his large army, suddenly occupied City Point
His troops were engaged in an expedition to North Carolina
, with the exception of a single regiment of infantry belonging to Clingman
's Brigade, not more than five or six hundred strong; nor had the troops of General Beauregard
, who had succeeded to the command of the department, yet arrived.
The strong defenses of the town were unoccupied.
It was only necessary for the Federal
commander to send up a detachment of his army to occupy them, and cut the communications of Richmond
with the South
, the seat of its principal resources.
Why so vital a point as Petersburg
at that time was, should have been left unguarded, and its defenses sent off in search of objects of secondary importance, I do not know.
The biographer of General Pickett
, Colonel Walter Harrison
, states, in his interesting volume, that General Pickett
, as early as the preceding November, had penetrated the enemy's design to make an expedition up James river
, and, in a personal interview with the Confederate
authorities, had represented this contingency and the unprotected state of that town.
He had even carried his representations to General Lee
, who had referred him to General Beauregard
, with whom, in consequence, he had had an interview at Weldon
“But,” says Colonel Harrison
, “the expedition to Plymouth
was at this time put on foot; much valuable time was wasted, and the troops which should have been ordered at once to Petersburg
were kept in North Carolina
doing little or nothing, while Pickett
was left in Petersburg
with merely a handful of men.”
continues: “General Beauregard
was in no way responsible for this.
He had no control over these troops, and I have understood strongly urged their being hastened to Petersburg
to support Pickett
But the danger to Petersburg
, from the direction of the lower James
, was apparent to others beside General Pickett
A gentleman of Petersburg
had, but a short time before the arrival of General Butler
, pointed out to me on one of the military maps of the day that Bermuda Hundreds would probably be the point which the enemy would next strike.
The eyes, which should have seen everything, appear to have been alone blinded to this vulnerable point.
Not long before the occurrences of these events I had been ordered to report for duty to General Pickett
, whom I found in Petersburg
As the town was vacant of soldiers, I employed the leisure in examining its fortifications, and in other ways that pleased me. I was in my quarters early in the day, when I was suddenly summoned to report to General Pickett
I found everything astir, and he informed me of the occupation of City Point
by the forces