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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, all will be well.
Ask the blessing of the Almighty, and do not fear the enemy.
U. DAHLGREN, 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 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 every thing 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 (one 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. Every thing 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.
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 reinforcements 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 and not give a false alarm.”
The exhibition of these papers, disclosing a Yankee plot of incendiarism and murder that challenged comparison with the atrocities of the darkest ages, produced a profound sensation in Richmond. Our people, although already familiar with outrages of the enemy, were scarcely prepared to imagine such extremity of excess; while these bloody papers were to the world an important evidence of the spirit of Yankee warfare.*
* Yankee newspapers, with persistent hardihood, disputed the authenticity of these papers. The writer, whose relative was engaged in the affair, and who himself was familiar with all the incidents relating to these papers, may assert most positively that there is not a shadow of ground to question their authen ticity. He saw the originals. In half an hour after they were found on Dahl
It is partly amusing to notice that flimsy and flippant hypocrisy which, in Yankee newspapers, declared that Dahlgren, who had come on such an errand, when killed in a fight with our troops was "assassinated," or which, through the offices of an alliterative strong-minded woman, the peculiar creature of Yankeedom-one "Grace Greenwood "-apotheosized, through public lectures to Yankee soldiers, one of the worst of their kind, and proclaimed him as "the young hero of the North." The dramatic account of the stripping of the body of the marauder, and the cutting off the joint of a finger to get from it a diamond ring, is, however revolting to a tender humanity, nothing but an ordinary circumstance in a war where both sides have admitted what is indeed a deplorable practice-that of "peeling" on the battle-field.
But there were some acts of the Confederate authorities in relation to the Dahlgren affair, which deserved a severe censure, and which were wholly indefensible. Many persons in the Confederacy very justly thought that Dahlgren's raiders were not entitled to the privileges of prisoners of war, but should be turned over to the State authorities as thieves, incendiaries, and felons in all respects. The Confederate authorities, from motives which could only have been fear of the enemy's displeasure, declined to accede to this demand. But popular clamor was to be appeased; and to do so the old game of "retaliation" was to be played, and its plain demands put off by melodramatic expedients honorable to tell, but in reality amounting to nothing.
gren's body they were placed in the hands of General FitzHugh Lee; and the soiled folds of the paper were then plainly visible. The words referring to the murder of the President and his cabinet were not interlined, but were in the regular context of the manuscript. The proof of the authenticity of the papers is clinched by the circumstance that there was also found on Dahlgren's body a private note-book, which contained a rough draft of the address to his soldiers, and repetitions of some of the memoranda copied above. The writer has carefully examined this note-book-a common memorandum pocket-book, such as might be bought in New York for fifty cents-in which are various notes, some in ink and some in pencil; the sketch of the address is in pencil, very imperfect, written as one who labored in composition, crossed and recrossed. It does not differ materially in context or language from the more precise composition, except that the injunction to murder the Confederate leaders is in the rough draft made with this additional emphasis, "killed on the spot.”
Dahlgren's body was buried out of sight, with the puerile mystery of a concealed grave. The Libby Prison was undermined, several tons of powder put under it, and the threat made that if any demonstration on Richmond, such as Dahlgren's, was ever again to occur, the awful crime, the appaling barbarity would be committed of blowing into eternity the hundreds of helpless men confined in a Confederate prison. No one can believe that such an atrocity was ever intended, under any circumstances, to be executed by the Confederacy, or that it was any thing more than the melodrama by which our weak authorities had been accustomed to avoid the real and substantial issues of "retaliation." This was not the first instance in which the Confederacy had needlessly blackened its reputation by exaggerated pretences of retaliation, which it was thought necessary to make very ferocious in their conception, in proportion as they were to be failures in execution.
The Current of Confederate Victories.-THE RED RIVER EXPEDITION.-Banks' Ambitious Designs.-Condition of the Confederates West of the Mississippi.-Banks' Extensive Preparations.-A Gala Day at Vicksburg.-Yankee Capture of Fort De Russy.--Occupation of Alexandria.-Porter's Warfare and Pillage.-Banks' Continued Advance.-Shreveport, the Grand Objective Point.-Kirby Smith's Designs.— General Green's Cavalry Fight.-BATTLE OF MANSFIELD.-Success of the Confederates.-BATTLE OF PLEASANT HILL.-The Heroic and Devoted Charge of the Confederates.-The Scene on the Hill.-Banks Fatally Defeated.-Price's Capture of Yankee Trains. Grand Results of Kirby Smith's Campaign.-Banks in Disgrace.-Yankee Tenure of Louisiana.-FORREST'S EXPEDITION INTO KENTUCKY.-His Gallant Assault on Fort Pillow.-The Yankee Story of "Massacre."-Capture of Union City.-Confederate Occupation of Paducah.-Chastisement of the Yankees on their own Theatre of Outrages-CAPTURE OF PLYMOUTH, N. C.-General Hoke's Expedition.-Capture of "Fort Wessel."-Exploit of the "Albemarle."--The Assaults upon the Town.Fruits of its Capture.-The Yankees in North Carolina.
THE current of victory for the Confederacy was still to enlarge. The spring campaign of General Kirby Smith in the Trans-Mississippi was to terminate for us in one of the most decisive and fruitful successes of the war. On account of the remoteness of the theatre of action and its very imperfect communications with Richmond, we have now at hand but scant materials for composing the history of these events, which terminated in the overwhelming defeat of Banks, and the complete demolition of his extensive schemes in Western Louisiana and Texas.
THE RED RIVER EXPEDITION.
To understand the importance of Banks' great expedition up the Red River, it is necessary to review the military situation in the beginning of March. Sherman had returned to Vicksburg from his grand but disappointed expedition into Mississippi, and instead of directing his forces towards Mobile, the point of the greatest concern to the Confederates, he