The Dahlgren Affair: Terror and Conspiracy in the Civil War

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The story begins with a daring cavalry raid to free thousands of Union prisoners held under desperate conditions in Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederacy. The raid fails, and the Union commander - 21-year-old Ulric Dahlgren, a one-legged colonel, hero, and friend of Abraham Lincoln's - is killed. On Dahlgren's body are found orders purportedly instructing his men to find and execute Jefferson Davis and the rest of the Confederate cabinet. The first consequence of the raid and the discovered papers was an...
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8vo, 298 pp.

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1998 Hard Cover First Edition Stated Very Good/Very Good 0393046621.

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New York, NY 1998 Hard cover First edition. Fine in fine dust jacket. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 298 p. Contains: Illustrations. Audience: General/trade.

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U S A 1998 H hardcover First Edition 5 fine in 5 fine jacket Paper jacket, terror in the civil war, 298 pages.

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Overview

The story begins with a daring cavalry raid to free thousands of Union prisoners held under desperate conditions in Richmond, Virginia, capital of the Confederacy. The raid fails, and the Union commander - 21-year-old Ulric Dahlgren, a one-legged colonel, hero, and friend of Abraham Lincoln's - is killed. On Dahlgren's body are found orders purportedly instructing his men to find and execute Jefferson Davis and the rest of the Confederate cabinet. The first consequence of the raid and the discovered papers was an outpouring of horrified, indignant rage throughout the South. The Union army and politicians disclaimed all knowledge of the orders and challenged their authenticity. Not long afterwards, Jefferson Davis, in retaliation, authorized the use of terrorism against civilians in the North in the form of guerrilla raids, bank robberies, arson, sabotage, and prolonged warfare. Besides the enigmatic Dahlgren, the primary actors in this intrigue include Thomas Hines, a 23-year-old classical scholar who organized the campaign of terror from Maine to Minnesota as revenge for the Union plan to murder Jefferson Davis, and Elizabeth Van Lew, a well-bred, middle-aged Richmond woman who spied for the Union and was called by Ulysses S. Grant the most effective Union operative of the war. The larger, political story is fascinating as well. Both presidents, Lincoln and Davis, are seen as desperate men in danger of losing the war, one at the ballot box, the other on the battlefield. The Confederacy was losing the Civil War, but Lincoln's opponent in the election of 1864, George McClellan, would very likely negotiate a peace with the South. It was imperative that the South weaken Lincoln's hold on the electorate, and if no opportunity arose, then one must be manufactured. This would be the Confederacy's last chance of survival.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Schultz's (Quantrill's War; Wake Island) lively writing is perfectly suited to the exciting and controversial Yankee cavalry raid against Richmond, Va., in late winter 1864. The raid failed, Yankee colonel Ulric Dahlgren (son of Admiral John A. Dahlgren) was killed and the Confederacy published the contents of papers allegedly found on Dahlgren's body. Officially, the cavalry was to enter Richmond and rescue thousands of Union prisoners of war; the captured papers detailed an uglier objective--the assassination of Jefferson Davis and his cabinet, and the leveling of the city. Were the papers found on Dahlgren's body authentic or were they forged by a government desperate to bring more pressure on the North? To this day, historians debate the papers' authenticity. Schultz chronicles the raid, then examines the papers, their publication and ultimate fate. Along the way, readers are introduced to an astonishing array of characters--Judson "Kill Cavalry" Kilpatrick, the Federal raid commander; Thomas Hines, a Confederate agent who was given latitude to retaliate against Northern targets; Elizabeth Van Lew, the Richmond woman who ran a successful Union spy operation throughout the war; and numerous others whose lives were affected by these momentous events. Schultz also links the failed raid and the Confederate reaction, which included an attempt to burn New York City, failed attempts to liberate Confederate prisoners, a raid on St. Albans, Vt., and other acts of terror. The subject and Schultz's lucid prose make this a great addition to any Civil War library. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In his lively account of intrigue, espionage, and failed effort, Schultz (Quantrill's War, LJ 9/15/96) argues that Union attempts to liberate prisoners in Richmond in 1864 and to kidnap or kill prominent Confederates provided the moral and legal cover for Confederate raids on northern communities to disrupt the 1864 presidential election and move the battle to the North. By Schultz's reckoning, the events of 1864 brought civilians into the war and made terrorism policy. Schultz introduces a fascinating rogues' gallery of freebooters, officers, and spies, and he raises important questions about the "culture of war," especially the insistence on respecting older notions of honor even while modern war mobilized whole populations, and the need for victory led to ever more desperate measures. But his discoveries of "conspiracy" and stories of spying and raiding are not as new as he claims; others have shown convincingly that "total war" became both practice and policy before 1864. Schultz tells a good tale, even if proof of conspiracy remains elusive. For academic and large public libraries.--Randall M. Miller, St. Joseph's Univ., Philadelphia
Kirkus Reviews
Schultz, the author of a series of well-received works of narrative history (Quantrill's War, 1996; Over the Earth I Come, 1992, etc.) concerned with America in the turbulent 19th century, adds another with this wonderfully vivid portrait of Confederate attempts to stir up rebellion in the North during the war's waning daysþefforts that even included a chilling but unsuccessful attempt at germ warfare. In 1864, during a daring raid by Union cavalry to free prisoners held in the Confederate capital of Richmond, a dashing young Union colonel is shot down. The Confederates publicize papers they claim to have found on his body indicating that he planned to track down and assassinate Jefferson Davis. using the papers (which, Schultz convincingly argues, were very likely forged by Confederate operatives) as an excuse, Davis orders a campaign unleashed on the North to foment rebellion among the increasingly vocal groups of CopperheadsþDemocrats violently opposed to the continuation of the war. Agents were sent North to enlist locals to attack Federal posts, assault prisons where Confederate soldiers were being held, sink ships, and spread chaos. Thanks to bad luck, Union spies, and a lack of resolve on the part of the Copperheads, the plans largely failed. Schultz handles all of this melodramatic material with vigor and clarity, a first-rate addition to the bulging shelves of Civil War Studies. (b&w photos, not seen)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393046625
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 298
  • Product dimensions: 6.55 (w) x 9.65 (h) x 1.15 (d)

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