MUSEUM  QUALITY     

           AMERICANA            

                    


          SPECIALIZING IN ORIGINAL CIVIL WAR MEMORABILIA        
Admiral John Dahlgren Writes His Sister from Besieged Charleston - Addresses His Wounded Son Ulric!

In this letter written off Morris Island, Charleston, South Carolina on August 10th, 1863, Admiral Dahlgren makes some quite amazing comments.  The letter is all in Dahlgren’s hand.  He signs it “Your Brother”.   The letter is written to his sister Martha Matilda whom he calls “Patty” in all his letters.  Dahlgren was very close to his sister as she helped raise his children.  Dahlgren’s son, Ulric, who had just been made a Colonel at the young age of 21, was quite the hero.  Here is some information taken from Elizabeth Van Lew, The Richmond Spy:

 

·         “On 6 July, Ulric was leading a cavalry charge in pursuit of retreating Confederates near Hagerstown, Maryland, when a Confederate musket ball struck his right foot.  Too proud to allow a mere foot wound to unsaddle him, Ulric ignored it until the loss of blood forced him down.  Three days later he was carried to his father’s home in Washington on a litter.  By the end of July the doctors had found it necessary toamputate his right leg below the knee.”


·         “Many prominent soldiers and officials visited Ulric while he lay abed, including General Hooker and Secretary of War Stanton.  The latter came to tell Ulric that he had been promoted to the rank of colonel for his gallantry.  Ulric had skipped the grade of major to become the youngest colonel in the Union army.  Lincoln visited Ulric too, to offer ‘kindly words of heart-felt sympathy.’  The president had grown fond of his friend’s son and felt sorry for both of them.

To Dahlgren’s relief, Ulric’s condition improved in August.  The youth send his worried father an optimistic note.  Dahlgren replied, ‘I have had nothing so welcome as your letter, - it is not so much what we have in this world as the use we put our means to – You can do a great deal more, minus a foot than most young men who have two – It is no small matter to have fought your way to a colonelcy at 21, andthat must lead to more.’

By mid-October, Ulric was able to move about on crutches.  In November he traveled to Charleston to visit his father.  The admiral was delighted to see him but grieved for him.”

·         “Ully left Charleston in January 1864.  It was the last time the admiral would see his son alive.  On 1 March 1864 Colonel Ulric Dahlgren set out for Richmond, leading a force of Union Cavalry.  The operation was the brainchild of twenty-eight-year-old Hugh Judson Kilpatrick...  When Ulric Dahlgren caught wind of the raid, he could not resist the temptation to join in, despite the loss of a leg…”

 


Dahlgren begins the letter discussing the adverse conditions under which the assault on Fort Sumter was fought under.  He calls the assault on Sumter “tedious and done step by step.”  He felt that their victory over Fort Sumter was sure as, “The Confeds. are now plainly preparing the second step for us, - as if they admitted the fall of Sumter.” 

 

·         “In a few days we resume, and the cannonade will exceed any previous.  I have a regiment of Marines and also a Battery in the trenches manned by sailors – afloat we shall be in full rig.”

 


Dahlgren tried to encourage his wounded son…

 

·         Tell Ully he will yet be in time to enter Charleston with his regiment – but must not be in a hurry to get well.  A Colonel at 21 will be a phenomenon.  Company A of the Marines (My Cavalry’s) are 6 – footers, regular Grenadiers.”

 


After Ulric recovered from his foot being amputated, he spent time with his father in Charleston.  Fort Sumter would eventually fall but tragically so did Ulric as he led the raid on Richmond to free the Union prisoners held at Belle Isle and Libby Prison. 

 

·         “Well I have a heap to do and the press on me never ceases.  I live really in public – my little cabin open on all sides and not even the meal time private.  At night the booming of cannons does not cease.  Give my love to the Colonel – and tell him Newport will make all right.”  

 


A wonderful, insightful letter from a famous naval hero and father sending word to his wounded son.  The letter is two separate pages in ink, making for a superb display piece!  Be sure to check the great Dahlgren photos that we have listed in our Civil War Photos section!

 

#HC70 - Price $1,295





                Transcription:
                                                                                                                                                                             Off Morris Is.
                                                                                                                                                                                   Aug. 10th

                                Dear Patty,

Your letters come regularly and relieve me much.  Our worst enemy here is the climate – officers and men break down daily and have to be sent away – yesterday a whole ship’s company.  Charley ought not to come before Oct. – The work will be tedious and done step by step.  The Confeds. are now plainly preparing the second step for us, - as if they admitted the fall of Sumter.

            In a few days we resume, and the cannonade will exceed any previous.  I have a regiment of Marines and also a Battery in the trenches manned by sailors – afloat we shall be in full rig.  Tell Ully he will yet be in time to enter Charleston with his regiment – but must not be in a hurry to get well.  A Colonel at 21 will be a phenomenon.  Company A of the Marines (My Cavalry’s) are 6 – footers, regular Grenadiers.

            Well I have a heap to do and the press on me never ceases.  I live really in public – my little cabin open on all sides and not even the meal time private.  At night the booming of cannons does not cease. 

            Give my love to the Colonel – and tell him Newport will make all right.  

            I send back Paully’s letters to be taken care of.

                                                                                                Most affectionately,

                                                                                                Your Brother

                                Have a letter from Mr. Sundestain – which I will answer.  Very kind of him always glad to hear from him.