About 25 miles from my home is a place called Walkerton, Va., a small tranquil village in King and Queen County, Virginia, located along the North bank of the Mattaponi River, named for the Mattaponi Indians which are part of the Powhatan tribe in Eastern Virginia. They today have a reservation a few miles away. On or about 10:30 PM, on a cold, windy, rain/snowy night on Wed. March 2, 1864, Col. Ulric Dalhgren and about 120 of his gang of thieves, arsonist and hoped to be assassins, while trying to escape capture, approached a fork in the road located between the small villages of Stevensville and Manatapike, today this fork is known as Dahlgrens corner, Hockle Neck Rd, where it intersects with Stevensville Rd. and Bunker Hill Rd. Up ahead Dahlgren saw men or horseback, and pulled his revolver and yelled ” SURRENDER YOU DAMNED REBELS OR I WILL SHOOT YOU ” Not A quote, as I have read the words altered a bit by several who were there and later wrote about this, but the difference is minor.” The Confederates were men of the 9th. Virginia Calvary and local King and Queen home guards, of the Confederate States Army, who were awaiting these men as they had been chasing them and had circled around to get in their path to stop them. Not to be intimidated, as soon as Dahlgren said those words, the Confederate cavalrymen and home guards opened fire properly killing Dahlgren and a number of his planned assassinators, thieves and arsonist.
This story began in late February 1864, when Yankee braggart, liar, General, Judson Kilpatrick along with the little 21 year old redheaded kid, known as Col. Ulric Dalhgren and 4000 or so Yankee troopers left Culpeper Virginia on what was then and still is believed to have been a raid to accomplish several goals. They split into two separate forces,and planned to enter Richmond from two opposite directions and to free Yankee prisoners being held on Belle Island in the James River, and at and to also assassinate President Jefferson Davis and as many Confederate cabinet members as possible, and finally, to burn Richmond as they escaped. Once the two groups of armed men split, Kilpatricks group raided the home of Confederate Secretary of War Alexander Seddon, pillaging, looting, stealing, and burning, which is a perfect illustration of the Yankee Barbarian of that time. Mr. Seddon was not at home, and his wife was there and pleaded to no avail for the Yankee General to conduct himself in a civil manner. In any event the plan was foiled at both ends, Kilpatrick was later stopped and defeated and sent scampering away in failure. Dahlgren along with a number of his accomplices reached Richmond, but were approached and he and his gang were also sent running for their lives to escape. As he traveled East from Richmond, his plan was to now go down river and reach Gloucester where he had arranged a safe escape once his dastard plans were completed, but as fate had it, he encountered Confederates who had been warned of the Yankees. After he was killed, and his body searched, papers were found detailing the steps he and his men were to follow, times, dates, plans, including the ” ON THE SPOT MURDER “of President Jefferson Davis and all cabinet members they could locate in Richmond, the release of many Union POW’s, and the burning of Richmond. He had various incendiaries, turpentine soaked materials, flares, and other arsonist materials with them, including about 40 blacks who were apparently the labor force. They meant to harm Richmond and many civilians.
Well, thank God it did not go according to plan, and now a few more interesting and somewhat strange events. As I noted, papers were found on Dahlgren, and were sent to Richmond. Dahlgren was apparently placed in a wooden box, and was later requested to be taken to Richmond, and it arrived there at the Richmond-York River Railroad Depot on Sunday March 7th. This depot I believe was located along the Canal in Richmond near or at the South end of 23rd, street. It was viewed identified as Dahlgren, hi one leg had been lost at Gettysburg the year before, and the prosthetic leg was missing, as was one of his fingers that had apparently been cut off to remove a ring. You must understand, Southern civility would never have permitted the assassination of civilians, period, and when they discovered this plan, no respect for Dahlgren was provided him. President Davis ordered that he be buried in secret, and he was buried by Negroes in an un-marked grave in Oakwood Cemetery on March 8, 1864.
About one month later after determing from some negroes who supposedly had witnessed the grave site, a Mr. Lohman, his brother John Lohman and a Mr. Lipscomb, all met at the grave site late at night, after having paid a negroe who led them to the site, and also dug the body. This happened on April 6, 1864, a month after he had been buried there. The body was then taken to nearby Churchill section of Richmond to a Mr. Rowletts, in search of a metal coffin. After a metal coffin was obtained and the body placed in it, it was loaded onto a wagon. The coffin was hidden under several small apple trees, and hauled by wagon to the Hungry Springs Depot area out in Henrico County, and on April 7 at about 4 pm, the body was again buried on the farm of Mr. Robert Orrick. The body stayed buried there until after Richmond was evacuated a year later in 1865, and then it was dug up and sent to Washington. Eventually Admiral Dahlgren had it re-buried in the family plot in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pa. The personal belongings, watch, notebook, lock of hair,and the ring were later sent to Admiral Dahlgren as well. So, if anyone has any maps, or photos of any of this, perhaps the Richmond-York River Train Depot in Richmond, Va. send it in your comments, and I will also add a bit more now about the authenticity of the papers found on Dahlgren.
