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Chapter 35:


General Beauregard reached Weldon, North Carolina, on the 22d of April, 1864; but, contrary to the assurances given him by the War Department, found no orders awaiting him there. He immediately called General Bragg's attention to the fact, and the next day was officially assigned to the command of what was called the Department of North Carolina and Cape Fear, including Virginia south of the James and Appomattox, and all that portion of North Carolina east of the mountains. On the 23d he assumed command of his new Department, which he henceforth designated as the ‘Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia,’ and applied for those officers of his former staff whose services he deemed indispensable.

While at Weldon, watching and aiding certain operations specially ordered by the War Department against Plymouth and Newbern, but of which he did not approve, he carefully studied on the maps then in his possession the field around Petersburg, between that city and the James, and along the lines of the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad, then about to become the theatre of a hostile movement against the Confederate capital under Major-General B. F. Butler.

This expedition General Beauregard had anticipated for several weeks, and he had instructed his Chief-Engineer, Colonel Harris, [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.



Richmond, April 26th, 1864.
To General G. T. Beauregard:
The movement under Major-General Hoke, if prompt and successful, will enable us to concentrate a formidable force to meet Burnside. If not made, or unsuccessful, a large portion of your force must be held in North Carolina, to guard the railroad. Knowing his energy and activity, the President has promoted him (General Hoke), to avoid any difficulty about commands. Urge him to action.

Braxton Bragg, General.

Still more, however, than the two foregoing telegrams does the following letter show what undue importance was attached to the Newbern expedition:

General,—Your written communication of the 25th inst. received, and has been submitted to the President, with this endorsement, viz.: “Respectfully submitted to his Excellency the President. Gracie's brigade from Southwest Virginia and Colquitt's from South Carolina are now under orders, and it is proposed to draw others from South Carolina as soon as transportation will allow.” The paper was returned to me with the following endorsement by the President, viz.:

“Returned to General Bragg. With due energy it is hoped the gunboat in the Neuse may be put afloat. The capture of Newbern, and possession of the Sound by our vessels, increased as they may be by the addition of others, will relieve the necessity for guarding the whole line of railroad as proposed. The attempt should be made with all vigor to improve our condition in the manner indicated, and in the plan adopted for the campaign of General Hoke. Then we may spare troops for other service, either in West Virginia or east of Richmond.”

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Braxton Bragg, General.

It being evident that the President would persevere in carrying out this divergent movement, General Beauregard a few days later —on the 1st of May—forwarded a communication to General Hoke, in answer to the latter's request that he should take personal command of the Newbern expedition. He declined interfering in the matter, but counselled him, however, and carefully developed his views as to the means to be employed and the best method of attack.2

The movements of the enemy in the direction of Petersburg, and the pressing despatches of General Pickett, commanding there, at last opened the eyes of the War Department to the [198] imminent peril of the moment. It now realized the difficulty of concentrating the forces so injudiciously scattered by its improvident orders. The immediate danger to Richmond, apart from that to which Petersburg was subjected, aroused the apprehensions of the President to such an extent that, in spite of General Pickett's urgent demand for reinforcements, Hagood's brigade, from South Carolina—which General Beauregard desired to have halted at Petersburg—was ordered to be pushed straight through to Richmond, and not to stop at all on the way.3 General Beauregard insisted, however, that the order should be revoked, and thus were Petersburg and Richmond barely saved by the opportune presence and gallant conduct of Hagood's command. It was upon that occasion that General Butler's forces were baffled and beaten off, on the 6th and 7th of May, in their attempt to seize the Richmond Railroad above Petersburg. Much praise is also due to the prompt action of General Bushrod Johnson and his Tennesseeans, 1168 in number, whom General Hagood found at the junction when he arrived in person with the remaining companies of the 25th South Carolina Regiment. General Johnson had marched from Drury's Bluff, in the direction of Colonel Graham's firing, with the purpose of giving him assistance. Owing to the position assigned to his forces, the part he and his men took in this sharp encounter, which overturned Butler's plans, was not so conspicuous as it would otherwise have been, though it neutralized the action of the Federal force confronting his line, and thereby contributed to the successful repulse of the enemy. The loss of the latter was estimated at 1000 men, though General Hagood is of opinion that it was probably not so great. The entire population of Petersburg loudly applauded the timely intervention of the South Carolina brigade. It was presented with a flag by the ladies. From the pulpit thanks were offered to the 1500 brave men composing it; and the merchants of the city, in acknowledgment of what they had done, would receive no pay from them for their divers small purchases at the time.4

Meanwhile troops were hastily called for from all quarters; and so great was the trepidation of the Administration, that their arrival was expected before they had had time to get fairly under [199] way. Thus was General Hoke abruptly ordered back from the Newbern campaign5 and sent to Petersburg, where he arrived, as did also General Beauregard, on May 10th.

