That night General Butler
embarked his troops at Bermuda Hundred
He proceeded himself to City Point
, and then for the first time Grant
learned his intention to accompany the expedition.
had not designed nor desired to entrust the command of these forces to Butler
; for, as repeatedly shown, although he was entirely satisfied with that officer's zeal and general ability, he was convinced that he lacked some quality essential in a commander in the field: whether the military coup d'oeil
, or the judgment of a general, or the faculty of handling troops in the presence of the enemy, Grant
did not pronounce; but he felt certain that the peculiar talent of a successful soldier was not possessed by the commander of the army of the James.
He therefore had directed him to place Weitzel
in command of the expedition; and had in fact committed to Butler
movements in support of those of Meade
, which he intended should detain him at Bermuda Hundred
Nevertheless, he did not now forbid Butler
to accompany Weitzel
It was difficult thus to affront a commander of so high rank, unless it was intended to relieve him entirely from command; and this Grant
was not prepared to do, without consulting the government, which he knew would dislike, and perhaps forbid, the step.
He fancied, besides, that Butler
's object might be to witness the explosion of the powder-boat, in which he took great interest, rather than to direct the expedition itself; thus no disapproval of his purpose was indicated.
It is certain, however, that it would have been better if Grant
had frankly and peremptorily ordered Butler
back to the army of the