Last week I joined Bruce and Lynne Venter, of America’s History, LLC, on their Kill Jeff Davis: The Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid on Richmond in 1864 tour. Bruce is the author of the recently released, and highly-regarded, book of the same title. The tour was well-timed, as most of the participants had recently read Bruce’s book.
I had read Bruce’s 2003 article on the raid for Blue&Gray Magazine, and I have discussed aspects of the raid with him many times, but I had never been over the entire route of the raid. And, though Bruce does not believe this to be true, I have also read his new book. I have not read any of the previous books on the raid, nor do I believe that I will ever need to read them. Kill Jeff Davis will stand as the most comprehensive study of the raid for many years to come. It is a fast-paced, stirring account of a deadly gamble with the lives of the troopers who followed Kilpatrick and Dahlgren to the gates of Richmond.
The tour was just as comprehensive, following nearly every mile of the routes taken by both Judson Kilpatrick and Ulric Dahlgren. We were very kindly granted access to homes and property not otherwise available to a casual follower of the raid. The participants on the tour were both knowledgeable and collegial. Bruce’s narrative of events was thought-provoking, and generated numerous discussions as to the motives of the leaders involved, as well as the feasibility of the raid itself – did the raid ever have a chance of succeeding?
Bruce’s book is highly recommended, as his tour, should America’s History, LLC offer it again.