It was done so
quickly that there was no alarm, and we passed into General Lee's lines and left the gate
open for the main body under
PAGE 517 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
General Kilpatrick, who was in our rear but not united to our column. As soon as we were
safe in Lee's rear, we took the road to Chancellorsville, and thence to Spotsylvania
Courthouse. keeping to the right we struck the road leading to Frederickshall station, on
the Virginia Central Railroad, where we intended to make the first strike, as there were
at that time sixty- eight pieces of artillery parked around the station, and only guarded
by artillerymen armed with sabres.
About two miles from the station we met an intelligent (?) contraband who had just left
it, and learned from him that there had been troops sent from the front to guard the guns
and commissary stores. The Colonel concluded not to risk a fight, for it might prevent him
from carrying out the main object of the expedition, which was to get in the rear of
Richmond and make an attack at the same time Kilpatrick was to make an attack on the
Brooke pike, enter the city, liberate the prisoners in Libby, Castle Thunder, and Belle
Isle, capture as many of the officers as possible, destroy the arsenal, commissary, and
quartermaster stores, and all endeavor to escape down the peninsula to General Butler's
The Colonel found another contraband who said he could take us on a by- road about two
miles south of the station, where we could cross the railroad and get on one that would
take us into Goochland county. We took him along, and while going through the woods
captured a four horse wagon and seven men getting wood. We had them throw off the wood and
climb on the wagon and turn into line. We had not gone more than a mile when our attention
was called to a number of horses hitched around a log cabin. Lieutenant Merritt was
ordered to make a dash with the advance guard and see what was going on. The result was
the capture of eight commissioned officers and a few privates, being the sudden
adjournment of a court- martial. In the number was one colonel and two majors. We soon
after came to the railroad and set to work tearing it up, which we did for a considerable
distance, also the telegraph- but time was of as much importance to us as the railroad, so
we did not stay long but struck across the country for Dover Mills on the James river. We
traveled as fast as our horses could carry us and by night the rain began to fall, but we
had a long ride yet to the river, which we wanted to cross at daylight next morning. So on
we plodded through mud, rain, and darkness, such as I never experienced, guided by a
contraband sent from Washington city to take us through to Dover Mills and show us a ford
where we could cross to the south side of
PAGE 518 Southern Historical Society Papers.
the James. We finally had to stop, as we were losing men in the darkness, and about 2 A.
M., March 1, we halted at a small country store, fed our horses, and cooked some rations.
As soon as it was light we were on the way, and by 8 A.M. we came out on the hill at Dover
Mills, on the farm of john A. Seddon, who was then Secretary of War of the Confederate
States of America.
Up to this, our success had been remarkable- two nights and one day in the Confederate
lines and not a shot had been fired at us. We were beginning to think we would go right
through with the whole programme, but now things took a turn that looked rather bad for
It was now necessary to make the final arrangements for the assault on the city which was
to be made that night at about eight o'clock. Our column was to divide, one part to cross
the river and go as far as the Appomattox bridge, where the Richmond and Danville Railroad
crosses, destroy that, then turn and strike toward Richmond, coming into Manchester
opposite Belle Isle, secure the bridge, liberate our men on the island, cross them over
and unite with the other prisoners from Libby and Castle Thunder. But, when all the
arrangements were made and all had received their final instructions, we found our guide
had sold us out. There was no ford at the place at all, but a steam ferry, with the boat
at the opposite side of the river, and no ford short of twenty miles up the river. This is
the most mysterious case I ever heard of. This man came down from Washington city, sent by
Stanton, who was a personal friend of the Colonel. He made a bargain with Kilpatrick and
Dahlgren to take them to a ford at Dover Mills and take them over, when his services would
cease, and in case of any mistake or treachery on his part he was to be hanged, and if it
came out all right he was to receive a large sum of money. He took charge on those terms,
took us safe through and had plenty of chances to make his escape, but still kept on with
us. When asked why he had misled us, he did not, or could not give a satisfactory answer.
The Colonel then told him he would have to carry out his part of the contract, to which
the guide assented, and admitted that was the agreement and made no objection to his
execution. He went along to the tree without any force and submitted to his fate without a
A change was now necessary, so Dahlgren then determined to go down on the other side of
the river and make the attack on the upper part of the city with his whole force, and
trusted to circumstances to
PAGE 519 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
get the men off Belle Isle. This shortened our route considerably, and gave us plenty of
time to get under cover and rest before making the attempt to enter the city. We went down
the pike within about three miles of the city and captured three pickets guarding the
road. We then went into a thicket and kept out of sight, letting no one pass into the
city. Everything still looked hopeful, and we were in high spirits, when just about 4 P.M.
we heard cannon on the Brooke pike, and knew at once that Kilpatrick had made his attack
four hours before the time agree upon with Dahlgren. This seemed to be something the
Colonel could not comprehend, and he feared the whole thing would now be a failure, as his
own force was too small to uncover in daylight, and he did not think Kilpatrick could
possibly gain an entrance through the fortifications before night. But soon the firing
began to get farther off; then we knew it was defeat with Kilpatrick. Dahlgren reasoned
that General Kilpatrick might make a stand near the city and at night renew the attack,
when he would hear our guns or see our signals, for Captain Gloskoski and myself had
arranged a special code of rocket signals, so as to communicate at night and bring all the
forces together in case of defeat. But Kilpatrick did not make a stand- did not return at
night, and never had one rocket sent up to let us know how to get out oft he scrape. He
made a rather precipitate, and , as one of his officers told me in Libby, demoralized run,
with Hampton on his rear.
Dahlgren waited till dark, and then came out and formed his men and made the attack on the
north side, and drove the enemy (who had no artillery) back to the inner line of works,
when reinforcements coming up, it soon got too hot, and he sounded the retreat, leaving
forty men on the field, but getting closer to the city than any of our troops ever did up
to the day of the surrender. Our column was then turned east, and we came round and
crossed the railroad at Hungary Station, from there to the Brooke pike, and finding from a
citizen that Kilpatrick was in retreat down the Peninsula, he determined to cross through
King William county and King and Queen county, and try and reach Butler's lines at
Gloucester Point. We crossed the Pamunkey at Hanovertown Ferry. The Mattaponi at Dabney's
(Walkerton) Ferry, having at this place a little skirmish with bushwhackers. I would here
state that coming round the city part of our column got separated from the advance, and
never got with us again, but, by good fortune, got in with Kilpatrick's forces and
escaped. We were not so fortune, got in with Kilpatrick's forces and escaped. We were not
so fortunate. When daylight came, we had Colonel Dahlgren, Major Cook, Lieutenant Merrit
PAGE 520 Southern Historical Society Papers.
commissioned officers, and seventy-five men, besides about fifty contrabands and a number
of extra horses.
After leaving Dabney's Ferry, we took the road to Stevensville; when on a hill between the
ferry and Aseamancock Creak we saw a company of infantry in the road, but a charge sent
them to the woods. We went on with all the speed we could, and at dark crossed the creek
and stopped to feed and rest for about half an hour- then off again, and had not gone but
a short distance when Lieutenant Merritt, who was still in advance, came back and told
Dahlgren he would have to have more men, as the road was stopped with mounted troops, who
seemed determined to make a stand.
At this, the Colonel, Major Cook and myself hurried forward, sending an order back along
the line to hurry up the men. When we came up, Dahlgren took the lead, and with his
revolver in hand rode close up to the men in the road and demanded their surrender. This
was answered by a defiant demand on their part for us to surrender. At this Dahlgren
attempted to shoot the officer in charge of the Confederates, but the weapon hung fire.
Almost instantly a volley was fired into our left flank along our line by the enemy who
lay in ambush not over twenty feet from the road. This stampeded us for about one hundred
yards, every horse in our column turning to the rear. When we pulled up we found that
Dahlgren was killed (this some knew before, having seen him fall). Major Cook had lost his
horse, but all the balance were all right. We then moved out into a field on our right and
waited their coming, but they did not come. We then held a council, and determined to
abandon the horses, and all try and make their escape. We succeeded in getting away that
night, but on the next were captured.
Colonel Dahlgren's body was mutilated to the extent of cutting off a finger to get a ring
he wore. I can name the man who did it, and I was the means of his sister, Miss M. M.,
getting it after the war. But the worst indignity was having his body taken up after we
had him decently coffined and buried at Stevensville and taken to Richmond, and then taken
out of the city and buried in an unknown grave so he could never be found His sister did
find him, however, and he is now lying north of Mason and Dixon's line. This was done on
their part on account of the papers said to have been found on his dead body. As to the
papers, I don't believe he had any such, as has been claimed by the Confederates. The
unfortunate raid cost me and others over five months' close confinement, and treatment
such as no brutes should receive.
PAGE 521 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
If M. Quad's query, "Who sacrificed Dahlgren?" has not been satisfactorily
answered yet, let some one else try his hand.
Signal Officer United States Army.
Comments on this statement
On the above we make now only two comments:
1. We happened to be present at the time at Frederick's Hall depot, around which the
artillery of Ewell's corps was in winter quarters, and we state of our own personal
knowledge that there were no infantry to protect the guns, and Colonel Dahlgren might have
made his raid a brilliant success, if (instead of putting so much confidence in the
statement of the "intelligent contraband") he had dashed into camp, captured the
guns and equipments of Ewell's artillery at least a third of what belonged to the whole
Army of Northern Virginia), and, abandoning his wild scheme of capturing Richmond, had
carried them into the Federal lines, as he could easily have done.
2. The hanging of the poor negro who acted as guide, and offered to show them a ford near
Dover Mills, was an utterly unjustifiable murder. We were in that neighborhood several
years ago, saw the tree on which he was hung, and were told by an old resident of
unimpeachable veracity that there was, and is, a ford at the point to which the negro
conducted the column, which is passable nearly the whole year, but that the winter rains
had swollen the James so that it was at that time unfordable.
A statement in the Philadelphia Times several years ago by one of Dahlgren's officers, to
the effect that a proof that there never was a ford there, and that the negro guide was a
traitor, was found in the fact that he himself "saw sloops passing up the river"
at that point, is as wild as the attempt to prove that the "Dahlgren Papers"
were forged by Confederates. Every resident of this section, every school- boy who has
studied the geography of Virginia, knows that the James is not navigable above Richmond,
and that no "sloop" was ever seen at Dover Mills.
