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[183] Accordingly, on the 10th of December, 1863, we left Charlottesville and started in pursuit of Averill. Lee's command, of which my regiment constituted a part, was occupied in this expedition for at least a month, and when we returned to Charlottesville on or about January 10th, 1864, the men were so used up and the horses so entirely broken down that it was thought best by our General that furloughs be issued and the men with their horses be temporarily dispersed to various localities to recuperate. A number of men belonging to my company were from King William County, and hither Lieutenant Pollard, accompanied by some twenty men, the writer being among the number, proceeded. Thus it happened that this little band of sharpshooters were in a position to take part in the subsequent attack on the Dahlgren raiders.

Colonel Beale, of the 9th Virginia, had fixed his headquarters in Essex County, about 60 miles northeast of Richmond, and Company H had been ordered to establish a line of pickets across King William County, from the Mattapony to the Pamunkey River. This had been carefully, yet expeditiously done, and our company late in February was quartered in King William County Courthouse, about thirty-five miles northeast of Richmond.

The life of a soldier is a life of anxiety and of uncertainty. One must be prepared for any surprise at any time. But there are some surprises which astonish even a soldier. Such a surprise was in store for our company, when, on the 2nd day of March, it was announced to us that the enemy were attacking the city of Richmond. Of course we did not know what it all meant then, but we afterwards learned all the many events of the daring Dahlgren raid, some of those in the incipiency of which I have given above.

It seemed that the original plans of Kilpatrick and Dahlgren had miscarried. Dahlgren had proceeded from Ely's Ford as he had been ordered, to Spotsylvania Courthouse, which he had reached at early dawn on the 29th of February; he had marched thence to Frederick's Hall, in Louisa County, where he surprised and captured some artillerymen, had crossed the South Anna River and made a hurried march directly toward James River, which he hoped to cross about twenty miles west of Richmond. Before reaching the river, he had engaged a negro guide to direct him to a place where the river could be forded or swum by horses. The negro guide conducted Dahlgren to the river, but it was found that there was

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John Adolph Dahlgren (4)
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