WAR TIME STORY OF DAHLGREN'S RAID. Gallant Defense of Richmond by Departmental Battalion.
The very interesting account of the Dahlgren raid, by Prof. John Pollard, which appeared
in this column two weeks ago, has called forth many comments and recollections of that
famous event of the war.
There is of holding a reunion of those living who took part in the exciting work of
heading off and driving away from Richmond the raiders under Dahlgren. These facts make
anything on the subject interesting.
Col. John W. Anderson has furnished us with the following clipping from the Richmond
Sentinel, a wartime paper bearing date March 3rd, 1864.
The account is given just as it appeared in the Sentinel. It will be seen that this is the
continuation of a story of the day before. It is a pity the first installment has not been
preserved. But here is the second installment.
Our last account represented the column of the enemy that had been repulsed on the Brook
Turnpike, as having crossed the Chickahominy in full retreat, and having encamped on
Tuesday night near Mechanicsville. They were attacked in camp by Gen Hampton, who put them
to flight, with the capture of seventy or eighty, and a large number of horse. The
remainder yesterday made their way down towards Piping Tree Ferry on the Pamunkey.
The column that appeared on the road that comes into the city from the West, lost no time
after their repulse on Tuesday night in hastening after their comrades of the other
column. On yesterday they crossed the Chickahominy, and at half-past four in the afternoon
found themselves confronted at the Old Church by a small of Colonel Bradley T. Johnston's
Page 199 War Time Story of Dahlgren's Raid.
The Yankees in desperation, charged through by mere weight of Numbers; with a loss of
several killed and wounded, and about thirty prisoners remaining in our hands. They then
pursued their way towards the Piping Three Ferry. We had two men wounded, of whom, we are
pained to say, Lieut. Ditty was shot in both eyes.
Thus passed away Kilpatrick's second attempt at raiding into Richmond. he has been pretty
well hackled by our forces having lost, probably, at least one-tenth of his force in
killed and captured. As far as the grand object of his undertaking were concerned, he has
reason of feel very foolish. Prisoners say it was the design of the Brooke Turnpike column
to attract our whole force, and leave the river-side column to make a dash at Belle
Island, and liberate the Yankee prisoners there. They have failed in everything, except
some temporary damage to our railroads, the burning of some barns and mills, the seizure
of some horses, the hanging of one negro, and the stealing of some spoons. For these he
has paid, probably, two hundred and fifty picked men, and he has thoroughly broken down
the rest, both men and horses, for a time.
Of the damage to the railroads the extent is not yet known. The Fredericksburg road has
had one of its engines re--burnt; it was burnt in the former raid-and three or four small
gondolas. The Center road is though to have suffered considerably.
As if waiting for Kilpatrick to get through, Bulter is understood to be moving again. Some
of his cavalry appeared yesterday at Tunstall's Station, it is said; and it is alleged
that a heavy co-operating column of infantry (twelve regiments), are at the Burnt
Ordinary, in New Kent. Perhaps it is well he should come while our hand is in.
SKIRMISH ON THE WESTERN ROAD.
We have obtained some particulars of the skirmish with the enemy to which we referred on
yesterday, on the Plank Road, about three miles West of Richmond, on Tuesday evening. The
troops engaged on our side were composed wholly of our city.
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organization, who, on this occasion, had their first encounter with the enemy. The forces
of the latter were about five hundred picket men, of five regiments of Gregg's cavalry,
with two pieces of artillery. The artillery was not brought into action.
The Tredegar Battalion, Maj.---, was the first to come into collision with the enemy. As
the battalion was ascending the hill which descends from Benjamin Green's house, the
Yankees, who were coming over it, suddenly appeared close at hand. The meeting was
unexpected, and found our men unprepared for it, many of our guns being unloaded. The
enemy deployed under the shelter of a piece of wood, and our men got into such line as
they could in the open field. Volleys were exchanged, from which the Yankees suffered
most, and were made to give ground. They subsequently made a charge under which the
battalion recoiled and made a rapid and broken retreat, and took no further part in the
operations. The enemy pressed vigorously, making an attempt to cut off the men, but with
indifferent success. Some were captured, but afterwards released, as the enemy could not
afford to be encumbered with prisoners. Five horses and two head soldiers left on the
field show that the fire of our men was not without effect. On our side Lieutenant John
Sweeney and private blunt were killed. Much allowance is to be made for the circumstances
under the battalion went into action. As it was, the enemy were the greatest suffers.
