20 February 2006 by Published in: General musings 7 comments

This rant has been brewing all day.

Please put this in the “stuff I hate” category. It also fits squarely within the “stuff that frustrates the hell out of me” category.

In the course of researching my Ulric Dahlgren biography, I found the published pamphlet of the eulogy for Ully delivered by Rev. Bernard Sunderland, the minister who watched Ully grow up. The eulogy was delivered a few weeks after Dahlgren’s death even though the body was missing, and then the thing was published shortly thereafter. There is a frustrating, tantalizing little tidbit in this thing that has been driving me nuts.

By way of background, Ulric Dahlgren attended Rittenhouse Academy in Washington, DC as a boy. He left there without graduating in 1858 at the age of 16 to go and study law as an apprentice to his uncle in Philadelphia. The school no longer exists.

I found the following passage in the published eulogy:

“It was this stirring period [early June 1862], while on the road between [Harpers] Ferry and Winchester, that two young officers, once associates and pupils of the Rittenhouse Academy, each ignorant of the other’s connection with the Army, met in the middle of the night, one marching with his regiment eastward, the other with a body of cavalry rapidly riding to the west. As they were sweeping by, though under cover of the darkness, one hearing the other’s voice giving an order to his men, instantly recognized him, and the two former school-fellows drew night for a short greeting and a swift good-bye, and each strode on again. They were Major Morrison and Captain Dahlgren, both cut down in the flower of their young manhood, both sleeping in a soldier’s sepulchre, and both cherished in every loyal heart as the true sons of America, the noble scions of her noblest race.”

This reference clearly made sense to the folks who attended the funeral. Obviously, they knew who this Major Morrison was, and it’s entirely possible that he was also a member of Reverend Sunderland’s Episcopal congregation. Sadly, it makes absolutely no sense to me. I have bene trying to figure out who this Major Morrison was for several months now, and I keep coming up dry. I would love to include this fascinating little anecdote in my book–it’s great stuff–but there seems to be no way of finding out who this myseterious Major Morrison was.

I’ve called in favors. Tom Clemens even gave up his time to search the roster of volunteer officers for me, and we found nothing that matched–there was no Major Morrison killed during the time frame when Ully Dahlgren was still alive. That leads me to believe that this guy may have been brevetted, but who knows. I just know that I have run into a roadblock at every turn, leaving me scratching my head and cursing Reverend Sunderland for not naming this guy so I could tell the story in my book.

Damn, it’s frustrating.

Scridb filter


  1. Lee White
    Mon 20th Feb 2006 at 8:30 pm

    I might have the answer to your search, I ran Major Morrison through the military records on Ancestry.com and it gave a list of all of them in the Union army, the one probable that I found was Captain/Major Charles J. Morrison of the 1st D.C. Infantry. Unfortunately, it only lists names and doesnt give all the info a CSR would. If this one doesnt pan out, let me know and I can get you the full list.


  2. Mon 20th Feb 2006 at 8:45 pm

    Thank you very much, Lee. I really appreciate it.


  3. Harry
    Mon 20th Feb 2006 at 9:23 pm

    This may be a stupid question, but did you check the records of the Episcopal church in question?


  4. Andy
    Mon 20th Feb 2006 at 11:42 pm

    Eric, not sure if the Charles J Morrison mentioned above is the the Morrison in question. The CW Research DB has this CJ Morrison from the 1st DC Regiment as surving the war. It says he resigned his commision on 4/23/1863. If we could limit the list of regiments/units down it might be possible to search each for othe morrison canidates in the CW Research DB.


  5. Andy
    Tue 21st Feb 2006 at 12:09 am

    Eric, one other question. How old Dahlgren when he enlisted/died? I figure that Dahlgren and Morrison were the about the same age. Some CWRDB have age listed.

  6. Valerie Protopapas
    Fri 17th Mar 2006 at 11:40 am

    Eric, I’m sure that you’ve tried this particular angle, but I know that a lot of things have been written about Dahlgren’s father. Is it possible that some snippets of information might be tangentially noted in works on him? Sometimes it’s nothing more than a reference such as, ‘During this period while X was doing Y, his son was commanding this or that group etc.’ I know that it’s a stretch and, in fact, you may already have mined that particular vein, but I thought I’d mention it ‘just in case’.


  7. Scott
    Wed 26th Dec 2007 at 6:36 am

    I am interested in Ulric Dahlgren’s military connections prior to his Commission as a Captain in 1862. I understand that he (acting as a volunteer) assisted with naval howitzers and ammunition at Harper’s Ferry. Was he in the navy or army at that time? Any light you can shed on that affair would be appreciated.


Comments are closed.

Copyright © Eric Wittenberg 2011, All Rights Reserved
Powered by WordPress