The papers found on the person of Col. DAHLGREN, copies of
which we publish today, reveal clearly the character and objects of the late
expedition against the city, and make more evident the grossness of its folly
and the completeness of its failure. The enemy moved from Culpeper, according to
the progamme, in two columns of picked men, three hours apart in time, and
diverging in direction. Col. DAHLGREN led the advance column. A part of his
object was to destroy our artillery at Frederick Hall; but he found the
artillery in hollow square, with missiles outward, and he passed on. Another
purpose was to cross the James River with his main force, and move down in great
secrecy on both banks and take Richmond by surprise. The trusty guide, and
“intelligent contraband,” it seems, with which he was provided, promised him
a good ford near the Dover Mills, where he could cross with ease. He did not
succeed in finding the ford or crossing the river; but in his wrath, he hung the
poor negro. Turning down the James, on the North side, with his undivided
column, he was soundly chastised on Tuesday evening by our city troops, and
driven back before our regulars could get a chance.
KILPATRICK, for his part, had no better success. He did not
destroy the bridges over the North and South Anna. He, too, was whipped and
driven back. He had traveled with more celerity than DAHLGREN, and was in place
on Tuesday morning. This only enabled him to reach his conclusions a day earlier
than his coadjutor; for, Tuesday night, he fled on his iron-gray, across the
Chickahominy, where, on Wednesday, DAHLGREN was happy to follow him.
DAHLGREN, in his orders to his troops, told them that,
possibly, Gen. CUSTER might follow him. Gen. CUSTER is as yet unaccounted for;
ad this fact gives some color to the reports, that a body of the enemy is
somewhere west of the Fredericksburg railroad.
Of the purposes that were to be accomplished if these
officers had led their columns to a meeting in Richmond, DAHLGREN takes pains to
inform his men, and we have fallen heirs to the information. The Yankee
prisoners on Belle Island were to be liberated and turned loose upon the hateful
city to sack, burn and destroy. The soldiers were to scatter firebrands every
where. Our bridges were to be burned. Our President – Commander-in-Chief of
our army – was to be killed. His cabinet were to share his fate. So far as
they were concerned, the black flag was to be raised, and no quarter given.
Man proposes but God disposes. LINCOLN, through his armed
emissaries, has told us what he would like
to do, and he has made the attempt to
do it. Morally, therefore, he and his officers are guilty of the crime. As for
DAHLGREN, he has paid the penalty. He has found the death he came to deal.
Instead of writing his name among the stars as he fondly hoped, he has been
buried like a dog, without a priest or coffin, in the swamps of Virginia. His
name will stink and his memory will rot. The odium due to him attaches in
greater force to his superiors, both civil and military. Let LINCOLN and
KILPATRICK remember that they have bidden their subordinates give no quarter to
the Confederate chiefs! Perhaps even a Scotch cap and military cloak will not
prevent a just and stern vengeance from overtaking them for this revolting
outrage on civilization and the rules of war!
The orders of DAHLGREN to kill and destroy such stock and
horses as they might not be able to drive away with them, and to burn all the
mills he could find, is second in execrable infamy only to what we have above
noted. It is a war against women and children, and against those very Yankee
prisoners concerning whose rations they affect so much hypocritical concern.
What right has LINCOLN, after sending his creatures on such an errand, to open
his lips, if this destruction of food, and of the means of producing it, be made
to fall alone on his subjects here?
What course should our Government pursue under this
revelation of the enormous infamy of our enemies? It is a question not to be put
aside; nor is it a question to be answered under impulse. We commend it to the
attention of our authorities; for it is of a nature that requires a prompt
The orders which DAHLGREN proclaimed to his men, and the
purposes avowed, are unexampled in the history of the world – Cities have,
indeed, been sacked; but it was only after an obstinate and useless resistance
had inflamed the passions of the soldiers, and made them uncontrollable by their
commanders. DAHLGREN expected to take Richmond by sudden surprise – not after
an obstinate defense, or, indeed, any defence. – Yet, he proclaimed that it
was his purpose to sack, burn, destroy; to turn loose ten thousand reckless men,
without officers, with full license to riot at will. What imagination can paint
the horrors of which this city would have been the scene on Monday, if
DAHLGREN’S enterprise had succeeded? History furnishes no example of the
murder, arson, robbery, rape and conflagration which would have prevailed. The
President and his Cabinet were doomed by name, and were to fall at the hands of
the troops. Does any one believe that any official, of any grade, would have
escaped the mob of prisoners? DAHLGREN has died, but DAHLGREN was not the only
guilty man. His address was to his officers and his men. He told them his
purpose, and gave them leave to withdraw if they disapproved the undertaking.
They elected to follow him, and became partners of his crimes. His annunciation
became theirs. We have come of these men in our hands. What shall we do with
them? – What do they deserve? Tried by the rule of war of what they are
guilty? They are murderers, incendiaries, outlaws, detested and arrested in the
execution of their crimes. They have forfeited the character of soldiers, and
they should not be treated as such.