From the Richmond Sentinel, 3/5/1864
THE BODY OF DAHLGREN
commanding Co. H of the 9th Va. Regiment, aided by some home guards
and a few men from Lieut. Col. Robins’ command, succeeded in penning Colonel
Dahlgren, on Wednesday night, about eleven o’clock. Dahlgren made a determined
effort to force his way out, and was killed, leading the charge. Thursday
morning, the remaining officers having escaped, the party surrendered – 90
Yankees and 35 negroes.
were found in the pockets of Dahlgren, copies of which are subjoined:
TO THE OFFICERS AND MEN.
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:
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 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.
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.
strict obedience to orders and fearlessness in the execution you will be sure to
will join the main force on the other side of the city, or perhaps meet them
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.
want no man who cannot feel sure of success in such a holy cause.
will have a desperate fight, but stand up to it when it does come and all will
the blessing of the Almighty and do not fear the enemy.
DAHLGREN, Col. Com'dg.
SPECIAL ORDERS AND
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
pioneers (with oakum, turpentine, and torpedoes), signal officer, quartermaster,
and pickets - Men in rebel uniform:
will remain on the north bank and move down with the force on south bank, not
getting ahead of them, and if the communication can be kept up without giving an
alarm it must be 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.
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
the city it must be destroyed and Jeff.
Davis and Cabinet killed.
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. [ed.
note: the following paragraphs do not appear in the photographic copies that
General Lee sent to General Meade.]
signal officer must be prepared to communicate at night by rockets, and in other
things pertaining to his department.
quartermasters and commissaries must be on the lookout for their departments,
and see that there are no delays on their account.
engineer officer will follow to survey the road as we pass over it, &c.
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 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 re-enforcements 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 not to give a false alarm.
PROGRAMME OF THE ROUTE AND
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:
camp at dark (6 p.m.). Cross Ely's Ford at 10 p.m.
miles--Cross North Anna at 4 a.m. Sunday - feed and water - one hour.
miles--Frederick Hall Station 6 a.m. - destroy arty, 8 a.m.
miles--Near James River 2 p.m. Sunday – Feed and water 1½ hours.
miles to Richmond--March toward Kilpatrick for one hour, and then as soon as
dark cross the river, reaching Richmond early in the morning (Monday).
squadron remains on north side and one squadron to cut the railroad bridge at
Falling Creek, and join at Richmond; 83 miles.
Kilpatrick--Cross at 1 a.m. Sunday; 10 miles.
river 5 a.m. (resistance).
– 14 miles; 8 a.m.
at North Anna - 3 miles.
bridges at South Anna – 26 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.
- In Richmond during the day - feed and water men outside.
over the Pamunkey at daybreak. Feed and water and then cross the Rappahannock at
night (Tuesday night), when they must be on the lookout.
should be sent on Friday morning early, and be ready to cut.
A GUIDE FURNISHED.
following paper was inclosed in an envelope directed to “Col, U. Dahlgren,”
&c., at General Kilpatrick's headquarters, and marked
"confidential." The letter is not dated:
COL.: At the last moment I have found the man you want; well acquainted with the
James River from Richmond up. I send him to you mounted on my own private horse.
You will have to furnish him a horse. Question him five minutes, and you will
find him the very man you want.
and truly, yours,
On the margin of this letter is written:
“He crossed at Rapidan last night, and has late information.”
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