I am only an amateur, not a historian, not a forensic expert, and I also will say, history many times would be made simpler if we had less of these folks, especially the ones who do not use facts. The papers were analized by many, and the clear answer was, they were in Dahlgres handwriting. Some of the captured Yankee soldiers, also swore to their accuracy. Of course Admiral Dahlgren said the papers were false. Kilpatrick said the papers were false. General George Meade in replying to a request from General Robert E. Lee, stated he had investigated, and the papers were false. Later Meade told his wife that after getting the explanation from Judson Kilpatrick, he was doubtful of Kilpatricks story. Kilpatrick was a known braggart and liar, but Kilpatrick, and Dahlgren were personal friends of Lincoln, and Lincoln was beside himself in getting the war over with. Dahlgren was a 21 year old glory seeking hot head, another was his friend, young hotheaded glopry bound George A. Custer, whom was also aware of the plans. Their was no way the papers were read in King and Queen county the night of March 2, 1864, taken the next day to Richmond, viewed, copied and verified as to the handwriting, plus all the facts of what was attempted, it all jived, and I, in 2015, have no doubt, that these were the intentions of Abraham Lincoln, and Kilpatrick and Dahlgren to Assassinate President Jefferson Davis, and by the way, Jefferson Davis in his words for his Auto- biography, states that he and Secretary of War Seddon believe that this was the plan of notorious failed raid, SO DOES THE WRITER.
killed as he was eluding Confederates and for reasons I don’t understand, secretly buried. It was later recovered, and reburied, minus a missing finger. While historians and others debate the intent for the joined Kilpatrick – Dahlgren plan, papers were later found on Dahlgrens body by a 13 year old boy which indicated the plan as noted previously. Some dispute the authenticity of the papers found and what they supposedly stated, I do not. In any event, Jefferson Davis along with his family and his cabinet was spared as was Richmond. The continuing story concerning the raid has been argued for 150 years, but I subscribe to the notion that the papers were most likely authentic, and that the plans were hatched by Lincolns own Secretary Edwin Stanton. I also subscribe to the likelihood, that this failed attempt sparked a later assassination plan that we all know well. The following details concerning Dalhgrens burials, is from a account written by Doug Coleman, ” The disposition of Dahlgren’s corpse is a story in itself. First, he was buried near where he was killed, at the fork of two roads near Stevensville and Mantua Ferry. Then his remains were removed to Richmond, where he was viewed by numerous people. A finger had been severed to secure a gold ring and a gunshot wound was noted in the forehead. Protocol was to send bodies of Union officers home, but Jefferson Davis gave explicit instructions to make an exception in this case. The next day the body was conveyed to Oakwood Cemetery and reburied without ceremony – “a dog’s burial.” The colored gravediggers were sent away so that the disgraced occupant of the unmarked grave would remain anonymous until “the trump of doom”, as the Richmond papers crowed. However, one of the gravediggers, curiosity excited, watched the burial from the woods and deduced that it was Dahlgren, as there had been much talk of how to dispose of the war criminal’s remains. Dahlgren’s father was a famous admiral – Dahlgren naval station on the Potomac was named after him, as was Battery Dahlgren on Shuter’s Hill in Alexandria. A number of Union men in Richmond determined to locate his grave so that he might be returned to his family. A Mr. Lipscomb found the gravedigger who had spied on the burial and enlisted his cooperation with a $100 bill. Appreciating the danger, the gravedigger dropped a stone on the grave as he went about his chores, with the Union men watching at a distance. Promised an even richer reward of $1500 (a soldier’s pay was $13 a month), on the rainy pitch-black night of April 6th, the gravedigger met the Union men at the cemetery to exhume Dahlgren. The Unionists waited outside the cemetery in a cart while the grave digger and two assistants “resurrected” Dahlgren. The shoddy coffin fell to pieces just short of the cart and the body tumbled out onto the ground. It was identified by the missing finger and a leg lost in the Gettysburg campaign; like a Catholic saint, Dahlgren’s body had not decayed. Unionists sent the body to Washington. Most of him found a final resting place in the Dahlgren family plot at Laurel Hill cemetery in Philadelphia. His leg, lost in a skirmish at Hagerstown in the pursuit of Lee following Gettysburg, had previously been sealed inside the wall of the Dahlgren foundry at the Washington navy yard. Interred with full military honors, it is still there. Alas, the finger lost at Walkerton remains unaccounted for. The Yankees returned to avenge Dahlgren and punish the residents of King and Queen County, burning the settlement at King and Queen Courthouse. The courthouse, still in use, now stands alone in a clearing – the village was not rebuilt.Some believe the last chapter of this tale was written in April of 1865. Dahlgren’s orders changed the rules of engagement – now presidents and their cabinets are legitimate targets. Thus on April 14th President Lincoln, who had personally approved the raid, is assassinated, Secretary Seward is stabbed, and Vice President Johnson escapes only because his assassin is over-served at a tavern. Live by the sword, die by the sword…” So, it takes a lot of back and forth in the study of history to determine all the obvious facts, and some not so obvious things, some hard facts, some circumstantial, feather, web feet, spends lots of time in the water and quacks, it is likely not a bunny rabbit.All the pointers indicate an assassination was a centerpiece of the plans of these two Yankee officers and the Lincoln administration. Prior to the above acts, harming the government civilian leaders was not something the Confederate ever did or would ever do. This event has forever changed these actions in warfare, another rotten episode in the Yankee ways of conducting a barbaric, uncivilized war.