PAGE 522 Southern Historical Society Papers.
THE CONFEDERATE ACCOUNT.
We give first the following official reports:
FROM GENERAL REPORT OF LIEUTENANT- GENERAL WADE HAMPTON.
In the beginning of the spring of 1864 the enemy made an expedition, which may be regarded
as the beginning of operations in the last campaign. This was the attempt made by
Kilpatrick, with a heavy body of cavalry, to capture Richmond. As my command was called
into service on this occasion, I begin my narrative of active operations of my division by
inserting the official report which was sent in by me at the time. Before doing this,
however, the following letter, which throws some light on the movements, is given:
HEADQUARTERS, March 6th, 1864.
GENERAL,- In advance of the report that I shall make, I write to suggest some
considerations which have occurred to me. In the first place, my observations convinced me
that the enemy could have taken Richmond, and in all probability would have done so, but
for the fact that Colonel Johnson intercepted a dispatch from Dahlgren to Kilpatrick,
asking what hour the latter had fixed for an attack on the city, so that both attacks
might be simultaneous. Kilpatrick had said on his retreat that with Butler's force he
could and would take the city. I regard the force to defend RICHMOND inadequate as at
present located; and if a determined and concentrated attack is made, grave apprehensions
of the result are to be entertained.
But if Kilpatrick will not risk another attack, there re but two modes of egress from his
present position, not, of course, including that by water. He may, under cover of a feint
from the Peninsula, endeavor to pass by Hanover Courthouse, across Little Page Ferry, and
thence to the Rappahannock; or he may cross into Gloucester, go to Urbanna, cross the
river there and escape by the Northern Neck. A judicious disposition of a proper force of
infantry can defeat either attempt to escape. The Mattadaquin and the Totopotomoy creeks,
with very little work, would make most excellent defensive lines, where an enemy can be
checked by a small force; and both of these creeks head near the railroad. A force
distributed along the line of
PAGE 523 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
road from RICHMOND to Fredericksburg would not only be in position to cut off any advance
from the Peninsula, but also to defend the city itself. If a force of infantry was posted
at Fredericksburg, it could put such works across the Northern Neck that Kilpatrick could
not get by without very great assistance from Meade. perhaps, too, a battery on the lower
Rappahannock might be of great service in preventing transports from approaching Urbanna.
I advise that scouts should be sent from my command to obtain reliable information of the
movements of the enemy at Gloucester and York- town.
The boats on the Pamunkey and the Mattapony should be removed. Whilst at Tunstall's
Station I made a reconnoissance of the positions the and up to Hanover Courthouse. The
Mattadaquin Creek can be forded only at two places with artillery- one, the lower ford,
near Hampstead, Mrs. Webb's place, where the ground is very defensible, and the other at
Rowland's Mill, the dam of which is now broken. if this dam is repaired, a large
inundation would be formed, preventing any crossing for some distance up. There is an
intermediate ford which can be used only by horsemen, and which, I am told, can be easily
blockaded. I have not availed myself of my leave of absence, as the weather has
favorable for the movements of troops; and if my presence here is longer necessary, I will
cheerfully forego my visit home. I beg you will let me know what disposition, if any, you
have made for the proposed relief of Butler's brigade, and what orders have been given to
General Rosser. I forward General Young's report as to the recent crossing of the enemy at
Ely's Ford. From this it appears that no blame can be attached to the officer commanding
the pickets, but the line of pickets and couriers seems to have been defective. I shall
give such instructions as will guard against the recurrence of a similar unfortunate
affair. I make the suggestions contained in this letter merely to bring them to your
attention, and if you think them of any value, you can communicate them to the General
Commanding, or can make whatever use of them you think best.
I am, very respectfully yours,
MAJOR GENERAL STUART,
PAGE 524 Southern Historical Society Papers.
The official report, to which reference is made in the foregoing letter, was sent in a few
days after this, and is as follows:
HEADQUARTERS, March 8th, 1864.
MAJOR,- At 11 o'clock A. M. on the 29th ultimo I received a dispatch from one of my
scouts, conveying information which I embodied in the following dispatch to Major- General
Stuart, dated "Milford, 11:30 A. M. Sergeant Shadbourne reports enemy moving. Gregg
moved to front Thursday. Tuesday whole army paid off, and prepared to march last night.
Kilpatrick receiving marching orders. Three days' rations passed Sheppard's, near
Madden's, supposed to be coming to Ely's Ford. Part of Second Corps on same road. Whole
army seems in motion. Sutlers and women ordered to rear. Acknowledge receipt of
this." At 12:30 I sent the following message to General Stuart: "Citizens report
to General Young a Yankee cavalry brigade at Mount Pleasant, moving towards Central Road.
no reports from pickets." Not hearing from General Young a Yankee cavalry brigade at
Mount Pleasant, moving towards Central Road. No reports from pickets." Not hearing
from General Stuart, at 10:30 P.M. the following message was sent to him: "Enemy were
at Beaver Dam at seven o'clock. North Carolina brigade has moved down with artillery. Have
ordered Maryland cavalry to join me. Young at Spotsylvania Courthouse. have received
nothing from you." These dispatches gave all the information I had received of the
movements of the enemy. As soon as I could learn what direction he had taken, I sent all
the mounted men of the North Carolina cavalry brigade who were present, 253 from the First
regiment and 53 from the Second, with Hart's battery, to Mount Carmel Church. On the
morning of the 1st March I joined the command and moved to Hanover Junction. Not hearing
of the enemy here, proceeded to Hughes Cross Roads, deeming that an important point, and
one at which he would be likely to cross. When the column arrived here, the camp- fires of
the enemy could be seen in the direction of Atlee's Station, as well as to the right on
the Telegraph or the Brooke road. I determined to strike at the party near Atlee's, and
with that view moved down to the station, where we met the pickets of the enemy. I would
not allow their fire to be returned, but quietly dismounted one hundred men, and
supporting them with the cavalry, ordered Colonel Cheek to move steadily on the camp of
the enemy, whilst two guns were opened on them at very short range. The attack was made
with great gallantry; the men proving by their conduct that they were fully equal to the
PAGE 525 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
difficult duty of soldiers- a night attack- in which officers and men behaved in a manner
that not only met but surpassed my highest expectations. The enemy, a brigade strong here,
with two other brigades immediately in their rear, made a stout resistance for a short
time, but the advance of my men was never checked, and they were soon in possession of the
entire camp, in which horses, arms, rations and clothing were scattered about in
confusion. Kilpatrick immediately moved his command off at a gallop, leaving one wagon
with horses hitched to it, and one caisson full of ammunition. These were taken possession
of by Colonel Bradley Johnson, who came up to that point in the morning from the direction
of Meadow Bridge. He also picked up a good many prisoners, whose horses had been captured
in the night attack, and who were cut off from their command owing to the extreme darkness
of the night, for the attack was made in a snow- storm. I could not push on till daylight,
when I found that the enemy had retreated rapidly down the Peninsula. We followed to the
vicinity of Old Church, where I was forced to discontinue the pursuit, owing to the
condition of my horses. Under orders from the Secretary of War, I took my cavalry,
together with some other commands around Richmond, and moved subsequently to Tunstall's
Station, in the hope of being able to strike a blow at the enemy. But he retreated to
Williamsburg, under cover of strong reinforcements, which had been sent to meet him. My
command was then brought back to its old camp, having been in the saddle from Monday night
to Sunday evening. We captured upwards of 100 prisoners, representing five regiments, many
horses, arms, &c. When it is taken into consideration that the force with which I left
camp numbered only 306 men, and that this number was reduced by necessary pickets and
scouts, I hope the Commanding General will not regard the success achieved by the command
as inadequate. They drove a picked division of the enemy from his camp, which they
occupied from one o'clock at night till daylight. They forced this body of the enemy to
take a route which they had not proposed to follow, whilst the other force under Dahlgren
was prevented from forming a junction with Kilpatrick by the interposition of my command
between the two. This brought about the precipitate retreat of Dahlgren and his ultimate
death, with the destruction of his command.
I beg to express my great satisfaction at the conduct of officers and men. Colonel Cheek,
who was in command of his detachment, displayed ability, gallantry and zeal. Major
Andrews, of the Second
PAGE 526 Southern Historical Society Papers.
North Carolina, also bore himself well, and gave assistance; while the artillery behaved
admirably. I cannot close my report without expressing my appreciation of the conduct of
Colonel Bradley T. Johnson and his gallant command. With a mere handful of men he met the
enemy at Beaver Dam, and never lost sight of him until he had passed Tunstall's Station,
hanging on his rear, striking him constantly, and displaying throughout the very highest
qualities of a soldier. He is admirably fitted for the cavalry service, and I trust that
it will not be deemed an interference on my part to urge, as emphatically as I can, his
Captain Lowndes, Lieutenant Hampton and Dr. Taylor, of my staff, accompanied me, and
rendered me great assistance. I have the honor to be,
Very respectfully yours,
WADE HAMPTON, Major- General.
MAJOR McCLELLAN, Acting Adjutant- General.
When the attack on Kilpatrick was made, Dahlgren, who had been repulsed by the local
troops in a feeble attack made on the city, was camped either on the Brooke turnpike or
the Telegraph road. He had a body of picked men with him, and his object was, in case
Richmond was taken, to free the Federal prisoners, to destroy the city, and to assassinate
our authorities. Having failed in his assault, and hearing the attack on Kilpatrick, he
immediately sought safety in flight. With a portion of his command he crossed the
Pamunkey, was attacked the same night by a few furloughed men of the Ninth Virginia
Cavalry, under direction of Captain Fox and Lieutenant Pollard, together with a small
detachment of the Home Guard of the county, was killed, and most of his men were captured.
Upon his person were found the papers which proved the execrable and atrocious nature of
his enterprise. As the authenticity of these papers has been denied, it may not be out of
place for me to state here what I know regarding them. As already stated, I followed
Kilpatrick when he retreated, and I halted on the night of the 2d March near the house of
Dr. Braxton, and not far from that of Mr. Lewis Washington. I remained during the night at
the house of the former, and moving off at a very early hour the next morning, I met Mr.
