to reconnoitre, for the purpose of occupation and defence, the position at Bermuda Hundreds, which afterwards became the base of General Butler
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
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.
, therefore, answered evasively, as follows: