March 8, Tuesday. Received a telegram from Admiral Lee this P.M., confirming a rumor that was whispered yesterday of the death of young Dahlgren. He was surrounded, it seems, by superior forces near King and Queen Court-House, and fell attempting to cut his way through. Most of his command was captured. A few escaped and got on board of the gunboat which had been sent for their relief.
A more gallant and brave-hearted fellow was not to be found in the service. His death will be a terrible blow to his father, who doted upon him and not without reason. I apprehend this raid was not a wise and well-planned scheme. Tested by results, it was not. Whether the War Department advised it I do not know. I heard it spoken of indefinitely and vaguely, but with no certainty till the expedition had started.
Fox is full of zeal to get hold of the fraudulent contractors and all that belongs to them, and the whole subject is committed to him. I exceedingly dislike these irregular proceedings. There should be proper law officers to whom these matters should be committed, and not impose them upon the heads of Departments. I must try to have Congress take the matter in hand, and pass the necessary laws, or devise some proper action. I do not like matters as they now are.