Washington, who asked me if I had seen a courier who was in search of me. Replying to him
in the negative, he informed me that this
PAGE 527 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
courier had stayed at his house the night previous, and had exhibited to him the note-
book of Dahlgren, in which he read the diabolical plan, which was subsequently made
public. The details of this plan, as stated to me by Mr. Washington, were precisely
similar to those published; so, unless the parties who killed Dahlgren, or the courier who
bore the dispatches on to Richmond, not finding me, wrote the orders and memoranda in the
captured note- book- a supposition entirely incredible- there can be no shadow of a doubt
but that Dahlgren was the originator of the plot to burn and sack Richmond, to assassinate
the President of the Southern Confederacy, and that, though not as successful as Booth in
his attempt on the life of the Federal President, he deserves as fully as the latter the
execration of all honorable men.
Kilpatrick having recruited at Yorktown, moved out, as if to attempt to force a passage
through my lines in order to rejoin the Federal army. Anticipating a movement of this
sort, I had concentrated my command near Fredericksburg, and was prepared to meet him on
more equal terms than at our last encounter. TO prevent his crossing the river below me, I
had the wharves at Urbanna destroyed. When he found that he could not cross there, and
that my command was in position to dispute his passage, he returned to Yorktown, and
placing his cavalry on steamers, he transported them safely but ingloriously to
Washington. Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, with a small body of cavalry, co- operated with me
during these movements against the enemy, and rendered most efficient service.
The following extract from "General Orders No. 10, Headquarters, Department of
Richmond, March 8th, 1864," conveys the thanks of Major- General Elzey, commanding,
to my command:
"The Major- General Commanding begs leave to tender to Major- General Hampton and his
command his sincere thanks for their co- operation in following up the enemy, and their
gallant assault upon his camp at Atlee's Station on Tuesday night, in which the enemy's
entire force was stampeded and completely routed, leaving in the hands of General Hampton
many prisoners and horses.
By command of
MAJOR- GENERAL ELZEY.
(Signed) T. O. CHESTNEY,
Acting Adjutant- General.
PAGE 528 Southern Historical Society Papers.
REPORT OF GENERAL W. H. STEVENS.
HEADQUARTERS RICHMOND DEFENCES,
March 8th, 1864.
Major T. O. CHESTNEY,
Acting Adjutant- General:
SIR,- I have the honor to make the following report oft he operations of this command
during the recent raid of the enemy against this city:
On Monday night, February 29th, 1864, in obedience to instructions from your office, I
ordered Lieutenant- Colonel C. E. Lightfoot, commanding the light artillery, to repair to
Camp Lee by daylight, with Captain Hankins's and Captain Rives's batteries, and to send
one section of Thornton's battery to the vicinity of the New Bridge, on the Nine- Mile
road, and at the same time ordered the forces of Lieutenant- Colonel Joseph Howard,
commanding Second Division, Inner Line, and of Lieutenant- Colonel J. W. Atkinson,
commanding First Division, Inner Line, to be at the intersection of the Brooke turnpike,
and Intermediate Line by daylight Tuesday morning. Lieutenant- Colonel Howard being
ordered at the same time to double his guards, posted at the intersection of the
Mechanicsville, the Meadow Bridge, the Brooke and Deep- Run roads and the Intermediate
On Tuesday morning I proceeded to the intersection of the Brooke turnpike and Intermediate
Line, and at half- past ten (10 ½) o'clock A. M., ordered Captain Rives to proceed to the
same place- there being no light artillery at that point- and in obedience to verbal
instructions from the Major- General commanding, returned to your headquarters.
While there, I received a dispatch from Lieutenant- Colonel Howard, stating that the enemy
had appeared in his front and driven in his pickets. I immediately returned to the
intersection of the Brooke turnpike and Intermediate Line, and upon my arrival there,
found out that upon the appearance of the enemy, Lieutenant- Colonel Joseph Howard had
ordered Captain Rives to push forward one section of his artillery and engage them. This
command Captain Rives executed, being supported by Company D, Tenth Virginia battalion,
heavy artillery, commanded by Captain C. S. Harrison. After advancing some two hundred
yards, the enemy's skirmishers, closing
PAGE 529 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
upon him, fired so rapidly and accurately, that he was obliged to retire to the shelter of
the fortification, with the loss of two men wounded and eight horses wounded. Lieutenant-
Colonel Lightfoot had also, with commendable promptitude, ordered Hankins's battery to the
intersection of the Intermediate Line and the Mordecai mill road. At the same time sending
him an infantry support from Lieutenant- Colonel Howard's command.
Soon after my arrival the enemy opened upon my position a rapid and tolerably accurate
fire from five pieces of artillery, and his skirmishers advanced under cover of ditches
and the neighboring houses to within two hundred (200) yards of our works, and annoyed our
artillerists so much that, at the suggestion of Lieutenant- Colonel Howard, I ordered him
and Lieutenant- Colonel Atkinson to detach a portion of their commands and drive them from
their shelter. This was handsomely performed on the right by a volunteer force from
Lieutenant- Colonel Howard's command, under First Lieutenant William M. Chaplain, Company
B, Twentieth Virginia battalion, heavy artillery, who charged the enemy who were in the
house of Mr. J. A. Parker, from which they were immediately driven; and on the left by
Company D, Tenth Virginia battalion, heavy artillery, Captain C. S. Harrison, commanding.
Lieutenant Chaplain's party lost five men in the charge, as per list of casualties
enclosed. A demonstration was made by the enemy against Captain Hankins's position on the
Mill road, but it was repulsed, and in the artillery duel that ensued, Captain Hankins
several times drove the gunners of the enemy from their guns.
Captain Rives's fire caused a large body of the enemy, massed between the Brooke turnpike
and the Mill road, to seek shelter in the thick wood to the right of Brooke turnpike. The
firing lasted about two hours, after which the enemy retreated towards the Meadow Bridge
road. later in the day, a small body of the enemy's cavalry made its appearance near the
residence of Mr. J. P. Ballard, about Three- fourths of a mile in front of one of my siege
batteries on the Intermediate Line and Deep Run road, served by a detachment of twenty men
of the Twentieth Virginia battalion, commanded by Second Lieutenant B. F. Holstead, of
Company B, Twentieth Virginia battalion. After exchanging ten rounds, the enemy withdrew
with no casualties on our side.
In closing this report, I have the honor to express my gratification at the behavior both
of the officers and men of this command; the artillery was handled exceedingly well, and
PAGE 530 Southern Historical Society Papers.
responded with alacrity to every call made upon them. I had about five hundred men engaged
between the Brooke pike and the Mill road and six pieces of artillery. The enemy supposed
to be between 3,000 and 3,500 men with five pieces of artillery.
Lieutenant Hudgin, with four pieces of artillery, was ordered to report to General Baton
on the Mechanicsville road, and one section from Hankins's and one from Rives's batteries
were sent to report to General Lee, before the fire of the enemy on my front had ceased-
they having left my command for the time, I have not traced their operations, though I
have been informed that they were not elsewhere engaged.
The loss of the enemy is not known, they being able, under cover of a dense fog, to carry
away their killed and wounded.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
W. H. STEVENS,
Commanding Richmond Defences.
REPORT OF LIEUTENANT JAMES POLLARD.
HEADQUARTERS CO. H, NINTH VA., CAVALRY,
March 7th, 1864.
Major- General FITZ. LEE:
GENERAL,- Early on the morning of the 2d I received information from my scouts that the
portion of the column which attacked Richmond on the 1st March was attempting to escape
through King William and King & Queen counties to Gloucester Point. I immediately sent
a dispatch to Captain Magruder (Forty- second battalion) to join me, and started in
pursuit with the remainder of my Company (about twenty- five men), having sent the rest to
scout and picket the numerous roads and ferries.
I overtook the enemy about 4 P. M., and attacked his rear, skirmishing with him for
several miles. I then turned off on a by- road to head him, sending a few men to harass
his rear, was reinforced by Captain Magruder with about thirty men and a number of the
home Guards, and placed them in line of battle at a point that the enemy was obliged to
pass. I then sent for Captain Fox (Fifth Virginia Cavalry) and he joined me with as many
of his Company as he had been able to collect (about fifteen men) just in time to meet the
PAGE 531 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
enemy, who advanced upon our position about 11 ½ P. M. The Colonel commanding (Dahlgren)
was killed at the first fire, and several wounded. They then retreated in confusion,
leaving the roads and taking to the fields.
As soon as it was light we discovered them scattered about in a field dismounted, when we
advanced and found that the whole force had surrendered to a Confederate officer, who was
a prisoner with them, except the commissioned officers and a few men who had dismounted
and fled to the woods. The officers and most of the men have since been captured.
The whole number captured will amount to about one hundred and seventy- five- forty
negroes and one hundred and thirty- five soldiers.
I am indebted to Captains Magruder and Fox and the Home Guards for their cordial co-
operation, as well as the coolness and bravery of their men in meeting the enemy.
I have the honor to be,
General, your most obedient servant,
First Lieutenant, Commanding Co. H,
Ninth Va. Cav. on detached service.
HEADQUARTERS LEE'S CAVALRY DIVISION,
March 7th, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded in the absence of intermediate commander.
FITZ. LEE, Major- General.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS,
March 9th, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded for the information of the Commanding General.
Lieutenant Pollard deserves great credit for his gallantry, and his men and officers who
so zealously co- operated with him should share the praise due them.
PAGE 532 Southern Historical Society Papers.
Lieutenant Pollard is First Lieutenant of Company H, Ninth Virginia cavalry, Chambliss'
brigade, Lee's division, cavalry corps.
J. E. B. STUART, Major- General.
HEADQUARTERS, 11th March, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded for information of the Department. Heartily concurring in the
commendations of General Stuart.
R. E. LEE, General.
Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War.
SAMUEL W. MELTON,
Major and Acting Adjutant- General.
Acting Adjutant- General's Office, March 17th, 1864.
A gallant exploit, and one which exhibits what a few resolute men can do to punish the
enemy on their marauding raids.
J. A. S.
21st March, 1864.
REPORT OF CAPTAIN E. C. FOX.
RICHMOND, March 9th, 1864.
