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Part taken by the Ninth Virginia cavalry in Repelling the Dahlgren raid.

By General R. L. T. Beale.
[We have held this paper with the purpose of publishing it in connection with the full history of the Dahlgren raid, which we have in course of preparation, but we have concluded to give it in the form in which it has been sent by its gallant author].

An extract from a narrative of the movements of the Ninth regiment Virginia cavalry in the late War — written from notes taken at the time by its Colonel, R. L. T. Beale.

Near the close of February, a third order was received to report without delay at Hanover Junction for orders. We marched upon this, as we did upon the two previous occasions, sixty miles in twenty-four hours. Reaching the Junction, we found no orders; but learning here that the enemy, under General Kilpatrick, were making a raid upon Richmond, so soon as a supply of ammunition was drawn our march was directed to Taylorsville. At this point, a general officer commanding some infantry informed us the enemy had been repulsed by General Hampton's command, and must retreat towards the Rapidan, and we would probably encounter them near Ashland. To Ashland our march was directed. In some two miles of this point, reliable intelligence was obtained that the main body of the enemy was near Old Church, but that a party of some four hundred had moved upon the road to Hanover Courthouse. Our line of march was now directed to that point, reaching it about dark, only to learn our enemy had passed without halting.

Rest and food for men and horses were now much needed, and the command bivouacked around a church a few hundred yards from Hanover Courthouse. Before our meal of cold bread was over, a prisoner, taken under such suspicious circumstances as to induce the belief that he was a Yankee, was sent in by the picket. He was subjected to a rigid examination by the Colonel, who got from him information not very agreeable. The man had been captured in the morning, and after hard usage, made his escape in the evening from a body of cavalry, which he said was commanded by a Colonel Dahlgren. They had passed in sight of Hanover Courthouse, moving to Indiantown ferry, over the Pamunkey, where about one-fourth of the party crossed the river, the remaining three-fourths moving down the south bank towards Old Church. [220] He also said he heard that the force which crossed had orders to march by Saluda to Gloucester Point. In this route the direct road would lead to our camp in Essex.

A tried soldier was summoned at once and provided with authority to impress horses, was charged with an order to the senior officer at camp, and required to deliver it by dawn of the morning. So soon as the horses had eaten, the bugle sounded to horse, and we moved down the south side of Pamunkey. Before dawn our advance was halted by a picket near Old Church.

It proved to be that of Colonel Bradley T. Johnson. We halted for breakfast, then marched to Tunstall's Station, to which point Colonel Johnson moved to ambush. We saw only the half extinct fires of the Yankee camp and evidences of ruin to the helpless families near the road, and after a bootless chase, returned in the evening to bivouac at the intersection of the New Castle and New Kent roads, one mile from Old Church, to await the return of a courier sent to General Hampton in the morning. Whilst seated around our camp-fire, a courier--Private Robbins, of New Kent — rode in, and asked for Colonel Beale. He bore a dispatch from Lieutenant James Pollard, of Company H, who was absent from camp when we marched, and a package of papers. From the dispatch we learned that Pollard, hearing of a party of the enemy in the county, hastily collected twelve of his men, and crossing the Mattaponi, took position on the south bank at Dunkirk to dispute their passage over the bridge. After waiting some time, he learned the enemy had found a boat and crossed at Aylett's, two miles lower down. He immediately pursued them, and availing himself of his perfect familiarity with the country, succeeded before nightfall in getting in front of them. On reaching the road of the enemy's march, he met a homeguard company, under command of Captain Richard Hugh Bagby, with several lieutenants and some privates from other regular regiments, ready to dispute the advance of the enemy. Falling back until a good position was reached, the men were posted and darkness closed in. No advance after dark was expected. A lieutenant was left in command on the road. About 11 o'clock the tramp of horses was heard. When within twenty or thirty paces the officer commanded “Halt!” The reply was “Disperse, you damned Rebels, or I shall charge you.” “Fire!” ordered the lieutenant, and under it the horsemen retreated rapidly. Their leader had fallen, as his horse wheeled, killed instantly. Deserted by their officers, the men next morning, on the flats below [221] the hill, hoisted the white flag. The papers found on Colonel Dahlgren's person accompanied the dispatch. Nearly every paper had been copied in a memorandum book; they consisted of an address to the command, the order of attack from the south side of the James upon the city of Richmond, enjoining the release of the prisoners, the killing of the executive officers of the Confederate Government, the burning and gutting of the city, directions where to apply for the materials necessary to setting fire to the city, and an accurate copy of the last field return of our cavalry made to General Stuart, with the location of every regiment. This last was furnished by the Bureau of Instruction at Washington. The rest were credited to no one. We forwarded all the papers by Pollard's courier to Richmond. The memorandum book was retained. After the publication of the papers and the denial of their authenticity, we were interrogated and ordered to forward the memorandum book, which was done.

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R. L. T. Beale (3)
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