Among the various telegrams sent to Richmond on that day by General Beauregard was the following to General Bragg:

Petersburg, May 10th, 1864.
Am organizing rapidly brigades already here and those arriving into two divisions, under Pickett and Hoke, with battalion of artillery to each division. Many batteries are still en route. Hope to be in position for offensive tomorrow night. Will inform you in time for co-operation with General Ransom.

And on the next day this telegram was forwarded:

My forces are being united as soon as practicable. You may then rely on my hearty co-operation in defence of Richmond. Appearances here this morning are that the enemy is about withdrawing from this point to reinforce elsewhere. I will try to strike him a severe blow before he leaves.

The authorities at Richmond were now in a state of great excitement. The enemy had been repulsed on the Richmond Railroad, and, to all appearance, had abandoned his original intention of investing Petersburg; but where he would next attempt to strike was the all-absorbing question. Richmond was his only immediate objective, thought Mr. Davis. Mr. Seddon and General Bragg were of the same opinion. Many telegrams were now sent from Richmond to Petersburg, showing more nervousness than wisdom on the part of the Administration, and seriously interfering with General Beauregard's plans. No one could doubt that the Confederate capital was in imminent peril at that hour; but that Mr. Davis, and Mr. Seddon, and even General Bragg, from within the works of Richmond, should imagine that they [200] could better appreciate the situation than General Beauregard— who for weeks had warned them of the very danger they had persistently neglected to avert—was indeed more than strange. It is easily seen what the result would have been if General Beauregard had not resisted the vexatious intermeddling of persons having none of his opportunities to judge of the real state of affairs around him. Fortunately, he finally wrested from the War Department full authority to follow his own course and handle his troops as he thought best.

By his orders General Hoke led the column from Petersburg, with six brigades of infantry and eight batteries, for the purpose of forming a junction with General Ransom, at or about Drury's Bluff, and began moving on the morning of the 11th. General Beauregard remained to await the arrival of the last two brigades, hourly expected from Weldon, and also to see General Whiting, then just arriving to take command of the forces in Petersburg and relieve General Pickett, who on the day before had reported himself ill.

Butler's army now seriously menaced the position of Drury's Bluff, on the James, which was not originally included within the limits of the Department assigned to General Beauregard. The latter left Petersburg on May 13th with an escort of about 1200 men of Colquitt's brigade and Baker's small regiment of cavalry, after leaving specific instructions, oral and written, with General Whiting, as to the co-operation he was to give, in the impending battle, with the forces expected at Petersburg from the South. From information received on the way General Beauregard's march was deflected from the straight route he was pursuing to the left, by way of Chesterfield Court-house; and, as the Federals during the day had carried the outer line of works at Drury's Bluff, he was barely enabled to slip between their extreme left and the river, reaching his point of destination at three o'clock in the morning. Late as it was, he called in council Colonel Harris, his Chief-Engineer, and Colonel Stevens, the Engineer of that post and of Richmond. They explained to him the main features of the Federal attack, its result, and the consequent dejection of our troops. Colonel Stevens also gave him an account of the battles of the Wilderness and of Spottsylvania Court-house up to the 12th, and described the position occupied since that time by the respective forces of Generals Lee and Grant. He spoke, [201] likewise, of a reserve of 5000 men, held for the defence of Richmond, and stationed in or near that city.

After a rapid survey of that theatre of the war, on a topographical map furnished him by Colonel Stevens, General Beauregard saw that, as both General Lee and himself occupied the interior lines, it was possible, by a bold, combined effort on our part, to destroy not only General Butler's forces but also those under General Grant. His plan was instantly conceived and communicated to Colonels Harris and Stevens. He then despatched the latter to Richmond, to present his views to the President; or, if unable to see him, to General Bragg.

Colonel Stevens could not see the President. He explained his mission to General Bragg, who, previous to taking any action, preferred to consult in person with General Beauregard. He arrived at the latter's headquarters at half-past 5 o'clock that morning, accompanied by Colonel Stevens.

The plan, now repeated by General Beauregard to General Bragg, was as follows: that General Lee should fall back from his position, near Guinea Station, to the defensive lines of the Chickahominy, or even to the intermediate lines of Richmond; that 10,000 of his men should meanwhile be swiftly transferred to General Beauregard, together with the 5000 reserves, in Richmond, under General Ransom; that upon the arrival of this reinforcement, which would give him an effective of about 25,000 men, General Beauregard, at daybreak on the 15th, should attack Butler on his right flank, so as to cut him off from communication with his base at Bermuda Hundreds; while General Whiting, with some 4000 men, moving simultaneously from Port Walthall Junction, should strike Butler's right rear, press him back upon the James River above Drury's Bluff, and force him to surrender by noon of that day, leaving his depot at Bermuda Hundreds a prey to the Confederates; that General Beauregard should then throw his victorious force across the James, and, by a concerted movement, strike General Grant on his left flank, while General Lee should attack him in front.