Major- General FITZ. LEE:
GENERAL,- According to instructions, I have the honor to report the facts concerning the
little fight we had with the raiding party of the enemy around Richmond on the 5th day of
March. I was informed by Lieutenant Pollard, of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry, that the enemy
were advancing through King William county. I immediately ordered my men to report for
duty, and succeeded in assembling twenty- eight at King & Queen Courthouse.
Lieutenant Pollard came up in their rear and engaged their rear- guard near Bruington
Church, skirmishing for several miles. They halted and fed near Mantipike.
PAGE 533 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
The portions of the different commands were then collected together and put in ambush to
await the advance of the enemy. After an hour or two's rest, they moved on slowly. Our
fire was reserved until the head of their column rested within a few yards when they
opened fire, which was instantly returned. Colonel Dahlgren fell dead, pierced with five
balls. We captured ninety- two prisoners, thirty- eight negroes, a number of horses, arms,
Our force numbered about one hundred and fifty men. Lieutenant Pollard, twenty men;
Captain Magruder, of the Forty- Second Virginia battalion, seventy; Captain Bagby, Home
Guards, twenty- five; Captain Todd, Home Guards, nine; King & Queen Cavalry, twenty-
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
E. C. FOX,
Captain Company E, Fifth Virginia Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS LEE CAVALRY DIVISION,
March 10, 1864.
Lieutenant Pollard's report of this matter has already been sent on, but as it appears
that Captain Fox was in command of the various detachments of our forces resulting in the
death of Dahlgren and capture of his troops, I forward this report also.
Major- General Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS,
ARMY NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 13th, 1864.
From Lieutenant Pollard's report it is apparent that the place of ambush, and the
dispositions which resulted so successfully in the capture of Dahlgren's party, were made
by him prior to Captain Fox's arrival.
J. E. B. STUART, Major- General.
PAGE 534 Southern Historical Society Papers.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
14th April, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded for the information of the War Department.
R. E. LEE, General.
Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War.
SAMUEL W. MELTON,
Major and Acting Adjutant- General.
Org. Office, 21 April, 1864.
J. A. S.
23 April, 1864.
LETTER FROM CAPTAIN FOX.
ASHLAND, April 1st, 1864.
Major H. B. McCLELLAN:
MAJOR,- I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your communication on yesterday,
dated March 19th. I received notice through one of the Home Guards, who had been notified
by one of Lieutenant's Pollard's company, of the advance of the enemy. I immediately sent
orders to my lieutenants to assemble my company at King & Queen Courthouse with orders
to come up to Dunkirk. I started for Dunkirk immediately; when within half a mile of the
place, learned that the Yankees had swam the river at Aylett's, four miles below, when I
returned and went to the Courthouse, having sent a dispatch to Captain Bagby, of the Home
Guards, to keep me advised of the movements of the enemy. On my arrival at the Courthouse
found about seventy men present from different commands. I went into ambush just below the
Courthouse, having received information of the advance. Received information through two
members of my company that the enemy had gone into camp, when I moved up the road.
PAGE 535 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
On my arrival at Mantipike hill, found some sixty or seventy men in ambush. It was about
nine o'clock at night. Captain McGruder, of the Forty- Second Virginia battalion, was
present and Captain Bagby, Home Guard. I immediately took command of the entire force. I
determined, after finding out my strength, to charge the camp. Sent up to Stevensville
after Lieutenant Pollard some two or three miles above), but before his arrival, received
information that the Yankees were again advancing. The whole force was put in ambush. It
was about twelve o'clock when the action took place. The enemy then went into Mantipike
field, which has a canal running through it that cannot be crossed except at one place,
and the river on one side. knowing that it was impossible for them to make their escape
(except by place in canal above spoken of), I took the command below it, barricaded the
road and waited until day, when I sent in a flag of truce by Lieutenant Nunn, demanding
unconditional surrender. Before his return, I saw from the confused condition they were in
that they had determined not to fight. When I moved in, I found no commissioned officers
present. They were afterwards captured by Captain Bagby. I cannot say by whom the place of
ambush was chosen.
I have the honor to be
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
EDWARD C. FOX,
Captain Company E, Fifth Virginia Cavalry.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS,
ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 4, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded. This additional report was called for by me because Captain Fox's
former report seemed to throw some bout as to whom the credit of the ambuscade was due.
His concluding remarks, however, I think show that this credit was due, as at first
supposed, to Lieutenant Pollard, who, according to his report, chose the ground, stationed
the men, and then sent to King & Queen Courthouse for Captain Fox.
J. E. B. STUART, Major- General.
PAGE 536 Southern Historical Society Papers.
HEADQUARTERS, 5th April, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded for information of the Department.
R. E. LEE, General.
LETTER FROM LIEUTENANT POLLARD.
COMPANY H, NINTH VIRGINIA CAVALRY
April 9th, 1864.
GENERAL,- I have the honor to report, in reply to your order of March 19th, received to-
day, that early on the morning of- I got information from my scouts that the enemy were
crossing into King William moving towards King & Queen. I immediately started with my
company to meet him at Dunkirk, the only ferry at which a boat had been left on the river,
but he secured a wood boat at Aylett's several miles lower down the river and crossed his
men, swimming his horses. I pursued and attacked his rear, skirmishing with him for
several miles, when I turned off to get ahead of him at a point which I knew he must pass.
On my way to this place, I met Captain Magruder, Forty- second battalion Virginia cavalry
(to whom I had sent in the morning to join me) and some Home Guards, who placed their men
at my command, and I put them in the position which I had chosen about dark. Later in the
evening I heard that Captain Fox, Fifth Virginia cavalry, with some of his men, was at
King & Queen Courthouse and sent for him to join me, which he did, arriving on the
ground about ten or eleven o'clock, and a few minutes before the enemy advanced and
Colonel Dahlgren was killed. Captain Fox then took command and we remained in position
until daylight, when he ordered me to take my company and find out the position of the
enemy and they surrendered without showing fight.
I have the honor to be, General,
Your obedient servant,
First Lieut. Com'g Col. H, Ninth Va. Cavalry.
PAGE 537 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
HEADQUARTERS LEE'S CAVALRY DIVISION,
12th April, 1864.
Major- General Commanding.
HEADQUARTERS CAVALRY CORPS,
ARMY NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
April 13, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded. To Lieutenant Pollard's skilful dispositions and to his activity
it is mainly owing that Dahlgren was killed and his party captured.
J. E. B. STUART, Major- General.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
14th April, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded for the information of the War Department.
R. E. LEE, General.
Received, A.E I. G. Office, April 15, 1864.
STATEMENT OF JUDGE HENRY E. BLAIR.
In the winter of 1863-'64 the Army of northern Virginia was in winter quarters on the
south side of the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers, the cavalry and infantry occupying the
front of our lines and the artillery in the rear. I was First Lieutenant of the Salem
Artillery, Captain C. B. Griffin. Our company at that time was attached to the First
Virginia regiment of artillery, Colonel J. Thompson Brown commanding. We were stationed
near Frederick's Hall in the county of Louisa. A court- martial, of which I was a member,
was being held in a house about one mile from our camp, and on the 29th day of February,
1864, (the day of the month is impressed on my mind as significant of leap year). On that
day a portion of
PAGE 538 Southern Historical Society Papers.
Dahlgren's command surrounded the house and captured the whole of our party. The first
intimation we had of any of the enemy being near us was the Yankee cavalry on their
horses, pointing their pistols at the windows. They then dismounted, came in, and took us
all prisoners. I recollect of our party Colonel Hilary P. Jones (now teaching at an
academy in Hanover county), Captain David Watson, Captain Dement, of Maryland, and there
were some others whose names I have forgotten.
At the time of our capture Colonel Dahlgren had about six hundred cavalry under his
As soon as we were captured we were mounted and carried off by the enemy. Towards evening
a light rain set in and the night was very dark. Early in the night all the officers who
had been captured made their escape except Captain Dement and myself. While we were
preparing to make our escape the Yankees stopped, struck up lights, and camped or
bivouacked, and then, discovering that the rest of the officers had made their escape, had
us closely watched.
They started from their place of encampment before day the next morning, and a little
after sunrise halted in a large yard in front of a house that I then learned belonged to
Mr. Arthur Morson. The Federal soldiers regaled themselves on Mr. Morson's fine wine,
drinking it from his silver goblets, and, as mementoes of the feast, carried off the
goblets with them. I understood it was the intention of Colonel Dahlgren to cross James
river at that point, and enter Richmond from the south side of the river, crossing Mayo's
bridge, but the river was then flush and too deep to be forded. So, after spending a short
time in Mr. Morson's yard, they left there, went down to the canal and burned the Dover
Mill. They then kept down on the north side of James river. A negro man named Martin, who
was said to be a guide employed by the Yankees, was riding with the party. For some reason
they supposed he was attempting to play them false and get them entrapped, and they hung
him with a leather strap to a tree on the road side until he was dead, cut him down and
left him dead in the road.
Towards evening we came in the neighborhood of Richmond, and it became evident that our
authorities were on the lookout, and Dahlgren moved very cautiously.
Shortly after night, somewhere between the Brooke and Mechanicsville turnpikes, Dahlgren's
force, which was then about six hundred, encountered our Confederate troops and was a good
PAGE 539 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
deal worsted in the encounter; and a large portion of his command separated from us and
united with General Kilpatrick, and went off with him. Colonel Dahlgren, with about one
hundred of his men, who were unable to get to Kilpatrick, continued to retreat through
Hanover, king William, and King & Queen counties. I was carried along with this party.
