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came home invalided we heard of that grand picture-maker Brady, as they called him. When I made some views (with the only apparatus then known, the wet plate ), there came a large realization of some of the immense Digging under fire at Dutch Gap-1864 Here for a moment the Engineering corps of General Benjamin F. Butler's army paused while the camera of the army photographer was focussed upon it. In August, 1864, Butler, with his army then bottled up in Bermuda Hundred, began to dig a canal at Dutch Gap to save a circuit of six miles in the bend of the James River and thus avoid the batteries, torpedoes, and obstructions which the Confederates had placed to prevent the passage of the Federal fleet up the river toward Richmond. The difficulties of this engineering feat are here seen plainly in the photograph. It took Butler's men all the rest of the year (1864) to cut through this canal, exposed as they were to the fire of the Confederate batteries above. One of the last
ry Dantzler, known as Howlett's to the Federal forces; from thence could be seen Forts Spofford and Sawyer. A peculiar situation was developed here. The Union obstructions and batteries were intended to prevent the Confederate fleet from coming down, and the Confederate engineers had placed mines and torpedoes in Trent's Reach to hinder the Federal fleet from coming up. The various strong forts along the river were for the same purpose, and at Chaffin's Bluff, less than three miles above Dutch Gap, the neck of Farrar's Island, the Confederate flotilla had penned itself in with obstructions quite as formidable as those below. Grant's later operations farther up the James and before Petersburg rendered much of the Federal work unnecessary. Virginia was contingent upon the safety of Washington, thus causing the diversion of many thousand soldiers for that single duty. On the Southern side the correct military decision would have been to abandon Richmond as soon as Petersburg was
st 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 ns 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 Dutch Gap bore on the canal that was being dug by the Federals. ADutch Gap bore on the canal that was being dug by the Federals. Away to the south stretches the flat and swampy country, a complete protection against hostile military operations. The Confederate cannoneers amused themselves by dropping shot and shell upon the Federal colored regiments toiling on Butler's canal. Aside from the activity of the diggers, the Army of the James had nothing to do.
st 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 ns 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 Dutch Gap bore on the canal that was being dug by the Federals. ADutch Gap bore on the canal that was being dug by the Federals. Away to the south stretches the flat and swampy country, a complete protection against hostile military operations. The Confederate cannoneers amused themselves by dropping shot and shell upon the Federal colored regiments toiling on Butler's canal. Aside from the activity of the diggers, the Army of the James had nothing to do
of this immense quantity of War materiel. But the progress toward obtaining greater facilities for the production of these supplies was very great. The Secretary of War, in his report of the operations of the War Department for 1863, made note especially of the tremendous work done by the Ordnance officers and the personnel under their direct charge. He stated that the resources of the country for the production of arms and Handling heavy guns so annoying to the Union force at Dutch Gap, digging the canal in 1864, did the fire of the Confederate batteries become, that a battery and lookout were established above the canal. The upper photograph shows the big mortars of the battery being placed in position. They are old style 10-inch mortars and very difficult to handle. A lookout with a crow's-nest on top can be seen in the trees. This is where the signal men did their work. During the imprisonment of the Confederate fleet above Chaffin's Bluff, their crews and office
t, so he ordered the vessels to be sunk in the channel and made the formidable obstructions a mile south of the Bluff, where the Confederates soon built Battery Dantzler. The river, however, was so crooked that two miles below Trent's Reach at Dutch Gap, only 174 yards separated the lower river from the upper. If the Federals could cut through this neck, they could avoid the Confederate works and move on up the river by boat as far as the works at Chaffin's Bluff and Drewry's Bluff. Captain Peter S. Michie, of the United States Engineers, later a brigadier-general, was detailed to dig a canal through at Dutch Gap. This would cut off four and a half miles of river. The excavation was forty-three yards wide at the top, twenty-seven at the water level, and thirteen and five tenths yards wide at a depth of fifteen feet below water-level. It was ninety-three feet deep at the northwest end and thirty-six feet deep at the southeast end. The total excavation was nearly 67,000 cubic yard