General Bragg expressed his approval of the plan, but also his inability to direct its execution without the consent of the President, to whom he would immediately submit it. Deprecating the loss of time that would thus ensue, General Beauregard [202] strongly urged General Bragg to take the responsibility upon himself and issue the necessary orders at once. He feared Mr. Davis might procrastinate and even oppose his views. But General Bragg could not be induced so to act, and left to seek the approval of the President.

Within about two hours after the conference between Generals Beauregard and Bragg the President himself reached Drury's Bluff; and General Beauregard, with more minuteness than before, again detailed his plan of operations. The President objected that the proposed retrograde movement of General Lee's army towards Richmond, and the withdrawal from it of 10,000 men, were altogether out of the question; and that he could only add to General Beauregard's force the 5000 reserves of Ransom's division.

In urging the advantages of his plan General Beauregard insisted that General Lee's withdrawal behind the Chickahominy, where McClellan had been so effectually held at bay in 1862, or even—which would be still better—behind the defences of Richmond, for a few hours, would render General Grant's left flank more exposed, and bring it within easier reach of his proposed attack.6 Among the arguments used by General Beauregard in pressing his views upon Mr. Davis was that, if successful, the stroke would in all probability terminate the war; while, if it should not be successful, the end to which the Confederate cause was helplessly drifting, unless redeemed by some early, bold, and decisive success, would only come sooner. Mr. Davis persisted in his refusal. He would only consent to the transfer of Ransom's division from Richmond, and that not until the next day (15th), expressing his desire that the attack should be made on Butler's army, and his confidence that the latter would be beaten and driven back to his base at Bermuda Hundreds. To this General Beauregard replied that the defeat of Butler alone would be but a barren victory, as had been so many former operations of the war, and was not the ultimate object to be obtained. What he proposed accomplishing was, the extended decisive result which all the circumstances of the moment favored. But, to General Beauregard's chagrin, all his representations were unavailing: Mr. Davis could not be convinced. [203]

The same day (May 14th) General Beauregard was officially notified from Richmond by General Bragg that his command was enlarged so as to include all territory south of the James; and that he was also expected to protect the city of Richmond from any sudden movement against it from the north side.

Ransom's division was sent on the afternoon of the 15th, making General Beauregard's force about 15,000 strong, which he hastily organized into three divisions, under Hoke, Ransom, and Colquitt—officers who, except the latter, were then unknown to him.

With that promptness of execution which always characterized his movements on the field, and produced such confidence in those who came in close contact with him, General Beauregard, late as it was, perfected his plan of operations and order of battle; saw, conferred with, and counselled each of his division and some of his brigade commanders; forgot nothing, except his own comfort, and stood ready to meet the impending events of the next day.

Some of General Hagood's remarks in his memoirs referring to these events are so appropriate, that they are now placed before the reader. He says:

That evening (15th of May) Beauregard, passing along the lines, asked some of his soldiers if they were not tired of this sort of fighting, and said he “would change it for them.”

‘At 10 o'clock at night, on the 15th, Hoke's brigade commanders were summoned to his headquarters, informed that the offensive would be taken in the morning, and instructed in the plan of battle. Beauregard's plans showed the instinct of genius. They could not, under the circumstances, notwithstanding the difficulty of handling rapidly and effectively an army so recently organized, have failed substantially to have annihilated his antagonist, had not two of his division commanders failed him. The shortcomings of General Ransom and General Whiting are indicated in the official report.’

Before 11 A. M., on the 15th, General Beauregard had sent instructions to General Whiting, then at Petersburg, and had fully informed him of his intended movement against Butler. His despatch to that effect was as follows:

Drury's Bluff, May 15th, 1864, 10.45 A. M.
Major-General W. H. C. Whiting, Petersburg, Va.:
I shall attack enemy to-morrow at daylight, by river road, to cut him off from his Bermuda base. You will take up your position to-night on Swift Creek, with Wise's, Martin's, Dearing's, and two regiments of Colquitt's brigades, with about twenty pieces, under Colonel Jones. At daybreak you will march to Port Walthall Junction; and when you hear an engagement in [204] your front you will advance boldly and rapidly, by the shortest road in direction of heaviest firing, to attack enemy in rear or flank. You will protect your advance and flanks with Dearing's cavalry, taking necessary precautions to distinguish friends from foes. Please communicate this to General Hill. This revokes all former orders of movements.

P. S.—I have just received a telegram from General Bragg informing me that he has sent you orders to join me at this place; you need not do so, but follow to the letter the above instructions.

G. T. B.

He had also delivered to each of his three division commanders the following circular, adding to it such oral advice as the occasion required:

Headquarters, etc., Drury's farm, May 15th, 1864.
General,—The following instructions for battle to-morrow are communicated for your information and action.

The purpose of the movement is to cut off the enemy from his base of operations at Bermuda Hundreds, and capture or destroy him in his present position. To this end we shall attack and turn, by the river road, his right flank, now resting on James River, while his centre and left flank are kept engaged, to prevent him from reinforcing his right flank.

