21 March 2007 by Published in: General News 7 comments

Chris Lewis, the editor of Civil War Times Illustrated, liked my idea of an article on the connections between Ulric Dahlgren and David Herold, so I’m going to explore expanding it into a 4,000 word feature article. We’ll see how it goes, and we’ll see if there’s enough to make it worthwhile, but I’m going to give it a shot. I’ve got two other articles in various stages that need to be completed first, but then I’m going to focus hard on pulling the thing together. For now, the working title is “A Tale of Two Assassins”.

I will keep everyone posted as to progress.

Scridb filter


  1. Valerie Protopapas
    Thu 22nd Mar 2007 at 11:05 am

    Was Herold aware that Booth intended to kill Lincoln or was he still – like some others in the group – of the opinion that any plan by Booth involved an attempted kidnapping?

    I am not knowledgeable enough to know when those who had been enticed into the conspiracy on the belief that it was a kidnapping rather than an assassination learned (if some ever learned) that the plan had been changed. Of course, Paine/Powell and Atzerodt knew as they had been sent off to kill their respective targets but one has to wonder if Herold was an ‘assassin’ in the true sense of the word. He seems more to have been ‘an appendage’ of Booth’s like the poor wretch Spengler rather than a moving force in the plot. Like others in the group, his actions seem almost inexplicable. For instance, he remained with Booth who had been crippled by the injury to his leg when simple self-preservation would have told him to get as far away from the known assassin as possible and ‘go it alone’ to try to avoid capture. Again, I would refer to Booth’s ‘Svengali-like’ affect on so many of those who were attracted to his cabal.

    Of course, I doubt that Dahlgren considered himself an ‘assassin’ either. He probably saw himself as a man whose duty it was to shorten a bloody war by removing the head from the serpant of secession – the Confederate government. Few soldiers become assassins in the accepted meaning of that word. Such an act appeals more to the ‘covert’ types like the ones who worked under Pinkerton and Baker – or, Conrad on the Confederate side.

    Perhaps, at least to me, the greatest difference between the two men is their leadership role. Dahlgren was undoubtedly at least a ‘co-leader’ if not THE leader in the raid while Herold was without doubt a mere pawn of Booth’s. Though both men were involved in what were clearly plans to kill the leaders of their enemy’s government, it would seem from all reports that this is where the comparison may end.

  2. Thu 22nd Mar 2007 at 8:00 pm

    I’m looking forward to the article, Eric. The Rittenhouse & Navy Yard connection is intriging, – I hadn’t heard of the Rittenhouse Academy, here in DC.
    I’ve finished your “Forgotten Cavalry Actions” work, and like “Plenty of Blame..” there were many new details that I didn’t know. The Battle of Fairfield and Farnsworth-Charge accounts, were fantastic! I didn’t realize Ski Liberty had so much action around it. Also, Farnsworth needs his own marker!

  3. Thu 22nd Mar 2007 at 8:55 pm


    The Rittenhouse Academy was located at the intersection of 7th and Indiana. It was apparently an extremely well respected institution.

    I’m pleased to hear you enjoyed GFCA. It was my first book, and my work has come a VERY long way since then. And I agree absolutely about Farnsworth.


  4. Thu 22nd Mar 2007 at 9:05 pm

    Thanks Eric, I was planning to walk around there, next time I’m downtown. Also, I’m glad your elbow is better!

  5. Thu 22nd Mar 2007 at 9:07 pm

    Thanks Eric, I was planning on walking that area & the Navy Yard area, next time I’m downtown.
    Also, I’m glad your elbow is better!

  6. Thu 22nd Mar 2007 at 9:11 pm

    sorry for the doublepost, I rec’d an error message & it messed me up. 🙂

  7. Fri 23rd Mar 2007 at 10:27 am

    Should be interesting. It’s good timing considering the ongoing “discussion” in North & South’s letters section on whether Lincoln was involved in/informed of Dahlgren’s plan to assassinate Jefferson Davis.

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