The enemy's column now came forward with celerity, expecting to find no further obstacle
to their progress. The departmental and quartermaster's battalion, who were following the
march of the Armory Battalion, suddenly beheld the approach of the enemy. Capt John
McAnerny, of company B. Departmental Battalion, who was in command of the whole as ranking
officer present, swiftly deployed his lines to the right and left of the road, and had
barely time to order out his skirmishers before the cavalry charged him. They charged down
on both sides of the road. They came yelling, and rattling their sabres and firing their
carbines, their officers vociferating to them to "charge the ---rebels! Cut them
down! They are nothing but secesh!" It was already quite dark, and growing more so,
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so that object were with difficulty distinguished. Our skirmishers' line waited until the
enemy were very near, and, pouring in a beautiful fire, retreated to the main line. The
enemy pressed on, our men reserving their fire until the word of command, when they
delivered it at close quarters and with admirable effect. The enemy was checked and
broken, and a couple of volleys more drove him from the field in flight.
Our troops deserve very high praise for making so gallant a debut under circumstances so
perplexing and a call so sudden. They repulsed and drove back a greater number of the
enemy's picked veterans. Our loss is stated in the following:
Officers-Killed: Captain A. Ellery, Co. D. Wounded: Lieutenant R. A. Matthews, Co. D.
slightly; Acting Lieutenant R. A. Thompkins, face and arm slightly.
Privates-D. T. Carter, Co. A, slightly; F. M. Cary, Co. D. slightly in face; J. W. Burson
and --- McIndoe, Co. D., both slightly; S. M. Levin, Co. F., slightly in leg; R. B. Green,
Co. F, in hand; Miles Cary, Co. K, sabre cut on shoulder; Gray Doswell, Co. K, shot
through the thigh (flesh wound). Missing; Private T. Y. Catlett, Co. I.
The fierceness of the charge which the Department Battalion met in line of battle is
evidenced by the sabre cuts received. Several of the enemy rode through our lines, and
were shot down or captured.
Of the loss of the enemy we cannot speak with positive precision. They collected eighteen
of their wounded at Mr. Green's house, in the rear of the fighting. Seven of these they
afterwards carried away with them. Four of their dead were picked up on the battle-ground
yesterday morning, as also several wounded. Of the latter, three died in a few hours, and
another is evidently mortally wounded. Some indication of the casualties is given in the
ten dead horses that lay near here.
The loss of the enemy in the two skirmishes may be set down at the killed, one mortally
wounded and seventeen disabled by their wounds, of whom ten are prisoners. Besides these a
number of prisoners were taken, fifteen horses killed, and several captured. A pretty fair
start, for Henley's Battalion fought
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against a superior force of veterans, in the dark, and without notice, or time to get
ready! They had no support from regular troops, for, though some were near at hand, they
did not arrive till the fight was over.
After their repulse the enemy went back by the road they had come until they reached the
Ridge Church. Here they struck off to the right and made for Hungary Station, on the
Fredericksburg railroad, reaching that point about daybreak. They seized a citizen of the
neighborhood and demanded that he should pilot them; but leading through a piece of pines
he made his escape, and left them to find their way out as best they could. The Yankees
unquestionably hung a negro, belonging to Mr. Weems, whom they had as a pilot, but who led
them astray by getting lost himself.
As an incident of the fight near Richardson's farm, and of the dankness which prevailed,
we may mention, that a Yankee charged the fence just where it passed on the edge of a deep
pit of an abandoned ice-house. Horse and rider went in; the former wa killed by the fall,
the latter drawn out a prisoner the next morning.