Major-General Ransom's division will, to-night, take position the most favorable for attack on the enemy's right flank, to be made by him at daybreak to-morrow morning. His skirmishers will drive back vigorously those of the enemy in his front, and will be followed closely by his line of battle, which will, at the proper time, pivot on its right flank, so as to take the enemy in flank and rear. He will form in two lines of battle, and will use his battalion of artillery to the best advantage.

Colonel Dunnovant's regiment of cavalry will move with this division, under the direction of General Ransom.

Major-General Hoke's division, now in the trenches, on the right of the position herein assigned to General Ransom, will, at daylight, engage the enemy with a heavy line of skirmishers, and will hold the rest of his forces in hand, ready to attack with vigor the enemy's line in his front as soon as he shall find it wavering before his skirmishers, or so soon as Ransom's line of battle shall have become fairly engaged with the enemy. General Hoke will form in two lines of battle, four hundred yards apart, in front of his trenches, at the proper time, and in such manner as not to delay his forward movement. He will use his battalion of artillery to the best advantage.

Colonel Boyken's regiment of cavalry will move in conjunction with Hoke's division, so as to protect his left flank. He will receive more definite instructions from Major-General Hoke. Colonel Shingler's regiment of cavalry will move with the reserve division.

The division commanded by Brigadier-General Colquitt will constitute the reserve, and will to-night form in column, by brigades, in rear of Hoke's [205] present position, the centre of each brigade resting on the turnpike. The division will be massed under cover of the hills now occupied by Hoke's troops, so as to be sheltered at the outset from the enemy's fire in front. During the movement the head of the column will be kept at a distance of about five hundred yards from Hoke's second line of battle. As soon as practicable the intervals between the brigades of the reserve division will be maintained at from two to three hundred yards.

The reserve artillery, under General Colquitt, will follow along the turnpike, about three hundred yards in rear of the last brigade. He will use it to the best advantage. Simultaneously with these movements Major-General Whiting will move with his division from Petersburg, along the Petersburg and Richmond Turnpike, and attack the enemy, flank and rear.

The movements above indicated must be made with all possible vigor and celerity.

The Generals commanding divisions, and Colonels Baker and Shingler, commanding cavalry, will report at these headquarters at 6 h. P. M. to-day. In the mean time they will give all necessary instructions for providing their respective commands with sixty rounds of ammunition issued to each man, and at least twenty rounds for each in reserve. They will cause their commands to be supplied with two days cooked rations.

Nothing could be more explicit and nothing clearer. Each division commander knew exactly what he was expected to do. He knew also, and so did each brigade commander, what movements would be executed on other portions of the field. To acquaint his subordinates with the general outlines of his plans when about to put them into execution, and thus insure unity of action, was one of the methods habitually used by General Beauregard during the war. The wisdom of this course was never more clearly exhibited than upon this occasion.

General Beauregard's narrative of the battle of Drury's Bluff, and the divers incidents connected with it, will be found in the following passages, taken from his report to the War Department:

Ransom moved at 4.45 A. M., being somewhat delayed by a dense fog, which lasted several hours after dawn and occasioned some embarrassment. His division consisted of the following brigades, in the order mentioned, commencing from the left: Gracie's, Kemper's (commanded by Colonel Terry), Burton's (under Colonel Fry), and Colonel Lewis's (Hoke's old brigade).

He was soon engaged, carrying, at 6 A. M., with some loss, the enemy's line of breastworks in his front, his troops moving splendidly forward to the assault, and capturing five stands of colors and some five hundred prisoners. The brigades most heavily engaged were Gracie's and Kemper's, opposed to the enemy's right, the former turning his flank. He then halted to form, reported his loss heavy and troops scattered by the fog, his ammunition short, [206] and asked for a brigade from the reserve. Colquitt's brigade was sent him at 6.30 A. M., with orders for its return when it ceased to be indispensable.

Before either ammunition or the reserve brigade had arrived he reported the enemy driving Hoke's left, and sent the right regiment of Lewis's brigade forward at double-quick towards the point of supposed danger. This held the enemy long enough for the reserve brigade to arrive, charge, and drive him back from the front of our left centre, where the affair occurred, over and along the works, to the turnpike.

It will be seen, in a subsequent part of this report, that one of Hagood's advance regiments had unexpectedly come in contact with the enemy and been ordered back, it not being contemplated to press at this point until Ransom should swing round his left, as directed in the battle order. This possibly originated Ransom's impression as to the situation of Hoke's left, which had, in fact, steadily maintained its proper position.

At 7.15 A. M. Colquitt's brigade, of the reserve, was recalled from Ransom, and a slight modification of the original movement was made to relieve Hoke, on whose front the enemy had been allowed to mass his forces by the inaction of the left.

Ransom was ordered to flank the enemy's right by changing the front of his right brigade, to support it by another in echelon, to advance a third towards Proctor's Creek, and to hold a fourth in reserve. This modification was intended to be temporary, and the original plan was to be fully carried out on the seizure of the river and Proctor's Creek crossing.

