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Part 2. the simultaneous movements

Henry W. Elson

Drewry's bluff impregnable

In battery Dantzler--Confederate gun commanding the river after Butler's repulse on land


Butler's failed attempt to take Petersburg.

Charles Francis Adams, who, as a cavalry officer, served in Butler's campaign, compares Grant's maneuvers of 1864 to Napoleon's of 1815. While Napoleon advanced upon Wellington it was essential that Grouchy should detain Blucher. So Butler was to eliminate Beauregard while Grant struck at Lee. With forty thousand men, he was ordered to land at Bermuda Hundred, seize and hold City Point as a future army base, and advance upon Richmond by way of Petersburg, while Grant meanwhile engaged Lee farther north. Arriving at Broadway Landing, seen in the lower picture, Butler put his army over the Appomattox on pontoons, occupied City Point, May 4th, and advanced within three miles of Petersburg, May 9th. The city might have been easily taken by a vigorous move, but Butler delayed until Beauregard arrived with a hastily gathered army and decisively defeated the Federals at Drewry's Bluff, May 10th. Like Grouchy, Butler failed.

Port Darling

The masked battery

Where Butler's troops crossed — Broadway landing on the Appomattox


General Butler after Drewry's Bluff.

Butler, after his disastrous repulse at Drewry's Bluff, threw up strong entrenchments across the neck of the bottle-shaped territory which he occupied between the Appomattox and the James. That was exactly what Beauregard wanted, and the Confederate general immediately constructed field works all along Butler's front, effectually closing the neck of this “bottle.” Here Butler remained in inactivity till the close of the war. He built the elaborate signal tower seen in the picture so that he could observe all the operations of the Confederates, although he could make no move against any of them. Generals Gilmore and “BaldySmith both urged upon Butler the laying of pontoons across the Appomattox in order to advance on Petersburg, the key to Richmond. But Butler curtly replied that he would build no bridges for West Pointers to retreat over.

Butler's signal tower

The lookout

The thirteenth New York heavy artillery idling in winter quarters at Bermuda hundred

Butler “bottled up”


The impassable James river The gun is in Confederate Battery Brooke — another of the defenses on the James constructed after Butler was bottled up. Here in 1865 the gunners were still at their posts guarding the water approach to Richmond. The Federals had not been able to get up the river since their first unsuccessful effort in 1862, when the hastily constructed Fort Darling at Drewry's Bluff baffled the Monitor and the Galena. Battery Brooke was situated above Dutch Gap, the narrow neck of Farrar's Island, where Butler's was busily digging his famous canal to enable the Federal gunboats to get by the obstructions he himself had caused to be sunk in the river. Even the canal proved a failure, for when the elaborate ditch was finished under fire from the Confederate batteries above, the dam was unskilfully blown up and remained an effective barrier against the passage of vessels.


An advance defense of Richmond This Confederate gun at Battery Dantzler swept the James at a point where the river flows due south around Farrar's Island. “Butler's campaign” consisted merely of an advance by land up the James to Drewry's Bluff and inglorious retreat back again. Far from threatening Richmond, it enabled the Confederates to construct strong river defenses below Fort Darling on the James to hold in check the Federal fleet and assist in keeping the neck of Butler's “bottle” tightly closed. The guns at Battery Dantzler controlled the river at Trent's Reach. In a straight line from Drewry's Bluff to City Point it was but nine miles, but the James flows in a succession of curves and bends at all angles of the compass, around steep bluffs, past swamp and meadow-land, making the route by water a journey of thirty miles. If the Federal gunboats could have passed their own obstructions and the Confederate torpedoes, they would still have been subjected to the fire of Battery Dantzler from their rear in attempting to reach Richmond.


Above Dutch gap — a gun that mocked the federals This huge Confederate cannon in one of the batteries above

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