We rode the whole of that night as fast as the men and horses could stand it. A little
after sunrise the next morning we stopped awhile and took breakfast, and then rode all day
long. When we got to a stream near Aylett's store, I think- that divided the counties of
King William and King & Queen- we found a boat sunken, and when we attempted to cross,
some Confederates, from the other side oft eh stream, commenced firing into us, which
created considerable consternation among Dahlgren's men. He abused his men, went in front
of them and made them return the fire of the Confederates, who were only a small party,
and were driven off. We then crossed the stream. But all that evening the Confederates
annoyed Dahlgren's command by firing into them from the woods- they killed one Yankee
corporal. A little after dark that night, we stopped on the roadside a mile or two from
the village of Stevensville; some time after midnight we were called up, and Dahlgren
started his command on the march. I was riding in the main line near the front. We had
gone perhaps half a mile when I perceived there was some trouble in the front. Dahlgren
rode forward; I heard him challenge some one, and heard him snap his pistol, which was at
once followed by a fire in return from some one. That shot I suppose killed Dahlgren. And
then the Confederates opened fire against the Yankees, and gave a shout and cheer, which
cheered my heart to the very bottom, for I felt satisfied there were other men than Home
Guards then present, and that the time of my relief had come; the Yankees were greatly
alarmed and confused. The road, as I recollect it, was dug from the side of a hill on our
left, a bridge in our front had been blockaded, and there was a fence on the right of the
road. in the darkness, I got off my horse, opened the fence, and the Yankees retreated
into the field. I remained inside of the fence, until I thought the Yankees were gone far
enough not to hear me. I then called to our men, who informed me where they were and I
went to them; they then informed me that they had killed a man with one leg, and I told
them that was Dahlgren; they searched his person, and found the papers that were delivered
to the Confederate Government.
The Confederate forces consisted of some disbanded cavalry, who
PAGE 540 Southern Historical Society Papers.
were at home recruiting their horses, and some citizens under command of Captain Fox and
Lieutenant Pollard. At that time I think the Yankees numbered about one hundred; they were
all captured the next morning in the field that they had escaped into, except some of
their officers, who were captured during the evening of that day, and the whole party
carried to Richmond. I remained several days in King& Queen county. I was ragged and
dirty and broken down, but was taken by Dr. Walker to his house near Stevensville, and
treated like a brother until I was sufficiently recruited to go up to Richmond. And so
ended my capture and ride with Dahlgren on his raid around Richmond. Colonel Dahlgren was
a gallant and dashing soldier, a man of polish and education, but of unbounded ambition,
which induced him to undertake the desperate adventure he was on. He treated me and the
other prisoners with all proper courtesy and consideration, shared his rations with us,
and conversed quite freely.
HENRY E. BLAIR.
Salem, Va., August 22d, 1874.
THE DAHLGREN PAPERS.
The following is a copy of the papers which were found on the person of Colonel Dahlgren,
after he was killed, which excited such indignation among the Confederates, and the
authenticity of which (though denied with such persistency) we shall establish beyond
[Published in the Richmond, Virginia, Dispatch of March 5th, 1864.]
ADDRESS TO THE OFFICERS AND MEN.
The following address to the officers and men of the command was written on a sheet of
paper having in printed letters on the upper corner, "Headquarters Third Division,
Cavalry Corps,--, 1864:"
Officers and Men:
You have been selected from brigades and regiments as a picked command to attempt a
desperate undertaking- an undertaking which, if successful, will write your names on the
hearts of your countrymen in letters that can never be erased, and which will
PAGE 541 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
cause the prayers of our fellow soldiers, now confined in loathsome prisons, to follow you
and yours wherever you may go. We hope to release the prisoners from Belle Island first,
and having seen them fairly started, we will cross the James river into Richmond,
destroying the bridges after us, and exhorting the released prisoners to destroy and burn
the hateful city, and do not allow the Rebel leader, Davis, and his traitorous crew to
escape. The prisoners must render great assistance, as you cannot leave your ranks too far
or become too much scattered, or you will be lost.
Do not allow any personal gain to lead you off, which would only bring you to an
ignominious death at the hands of citizens. Keep well together and obey orders strictly,
and all will be well, but on no account scatter too far, for in union there is strength.
With strict obedience to orders, and fearlessness in the executing, you will be sure to
We will join the main force on the other side of the city, or, perhaps, meet them inside.
Many of you may fall; but if there is any man here not willing to sacrifice his life in
such a great and glorious undertaking, or who does not feel capable of meeting the enemy
in such a desperate fight as will follow, let him step out, and he may go hence to the
arms of his sweetheart, and read of the braves who swept through the city of Richmond.
We want no man who cannot feel sure of success in such a holy cause.
We will have a desperate fight, but stand up to it when it does come, and all will be
Ask the blessing of the Almighty, and do not fear the enemy.
U. DAHLGREN, Colonel Commanding.
SPECIAL ORDERS AND INSTRUCTIONS.
The following special orders were written on a similar sheet of paper, and on detached
slips, the whole disclosing the diabolical plans of the leaders of the expedition:
Guides- Pioneers with oakum, turpentine, and torpedoes)- Signal Officer- Quartermaster-
Scouts and pickets- men in rebel uniform.
These will remain on the north bank and move down with the force on the south bank, not
getting ahead of them; and if the communication can be kept up without giving alarm, it
PAGE 542 Southern Historical Society Papers.
done; but everything depends upon a surprise, and NO ONE must be allowed to pass ahead of
the column. Information must be gathered in regard to the crossings of the river, so that
should we be repulsed on the south side we will know where to recross at the nearest point
All mills must be burned and the canal destroyed, and also everything which can be used by
the Rebels must be destroyed including the boats on the river. Should a ferry boat be
seized and can be worked, have it moved down. Keep the force on the south side posted of
any important movement of the enemy, and in case of danger some of the scouts must swim
the river and bring us information. As we approach the city the party must take great care
that they do not get ahead of the other party on the south side, and must conceal
themselves and watch our movements. We will try and secure the bridge to the city (one
mile below Belle Isle), and release the prisoners at the same time. if we do not succeed,
they must then dash down, and we will try and carry the bridge from each side. When
necessary, the men must be filed through the woods and along the river bank. The bridges
once secured, and the prisoners loose and over the river, the bridges will be secured and
the city destroyed. The men must keep together and well in hand, and once in their city it
must be destroyed, and Jeff Davis and Cabinet killed. Pioneers will go along with
combustible material. The officer must use his discretion about the time of assisting us.
Horses and cattle, which we do not need immediately, must be shot rather than left.
Everything on the canal and elsewhere, of service to the Rebels, must be destroyed. As
General Custer may follow me, be careful not to give a false alarm.
The Signal officer must be prepared to communicate at night by rockets, and in other
things pertaining to his department.
The Quartermasters and Commissaries must be on the lookout for their departments and see
that there are no delays on their account. The engineer officer will follow to survey the
road as we pass over it, &c.
The pioneers must be prepared to construct a bridge or destroy one. They must have plenty
of oakum and turpentine for burning, which will be rolled in soaked balls and given to the
men to burn when we get in the city. Torpedoes will only be used by the pioneers for
destroying the main bridges, &c. They must be prepared to destroy railroads. Men will
branch off to the right with a few pioneers and destroy the bridges and railroads south of
Richmond, and then join us at the city. They must be well prepared with
PAGE 543 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
torpedoes, &c. The line of Falling Creek is probably the best to work along, or, as
they approach the city, Goode's Creek, so that no reinforcements can come up on any cars.
No one must be allowed to pass ahead for fear of communicating news. Rejoin the command
with all haste, and , if cut off, cross the river above Richmond and rejoin us. Men will
stop at Bellona Arsenal and totally destroy it, and anything else but hospitals; then
follow on and rejoin the command at Richmond with all haste, and, if cut off, cross the
river and rejoin us. As General Custer may follow me, be careful and not give a false
PROGRAMME OF THE ROUTE AND WORK.
The following is an exact copy of a paper written in lead pencil, which appears to have
been a private memorandum of the programme, which Dahlgren had made to enable him to keep
his work clearly in mind.
Saturday- Leave camp at dark (6 P.M.); cross Ely's Ford at 10 P. M.
Twenty miles- Cross North Anna at 4 A. M. Sunday; feed and water one hour.
Three miles- Frederick's Hall Station, 6 A. M., destroy arty. 8 A. M.
Twenty miles- Near James river, 2 P. M. Sunday; feed and water one and a half hours.
Thirty miles to RICHMOND- March towards Kilpatrick for one hour and then as soon as dark
cross the river, reaching Richmond early in the morning. (Monday.)
One squadron remains on north side, and one squadron to cut the railroad bridge at Falling
Creek, and join at Richmond- eighty-three miles.
General Kilpatrick- cross at 1 A. M. Sunday- ten miles.
Pass river 5 A. M. (resistance.)
Childsburg- fourteen miles 8 A. M.
Resistance at North Anna- three miles.
Railroad bridges at South Anna- twenty- six miles- 2 P. M.
Destroy bridges- Pass the South Anna and feed until after dark- then Signal each other-
After dark move down to Richmond, and be in front of the city at daybreak.
RETURN- In Richmond during the day- feed and water men outside.
PAGE 544 Southern historical Society Papers.
Be over the Pamunkey at daybreak- feed and water, and then cross the Rappahannock at
night, (Tuesday night), when they must be on the lookout.
Spies should be sent on Friday morning early, and be ready to cut.
AUTHENTICITY OF THE DAHLGREN PAPERS.
The publication of the "Dahlgren Papers" excited, of course, the deepest
indignation on the part of the Confederates, and the atrocious sentiments and purposes
they revealed were denounced in no measured terms by the Confederate press. The answer of
the Northern papers was a charge that the papers were "forged by the Rebels,"
and that no such documents were found on the person of Colonel Dahlgren. That this charge
should be made by a partisan press amid the bitter passions of the war is not to be
But Rear- Admiral Dahlgren, in a memoir of his son, published in 1872, distinctly and
emphatically reiterates it, and gives what he deems conclusive proof of his charge.
We are willing that the whole case should go into our records and be judged by the future
historian, and we cheerfully quote as follows all that Rear- Admiral Dahlgren says bearing
on the question of the authenticity of these papers. We quote from an article written by
Mrs. Dahlgren, but have verified the quotations by reference to the book [pp. 226,
227,228, 229, 233, 234, 235] now before us.