In proceeding to execute this order Ransom found the reserve brigade engaged and his own troops moving by the right flank towards the firing at the centre. He therefore sent Burton's brigade back instead of Colquitt's, and reported a necessity to straighten the lines he had stormed. Here his infantry rested during the greater part of the day. Dunnovant's cavalry, dismounted, being thrown forward, as skirmishers, towards a small force which occupied a ridge in the edge of George Gregory's woods, north of Proctor's Creek. This force, with an insignificant body of cavalry, believed to be negroes, and a report of threatening gunboats (which came some hours earlier, as since ascertained), were the only menace to our left.

At 10 A. M. I withheld an order for Ransom to move until further arrangements should be made, for the following reasons:

The right was heavily engaged; all of the reserve had been detached, right and left, at different times; the silence of Whiting's guns, which had been heard a short time about 8 A. M., gave reasonable hope that he had met no resistance and would soon be on; a despatch had been sent to Whiting at 9 A. M., which was repeated at 9.30 A. M., to “press on and press over everything in your front, and the day will be complete;” and Ransom not only reported the enemy in strong force in his front, but expressed the opinion that the safety of his command would be compromised by an advance.

On the right Hoke had early advanced his skirmishers and opened with his artillery. The fog and other causes temporarily delayed the advance of his line of battle. When he finally moved forward he soon became hotly engaged, and handled his command with judgment and energy. [207]

Hagood and Johnson were thrown forward, with a section of Eschelman's Washington Artillery, and found a heavy force of the enemy, with six or eight pieces of artillery, occupying the salient of the outer line of works on the turnpike and his own defensive lines.

Our artillery engaged at very short range, disabling some of the enemy's guns and blowing up two limbers. Another section of the same command opened from the right of the turnpike. They both held their positions, though with heavy loss, until their ammunition was spent, when they were relieved by an equal number of pieces from the reserve artillery—under Major Owen.

Hagood, with great vigor and dash, drove the enemy from the outer lines in his front, capturing a number of prisoners, and, in conjunction with Johnson, five pieces of artillery—three 20-pounder Parrotts and two fine Napoleons. He then took position in the works, his left regiment being thrown forward by Hoke to connect with Ransom's right. In advancing this regiment encountered the enemy behind a second line of works in the woods,. with abatis interlaced with wire. Attack at that point not being contemplated, it was ordered back to the line of battle, but not before its intrepid advance had brought on it considerable loss. This circumstance has been referred to before, as the occasion of a mistake by Ransom.

Johnson, meanwhile, had been heavily engaged. The line of the enemy bent around his right flank, subjecting his brigade, for a time, to fire in flank and front. With admirable firmness he repulsed frequent assaults of the enemy, moving in masses against his right and rear. Leader, officers, and men alike displayed their fitness for the trial to which they were subjected. I cannot forbear to mention that Lieutenant Waggoner, of the 17th Tennessee Regiment, went, alone, through a storm of fire and pulled down a white flag which a small, isolated body of our men had raised, receiving a wound in the act. The brigade, holding its ground nobly, lost more than a fourth of its entire number.

Two regiments of the reserve were sent up to its support, but were less effective than they should have been, through a mistake of the officer posting them. Hoke also sent two regiments from Clingman, to protect Johnson's flank. These partially partook of the same mistake, being posted in the woods, where the moral and material effect of their presence was lost.

I now ordered Hoke to press forward his right for the relief of his rightcentre, and he advanced Clingman with his remaining regiments, and Corse with his brigade.

He drove the enemy with spirit, suffering some loss; but the gap between Clingman and the troops on his left induced him to retire his command, to prevent being flanked, and re-form it in the intermediate lines. Thus Corse became isolated; and, learning from his officers that masses were forming against his right flank, he withdrew some distance back, but not quite so far as his original position.

These two brigades were not afterwards engaged, though they went to the front; Corse, about one hour after he fell back, and Clingman at about 2.15 P. M. The enemy did not re-occupy the ground from which they drove him before they retired. [208]

In front of Hagood and Johnson the fighting was stubborn and prolonged. The enemy, slowly retiring from Johnson's right, took strong position on the ridge in front of Proctor's Creek, massing near the turnpike, and occupying advantageous ground at the house and grove of Charles Friend.

At length Johnson, having brushed the enemy from his right flank in the woods, with some assistance from the Washington Artillery, cleared his front, and rested his troops in the shelter of the outer works.

One of the captured pieces having opened on the enemy's masses, he finally fell back behind the woods and ridge at Proctor's Creek, though his skirmish line continued the engagement some hours longer.

Further movements were here suspended, to wait communication from Whiting, or the sound of his approach, and to reorganize the troops, which had become more or less disorganized. Brief firing at about 1.45 P. M. gave some hope of his proximity.

I waited in vain. The firing heard was probably an encounter between Hearing and the enemy's rear-guard. Dearing had been ordered by Whiting to communicate with me; but, unsupported as he was by infantry or artillery, he was unable to do so, except by sending a detachment by a circuitous route, which reached me after the work of the day was closed.

