previous next

‘ [279] of James river, while the remainder under Colonel Dahlgreen were to cross to the south side, move down the right bank of the James, release the prisoners on Belle Isle, opposite Richmond; recross the river, burning the bridges after them, and rejoin Kilpatrick in the city. Richmond was to be given to the flames and President Davis and his cabinet killed.’

Up to this point in the transaction both historians are accurate enough—but let us see farther. McCabe says: ‘Kilpatrick approached the city by the Brook turnpike, and there, with scarcely a show of fighting, turned off and kept down the peninsula’; and Pollard says: ‘Kilpatrick moved down on the Brook turnpike on the 1st of March, near the outline of the Richmond fortifications and without once getting in range of the artillery, took up a line of march down the peninsula, while Dahlgren, not venturing to cross the high water of the James River, abandoned his enterprise on the south of Richmond, and, unapprised of the ludicrous cowardice and retreat of Kilpatrick, proposed, by moving down the Westham plank road, which skirted the river, to effect a junction with Kilpatrick, with a view of further operations, or add to the security of his retreat.’

The injustice of this account done to Kilpatrick is not within the scope of this article. But why the splendid strategy of General Wade Hampton should be so entirely ignored, by which the enemy were foiled in their plans, and the city of Richmond saved from the impending fire and carnage, is a fact beyond the comprehension of the writer; and that this misstatement of facts should exist when one of the historians at least was in Richmond at the time, a member of the editorial staff of the Richmond Examiner, which paper contained, the day after the deliverance of the city, an accurate account of the conflict that brought such magnificent results.

The true history of Kilpatrick's raid and the causes of its failure are these: On Sunday, the 28th of February, 1864, General Kilpatrick crossed the Rapidan river at Germanna ford with about 2,000 picked men from the cavalry force of the enemy, and proceeded in the direction of Richmond, executing the movement with such celerity and skill that he succeeded in cutting the railroad in rear of General Lee's army, which was then lying in winter-quarters around Orange Courthouse, without serious opposition; thus cutting off the possibility of sending reinforcements to Richmond, which was in an almost entirely defenceless condition. After detaching, at Beaver Dam, 500 men under Colonel Dahlgren, and sending them

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Kilpatrick (8)
Ulric Dahlgren (2)
Thomas Pollard (1)
McCabe (1)
Robert E. Lee (1)
Wade Hampton (1)
Jefferson Davis (1)
Dahlgreen (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
February 28th, 1864 AD (1)
March 1st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: