Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March 5, 1864: "The last raid of the Infernals"

On this day 150 years ago, the contents of Ulric Dahlgren's papers were published in Richmond's Daily Dispatch and several other newspapers. Dahlgren's papers sparked widespread outrage in the South and the incident became known as the "Dahlgren Affair."
The last raid of the Infernals — their plans Unveiled.

The reader will be startled this morning by the diabolical plans of the Yankee raiders who have just been driven in disappointment and disgrace from the very gates of Richmond. A lucky shot has sent to his long account one of the three leaders of the three bands into which Kilpatrick's command was divided, and upon his person were found the papers making the important development of their whole plan. It was quite complete in itself, involving the Massacre of the President and his entire Cabinet, and the destruction of Richmond--"the hated city," as one of the orders styles it. All this was to have followed the releasing of all the Federal prisoners, which was the first achievement cut out for the expedition upon its arrival here. Besides these events, which were to form the finale of the grand expedition, it was especially enjoined that "all mills must be burned," and "also everything which can be used by the rebels must be destroyed." Of course that means everything that is to be eaten or worn! It will be seen that it was further ordered that all "horses and cattle we (they) do not need immediately must be shot rather than left. " The men were required to "keep together and well in hand, and once in the city, it must be destroyed, and Jeff. Davis and Cabinet killed!"

The "address" setting forth these objects, and signed by Col. Dahlgren, on whose body it was found, appeals to the men under his command, to engage heartily in the enterprise and taunts contemptuously any who would decline. To any such a man, Col. D. says: ‘"Let him step out, and he may go hence to the arms of his sweetheart, and read of the braves who have swept through the city of Richmond!"’ A memorandum discovered, imparts the information that none declined to accompany the gallant and chivalrous Colonel. Not the blandishments of a sweetheart could tempt any of the band of robbers and thieves, to forego the booty and butchery, the robbing and marauding, which would inevitably fall to the lot of the braves, "who swept through the city of Richmond!" And the pious as well as "brave" Dahlgren, concludes his address to his cut-throat followers thus--"Ask the blessing of the Almighty, and do not fear the enemy!" And they came and the Almighty blessed them not; but Dahlgren is dead and gone to answer for his crimes, while several hundred of his partners in the plot, concocted so deliberately, are now in out prisons. They every one richly merit death.

The whole plot seemed to have gone awry as it deserved. There were to have been three bands. One to have entered the city off the North, the other two to have approached it by the river--one on the north bank and the other on the south. We have not the particulars of their march, but it is understood that from a delay caused by a mistake or intentional misreading of them by a negro guide, the column that was to have crossed the river did not do so. The guide was certainly hung for his services!--The three columns were to have been led by Kilpatrick, Gregg, and Dahlgren. But as no part of the command crossed the river, the two last named brought their men in one body towards the city by the River road, and were met by the Armory and Henley battalions Tuesday night and repulsed! And thus concluded the grand plot which was to have achieved results that Dahlgren assured his men would "write their names on the hearts of 'their' countrymen in letters that can never be erased. " Their failure deprives them of any such inscription on the hearts of their countrymen; but they have in lieu another inscription upon the pages of history which will hand them down to the execration of mankind through all future ages.

These raiders were to have rioted in blood and destruction in Richmond on Monday last. They miscalculated. They did not approach the city till Tuesday noon, and then to make a most ridiculous demonstration that was repulsed by a few men sent out to watch them. Their scheme was most absurd. Did they suppose there was nobody here but women and children? Let it not be said that if they had not failed at one point they would have succeeded at another. There is nothing more absurd than that wisdom which affects to say what would have happened if something had not have happened. Who can pretend to say what would have taken place if that which did occur had not have happened at all? The infamous plan of the infernal Yankees was conceived to be frustrated. But while we think and feel thus, let us redouble our energies and our vigilance to guard against the schemes and plots of a foe who has proved himself to be the most unscrupulous, as he is the most brutal and fiend like, that ever made war on a people.

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