At 4 P. M. all hope of Whiting's approach was gone, and I reluctantly abandoned so much of my plan as contemplated more than a vigorous pursuit of Butler and driving him to his fortified base.

To effect this, I resumed my original formation, and directed General Hoke to send two brigades forward along the Court-house Road, to take the enemy in flank and establish enfilading batteries in front of the heights west of the railroad.

The formation of our line was checked by a heavy and prolonged storm of rain. Meanwhile, the enemy opened a severe fire, which was soon silenced by our artillery.

Before we were ready to advance darkness approached, and, upon consultation with several of my subordinate commanders, it was deemed imprudent to attack, considering the probability of serious obstacles and the proximity of Butler's intrenched camp. I therefore put the army in position for the night, and sent instructions to Whiting to join our right at the railroad in the morning.

During the night the enemy retired to the fortified line of his present camp, leaving in our hands some fourteen hundred prisoners, five pieces of artillery, and five stand of colors.

He now rests there, hemmed by our lines, which have since, from time to time, been advanced with every skirmish, and now completely cover the southern communication of the capital, thus securing one of the principal objects of the attack.

The more glorious results anticipated were lost by the hesitation of the left wing and the premature halt of the Petersburg column before obstacles in neither case sufficient to have deterred from the execution of the movements prescribed.

Too much praise cannot be bestowed on the officers and men who fought [209] the battle of Drury's Bluff, for the ardor and intrepidity displayed by them whenever called upon to meet the foe, regardless of his advantage in numbers and position. I shall take pleasure in presenting the names of those who most distinguished themselves as soon as the detailed reports of subordinate commanders shall have been received at these headquarters.

‘The same opportunity will be taken to mention the names and services of those members of my personal and general staff who were present during that battle, and of those officers who, belonging to other commands, kindly volunteered their services on that occasion. The intelligent zeal and activity of all these officers, in transmitting orders and conveying information from one portion of the field to the other, contributed largely to the success of the day.’

The day was ours. Butler's army was driven back, hemmed in, and reduced to comparative impotency, though not captured. The danger threatening Richmond was, for the time being, averted. Our success, however, was incomplete in this, that General Beauregard's entire plan, one of the ablest he had conceived during the war, was not carried out. The blame rests, not only upon ‘the hesitation of the left wing,’ but chiefly upon General Whiting, whose failure to execute the order which had been distinctly and repeatedly given him prevented the decisive result so nearly accomplished.

We are loath to comment upon the lamentable remissness of an officer, possessing undoubted capacity, whose subsequent death, in the hands of the enemy, from wounds received in his gallant defence of Fort Fisher, pleads for indulgence on the part of the historian. General Wise—who, with General Martin, was under his command at the time of the Drury's Bluff affair—wrote (besides his official report) a full and clear narrative of what then took place. He was severe upon General Whiting's course and the cause that produced it, but his criticism is not the less true and well-deserved. He used the following language:

‘My report fully detailed all these particulars to General Beauregard, who referred it back to General Whiting. And here I take heartfelt pleasure in stating my judgment upon the latter. * * * He was an able and brave officer, and failed only from his too long indulged habit of inebriety. Had he been sober that day General Beauregard would have achieved the most decisive victory of the war. His success was signal and brilliant as it was; but what would have been the effect upon the war if Whiting had obeyed his orders, and he had crushed, as he undoubtedly would, the army of Butler, and had then rapidly crossed to Chaffin's Bluff, and thence to Bottom's Bridge, with his victorious 20,000? Lee would have had his 45,000 in Grant's front, with Beauregard's 20,000 on his left flank and rear, and Grant would never have [210] reached Harrison's Landing—if, indeed, his army too had not been conquered. Yet Beauregard received for his victory at Drury's Bluff rather more of censure than of commendation.’

The last telegram sent by General Beauregard to General Whiting on the day of the battle read as follows:

Headquarters, Department, May 16th, 1864:11.30 P. M.
Major-General Whiting:
Your despatch of 7.30 P. M. (sent by the guide Archer), replying to mine of 4.15 P. M., is received. I rely and insist that you shall effect a junction with my right to-morrow morning, as indicated in my despatch of 6.45 P. M., herewith repeated in duplicate.

The foregoing despatch had been sent to General Whiting upon receipt of the following telegram:

General Beauregard, Drury's Bluff:
I am here for the night near Walthall's Junction. Didn't get your despatch until near night. Had driven the enemy all the way from Swift Creek, his pickets and outposts being very stubborn and provided with artillery. Enemy retired slowly before me all day. Could inflict no great loss on him owing to country. Owing to lateness of hour of receiving despatches and enemy's position could not press him further to-day. Concluded to try again in the morning, if you do. Could hear but very little firing. His line faces me and rests on his works across the Neck and beyond the railroad. Send reply. Two regiments of cavalry are moving from City Point. Makes me uneasy, as I have to detach cavalry.

7 1/2 P. M., May 16th, 1864.
W. H. C. Whiting, Major-General.
Don't let him press me to-night; position very bad.

Received 10.15 P. M.
G. W. Lay, Lieut.-Colonel.

The grief expressed by General Whiting when he met General Beauregard on the following day, was most sincere. He accepted the blame laid upon him, admitted his irremediable error, and asked to be relieved from his command. This was immediately done, as is shown by the telegram we here append, forwarded by General Beauregard to President Davis:

Hancock's House, 2 1/2 miles N. of Walthall junction, May 17th, 1864.
Whiting's forces joined me at mid-day. He expressed a desire to be relieved from command of his temporary division, and has accordingly returned to the temporary command of the Department. In accordance with your permission I have assigned General Hill to command this division [211] temporarily, with the understanding that he will apply for orders in the field. I trust this will fully meet your approval. The enemy has retired to his lines across the Neck. I have telegraphed General Bragg as to my position and intentions.

Following this recital, we are again compelled to refer to the errors contained in Mr. Davis's book. The passages to be found in Vol. II., pp. 511-515, wherein is described his interview with General Beauregard, at Drury's Bluff, and its results, are here alluded to:

In the afternoon of the 14th I rode down to visit General Beauregard at his headquarters in the field. Supposing his troops to be on the line of intrenchment, I passed Major Drury's house to go thither, when some one by the roadside called to me and told me that the troops were not on the line of intrenchment, and that General Beauregard was at the house behind me.

‘My first question on meeting him was to learn why the intrenchments were abandoned. He answered that he thought it better to concentrate his troops. Upon my stating to him that there was nothing then to prevent Butler from turning his position, he said he would desire nothing more, as he would then fall upon him, cut him off from his base, etc.’

What else General Beauregard is supposed to have then said is not given by Mr. Davis, whose memory, no doubt, failed him at this point. Or was it that General Beauregard only began, and never ended, his explanation? Be this as it may, Mr. Davis affords the reader neither satisfaction nor enlightenment.

The impossibility of any such occurrence, or of any such conversation, will now be demonstrated.

It was between the hours of eight and nine in the morning of the 14th, and not in the afternoon of that day, that Mr. Davis first saw General Beauregard at the Drury house; the object of his coming thither being to confer concerning the plan laid before him, through General Bragg, the tenor of which is already known. General Beauregard had no ‘headquarters,’ at that time, ‘in the field,’ or elsewhere. The Drury house was the first he had entered on his arrival at Drury's Bluff that morning, and he had not yet left it when the President was ushered in. The ‘line of intrenchments’ spoken of by Mr. Davis, and for the abandonment of which he called General Beauregard to account, had been taken by the enemy on the evening before; that is to say, before General Beauregard's arrival at Drury's Bluff. And it must be borne in mind that, at the time of Mr. Davis's visit there, General [212] Beauregard had not yet seen the commanding officer of the post—General Hoke—who, expecting a renewed attack, was then near his lines; nor had he even assumed command of our forces. The fact is that, as late as 8 o'clock A. M., on the 14th, Drury's Bluff had not been made a part of General Beauregard's Department, as appears from the following telegram forwarded to him on that day:

Richmond, Va., May 14th, 1864.
To General Beauregard:
Your command is extended so as to include all that portion of Virginia lying south of the James River, including Drury's Bluff and its defences. Order will be sent by courier.

S. Cooper, Adjt. and Insp.-Genl.

The order was sent, and with it a communication from General Bragg, of the same date, confirming the despatch.7 President Davis, therefore, might, with equal logic, have taken General Beauregard to task for not having prevented Butler's landing at City Point and Bermuda Hundreds.

Mr. Davis goes on as follows:

‘We then passed to the consideration of the operations to be undertaken against Butler, who had already advanced from his base at Bermuda Hundreds. I offered, for the purpose of attacking Butler, to send Major-General Ransom with the field force he had for the protection of Richmond.’

This is an indirect acknowledgment that the object of his visit on the 14th was to listen to General Beauregard's plan of operations: first, against Butler, and afterwards, in conjunction with General Lee, against Grant; for that was the only plan then submitted and under consideration, and it included the sending of Ransom's force from Richmond to Drury's Bluff. Mr. Davis, therefore, is in error when he says that he ‘offered’ Ransom's division. He made no such offer, but merely consented—apparently with reluctance—to the removal of that force, which he ordered down twenty-four hours later than General Beauregard had wished him to do, and after positively refusing the 10,000 men from Lee's army, which General Beauregard, in his plan and orally during that interview, had entreated him to send, in order that he might carry out his plans.

