THE DAHLGREN RAID.
(From the Philadelphia Times.)
In February, 1864, several of the cavalry regiments of the Army of Northern Virginia were temporarily disbanded and sent to their homes to recruit their horses. The Ninth Virginia Cavalry, to which my company belonged, was ordered to protect the transportation of supplies from the Northern Neck of Virginia, which was very much interrupted at that time by the enemy's gunboats on the Rappahannock, Mattaponi, and Pamunkey rivers. Besides, they would frequently land parties from the boats and make incursions into the country to plunder. Colonel R. L. T. Beale, commanding the Ninth Virginia Cavalry, fixed his headquarters in Essex county, near Boulware's wharf, on the Rappahannock river, and ordered me to establish a picket line across the county of King William from the Mattaponi to the Pamunkey rivers.
I moved over into King William county, quartered my men in the court-house, being a convenient point to both rivers, and established a picket post at West Point, the head of the York, and the junction of the two rivers. The distance by water to my camp was three times as great as by land, which would enable my pickets to bring me word of the entrance of a boat into the mouth of either river, and give me time to meet her with my sharpshooters on some of the bluffs.
Being on detached service, I did not require any other leave of absence or passport than my own. Having captured some Spencer rifles, I made several trips to Richmond to try and get ammunition for them, which I failed to do, and finally exchanged them for Sharp's carbines. During a visit to Richmond I was staying at the house of a friend, and a lady relative of General Lee's camp and told us that General Lee had telegraphed that the enemy's cavalry were on a raid in his lines. I immediately hurried back to camp, called in my pickets, sent them in the opposite direction, to watch the ferries on the Pamunkey, and stationed a courier on the road about half way to the upper ferries. The next morning (March 2d) I got information that they were crossing the Pamunkey river at Hanovertown ferry, about six miles below Hanover Courthouse, and twelve miles from Aylett's, on the Mattaponi river. I sent my baggage-wagon to a safe place and crossed the Mattaponi at Mantua ferry; had the boat concealed in the marsh, and the other boats higher up the river put out of the way. I next hastened to Dunkirk, in the upper part of King and Queen county, where was the only boat left on the river, and sent ahead to have that brought over to the side I was on.
Up to this time nobody in that section had a suspicion that there was an enemy nearer than the Rapidan river. I found two of Captain Magruder's company (Forty-second Battalion, Virginia Cavalry), at Mantau, and sent word to him to Join me at Dunkirk as soon as he could.
Dr. Fleet's son and William Taliaferro, two lads, the latter a nephew of the Hon. William Boulware*, formerly United States Minister to Naples, were riding along in King William, and came upon the enemy's column unexpectedly. When ordered to surrender, they attempted to escape, and young Taliaferro's horse was killed, and he captured, and Fleet was mortally wounded, but managed to keep his seat, and was carried by his horse some distance into the woods. He had his dog with him, which, after remaining with him all night, met his friends who were in search of him, and conducted them to the body. While I was waiting for the enemy at Dunkirk they found a flat-boat at Aylett's large enough to carry the men over and swam the horses, the river being narrow at that place. They thus got about twenty-five minutes' start of me. But I overtook them near Bruington Church, and attacked their rear-guard, killing one man. I am pretty certain that this man was killed by Dr. Richard Crouch, a member of my company. Crouch was dismounted and standing by my horse, when I called his attention to him, as his bullets were whistling disagreeably near to me. Although there was a rapid firing, I think the man dropped at the crack of Crouch's gun. One of my company got a fifty-dollar greenback out of his pocket, which afterwards proved to be a two-dollar bill, with " fifty " pasted on the figure two.
Just at that time I got information, which turned out to be false, that the enemy had sent a portion of his command by a road through the woods which came into the one I was on, two or three hundred yards in my rear. This detained me a short time, and when I overtook him again I saw that he had turned on the River road, where "Butler's Tavern " used to stand. I sent four men to follow him and annoy his rear, hoping by that means to prevent his finding out that I was getting in his front. After turning down the road towards Stevensville, I was again deceived into thinking that a part of the enemy's force had taken that road. After going a short distance I was hailed by a citizen about a hundred yards from the road, whom I understood to say: "They are just ahead of you." I ordered a trot and directly we heard two reports and a bullet struck just by my horse, splashing the mud on my foot. We charged, and had a very pretty chase for about a half a mile, when we ran into Captain Magruder, who had put his men in ambush on the brow of a hill and sent out pickets, having heard that the enemy had taken that road. He informed me that it was with difficulty that he could restrain his men from firing. Captain Magruder put his company (about thirty men) at my command, and I got him to send a courier to Major Waller, who was in command of the baggage-train and men with broken-down horses of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry (Colonel Beale had gone with his regiment to Ashland).
TO BE CONTINUED
" He was the son of Lee Boulware of Newtown and a professor at Columbian College in Washington, D.C.. Later he was member of the Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary and a Minister of the United States to King Ferdinand II at Naples before the formation of the Republic of Italy"
- King & Queen Courthouse Tavern Museum \ Press Release \ Mary Macon Pendleton Gatewood Boulware Returns to King and Queen County (November 2003)