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[196] to reconnoitre, for the purpose of occupation and defence, the position at Bermuda Hundreds, which afterwards became the base of General Butler's operations. He had also instructed Colonel Harris to inspect closely old Fort Powhatan, a few miles below City Point, on the James, which he desired to strengthen and re-arm with heavy guns, besides blocking up the river—there narrower than elsewhere—with torpedoes and other obstructions. But before this could be done General Butler had landed at Bermuda Hundreds an army of about 30,000 men, composed of two corps, under Generals Gillmore and W. F. Smith.

On the 25th of April General Beauregard sent the following telegrams to General Bragg, who was then acting as military adviser of the President and General Chief of Staff of the Confederate Armies:

1. Every indication is that Burnside will attack Richmond via Petersburg. Are we prepared to resist him in that direction? Can the forces of this Department be concentrated in time? are questions worthy of immediate consideration by the War Department.

‘2. Burnside's point of attack being still uncertain, and our ironclad in the Neuse having grounded firmly, is it prudent to leave longer the forces in Department so scattered? Is object in view worth the great risk incurred? I know not yet what troops are about Petersburg. Here there is only one State regiment, and in Wilmington two regiments, infantry, movable troops.’

He also wrote a letter to General Bragg on the same subject,1 condemning the existing state of affairs, and pointing out the danger to be apprehended in case of a sudden attack by the enemy upon Petersburg or Weldon. He advised the division of his Department into three military districts, under three major-generals, with a view to insure a successful defence with the smallest available force. But the Newbern expedition was yet looked upon by the Administration as the true initiatory step to future and more important concentration. General Bragg, therefore, answered evasively, as follows:


Richmond, Va., April 25th, 1864.
General Beauregard:
Reports of yesterday represent Burnside landing in force at Yorktown. Evans's whole brigade was ordered to Wilmington. Has it arrived? Which brigade can best be spared from South Carolina—Colquitt's or Wise's? The Navy Department has taken action to relieve the grounded gunboat.

Braxton Bragg, General.

1 See Appendix.

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