Like a Meteor Blazing Brightly

This is the first biography of Ulric Dahlgren, a brilliant, ambitious young man who became the youngest full colonel in the United States Army at the age of twenty-one, yet died before his twenty-second birthday. This account chronicles his full life story, looking at his military career and extensive connections in the nation’s capital, and addressing the notorious Dahlgren Raid within the context of the his entire life.

"Ulric Dahlgren was born to be a soldier,” writes Eric Wittenberg, and in this first-ever biography of the young Yankee colonel he makes a very convincing case. An expert artillerist, a bold cavalryman, a recklessly daring scout—Dahlgren played all of these roles, and more, in his brief, incandescent Civil War career. His final role, in the notorious Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid on Richmond in 1864, has until now defined him in history’s judgment. By unearthing new sources and re-examining old ones, biographer Wittenberg offers a new and clearer definition of this complex character.

Even though Dahlgren was killed in action just short of his twenty-second birthday, he left an invaluable paper trail—letters and diaries and other documents—that unlock mysteries of his short and violent military career. Here for the first time, too, is an in-depth examination of his formative years. The dominant figure in this all-too-brief life was his father, Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, a close friend of President Lincoln’s and a man whose own ambitions fed Ulric’s soldierly ambitions. Of equal importance, there is much newly discovered source material here to clarify and give a defining focus to the Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid.

— from the foreword by Stephen W. Sears



Authored

  • The Battle of Brandy Station: North America's Largest Cavalry Battle (Civil War Sesquicentennial)

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  • Like a Meteor Blazing Brightly: The short but controversial life of Colonel Ulric Dahlgren

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  • One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863

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  • Rush's Lancers: The Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry in the Civil War (2007)

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  • Glory Enough for All: Sheridan's Second Raid and the Battle of Trevilian Station (2007)

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  • Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg (2006)

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  • The Union Cavalry Comes of Age: Hartwood Church to Brandy Station, 1863

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  • Little Phil: A Reassessment of the Civil War Leadership of Gen. Philip H. Sheridan

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  • At Custer's Side: The Civil War Writings of James Harvey Kidd

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  • With Sheridan in the Final Campaign Against Lee

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  • Under Custer's Command: The Civil War Journal of James Henry Avery (Memories of War)/p>

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  • Protecting the Flank: The Battles for Brinkerhoff's Ridge and East Cavalry Field, Battle of Gettysburg, July 2-3, 1863 (Discovering Civil War America)

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  • Gettysburg's Forgotten Cavalry Actions

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  • Battle of Monroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Final Campaign

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  • "We Have It Damn Hard Out Here": The Civil War Letters of Sergeant Thomas W. Smith, 6th Pennsylvania Cavalry

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  • One of Custer's Wolverines: The Civil War Letters of Brevet Brigadier General James H. Kidd, 6th Michigan Cavalry

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