Judson Kilpatrick’s 1864 raid on Richmond is often overlooked by those who study the war in the East. Through his deep research and lively prose, Bruce Venter has gone a long way to remedy this.
Venter builds the action slowly, providing in-depth background views of Kilpatrick and his wing commander, Col. Ulric Dahlgren. He also discusses George Armstrong Custer’s diversionary raid towards Charlottesville, Ben Butler’s failure to cooperate, and a look at the tragic fate of Dahlgren’s guide. The author goes into depth about the stated goals of the mission, as well as more insidious ones.
Fortunately for Richmonders, and for the Confederacy, the raid failed. Venter employs first -hand accounts and vivid descriptions of the action to describe the crushed hopes of the Federals. It would not be the last raid on Richmond that year, but it was full of promise. The writing is engaging and the story is fascinating; it’s well worth the read.
Was the 1864 raid more than an attempt to free Federal prisoners and cause havoc in Richmond? Did it have a more sinister design: the capture and murder of Jeff Davis and members of his cabinet? If so, who was really behind the plot? You’ll have to read Bruce Venter’s book to form your own opinion…