THE TRUE STORY ABOUT COLONEL DAHGREN’S BODY.–

It was not until the war was over, that all the facts of this somewhat mysterious case could be cleared up; and now it is apparent that a loyal Virginian, living near Richmond, rescued his corpse from its obscure and ignominious burial-place, and re-interred it in a place whence it could easily be recovered by his friends.

After having been stripped and plundered, by the roadside, near Richmond, two men were ordered to take the corpse away and bury it where none would ever know the spot, or be able to recover the remains. But a loyal Virginian, not far from whose house he had been shot, determined to watch their operations, and know the place of the grave.

It was midnight, and they took him, in the stillness and gloom, across the city, to the other side of the James River, and to the outer corner of an obscure burial-place, in the skirt of the forest, where common soldiers who had died in the hospitals had been interred. He could only observe them at a distance, and was able to recognize only the vicinity of the spot where they buried him. When he went there afterwards, he found three graves all fresh, and with no mark of any kind to indicate which was Dahlgren’s.

Determined, however, not to abandon his efforts, he only waited a favorable time. Pickets were much more numerous and particular at night than during the day; and he accordingly determined to put a bold front on the enterprise. So, taking a small cart, he drove out in midday, and went directly over to the grave-yard, in the dress, and apparently on the errand, of a laborer. The first body he exhumed had a leg missing, and the hair, and eyes, and figure, answered to the description of Dahlgren. Laying him in the cart, he proceeded to dig up and lay over him quite a number of young peach trees, with dirt enough to cover the body, and with this very peaceful-looking and unsuspicious load he passed all the sentries, and through the streets of Richmond, without challenge. Arriving home, he dug another grave for his body in the corner of his own door-yard, and only a few steps from his door. Here, in silent sympathy, and loyal regret at the death of the brave but unfortunate young soldier, his body, mutilated in battle, and insulted by the country’s foes, was laid.

Not long after, a boat, with a flag of truce, went up the James, and requested of the Confederate authorities to know the place of his burial. A party was sent out to the cemetery where they had buried him, and to their great astonishment, the corpse was not there, and his unhappy friends had almost despaired of ever receiving his body back again to give it a Christian and a soldier’s burial, when the above facts became known to an officer on General Meadestaff, and they were at once communicated to the Government.

About the same time, the Union army lines were advanced so near Richmond as to take in the farm of the loyal Virginian who had displayed such praiseworthy zeal in securing the remains from ignominy.

For a second time he was disinterred, and upon removal to Washington, the third time buried, being finally laid to rest, with full military honors, among those who loved and admired him in life, and bewailed his premature but glorious death.

Originally posted 2009-10-02 16:03:40.

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I'm a lover of God and His Son Jesus Christ. In addition I love to make yesterday's words come alive through the republishing of good and profitable books of old. The Civil War project is an ongoing labor of love. - Karan
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