t the line was too near the city, and that, if closely assailed, there was Heavy Confederate siege guns North of Dutch gap canal. With the possible exception of Charleston at the seaside, Richmond was the bestdefended city in the Confederath these clumsy devices the guns proved too formidable for the Federal fleet. Heavy Confederate siege gun North of Dutch gap canal >Navy broadside 42-Pounder with reenforced breech Heavy Confederate siege gun North of Dutch gap canal dangeDutch gap canal danger that it might be destroyed even before the forts were taken. It was apparent that the lines should be extended further toward the Chickahominy, and also above and below the city they should be placed much further out. But the inner line of forts ctions in the river made it impossible to navigate. On this page appear two of the Confederate guns that frowned above Dutch Gap. The lower one is in Battery Brooke, whence the deadly fire interfered with Butler's Canal, and is a homemade naval gu
James Barnes, author of David G. Farragut, Naval Actions of 1812, Yank ee Ships and Yankee Sailors, Commodore Bainbridge , The Blockaders, and other naval and historical works, The Photographic History of The Civil War: in ten volumes, Thousands of Scenes Photographed 1861-65, with Text by many Special Authorities, Volume 6: The Navy. (ed. Francis Trevelyan Miller), The birth of the ironclads (search)
ified his principle of mounting guns in such a manner that they could be brought to bear in any direction. This object was defeated somewhat in the double-turreted type, since each turret masked a considerable angle of fire of the other. The Saugus, together with the Tecumseh and Canonicus and the Onondaga, served in the six-hour action with Battery Dantzler and the Confederate vessels in the James River, June 21, 1864. Again on August 13th she locked horns with the Confederate fleet at Dutch Gap. She was actively engaged on the James and the Appomattox and took part in the fall of Fort Fisher, the event that marked the beginning of the last year of the war. The latest type of iron sea-elephant in 1864: the double-turreted monitor Onondaga After having steadily planned and built monitors of increasing efficiency during the war, the Navy Department finally turned its attention to the production of a double-turreted ocean cruiser of this type. The Onondaga was one of the fi
chedule of captures, some of which were pronounced legitimate while the validity of others was denied. When his paroles were exhausted all further exchanges ceased for a time. Brigadier-General S. A. Meredith succeeded Colonel Ludlow as agent A glad sight for the prisoners On top of the gentle slope rising from the river at Aiken's Landing stands the dwelling of A. M. Aiken, who gave the locality his name. For a short time in 1862 Aiken's Landing, on the James River just below Dutch Gap, was used as a point of exchange for soldiers captured in the East. Many prisoners from the Eastern armies in 1862 lifted their tired eyes to this comfortable place, which aroused thoughts of home. There was not likely to be any fighting in a locality selected for the exchange of prisoners, and in this photograph at least there are women and children. At the top of the steps stands a woman with a child leaning against her voluminous skirts, and a Negro mammy with a large white apron sta
, Chapter 7: the lighter side (search)
na leff berry sudden, And I spose he's runned away. De massa run, ha, ha! De darkey stay, ho, ho! It mus' be now de kingdum comina, Ana de yar ob jubilo. ‘And his eye runs Sthraight on the barrel sights’ These Negro pickets near Dutch Gap Canal in 1864 were posing proudly for their photograph, unconscious that they were illustrating Halpine's line so closely. The natural love of the Negro for imitating the white folks was not the only trait that distinguished the colored troops at Dutch Gap. Work on the canal proved to be very dangerous. The Confederate sharpshooters in the vicinity were continually firing at the men from tree-tops, and several mortars were continually dropping bombs among the squads, who had to seek refuge in dug-outs. In the fall of 1864 most of the labor was performed by colored troops. General P. S. Michie reports that they ‘displayed the greatest courage and fortitude, and maintained under the most trying circumstances their usual good humor and chee<
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