Friday, May 16, 2014

Butler on the Bermuda Hundred

Bermuda Hundred
Yet another attack in Virginia made in coordination with Grant's advance on Lee was an expedition led by Major General Benjamin Butler which set out to move by sea and threaten Richmond and cut Confederate supply lines. Butler landed with his Army of the James at Bermuda Hundred on May 5th.
His first priority was to establish a line of entrenchments across the Bermuda Neck, the space between the Appomattox and James Rivers, so that the rebels could not crush his army against the rivers. When he finished these me made several excursions, but none in enough force to drive off the Confederates guarding Richmond, Petersburg, or the railroad between them. The Confederate commander in the area, P. G. T. Beauregard, had scrambled to gather an army to meet him. The southern commanders handled their men well. D. H. Hill, a good fighter who had lost his command by quarreling with his commanders, volunteered to serve as a volunteer aid in the emergency.

Butler made several movements to attack Drewry's Bluff, a key position on the James River and on the Union path to Richmond, but he fumbled the plans and it was the Confederates who attacked first instead. Beauregard planned to hold Butler's forces at Drewry's bluff while another column was sent to hit him from the flank. When this attack was made 150 years ago today, when the flanking column hit light resistance its commander, Chase Whiting, became flustered and withdrew, and later turned over his command. Although Beauregard's plan to bag Butler did not go off, Butler was so frightened by the day's events that he withdrew to Bermuda Neck. There he remained for some time, working on strengthening his entrenchments. Butler, by his mistakes and incompetence, had been unable to make any use of the opportunities before him, and had allowed himself to be corked at the Bermuda Hundred by a force far smaller than his own.

Drewry's Bluff


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