Letter – John Dahlgren, 25 April 1864

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Letter written by Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, US Navy, to the editor of ‘The Baltimore American,’ C. C. Fulton, from Washington, D.C. Dahlgren is writing in response to a report published by the newspaper on the sinking of the USS Housatonic by the CSS Hunley in Charleston Harbor. Dahlgren hopes to meet with Fulton soon, though he is still depressed from the death of his son, Colonel Ulric Dahlgren. Ulric was killed during the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid. Dahlgren writes that those in Richmond prefer to ignore “the real purpose of the expedition, which was to release . . . the Union soldiers who are there dying.” He particularly blames the 9th Virginia Cavalry for his son’s death.


-Page 1-

Washington April 25

1864

My Dear Sir,

I see in your of this morning a part of my Report – I hope you will some day find a little corner for the rest, because it somewhat concerns me personally –

You know how quietly I have continued to do my duty under all the miserable aspersions that were soon broadcast some months ago by as unpatriotic libellers as ever disgraced

-Page 2-

an honorable vocation

You did most handsomely strike a blow for what you knew I had seen to be right and just – thank you for it most gratefully –

But I must some day say a word for myself – the Doc. on the monitors will open, and another paper in reply to the Com. [committee] on the War will follow more to the point

I leave in a few days

-Page 3-

for Charleston – and will always be glad to see you at any time & have you provided for –

I had some hopes of seeing you, – but you know how heavy an affliction has fallen on me – a more brave & gentle spirit never gave limb & life to the cause than my son – They take care at Richmond to ignore entirely the real purpose of the expedition, which was to release from their vile dungeons the union soldiers who are

-Page 4-

there dying the most horrible deaths – but lie and desecrate the remains of the mere youth, whom in life they never faced with impunity – the 9th Vrg. that murdered him in midnight ambush, is the same brave chivalry, that he scattered like chaff in Fred. (Nov. 1862) and drove out though twice his number –

With much regard

I am most truly Yours

Jno A Dahlgren

Mr C.C. Fulton

Baltimore


John A. Dahlgren was a career US Navy officer. He was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1809 and joined the Navy in 1826. He was known as the “Father of American Naval Ordnance.” He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1863 and took command of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. Following the Civil War he took command of the South Pacific Squadron from 1867 to 1869. He died in 1870 and is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery, PA.

Ulric Dahlgren was born in 1842, the middle son of US Navy Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren. In March of 1861 he joined the US Navy and in 1862 was transferred to the US Army and soon promoted to captain. He participated at the Battles of Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Brandy Station, and Gettysburg. He was shot and had to have his foot amputated following the Battle of Gettysburg. Once healed he returned to service under the command of General Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick led a unsuccessful mission to free Union prisoners of war being held in Richmond, VA. Dahlgren was killed on the mission in a night-time ambush. Newspapers reported his body was handled and buried disrespectfully, supposedly on account of papers found on his body additionally ordering the assassination on Jefferson Davis and burning of the city.

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