Colonel Ulrich Dahlgren led a group of Union troopers…. on a daring raid to free Union prisoners of war held at Belle Isle, Richmond VA. Dahlgren’s men were supposed to slip into the city on February 29, 1864 during a staged cavalry raid. The raid never materialized and Dahlgren’s troopers were unable to penetrate Richmond’s defenses. Dahlgren was killed trying to fight his way out of the city limits on March 2. Most of his men were captured. A young boy, rifling the Colonel’s pockets found copies of his orders….let the debate begin.
Conspiracy theorists hold that the orders were to kill Jefferson Davis… and the Confederate cabinet. For the conspiracy to hold water, it must be proven that the orders came from above Dahlgren. No such link has ever been found and only hearsay and speculation connect the orders to anyone outside the US Cavalry. The incriminating passages occur at the very end of longer lines of text as if added on hastily, ” 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. ” —–Four pages of written orders, and that is the only line that mentions what is seemingly the objective of the mission….but no where else are such objectives mentioned. Bull-Honkey !
The best case the evidence presents the conspiracy theorists… is that Dahlgren altered the orders himself. But why would he do such a thing? Why didn’t Dahlgren discuss the assassinations in his address to the men (that the survivors witnessed?) Historian Duane Schultz has uncovered enough evidence to suggest that Confederate agents tampered with the orders. What is clear is that Confederate agents used the forgeries as propaganda, which may have influenced John Wilkes Booth.