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[587] County, and a few men of Robbins's battalion. A little before eleven o'clock at night the enemy approached on the road in which they were posted. A fire was at once opened upon them, but their leader, Colonel Dahlgren, relying, perhaps, upon their numbers, or stung by chagrin at his failure to capture Richmond, determined to force his way through, and at once forming his men, ordered a charge, which he led himself. Tt proved, however, a fatal charge to him; for, in the onset, he was pierced with a ball and fell dead. After his fall, the command could not be rallied, but were soon thrown into confusion inextricable. Our boys, noticing this, availed themselves of the opportunity it afforded, and used it to the best advantage. Dashing in among the discomfited foe, they succeeded in capturing ninety prisoners, thirty-five negroes, and one hundred and fifty horses. The body of Dahlgren also fell into their hands, and on his person was found the paper which we publish below, disclosing the diabolical schemes which the party had in view, in making the late, and, to them, disastrous raid.1

Lieutenant Pollard, commanding company H, of the Ninth Virginia regiment, aided by some home-guards and a few men from Lieutenant-Colonel Robbins's 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, ninety Yankees and thirty-five negroes.

Several papers were found in the pockets of Dahlgren, copies of which are subjoined:

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 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 Isle first, and, having seen them fairly started, we will cross the James River into Richmond, destroy the bridges after us, and, exhorting the released prisoners to destroy and burn the hateful city, will 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 their execution, you will be sure to succeed. 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 well. Ask the blessing of the Almighty, and do not fear the enemy.

U. Dahlgren,2 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 and pioneers, with oakum, turpentine and torpedoes, signal-officer, quartermasters, commissaries, scouts and pickets, and men in rebel uniforms — these will remain on the north bank and move down with the force on the south bank, not get ahead of them, and if the communication can be kept up without giving an alarm, it must be done; but every thing 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 every thing which can be used by the rebels must be destroyed, including the boats on the river. Should a ferry-boat be seized which 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 don't succeed they must then dash down, and we will try to carry the bridge by storm. When necessary the men must be filed through the woods and along the river bank. The bridge once secured and the prisoners loose and over the river, the bridges will be burned and the city destroyed.

1 Richmond Dispatch, March 5, 1864.

2 See Admiral Dahlgren's letter denying the authenticity of this “address.”

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Ulric Dahlgren (6)
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