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Colonel Ulric Dahlgren, U.S.A.


Colonel Ulric Dahlgren was the second son of Rear-Admiral John Adolf and Mary Dahlgren, and was born April 3, 1842, in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Completing his school-days in 1858, it was decided that his vocation was civil engineering, and, as he had received much practical instruction from his father, he was in 1859 employed to survey some tracts of wild land in Mississippi. In September, 1860, in obedience to his father's wishes, he entered a Philadelphia law-office, but amid the rush of events which followed the inauguration of President Lincoln he desired to serve his country, and July 24, 1861, he was attached to a naval expedition from the Washington Yard to assist in the defence of Alexandria, Virginia. As it became evident by September that active operations could not be expected before spring, Ulric again yielded to his father's wishes and resumed his law studies, with the promise that he would be recalled when the hour of action should come.

During the winter of 1861-62 he was one of an association of young men who formed a light artillery company in Philadelphia, at the same time pursuing his studies, and the last entrance of his written memoranda is, " Examination, February 24, 1862."

On the 26th of May, 1862, young Dahlgren, who was then just twenty years old, was sent to Harper's Ferry, in charge of a battery of navy howitzers, and on the 29th was sent back to Washington to obtain needed supplies of ammunition. His father was in the private office of Secretary Stanton, together with the President. Ulric's report was so well made and created such an impression that, as he was passing out, Mr. Stanton tendered him the appointment of captain and additional aide-de-camp. He reached Harper's Ferry the next morning in time to take part in the final repulse of the rebels.

Captain Dahlgren was attached to the staff of General Sigel, who thus speaks of him in the series of movements made at this time and subsequently

" Captain Dahlgren's services generally, on the line of the Rappahannock, where he was continuously engaged in meeting the enemy's' batteries with our own, to facilitate thereby the march of our troops and trains alongside of the river, were most valuable."

" At the battles of Bull Run and Groveton on the 29th and 3oth of August he was, almost without interruption, engaged in planting or relieving our batteries under the most galling fire of the enemy."

General Sigel desired to make Captain Dahlgren chief of artillery of his corps, and in a note addressed to the governor of Pennsylvania, endorsed by President Lincoln and Admirals Smith and Foote, spoke of his aide as a " young officer of merit and usefulness, who has already distinguished himself and reflected much credit on the service."

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Captain Dahlgren's dash with sixty men into Fredericksburg is well known to history. In the face of five hundred or six hundred of the enemy he held the city for three hours, and then retired with thirty-one prisoners and their horses and accoutrements. He was among those to cross the river in boats on December 11 to dislodge the sharp-shooters. The captain subsequently served on the staff of General Hooker and participated in the battles of Chancellorsville and Beverly Ford, and was retained on the staff of General Meade when that officer assumed command of the Army of the Potomac. While in this position, with ten men he entered Greencastle and captured most important despatches, riding with them thirty miles to Gettysburg. He was given one hundred men to operate with, and July 4, 1863, he attacked Jenkins's cavalry and captured Greencastle, and on his way back dashed into a rebel train, destroyed one hundred and seventy-six wagons, captured two hundred prisoners, three hundred horses, and one piece of artillery.

In his efforts to reach Hagerstown during the attack on the rebels, July 6, he was wounded, and his foot had to be amputated, and on the 24th of July he received his commission as colonel.

Returning to the field on February 18, 1864, he was given a command of five hundred picked men to join an expedition to release the Union prisoners at Richmond, Virginia. Colonel Dahlgren drove the enemy's pickets into their works around Richmond, but the country being aroused he could not make the junction with Kilpatrick, and in endeavoring to return to the Union lines he was ambushed, and killed at the head of his command by being shot in the side and back. His remains were secured at the close of the war, and, after lying in state in the City Hall of Washington and Independence Hall of Philadelphia, were buried with distinguished honors.

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.


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