From the Richmond Examiner, 3/5/1864


The first rumor of the raiders afloat yesterday was that General Stuart, coming down the Louisa mountain road, had intercepted their retreat, captured 1,200 prisoners, and released all the negroes in their hands. This report lacked confirmation, but it was soon followed by a well-authenticated report of a success quite equal in interest, if not in magnitude, to that ascribed to General Stuart.


News was brought in during the morning of the brilliant affair of a small body of Confederate cavalry under the command of Lieutenant Pollard, who had attacked a body of Yankee cavalry under the command of Colonel Dahlgren, killing their commander, taking 90 prisoners and 35 negroes and 150 horses. The fight occurred at Walkerton on Wednesday night about 11 o'clock. The body of cavalry under Dahlgren's command numbered some 300 or 400, being part of the force which had appeared on the Westham plank road. They had crossed the Mattapony at Aylett's. The wretch who commanded them was the son of Commodore Dahlgren, of ordnance notoriety. It would have been well if the body of the land pirate had been gibbeted in chains on the spot where he fell. Lieutenant Pollard commands Company H, of the Ninth Virginia Cavalry. He was aided by some home guards and a small detachment from Lieutenant-Colonel Robins' command.

From the courier who came in yesterday we have some interesting particulars of Lieutenant Pollard's affair with the enemy. It appears that with his company of cavalry he followed the enemy across the Mattapony during the whole of Wednesday, harassing his rear. At the forks of the road the enemy took that leading to Walkerton, while Lieutenant Pollard, directing a few of his men to follow the enemy on that route and make a pretense of pursuit, rapidly withdrew the larger portion of his force to the other road. He succeeded in making a circuit of the enemy, and about 11 o'clock at night appeared on their front, having been joined by some home guards and a few of Robins' command. The Yankees attempted to charge through our lines, the charge being headed by Dahlgren himself. He was shot dead before his column came in contact with our lines. A fight ensued, with the results referred to, to which we may add the fortunate circumstance that not a man of our command was killed. Several Yankees were killed, and the force not captured was dispersed in a wild flight, aided by the cover of the woods and the night.


The following papers and memoranda were found on Dahlgren's person, and contain the indisputable evidence of the diabolical designs of the enemy.

The following 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:"


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 leave your ranks too far or become too much scattered, or you will be lost. Do not allow any personal gain to lead you off, which would only bring you to an ignominious death at the hands of citizens. Keep well together and obey orders strictly and all will be well; but on no account scatter 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.


Colonel, Commanding.


The following special orders were written on a similar sheet of paper and on detached slips, the whole disclosing the diabolical plans of the leaders of the expedition:

Guides.--Pioneers (with oakum, turpentine, and torpedoes), signal officer, quartermaster, commissary. 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, and if the communication can be kept up without giving an 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 the 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, 1 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 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. Everything on the canal and elsewhere of service to the rebels must be destroyed. As General Custer may follow me, be careful not to give a false alarm. [ed. note: the following paragraphs do not appear in the photographic copies that General Lee sent to General Meade.]

The signal officer must be prepared to communicate at night by rockets, and in other things pertaining to his department.

The quartermasters and commissaries must be on the lookout for their departments, and see that there are no delays on their account.

The engineer officer will follow to survey the road as we pass over it, &c.

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 only be used by the pioneers for destroying the main bridges, &c. 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. They must be well prepared with torpedoes, &c. The line of Falling Creek is probably the best to work along, or as they approach the city Goode's Creek, so that no re-enforcements can come up on any cars. No one must be allowed to pass ahead for fear of communicating news. Rejoin the command with all haste, and if cut off cross the river above Richmond and rejoin us. Men will stop at Bellona Arsenal and totally destroy it, and anything else but 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 not to give a false alarm.


The following is an exact copy of a paper written in lead-pencil, which appears to have been a private memorandum of the programme which Dahlgren had made to enable him to keep his work clearly in mind:

Saturday--Leave camp at dark (6 p.m.). Cross Ely's Ford at 10 p.m.

Twenty miles--Cross North Anna at 4 a.m. Sunday. Feed and water one hour.

Three miles--Frederick Hall Station 6 a.m. Destroy arts 8 a.m.

Twenty miles--Near James River 2 p.m. Sunday. Feed and water one hour and a half.

Thirty miles to Richmond--March toward Kilpatrick for one hour, and then as soon as dark cross the river, reaching Richmond early in the morning (Monday).

One squadron remains on north side and one squadron to cut the railroad bridge at Falling Creek, and join at Richmond; 83 miles.

General Kilpatrick--Cross at 1 a.m. Sunday; 10 miles.

Pass river 5 a.m. Resistance.

Chilesburg--Fourteen miles; 8 a.m.

Resistance at North Anna; 3 miles.

Railroad bridges at South Anna; 26 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.


The following paper was inclosed in an envelope directed to Col, U. Dahlgren, etc., at General Kilpatrick's headquarters, and marked "Confidential." The letter is not dated:

Colonel DAHLGREN, etc,:

DEAR COLONEL: At the last moment I have found the man you want; well acquainted with the James River from Richmond up. I send him to you mounted on my own private horse. You will have to furnish him a horse. Question him five minutes, and you will find him the very man you want.

Respectfully and truly, yours,


On the margin of this letter is written:

He crossed at Rapidan last night, and has late information.


There now remains no doubt of the barbarous atrocity of the Yankee raiders in the murder of an inoffensive negro who was captured near the Rapidan. The victim of their brutal wrath was a boy named Martin, the property of Mr. David Meems, of Goochland. It appears that the negro was impressed as a pilot, and had informed the Yankees that they could cross the river at Jude's Ferry, about 2 miles from Dover Mills. The river was, however, fuller than usual, although it is very probable that the negro advised the raiders according to the best of his information. For no other offense than the imaginary one of misleading the enemy, the negro was hung to a tree, where his dead body was found a few hours after life was extinct.

It is now quite certain that the Yankees intended to cross the river so as to attack the city from the south side and disconcert our defense by the various directions of their attack. They were, however, disappointed in their attempts to cross the river, and left no other recourse than to cut their way through to Kilpatrick. The wagon train which accompanied them was loaded with arms and equipments, and it is conjectured that these were provided for the prisoners, whose release from Belle Isle was undoubtedly one object of the excursion. The only damage done to the canal was the destruction of the wooden part of the aqueduct at Dover Mills. A few hundred dollars will repair it.


We learn that the Yankees destroyed Pearson's saw-mill, near Tunstall's Station. They plundered the neighboring country of all the grain and meat they could lay their hands on. They did no damage to the railroad.

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