The papers and memorandum-book found on Colonel Dahlgren's body contained 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 Information at Washington. The rest were credited to no one. The following is a copy of the papers.
The address to the officers and men of the command was written on a sheet of paper having in printed letters on the upper corner, "Headquarters Third Division Cavalry Corps, 1864":
" Officers and men: You have been selected from brigades and regiments as a picked command to attempt a desperate undertaking— an undertaking which, if successful, will write your names on the hearts of your countrymen in letters that can never be erased and which will cause the prayers of our fellow-soldiers, now confined in loathsome prisons, to follow you and yours wherever you may go. We hope to release the prisoners from Belle Island first, and, having seen them fairly started, we will cross the James river into Richmond,destroying the bridges after us, and exhorting the released prisoners to destroy and burn the hateful city, and do not allow the rebel leader, Davis, and his traitorous crew to escape. The prisoners must render great assistance, as you cannot lea^'e your ranks too far or become too much scattered, or you will be lost. Do not allow any personal gain to lead you ofT, which would only bring you to an ignominous death at the hands of citizens. Keep well together and obey orders strictly, and all will be well, but on no accoun tscatter too far, for in union there is strength.
" With strict obedience to orders and fearlessness in the execution you will be sure to succeed. We will join the main force on the other side of the city, or, perhaps meet them inside.
" Many of you may fall, but if there is any man here not willing to sacrifice his life in such a great and glorious undertaking, or who does not feel capable of meeting the enemy in such a desperate fight as will follow, let him step out, and he may go hence to the arms of his sweetheart and read of the braves who swept through the city of Richmond. We want no man who cannot feel sure of success in such a holy cause. We will have a desperate fight, but stand up to it when it does come, and all will be well. Ask the blessing of
the Almighty, and do not fear the enemy.
" U. Dahlgren,
" Colonel Commanding."
The following special orders were written on a similar sheet of paper, on detached slips:
" Guides, pioneers (with oakum, turpentine and torpedoes), signal officer, quartermaster, commissary, picket, scouts, and pickets, men in rebel uniform.
"These will remain on the north bank and move down with the force on the south bank, not getting ahead of them. If the communication can be kept up without giving alarm, it
must be done; but everything depends upon a surprise. And no one must be allowed to pass ahead of the column. Information must be gathered in regard to crossings of the river,
so that should we be repulsed on the south side, we will know where to recross at the nearest point.
"All mills must be burned and the canal destroyed, and also everything which can be used by the rebels must be destroyed, including the boats on the river. Should a ferry-boat be
seized and can be worked, have it moved down. Keep the force on the south side posted of any important movement of the enemy, and in case of danger some of the scouts must
swim the river and bring us information. As we approach the city the party must take great care that they do not get ahead of the other party on the south side, and must conceal themselves and watch our movements. We will try and secure the bridge to the city (one mile below Belle Isle), and release the prisoners at the same time. If we do not succeed they must then dash down, and we will try and carry the bridge from each side.
"When necessary, the men must be filed through the woods and along the river bank. The bridges once secured and the prisoners loose and over the river the bridges will be secured
and the city destroyed. The men must keep together and well in hand, and once in the city it must be destroyed, and Jeff. Davis and Cabinet killed. Pioneers will go along with the combustible material. The officer must use his discretion about the time of assisting us. Horses and cattle which we do not need immediately must be shot rather than left. As General Custer may follow me, be careful not to give a false alarm. The signal officer must be prepared to communicate at night by rockets, and in other things pertaining to his department. The Cjuartermasters and commissaries must be on the lookout for their departments, and see that there are no delays on their account.
" The pioneers must be prepared to construct a bridge or destroy one. They must have plenty of oakum and turpentine for burning, which will be rolled in soaked balls and given to
the men to burn when we get in the city. Torpedoes will be used only by the pioneers for destroying the main bridges, etc. They must be prepared to destroy railroads. Men will
branch off to the right with a few pioneers and destroy the bridges and railroads south of Richmond, and then join us at the city. The line of Falling Creek is probably the best tO'
work along, or, as they approach the city, Goode's Creek, so that no reinforcements can come up on any cars. Men will stop at Bellona Arsenal and totally destroy it and anything
else, except hospitals; then follow on and rejoin the command at Richmond with all haste, and, if cut off, cross the river and rejoin us. As General Custer may follow me, be careful and not give a false alarm."
The following is a copy of a paper written in lead-pencil, which was, I suppose, a private memorandum which Colonel Dahlgren made for his own use:
"Saturday — Leave camp at dark (6 P. M.), cross Ely's Ford at lo P. M. Twenty miles, cross North Anna at 4 A. M., Sunday; feed. Three miles, Frederick's Hall Station, 6 A.
M.; destroy artillery, 8 A. M. Twenty miles, near James river, 2 P. M., Sunday; feed and water one and a half hours. Thirty miles to Richmond, march toward Kilpatrick for one hour, and then soon as dark cross the river, reaching Richmond early in the morning (Monday). One scjuadron remains on north side and one squadron to cut the railroad bridge at Falling Creek, and join at Richmond, eighty-three miles. General Kilpatrick, cross at i A. AI., Sunday, ten miles. Pass river at 5 A. M. (resistance). Childsburg, fourteen miles, 8 A. M. Resistance at North Anna, three miles, railroad bridges at South Anna, twenty-six miles, 2 P. M.; destroy bridges, pass the South Anna and feed until after dark, then signal each other. After dark move down to Richmond, and be in front of the city at daybreak.
" Return — In Richmond during the day; feed and water men outside. Be over the Pamunkey at daybreak; feed and water and then cross the Rappahannock at night (Tuesday night), when they must be on the lookout. Spies should be sent on Friday morning early and be ready to cut."
This is a correct copy of the papers found on Colonel Dahlgren's body, delivered to me and sent to Richmond.
Late Captain Company H, Ninth Virginia Cavalry.
-History Of The Ninth Virginia Cavalry War Between The States
Late Brig. General R. L. T. Beale.
Richmond, VA.: B. F. Johnson Publishing Company. 1899.