A review of the expedition.
The rebels, through the newspapers, have had their say about the recent raid.
As was anticipated, those located about the confederate capital very naturally were, and still are, fearfully excited at the audacity of Kilpatrick
and his troopers — they had reason to be so. This is not only what was expected, but what was hoped would be the case by all who took any particular interest in the matter; and, by the degree of their exasperation over what the Richmond
editors are pleased to call “the raid of barbarians,” may we judge the amount of damage done them and their failing cause.
The simple fact is, that in the so-called programme of operations found upon the body of the lamented Colonel Dahlgren
, they have interpolated words of their own coining, to the effect that Jeff Davis
and his cabinet were to be killed, thereby giving an importance to the proclamation (which, by the way, was never read to the troops) and the memoranda of operations which were found, not at all in accordance with the spirit actuating the instigators and leaders in the movement.
The writer was privileged to see the documents which Colonel Dahlgren
had the day he started on the expedition, and which have been spread before the public in a garbled shape through the Richmond
press, to intensify, if possible, the infernal spirits of all rebeldom in their hatred to the Union
cause and all its supporters; and although having no copy of these papers before him now, he is satisfied that there was no expression therein written which could reasonably be construed even so as to express a determination to murder any person or persons — even so great an outlaw as Jeff Davis
Stripped of this interpolation, the memoranda and proclamation do not exceed the bounds of legitimate warfare.
The planners and participators in this raid are as high-minded and honorable men as even the conceited editor of the Examiner
could wish, and the leaders of the expedition would go as far in preventing their men committing overt acts.
And even if the worst was true, how illy it becomes the indorsers of Early
, and Beauregard
in his plot to murder President Lincoln
and Lieutenant-General Scott
, to take special exceptions to this raid!
Either one of the confederate leaders named has been guilty of more doubtful acts than were ever contemplated by any body of Union raiders.
Forgetting these things, they threaten to mete out condign punishment to the prisoners captured from Kilpatrick
The real animus
, however, may be found--first, in the amount of property destroyed, some of which cannot be replaced — none of which can be well spared — and next the chagrin and mortification experienced by the bombastic South
at the fact that an expedition on so important a mission should accomplish so much under the very noses and in defiance of the Richmond Junta
; and, what is worse than all, by troops led on by Kilpatrick
--two men who, next to Butler
, are most cordially hated and feared by all opposed to the Union
cause, and for the reason that they have so often humiliated the knights of the black flag.
, particularly, has been the special object of their vengeance for ruining the prospects of one of Virginia
's best known chieftains — Stuart
of cavalry fame.
Whipped time and again by Kilpatrick
finds now among his people none so poor as to do him reverence.
Plot upon plot, similar to that concocted and nearly executed at Buckland's Mills last fall, have been laid by Stuart
, in the hope of destroying the hated and feared Kilpatrick
, hoping thereby to gain that confidence of his associates in crime lost by battling with the man whom he seeks to ruin.
In this, however, he will not be permitted to be successful.
From the rebel statements made, it would appear that Dahlgren
lost his life by neglecting to exercise the usual precautions to guard against.
surprise, and was ambushed late at night.
There was no moon on Wednesday or Thursday nights, (March second and third,) until toward morning; there was a cloudless sky both nights, and bright star-light, affording sufficient light to see objects at a distance, except in woods.
being so near Gloucester
, probably considered himself beyond all serious danger, and therefore it is possible was entrapped when least prepared for it, and almost entirely thrown off his guard.
But I am inclined to think that Major Cook
, his second in command, when at liberty to do so, will give an entirely different version of this lamentable affair.
, though brave almost to rashness, always moved cautiously when there was the possibility of a lurking enemy being near.
He had passed beyond what he considered the most critical point.
He could not have expected to find Kilpatrick
beyond the Mattapony
, for he must have heard his guns on Wednesday morning. The larger portion of his command rejoined the main column on that day at about two P. M.; he doubtless, in attempting to follow, ran upon the enemy, and was forced to cross the Pamunkey
at a point further north.
When, On Wednesday evening, he attempted to recross the Pamunkey
at Pine-Tree Farm, he was within a very few miles of Kilpatrick
, and must have seen the fires of his camp, for they were numerous and much extended by the burning of miles of basket-fence along the plantations within a, few miles of the Pamunkey
He probably supposed, however, they were fires in an enemy's camp, and therefore resolved to make his way to Gloucester
Would to God he had known whose hands kindled those extended lines of fire on that crisp March night!