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[181] down on its opposite flank, with the ostensible purpose of entering Richmond to liberate the prisoners there. For some time some of the more adventurous of the Northern officers had been petitioning for leave to undertake this perilous feat. Kilpatrick, a daring brigadier general of the cavalry, had been one who asked for such a privilege. He had, no doubt, been more or less incited to this by Ulric Dahlgren, a young Colonel, who was rising to considerable prominence in the Army of the Potomac. So Major-General Pleasanton, on the 26th of February, sent confidential orders to Kilpatrick, directing him to increase his command to 4000 picked men, to take with him Colonel Ulric Dahlgren and his regiment, and to proceed by such routes and to make such disposition as from time to time he might find necessary for the accomplishment of the object of the expedition. Thus was formed one of the most daring, and in some respects, one of the most hazardous, attempts to take the Confederate capital and to liberate the Northern prisoners of war—numbering eight to ten thousand.

So on Sunday evening, February 28th, Kilpatrick left his camp at Stevensburg, near Culpeper Courthouse, in Northern Virginia, having 3,582 men, Colonel Ulric Dalgren, with 460 picked and excellently mounted cavalrymen, leading the advance. The presence of Dahlgren, with his regiment, must have lent inspiration to the daring undertaking, and must have added a kind of an adventurous charm to the entire spirit of this bold and questioning raid. For Dahlgren was no ordinary man. At this time he lacked but a month of being twenty-two years of age, but he was a seasoned veteran, and knew thoroughly the art of warfare. He was born near Philadelphia, April 3, 1842, the second son of Rear-Admiral John Adolph Dahlgren, the noted naval officer, author and scholar. He was educated in Washington, entered the war in 1861 as a captain, and had distinguished himself time after time for bravery in action. In 1862 he fought gallantly at Fredericksburg; and had made a desperate charge at Chancellorsville; at second Bull Run he had gained the admiration of all his fellow-officers, and had lost a leg in a desperate charge at Gettysburg. For his absolute fearlessness and bravery he had been promoted over the intermediate grades to Colonel, the commission having been personally brought to his bedside by Secretary Stanton. Now, in the spring of 1864, having recovered from his loss of limb, he was again at the front,

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