Ambuscade and Death of Colonel Dahlgren
Credit: HarpWeek
Original Author: Harper's Weekly
Created: March 26, 1864
Medium: Newspaper illustration
Publisher: HarpWeek

Ambuscade and Death of Colonel Dahlgren

An illustration in Harper's Weekly depicts the death of Union colonel Ulric Dahlgren during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Dahlgren lost his life during an ambitious raid on Confederate installations in Richmond early in 1864. While the raid itself accomplished little, Dahlgren's death led to one of the most controversial episodes of the war. A thirteen-year-old member of Richmond's home guard discovered on the Union colonel's body handwritten orders for the burning of Richmond and the assassination of Confederate president Jefferson Davis and his cabinet. Outraged Confederate authorities published them in the press, catching Union generals and politicians off guard. Dahlgren's father, a Union rear admiral, among many others in the North, insisted they were fabrications, while the Richmond Examiner waxed indignant: "The depredations of the last Yankee raiders, and the wantonness of their devastation equal anything heretofore committed during the war."