Charles G. Dahlgren came from a family that played a prominent role in the effort to preserve the Union. His older brother, John, was a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and enjoyed a measure of fame for inventing naval guns. In 1864, John's son, Col. Ulric Dahlgren, died in a Union cavalry raid against Richmond. Charles's other brother, William, spent part of the war in England spying on Confederate purchasing agents. In ironic contrast, Charles's compelling story evolves within the hierarchy of Southern aristocracy. Herschel Gower eloquently traces the rise of Charles to social prominence in the South. As a young man, Charles became a protege of Nicholas Biddle, the prominent Philadelphia financier, who dispatched him to the cotton states to look after his interests. Ambitious and in search of wealth and position, Charles established himself in Natchez, Mississippi, married an heiress, started a family, and prospered. When Mississippi seceded from the Union, he stood in defense of his cotton plantations, his ownership of slaves, and his hard-won security. In July 1861, the governor of Mississippi appointed him brigadier general of volunteers. Under criticism, he resigned the post and took an advisory position overseeing gunboat construction. Charles's fortune evaporated with the fall of the Confederacy, and his family suffered severely. After the war, he was reconciled with his brother John and returned to the North. He died a Confederate carpetbagger practicing law and accounting in New York. Readers interested in the antebellum South, an ambitious family's struggle to attain social status, and the consequences of allegiance during the Civil War will be enthralled by Gower's provocative biography.
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Published January 1, 2002
by Brassey's Inc.
Biographies & Memoirs, History, War.