"After the news had reached Richmond that Colonel Dahlgren had fallen, and that the
handful of men with him had been dispersed or captured, it was bruited about that the
purpose of the expedition was solely to destroy Richmond, and to slay the chief of the
rebellion. The publication of orders asserted to have been found on the person of Colonel
Dahlgren followed in a few days, and on Monday the body of the gallant youth was
disinterred and brought to Richmond where it was exposed to public view at the depot of
the York River railroad. nothing better was permitted to the precious remains, than a
common pine box, the coarse shirt and pantaloons of a rebel soldier, with an ordinary camp
blanket for a shroud. When the gaze of the tiger- horde had been sated the body
disappeared from public view. it was doomed to concealment in some nameless spot, and it
was denied to the repeated requests of his
PAGE 545 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
father and the United States Government. It was to justify these ruthless acts that the
announcement already mentioned had been spread about in regard to the orders alleged to
have been found on Colonel Dahlgren after he fell, which were said to have directed the
death of the insurgent president and the destruction of Richmond. The document alleged to
have been found upon the person of Colonel Dahlgren is utterly discredited by the fact
that the signature attached to it cannot possibly be his own, because it is not his name-
a letter is misplaced and the real name Dahlgren is spelled Dahlgren; hence it is
undeniable that the paper is not only spurious, but is a forgery. Evidence almost as
positive is to be found in the writing of the Christian prefix of the signature. The
document is signed 'U. Dahlgren,' whereas Colonel Dahlgren invariably signed himself
'Ulric Dahlgren,' never with the bare initial of the first name. Among all the letters of
his writing which can be collected not an instance to the contrary occurs, down to the
last that he ever wrote, just before starting for Richmond. It is entirely certain that no
such orders were ever issued by Colonel Dahlgren. All that he gave were verbal, as might
have been expected under the circumstances, and in no case intimated in the least degree
the intention conveyed the obnoxious passages of the spurious order.
"Nothing of the kind was received by the officers or privates of the command, even to
the time when Richmond was in view, and it is highly improbable that they would have been
uninformed of any important purpose of the expedition when they were supposed to be on the
verge of action. Lieutenant Bartley, the Signal officer of the column, in a published
letter December 29th, 1864, after giving an account of the treatment received when a
" 'All this brutal punishment was inflicted upon us, according to the statement of
the Confederate prison officials, on account of those papers said to have been found on
the body of Colonel Dahlgren at the time he was killed. But the name of COLONEL Dahlgren
can never be injured buy any slander or forgery that can be concocted by all the enemies
of our country. His deeds speak for themselves. His career with Sigel, Burnside, Hooker,
Meade and Kilpatrick, together with his exploits at Fredericksburg, Beverley Ford,
Chambersburg and in front of RICHMOND, will live when the name of the last traitor in the
land is forgotten.
" 'I pronounce those papers a base forgery, and will give some of my reasons for so
doing. I was with the expedition in the capacity of Signal officer, and was the only staff
officer with him. I had
PAGE 546 Southern Historical Society Papers.
charge of all the material for destroying bridges, blowing up locks, aqueducts, etc. I
knew all his plans, what he intended to do and how he intended doing it, and I know that I
never received any such instructions as those papers are said to contain. I also heard all
the orders and instructions given to the balance of the officers of the command. Men
cannot carry out orders they know nothing of. The Colonel's instructions were, that if we
were successful in entering the city, to take no life except in combat; to keep all
prisoners safely guarded, but to treat them with respect; liberate all the Union
prisoners, destroy the public buildings and government stores, and leave the city by way
of the Peninsula.'"
Now, we have no harsh word for the father, who, in deep affliction at his sad fate, is
defending the memory of a gifted and gallant son, and we pass by without comment many of
the bitter things in the above quotation, and the still more bitter things in Rear-
Admiral Dahlgren's book. But we shall show by the most incontrovertible proofs that these
papers were not "forgeries," but were taken, in the exact form in which they
were taken, in the exact form in which they were afterwards published, from the person of
the fallen chieftain.
The question at once arises: If these papers were forgeries, who forged them?
We first introduce a witness who was our college- mate at the University of Virginia in
1858- 9, whom we knew afterwards as an earnest Christian, and then as a useful minister of
the Gospel, and for whom we can vouch as every way worthy of credence. We refer to Mr.
Edward W. Halbach, whose sworn affidavit was published years ago, and has never been
impeached, and we give his statement in full as follows:
STATEMENT OF EDWARD W. HALBACH IN RELATION TO "THE DAHLGREN PAPERS."
"In the summer of 1863, I, Edward W. Halbach, was living at Stevensville, in King
& Queen county, VIRGINIA. I had already been exempted from military service on account
of the condition of my health, and was now exempt as a schoolmaster having the requisite
number of pupils. But feeling it my duty to do what I could to encounter the raids of the
enemy, I determined to form a company of my pupils between the ages of thirteen and
seventeen years. My commission and papers prove that the company was formed, and accepted
by the President for "Local Defence" A member of this
PAGE 547 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
company, thirteen years of age at the time, captured the notorious 'Dahlgren Papers.' The
name of this boy is William Littlepage.
"Littlepage and myself were at Stevensville when the rangers passed that place on
their way to the appointed place of ambush. Being determined to participate in the affair,
we set off on foot, having no horses to ride, and reached the rendezvous a little after
dark. The Yankees came up in a few hours, and were fired on. Immediately after this fire,
and while it was still doubtful whether the enemy would summon up courage enough to
advance again, in a word, before any once lese ventured to do so, Littlepage ran out into
the road, and finding a 'dead Yankee' there, proceeded to search his pockets to see, as he
said, if he might not be fortunate enough to find a watch. The little fellow wanted to own
a watch, and, as the Yankees had robbed me, his teacher, of a gold watch a short time
before, I suppose he concluded that there would be no harm in his taking a watch from a
'dead Yankee' but his teacher always discouraged any feelings of this kind in his pupils.
Littlepage failed to secure the prize by not looking in the overcoat pockets, and the
watch (for there was really one) was found afterwards by lieutenant Hart. But in searching
the pockets of the inner garments, Littlepage did find a cigar- case, a memorandum- box,
"When the Yankees had been driven back and thrown into a panic by the suddenness of
our fire and the darkness of the night, a Confederate lieutenant, whom the enemy had
captured at Frederick's Hall, embraced the opportunity presented to make his escape, and
actually succeeded in getting over to our side.
"We could, by this time, hear the enemy galloping rapidly over the field, and
arrangements were soon made to prevent their possible escape. Our force determined to go
down the road towards King & Queen Courthouse, and barricade it.
"But, as before mentioned, myself and the only member of my company I had with me,
were on foot, and unable to keep up with the horsemen. It was therefore decided that the
prisoners whom we had captured should be left in my charge. in the confusion, however, all
the prisoners had been carried off by others, save the one claiming to be a Confederate
officer, which he afterwards proved to be- and a gallant one at that. But, under the
circumstances, I felt compelled to treat him as an enemy, until time should prove him a
"Wishing to find a place of safety, and feeling that it would be hazardous for so
small. a party to take any of the public roads (for
PAGE 548 Southern historical Society Papers.
we knew not how many more Yankees there were, nor in what direction they might come), I
decided to go into the woods a short distance, and there spend the night. My party
consisted of myself, Littlepage, the 'lieutenant,' and several other gentlemen of King
& Queen county. We walked into the woods about a quarter of a mile, and sat down.
"Up to this time, we had not even an intimation of the name and rank of the officer
commanding the enemy. In fact, we felt no curiosity to know. All we cared for was to
punish as severely as possible the raiders with whom we were contending. We knew that one
man was killed, but knew not who he was. We were just getting our places for the night,
and wrapping up with blankets, garments, etc., such as we had, for the ground was
freezing, and we dared not make a fire, when Littlepage pulled out a cigar- case, and
said: 'Mr. Halbach, will you have a cigar?' 'No, said I; 'but where did you get cigars
these hard times?' He replied that he had got them out of the pocket of the Yankee who had
been killed, and that he had also taken from the same man a memorandum book and some
papers. 'Well,' said I, 'William, you must give me the papers, and you may keep the cigar-
"Littlepage then remarked that the dead Yankee had a wooden leg. Here the lieutenant,
greatly agitated, exclaimed: 'How do you know he has a wooden leg?'
"'I know he has,' replied Littlepage, 'because I caught hold of it and tried to pull
"'There!' replied the lieutenant, 'you have killed Colonel Dahlgren, who was in
command of the enemy. His men were devoted to him, and I would advise you all to take care
of yourselves now, for if the Yankees catch you with anything belonging to him, they will
certainly hang us all to the nearest tree.'
"Of course it was impossible for us to learn the contents of the papers, without
making a light to read them by, or waiting till the next morning. We did the latter; and,
as soon as day broke, the papers were read, and found to contain every line and every word
as afterwards copied into the Richmond newspapers Dahlgren's name was signed to one or
more of the papers, and also written on the inside of the front cover of his memorandum-
book. Here the date of purchase, I suppose, was added. The book had been written with a
degree of haste clearly indicated by the frequent interlineation and corrections, but the
orders referred to had also been re- written on a separate sheet of paper; and, as thus
copied, were published to the
PAGE 549 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
world. Some of the papers were found loose in Dahlgren's pockets, others were between the
leaves of the memorandum- book.
"The papers thus brought to light were preserved by myself in the continual presence
of witnesses of unquestionable veracity, until about two o'clock in the afternoon of the
day after their capture; at which time myself and party met Lieutenant Pollard, who, up to
this time, knew nothing in the world of the existence of the Dahlgren Papers. At his
request, I let him read the papers; after doing which he requested me to let him carry
them to Richmond. At first, I refused, for I thought that I knew what to do with them
quite as well as any one else. But I was finally induced by my friends, against my will,
to surrender the papers to Lieutenant Pollard, mainly in consideration oft he fact that
they would reach Richmond much sooner through him than through a semi- weekly mail. The
papers which were thus handed over to the Confederate Government- I state it again- were
correctly copied by the Richmond newspapers.
"A thousand and one falsehoods have been told about this affair- by our own men as
well as by the Yankees. Some of our own men were actuated by motives of selfishness and
ambition to claim, each one for himself, the whole credit of the affair; when in fact, the
credit belongs to no particular individual, but collectively, to the whole of our party.
We were a strange medley of regulars, raw troops, old farmers, preachers, schoolboys, etc.
But I believe that all present did their duty, only to find that all the credit was
afterwards claimed, with a considerable degree of success among the ignorant, by those who
were not present.
