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[537]

Endorsements.

headquarters Lee's cavalry division, 12th April, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded.

Fitz. Lee, Major-General Commanding.

headquarters cavalry corps, Army of Northern Virginia, April 13, 1864.
Respectfully forwarded. To Lieutenant Pollard's skilful dispositions and to his activity it is mainly owing that Dahlgren was killed and his party captured.

J. E. B. Stuart, Major-General.

headquarters Army of Northern Virginia,
> 14th April, 1864.
>Respectfully forwarded for the information of the War Department.

R. E. Lee, General.
> Received, A. & I. G. Office, April 15, 1864.

Statement of Judge Henry E. Blair.

In the winter of 1863-1864 the Army of Northern Virginia was in winter quarters on the south side of the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers, the cavalry and infantry occupying the front of our lines and the artillery in the rear. I was First Lieutenant of the Salem Artillery, Captain C. B. Griffin. Our company at that time was attached to the First Virginia regiment of artillery, Colonel J. Thompson Brown commanding. We were stationed near Frederick's Hall in the county of Louisa. A court-martial, of which I was a member, was being held in a house about one mile from our camp, and on the 29th day of February, 1864, (the day of the month is impressed on my mind as significant of leap year). On that day a portion of [538] Dahlgren's command surrounded the house and captured the whole of our party. The first intimation we had of any of the enemy being near us was the Yankee cavalry on their horses, pointing their pistols at the windows. They then dismounted, came in, and took us all prisoners. I recollect of our party Colonel Hilary P. Jones (now teaching at an academy in Hanover county), Captain David Watson, Captain Dement, of Maryland, and there were some others whose names I have forgotten.

At the time of our capture Colonel Dahlgren had about six hundred cavalry under his command.

As soon as we were captured we were mounted and carried off by the enemy. Towards evening a light rain set in and the night was very dark. Early in the night all the officers who had been captured made their escape except Captain Dement and myself. While we were preparing to make our escape the Yankees stopped, struck up lights, and camped or bivouacked, and then, discovering that the rest of the officers had made their escape, had us closely watched.

They started from their place of encampment before day the next morning, and a little after sunrise halted in a large yard in front of a house that I then learned belonged to Mr. Arthur Morson. The Federal soldiers regaled themselves on Mr. Morson's fine wine, drinking it from his silver goblets, and, as mementoes of the feast, carried off the goblets with them. I understood it was the intention of Colonel Dahlgren to cross James river at that point, and enter Richmond from the south side of the river, crossing Mayo's bridge, but the river was then flush and too deep to be forded. So, after spending a short time in Mr. Morson's yard, they left there, went down to the canal and burned the Dover Mill. They then kept down on the north side of James river. A negro man named Martin, who was said to be a guide employed by the Yankees, was riding with the party. For some reason they supposed he was attempting to play them false and get them entrapped, and they hung him with a leather strap to a tree on the road side until he was dead, cut him down and left him dead in the road.

Towards evening we came in the neighborhood of Richmond, and it became evident that our authorities were on the lookout, and Dahlgren moved very cautiously.

Shortly after night, somewhere between the Brooke and Mechanicsville turnpikes, Dahlgren's force, which was then about six hundred, encountered our Confederate troops and was a good [539] deal worsted in the encounter; and a large portion of his command separated from us and united with General Kilpatrick, and went off with him. Colonel Dahlgren, with about one hundred of his men, who were unable to get to Kilpatrick, continued to retreat through Hanover, King William, and King & Queen counties. I was carried along with this party. We rode the whole of that night as fast as as the men and horses could stand it. A little after sunrise the next morning we stopped awhile and took breakfast, and then rode all day long. When we got to a stream near Aylett's store, I think—that divided the counties of King William and King & Queen—we found a boat sunken, and when we attempted to cross, some Confederates, from the other side of the stream, commenced firing into us, which created considerable consternation among Dahlgren's men. He abused his men, went in front of them and made them return the fire of the Confederates, who were only a small party, and were driven off. We then crossed the stream. But all that evening the Confederates annoyed Dahlgren's command by firing into them from the woods—they killed one Yankee corporal. A little after dark that night, we stopped on the roadside a mile or two from the village of Stevensville; some time after midnight we were called up, and Dahlgren started his command on the march. I was riding in the main line near the front. We had gone perhaps half a mile when I perceived there was some trouble in the front. Dahlgren rode forward; I heard him challenge some one, and heard him snap his pistol, which was at once followed by a fire in return from some one. That shot I suppose killed Dahlgren. And then the Confederates opened fire against the Yankees, and gave a shout and cheer, which cheered my heart to the very bottom, for I felt satisfied there were other men than Home Guards then present, and that the time of my relief had come; the Yankees were greatly alarmed and confused. The road, as I recollect it, was dug from the side of a hill on our left, a bridge in our front had been blockaded, and there was a fence on the right of the road. In the darkness, I got off my horse, opened the fence, and the Yankees retreated into the field. I remained inside of the fence, until I thought the Yankees were gone far enough not to hear me. I then called to our men, who informed me where they were and I went to them; they then informed me that they had killed a man with one leg, and I told them that was Dahlgren; they searched his person, and found the papers that were delivered to the Confederate Government.

The Confederate forces consisted of some disbanded cavalry, who [540] were at home recruiting their horses, and some citizens under command of Captain Fox and Lieutenant Pollard. At that time I think the Yankees numbered about one hundred; they were all captured the next morning in the field that they had escaped into, except some of their officers, who were captured during the evening of that day, and the whole party carried to Richmond. I remained several days in King & Queen county. I was ragged and dirty and broken down, but was taken by Dr. Walker to his house near Stevensville, and treated like a brother until I was sufficiently recruited to go up to Richmond. And so ended my capture and ride with Dahlgren on his raid around Richmond. Colonel Dahlgren was a gallant and dashing soldier, a man of polish and education, but of unbounded ambition, which induced him to undertake the desperate adventure he was on. He treated me and the other prisoners with all proper courtesy and consideration, shared his rations with us, and conversed quite freely.

Henry E. Blair. Salem, Va., August 22d, 1874.

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