10 December 2006 by Published in: Civil War books and authors 7 comments

J. D. Petruzzi has been working his way through the draft of the Dahlgren manuscript for me. I got another three chapters from him the other day, which means that he’s gotten through 9 of the 13 chapters for me. Scott Patchan’s also returning the favor (I read and edited his Shenandoah Valley in 1864 manuscript for him earlier this year) by reading it for me. When they’re done, it will then go out to four folks to read and review: Horace Mewborn, Bob O’Neill, Ken Noe, and Ethan Rafuse. Teej Smith, who read the very rough first drafts of each chapter as they were completed, also wants to take another run at it now that it’s been polished a bit. When I get their feedback, it’s done.

My problem is that I keep finding new tidbits of coming up with new little twists that need to be included, or which change my thoughts. Here are a couple of random examples of what I mean here:

1. The most recent issue of Blue & Gray includes a letter from the magnificent collection of historian Wiley Sword. This letter, written by Judson Kilpatrick in the fall of 1862, seeks the intervention of President Lincoln to get him released from Washington, D. C.’s notorious Old Capitol Prison, where Kil was being held on unspecified charges. Lincoln intervened and arranged for Kilpatrick to be released. That letter raised the possibility that perhaps Kilpatrick was thereafter beholden to Lincoln, and that perhaps the payback for this intervention was the mission to kidnap and assassinate Jefferson Davis and his cabinet in the winter of 1864. That was a real eye-opener for me, so I added an entire paragraph to the conclusion chapter to address this possibility. Fascinating stuff.

2. Just for fun, the other day, while watching over Susan’s recuperation, I did a Google search on Ulric Dahlgren and found something I had missed, which was a discussion of Dahlgren’s woundng at Hagerstown on July 6, 1863. It raised the possibility of identifying the individual who fired the shot that ultimately cost Dahlgren his leg. However, the source could not be corroborated, and I added discussion in an endnote to that effect.

The upshot of all of this is that even though the book is done in the main, the process of tweaking and fine-tuning continues unabated until we reach the point when it is literally too late–too far into the publication process–to make any further changes. The research process also continues until the moment when it is literally too late, and even then, it sometimes doesn’t stop. It just reaches a point where it’s too late for me to use what I find. That doesn’t mean, though, that my search for material ever ends.

Scridb filter


  1. Mon 11th Dec 2006 at 2:30 pm

    It’s been enjoyable editing the mss, as I has been for me with all your work. I saw that Kilpatrick letter in B&G, and I’m glad you noticed it. I figured it would be of use to you.

    I should be able to finish the rest of the chapter for you this week.


  2. David
    Mon 11th Dec 2006 at 2:45 pm


    I think you make too much of the possibility that Kilpatrick was beholden to A. Lincoln and thus took on the Richmond raid as a payback. Before going down that road, I would think you would want to see what other documentation there is in the Lincoln papers and at the National Archives. Certainly you would want to know the charges against Kilpatrick and whether the President’s intervention was extra-ordinary or routine.


  3. Valerie Protopapas
    Mon 11th Dec 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t think that Kilpatrick would have required any kind of incentive to undertake a raid that, if successful, would have ‘made’ him. On the other hand, it is possible that Lincoln could see in Kilpatrick the TYPE of man who would undertake such an operation when men like Wistar (if he is to be believed speaking after the fact to a former Confederate) might refuse to do so. In this case, it might well have been a matter of Lincoln recognizing the use to which he could put Kilpatrick without having to be annoyed by all that ‘military honor’ business. Then, again, it could simply be a matter of Kilpatrick being an experienced cavalryman whose presence was more useful in the army than in prison.

    A lot depends upon the charges against the man. If they were fairly innocuous (being drunk or being insubordinate), Lincoln might have determined that he was more valuable at large. If the charges were SERIOUS, then it may well be that Lincoln (and others in the government) saw in Kilpatrick a useful pawn who would have no qualms about a ‘covert’ operation of the type in which he eventually participated.

    I would be interested in knowing if Kilpatrick and Dahlgren ever served together (I know nothing of such matters). If they had previously done so, then their going on the raid together is fairly understandable. If they had NEVER served together, that would have to mean that both men were chosen for a particular reason and placed in tandem. Again, at least it would seem that way to me.

  4. Mon 11th Dec 2006 at 3:57 pm


    This was the one and only time that they served together.


  5. Mon 11th Dec 2006 at 3:59 pm


    I actually know quite a bit about the potential charges. It all had to do with allegations of Kilpatrick government property for his own use and benefit.

    The issue has been researched extensively by others.


  6. MarylandReb
    Mon 11th Dec 2006 at 6:03 pm

    Looking forward to this one! Hope you have lots of 1st Maryland Cavalry CSA info! 😀

  7. Valerie Protopapas
    Mon 11th Dec 2006 at 6:26 pm

    If this was the first (and, obviously, ONLY) time that they served together, then I’m afraid it becomes more problematic – the choice of both men, that is. Had they been in service together before the raid, then it could be considered just another assignment. But in that they had not, to me it seems to indicate that both men were chosen for a particular ‘talent’ rather than it just being the luck of the military draw without any premeditation involved.

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