"The credit of the command of our party belongs alone to Captain Fox, than whom there
was no more chivalric spirit in either army. In making this statement, I am actuated only
by a desire to do justice to the memory of one who was too unassuming to sound his own
trumpet. I am also told, by soldiers, that Lieutenant Pollard deserves a considerable
degree of credit for the part he played in following and harassing the enemy up to the
time they took the right fork of the road near Butler's Tavern.
"You are, of course, aware of the fact that the enemy has always denied the
authenticity of the Dahlgren Papers, and declared them to be forgeries. To prove the utter
absurdity and falsehood of such a charge, I submit the following:
"1. The papers were taken by Littlepage from the person of a man whose name he had
never heard. It was a dark night, and the
PAGE 550 Southern historical Society Papers.
captor, with the aid of the noon- day sun, could not write at all. I afterwards taught him
to write a little in my school.
"There question occurs: Can a boy who cannot write at all, write such papers, and
sign to them an unknown name? If they had been forged by any one else, would they have
been placed in the hands of a child? Could any one else have forged an unknown and unheard
"2. The papers were handed to me immediately after their capture, in the presence of
gentlemen of undoubted integrity and veracity, before whom I can prove that the papers not
only were not, but could not have been, altered or interpolated by myself. These gentlemen
were with me every moment of the time between my receiving the papers and my delivering
them to Lieutenant Pollard.
"3. If Lieutenant Pollard had made any alterations in the papers, these would have
been detected by every one who read the papers before they were given to him, and
afterwards read them in the newspapers. But all agree that they were correctly copied. in
short, human testimony cannot establish any fact more fully than the fact that Colonel
Ulric Dahlgren was the author of the 'Dahlgren Papers.
"With regard to the part taken by myself in this affair, I lay no claim to any
credit. I do not write this version of the affair to gain notoriety. I have made it a rule
not to mention my own name, except in cases where I found that false impressions were
being made upon the public mind. You know very well that my being Littlepage's captain
entitled me to claim the capture of the papers for myself. But this I have never done.
And, even when called upon by General Fitz. lee to give my affidavit to the authenticity
of the papers, I wrote him word that Littlepage was the captor of them. In his letter to
Lieutenant Pollard, which was forwarded to me, he asked: 'Who is Captain Halbach?' I
replied, for myself, that I was nothing more than the humble captain of a company of
school- boys, and that if I deserved any credit, it was only so much as he might choose to
give me for preserving the papers, when advised to destroy them, to avid being captured
with them in my possession, which, I was told, would result in the hanging of our little
"I have never given the information herein continued before, because I had hoped that
it would be given to the public by others, and I give it now, because I regard it as a
duty to do so. My own course, after the killing of Dahlgren, was as follows: I joined
PAGE 551 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
who agreed to bury him decently in a coffin, and in compliance with a promise made to a
scout by the name of Hogan, I prepared a neat little head- board with my own hands, to
mark his grave. This was not put up, because the messenger from Mr. Davis for the body of
Dahlgren arrived while we were taking it out of the ground where it had been hastily
Sworn Statement of Dr. R. H. Bagby
We had hoped to add to the above statement of Mr. Halbach that of Rev. Richard Hugh Bagby,
D. D., who commanded the Home Guard on the occasion, who was stationed within a few feet
of Colonel Dahlgren when he was killed, and who told us (in the course of a very minute
and vivid description of the affair) that he heard of the papers soon after they were
taken from Dahlgren's body; that he read them the next morning before there was any
opportunity for any one to alter them, and that the publications in the Richmond papers
were correct copies of the originals.
Dr. Bagby wrote out his statement for Hon. A. H. Stephens, and the distinguished Georgian
told us not long before his death that he remembered distinctly the statement, and would
try to find it among his papers, but he died before sending it and we have not yet been
able to recover it.
Dr. Bagby also promised to write out his narrative and to procure affidavits as to the
authenticity of the Dahlgren papers from others who were present, in response to a request
made through us by General R. E. Lee, who said that while he had ever had the slightest
doubt of the authenticity of the papers, he wished to furnish in his "History of the
Army of Northern Virginia," which he was purposing to write, the most indisputable
proofs that the papers were genuine, and not forgeries.
But, alas! Dr. Richard Hugh Bagby- one of the truest, bravest, purest, noblest specimens
of the Christian gentlemen, and the able minister of the gospel whom we ever knew- died
before he had prepared his paper, and General R. E. Lee "crossed over the river"
before he had done more than collect the material for a book whose lightest statement the
world would have received with implicit credence. But this missing evidence is not a
"missing link" in our chain which we will show to be complete and perfect.
Mr. Halbach's sworn statement shows beyond all civil that he delivered the papers to
Lieutenant Pollard just as they were taken from Dahlgren's person; that there was no
alteration, and that the publication in the Richmond papers was correct.
PAGE 552 Southern Historical Society Papers.
Statement of general R. L. T. Beale
If our readers will turn to Vol. 3, SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS, pp. 219- 221, and
read the paper of that gallant soldier, and high- toned gentleman, General R. L. T. Beale,
then Colonel of the Ninth Virginia cavalry, he will find that he states that Lieutenant
Pollard brought the papers to him together with a memorandum- book, found also in Colonel
Dahlgren's pocket, in which nearly all of the papers had been copied; that after reading
them he forwarded the papers to Richmond and retained the memorandum- book; that the
publication in Richmond corresponded precisely to both the papers and the memorandum book,
and that after the authenciticity of the papers was disputed he forwarded the memorandum-
book to Richmond as corroborative proof.
And now we will introduce as our next witness General Fitzhugh Lee at present, the
distinguished Governor- elect of Virginia), who is as well known for his fairness during
the war to "our friends, the enemy," and for his chivalrous and kindly feeling
since towards those who fought on the other side, as for his gallant and skilful services
for the land and cause he loved so well.
We give in full a letter written by General Lee to the Historical Magazine, New York, and
published in that Magazine in 1870:
THE DEATH OF COLONEL DAHLGREN.
* * * * In compliance with your request, and solely because it seems to be an unprejudiced
one, I transmit my recollections of Colonel Dahlgren's raid, that they may be placed
within the reach of those "who respect the truth for its own sake."
February, 1864, found General Lee's army wintering along the line of the Rapidan, in
Orange county, Virginia. General Meade's opposing army was in winter quarters, in Culpeper
county, on the line of the Rappahannock.
During the latter part of that month, General Kilpatrick, a cavalry division commander of
the latter, essayed a coup de main upon Richmond, the "objective point" of his
commander- in- chief. Colonel Dahlgren was a subordinate officer on that expedition.
Kilpatrick's idea was, secretly leaving his army, to clear General lee's right flank well,
and, by forced march, with picked men and horses, appear before the western defences of
Richmond, and enter its back door without even knocking. Combined with his movement was a
diversion made by General Custer around General Lee's left flank, which drew after it, as
was intended, what cavalry General Lee had at that time with his army.
PAGE 553 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
Kilpatrick's route and the progress made on it were known in Richmond, so that when he
arrived at the outer line of defences, quite a number of people were there to welcome him.
I was in the city at the time, in person only (a portion of my cavalry being with the
army, and a portion off, wintering in the interior of the State, where forage was more
abundant), and rode out to the line of fortifications, witnessing Kilpatrick's departure
after a brief stay, and a few shots fired from his artillery. There was no cavalry to
pursue him with; and his return march, as far as I know, was unmolested. Colonel Ulric
Dahlgren's command was detached from the main body under Kilpatrick, with the intention,
it was presumed, of crossing James river some distance above Richmond, releasing the
Federal prisoners at Belle Isle, and, by entering Richmond from the south or Petersburg
side, form again a junction with Kilpatrick. James river was high; and without attempting
its passage, Colonel Dahlgren moved down its north bank, doubtless with the expectation of
finding and uniting with Kilpatrick in Richmond. The latter, however, had left him and his
small force to take care of themselves. It resolved itself then into a case of suave qui
peut. Dividing into smaller parties, to facilitate their escape, Dahlgren, at the head of
one of them, attempted to return through King & Queen county, but was
killed, as far
as I know and believe, at the point and in the manner described in the minute statement of
Edward W. Halbach, of Stevensville, in that county. His statement can be found upon page
504 in the Lost Cause.
I was still in Richmond, when, on the second morning after Colonel Dahlgren's death,
Lieutenant James Pollard, of the Ninth VIRGINIA cavalry, brought me some papers and an
artificial leg, which he said had been taken from the body of one of the officers of the
enemy named Dahlgren, and who had been killed in King & Queen county. Pollard was one
of my officers accidentally in that vicinity at the time, and hence brought the papers
first to me. upon ascertaining their contents, I immediately took them to Mr. Davis.
Admitted to his private office, I found no one but Mr. Benjamin, a member of his Cabinet,
with him. The papers were handed him, and he read them aloud in our presence, making no
comment save a laughing remark, when he came to the sentence, "Jeff. Davis and
Cabinet must be killed on the spot," "That means you, Mr. Benjamin." By Mr.
Davis's directions, I then carried them to General Cooper, the Adjutant- General of the
army, to be filed in his office. I never saw them but once afterwards, when I took them
out of the
PAGE 554 Southern Historical Society Papers.
Adjutant- General's office to see if copies of them, which had appeared in the Richmond
papers, were correct, and immediately returned them again. The artificial leg was given to
some army surgeons, to be used as a model. Colonel Dahlgren's body was brought to Richmond
and buried, I heard, somewhere near the York River railroad depot; but by whom, or by
whose order, I don't know, nor have I ever heard anything more about it.
And now to sum up: It is the universal belief of the Southern people that when General
Kilpatrick and Colonel Dahlgren attempted their coup de main upon Richmond, in 1864, it
was done with a view, whilst holding the city temporarily, to release the Federal
prisoners; to "destroy and burn the hateful city." and to kill Jeff. Davis and
Cabinet on the spot." Richmond at that time was filled with refugee ladies and
children, whose husbands and parents were away in the armies, and the South was naturally
filled with indignation at the expose of the object of the expedition. To use a trite
expression- "put the shoe on the other foot"- let the North imagine General
Early's body to be found in the vicinity of Washington, when his forces retired from there
in July of the same year, with orders upon it, to his troops, to "destroy and burn
the hateful city," "kill Abe Lincoln and Cabinet on the spot"-
"exhorting" long pent- up prisoners, with long pent- up revengeful feelings, to
do it. I ask, would his remains be taken up tenderly and interred in the Congressional
burying- ground, and his memory be cherished as a "murdered martyred hero?" The
best men of the North now, in their cooler moments, may try to disabuse their minds of
such an idea; but it is a fact that any officer who could, at that time, have informed the
Northern public that he had captured and destroyed Richmond and killed "Jeff. Davis
and Cabinet on the Spot," the Presidency of the united States would have been but
meagre compensation for him in the hearts of the masses of the people.
