Civil War

One of the most controversial episodes of the Civil War unfolded in central Virginia in February and March 1864. Two Union cavalry officers, Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick and Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, led 3,500 troopers from their winter camps in near Stevensburg in Culpeper County toward Richmond, the capital of the Confederacy. This daring raid was allegedly planned to free some 15,000 Yankee prisoners held in Richmond’s prisons, but it soon developed into something much more sinister.  There is evidence to suggest that in addition to destroying enemy supply lines and liberating Union prisoners, Dahlgren’s orders included the burning of the city and the capture Confederate President, Jefferson Davis, or even possibly his assassination.
General Judson Kilpatrick
The original itinerary of Kilpatrick and Dahlgren’s troopers can be traced from Culpeper to Goochland County, including their fights on the outskirts of Richmond.  While Kilpatrick eventually limped back to the safety of Union lines at Yorktown, Dahlgren's fate was more disastrous.  He and his men crossed the Mattaponi River into King and Queen County where on March 2, 1864 the young colonel was killed in a Confederate ambush.  Papers found on the dead colonel’s body implicated the highest levels of the Federal government in an assassination plot.
General Judson Kilpatrick
Colonel Ulric Dahlgren
Image donated by Corbis-Bettmann,
Dr. Bruce M. Venter is a leading authority on the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid on Richmond in 1864.  He is currently preparing a manuscript for book publication which expands the article he published in Blue & Gray magazine on the raid.  He is available to lead customized tours of the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid.

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