Kill Jeff Davis: The Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid on Richmond in 1864

Time Period
1861 to 1876
Media Type
Civil War
Military History
Bruce M. Venter

On March 24 and noon, Bruce M. Venter delivered a Banner Lecture entitled "Kill Jeff Davis: The Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid on Richmond in 1864."

The ostensible goal of the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid was to free some 13,000 Union POWs held in Richmond. But sinister orders found on the dead body of the raid’s subordinate commander, Col. Ulric Dahlgren, pointed to a plot to capture or kill Confederate president Jefferson Davis and set the capital ablaze. Bruce Venter’s new book delves into these areas and more as he describes the political maneuvering orchestrated by Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick to get the raid approved by President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Included is a new look at the authorship of the infamous “Dahlgren Papers.” Fresh evidence on the identity of the African American guide, hanged by Dahlgren, is also revealed. And new research shows that Richmond was not defended by only “old men and young boys” when Kilpatrick and Dahlgren attacked the city. In the end, various myths and legends surrounding the raid are exposed and put to rest.

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