Personally, as a man educated to be a soldier, I deplore Colonel Ulric Dahlgren's sad
fate. He was a young man, full of hope, of undoubted pluck, and inspired with hatred of
"rebels." Fired by ambition, and longing to be at the head of "the braves
who swept through the city of Richmond," his courage and enthusiasm
his naturally generous feelings were drowned. his memoranda and address to his troops were
probably based upon the general instructions to the whole command.
The conception of the expedition, I have heard since the war, originated
PAGE 555 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
in General Kilpatrick's brain. It furnishes the best specimen of cavalry marching, upon
the Federal side, I know of during the war, for great celerity with proper relief to men
and horses; but it showed upon the part of somebody a most culpable want of knowledge of
data upon which to base such a movement. I know no time during the war, when Richmond,
with its admirable circumvallating defences, forewarned or not, could have been taken by a
division of cavalry.
Accompanying this you will find a correct copy of the memoranda found upon Colonel
Dahlgren's body, and a copy of my letter to General Cooper, transmitting his note- book. A
true copy of the original of his address to his troop can be found upon page 502 of the
I have only to add, in conclusion, that what appeared in the Richmond papers of that
period, as the "Dahlgren Papers," was correctly taken from the papers I carried
in person to Mr. Davis; and that those papers were not added to or changed in the minutest
particular, before they came into my possession, as far as I know and believe, and that,
from all the facts in my possession, I have every reason to believe they were taken from
the body of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, and came to me without any alteration of any kind.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
MEMORANDA OF DAHLGREN, AS PUBLISHED IN THE Richmond Examiner, April 1, 1864, AND
REFERRED TO IN PRECEDING NOTE OR GENERAL LEE.
Pleasonton will govern details.
Will have details from other commands, (four thousand)/
Michigan men have started.
Colonel I. H. Devereux has torpedoes.
Hanover Junction (B. T. Johnson).
(Here follows a statement of the composition and numbers of Johnson's Command.)
Chapin's Farm- seven miles below Richmond.
One brigade (Hunton's relieved Wise sent to Charleston).
PAGE 556 Southern Historical Society Papers.
River can be forded half a mile above the city. No works on south side. Hospitals near
them. River fordable. Canal can be crossed.
Fifty men to remain on north bank, and keep in communication if possible. To destroy
mills, canal, and burn everything of value to the rebels. Seize any large ferry boats, and
note all crossings, in case we have to return that way. keep us posted of any important
movement of the rebels, and as we approach the city, communicate with us, and do not give
the alarm before they see us in possession of Belle Isle and the bridge. If engaged there
or unsuccessful, they must assist in securing the bridges until we cross. If the ferry-
boat can be taken and worked, bring it down. Everything that cannot be secured or made use
of must be destroyed. Great are must be taken not to be seen or any alarm given. The men
must be filed along off the road or along the main bank. When we enter the city the
officer must use his discretion as to when to assist in crossing the bridges.
The prisoners once loosed and the bridges crossed, the city must be destroyed, burning the
public buildings, &c.
Prisoners to go with party.
Spike the heavy guns outside.
Pioneers must be ready to repair, destroy, &c. Turpentine will be provided. The
pioneers must be ready to destroy the Richmond bridges, after we have all crossed, and to
destroy the railroad near Frederick's Hall (station, artillery, &c.)
* * * * *
Fifteen men to halt at Bellona Arsenal, while the column goes on, and destroy it. Have some
prisoners. Then rejoin us at Richmond, leaving a portion to watch if anything follows,
under a good officer. Will be notified that Custer may come.
Main column, 400.
One hundred men will take the bridge after the scouts, and dash through the streets and
open the way to the front, or if it is open destroy everything in the way.
While they are on the big bridges, one hundred men will take Belle Isle, after the scouts
instructing the prisoners to gut the city. The reserve (two hundred) will see this fairly
done and everything over, and then follow, destroying the bridges after them, but no
scattering too much, and always having a part well in hand.
Jeff. Davis and Cabinet must be killed on the spot.
PAGE 557 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
LETTER FROM GENERAL FITZHUGH LEE TO ADJUTANT- GENERAL COOPER, ENCLOSING COLONEL
DAHLGREN'S NOTE- BOOK.
HEADQUARTERS LEE'S DIVISION, CAVALRY CORPS,
ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
March 31, 1864.
General S. COOPER,
Adjutant and Inspector- General:
GENERAL,- I have the honor to enclose to you Colonel Dahlgren's note- book just sent me by
Colonel Beale, commanding Ninth Virginia cavalry. Had I known of its existence, it would
have been forwarded with the "papers."
His name and rank is written on the first page with the date (probably) of his purchasing
it. The book, amongst other memoranda, contains a rough pencil sketch of his address to
his troops, differing somewhat from his pen and ink copy. I embrace this occasion to add,
the original papers bore no marks of alteration, nor could they possibly have been
changed, except by the courier who brought them to me, which is in the highest degree
improbable; and the publication of them in the daily Richmond papers were exact copies in
every respect of the original.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major- General Commanding.
Testimony of the Photographic Copies of the Papers
Can there be a reasonable doubt that these papers, as published, were authentic?
But, if stronger proof is needed, we have in our possession several of the photograph
copies of the original papers which were made at the time, and the writing of which
corresponds exactly to the specimen of Colonel Dahlgren's writing given in the memoir by
his father. The two are before us as we write; we have exhibited them to many skilled in
such matters (among the number a distinguished Philadelphia lawyer), and all of them
concur that the writing is the same. As proof of the genuineness of our photographs, we
give the following letter from the engineer officer (Major Albert H. Campbell), under
whose "immediate supervision" the photographic copies were made from the
PAGE 558 Southern Historical Society Papers.
LETTER FROM MAJOR CAMPBELL.
CHARLESTON, KANAWHA CO., W. VA.,
March 7th, 1874.
Colonel GEORGE W. MUNFORD,
Secretary Southern historical Society:
DEAR SIR,- Enclosed I send you a photographic
facsimile of an address to his men, and a
memorandum or draft of instructions found on the person of Colonel U. Dahlgren, united
States Army, when killed during his raid on Richmond in 1864.The original of these
instructions were sent to my office through the Engineer Bureau and General W. H. Stevens,
by Mr. Benjamin, Secretary of State, for copy, and some fifty copies were made under my
You will perceive they are double facsimiles, the paper being written upon both sides,
and by holding either side between the eye and the light, the reversed side can easily be
perused. The signed address has been published, I believe, but the other paper, I think,
has not been.
By inspection, these papers will give indisputable testimony as to their origin, which has
been so pertinaciously and indignantly denied by Colonel Dahlgren's friends.
Respectfully, your obedient servant,
ALBERT H. CAMPBELL,
Late Major Confederate States Engineers, In charge Topographic
Department, Department of
As for the charge that the signature in these photographs misspells the name- Dahlgren
instead of Dahlgren- we have only to say that this is not true. An examination shows
clearly that the signature is U. Dahlgren, and that the apparent difference is caused by
the striking though of a letter on the reverse side of the paper on which the disputed
document was written.
The following letter from General J. A. Early, in transmitting a photograph copy to our
office, makes this matter so clear that we insert it, although not intended for
PAGE 559 The Kilpatrick- Dahlgren Raid Against Richmond.
LETTER FROM GENERAL J. A. EARLY.
LYNCHBURG, February 24th, 1879.
Rev. JOHN WILLIAM JONES, D. D.,
Secretary Southern Historical Society:
DEAR SIR,- I send you the copy of DAHLGREN's address which Mr. McDaniel gave me for the
Society. You will see that the "h" is very distinct in this copy. The address
seems to have been written on two half- sheets of paper, or more probably on the two odd
pages of a full sheet, with the conclusion written on the second page, or on the reverse
side of the first lead, and across the writing on the first page. By holding the half-
sheet, in which the conclusion is copied, to a looking- glass, you can read the first part
of the address very distinctly, and , by doing the same thing with the first page you can
read the conclusion across the writing, which proves conclusively that this conclusion was
written on the back of the first leaf of the sheet, and that the paper was so thin that
the writing showed through it. The word across the back of which Dahlgren's name is
written in "destroying," and it is the tail of the "y" which at first
sight gives to the "l" in his name the appearance of an "h."
I find another leaf which is no part of the address, but seems to be part of instructions
drawn up for the party which was to have crossed the river above the city and come down
and taken Belle Isle and released the prisoners. The rest of the instructions were on the
other side of the leaf probably, as there is the appearance of writing on that side, some
words of which I can make out by holding the paper to the looking-glass.
J. A. EARLY.
SUMMING UP OF THE PROOF.
As to the authenticity of the papers, then, we have established, we think, the following
1. The papers were taken from Dahlgren's person, in the presence of witnesses, by a boy
who could not write, who did not know the name of the officer killed, and who was
absolutely incapable of forging the papers.
PAGE 560 Southern Historical Society Papers.
2. They were turned over by Littlepage to Halbach, and were read by Dr. Bagby and others
before there was any opportunity even if there had been any disposition to forge them.
3. They were carried direct to Colonel Beale, who read them and sent the papers by
Lieutenant Pollard to Richmond, while retaining for some time the memorandum- book in
which most of the papers were copied, and afterwards sending it also to Richmond.
4. Lieutenant Pollard delivered the papers to General Fitz. Lee, who carried them to
5. Every one of these witnesses testify that the papers were the same as those published.
6. We have photograph copies of the originals, which Major Campbell testifies were made
under his own "immediate supervision," which are identical with the published
documents, and the writing of which so corresponds to that of Colonel Dahlgren that any
competent expert would testify that it is the same.
Can there be the shadow of a doubt, then, as to the full and complete proof of the
authenticity of the "Dahlgren Papers"?