Mr. Davis, who fails to give the details of the plan, says that [213] such a proposition was made to him several days later—namely, after the battle of the 16th. He says:

‘Soon after the affair at Drury's Bluff, General Beauregard addressed to me a communication proposing that he should be heavily reinforced from General Lee's army, so as to enable him to crush Butler in his intrenchments, and then, with the main body of his force, together with a detachment from General Lee's army, that he should join General Lee, overwhelm Grant, and march to Washington. I knew that General Lee was then confronting an army vastly superior to his in numbers, * * * but, as a matter of courteous consideration, his letter [General Beauregard's letter] was forwarded, with the usual formal indorsement. General Lee's opinion on the case was shown by the instructions he gave directing General Beauregard to straighten his line, so as to reduce the requisite number of men to hold it, and send the balance to join the army north of the James.’

The confusion in Mr. Davis's mind concerning these events is wholly incomprehensible. Two communications had been presented by General Beauregard to the War Department during that period. The first—in other words, the very one about which Mr. Davis's conference was held, on the morning of the 14th—had been addressed, not to Mr. Davis directly, as he asserts, but to General Bragg, and bore date May 14th, 1864. It read as follows:

Headquarters, Department N. C. And So. Va., Drury's Bluff, May 14th, 1864.
General Braxton Bragg, Comdg.:
General,—Considering the vital importance of the question involved, and resting upon the success of the plan I suggested to you this morning, I have deemed it desirable and appropriate that their substance should be briefly communicated in writing. General Lee's army, at Guinea Station, and my command, at this place, are on nearly a right line passing through Richmond. Grant's army is on the left flank, and Butler on the right. Our lines are thus interior. Butler's aim is unquestionably to invest and turn Drury's Bluff, threatening and holding the Petersburg and Danville Railroads, opening the obstructions in the river at Fort Drury for the passage of war vessels, necessitating then the return of General Lee to the lines about Richmond. With the railroad held by the enemy, Grant in front, and Butler in rear of the works around Richmond, the capital would be practically invested, and the issue may well be dreaded. The plan suggested is, that General Lee should fall back to the defensive lines of the Chickahominy, even to the intermediate lines of Richmond, sending temporarily to this place 15,000 men8 of his troops. Immediately upon the accession of my present force I would take [214] the offensive and attack Butler vigorously. Such a move would throw me directly upon Butler's communications; and as he now stands, with his right flank well towards the rear, General Whiting should also move simultaneously. Butler must necessarily be crushed or captured, and all the stores of that army would then fall in our hands—an amount, probably, that would make an interruption in our communications, for a period of a few days, a matter of no serious inconvenience. The proposed attack should be accomplished in two days, at furthest, after receiving my reinforcements. This done, I would move with 10,000 more men to the assistance of General Lee than I drew from him, and then Grant's fate would not long remain doubtful. The destruction of Grant's forces would open the way for the recovery of most of our lost territory, as already submitted to you in general terms.


The other communication referred to is dated May 18th, and was sent to Richmond in the form of a memorandum. It was intended to meet the entirely changed circumstances existing after the rout of Drury's Bluff, and had very little—if anything —to do with the plan submitted to General Bragg and to Mr. Davis on the morning of the 14th, and re-affirmed, in writing, on the same day. This second communication ran thus:

Headquarters, N. C. and So. Va., May 18th, 1864:9 P. M., Hancock's House, Va., 2 1/2 miles of Walthall Station.
Memorandum.—The crisis demands prompt and decisive action. The two armies are now too far apart to secure success, unless we consent to give up Petersburg and place the capital in jeopardy. If General Lee will fall back behind the Chickahominy, engaging the enemy so as to draw him on, General Beauregard can bring up 15,000 men to unite with Breckinridge and fall upon the enemy's flank with over 20,000 men effective, thus rendering Grant's defeat certain and decisive, and in time to enable General Beauregard to return with a reinforcement from General Lee to drive Butler from Petersburg and from his present position. For three days, perhaps four at most, Petersburg and Richmond would be held by the forces left there for that purpose. Without such concentration nothing decisive can be effected, and the picture presented is one of starvation. Without concentration General Lee must eventually fall back before Grant's heavy reinforcements, and the view presented merely anticipates this movement for offensive purposes. Meantime, it is impossible to effectually protect our lines of communication with North Carolina, and impossible to hold our present line in front of Butler, with a much more reduced force. At present 3000 men can be spared from these with safety, day after to-morrow 2000 more, perhaps; for our lines will probably be stronger, if, as we expect, the forward line can be occupied to-morrow.

An attentive consideration of the features of these two plans of operations, and of the respective times and situations to which [215] they refer, will cause the reader to wonder at the incorrectness of Mr. Davis's narrative. The military situations before and after the victory of Drury's Bluff were very different, and the respective plans of operations proposed were in essential features the reverse of each other. The first proposed that Beauregard should be reinforced from Lee, so as to crush Butler, and then move to Lee's support, to take the offensive against Grant; the second proposed that Beauregard should move first to Lee's support, to attack and defeat Grant, and thence return, reinforced by Lee, to finish Butler. Yet Mr. Davis applies to the latter phase of events the plan proposed by General Beauregard to meet the former.

We must assume that Mr. Davis comprehended these proposed plans of action when they were submitted, and we are forced to the conclusion, therefore, that his present sources of historical information are not sufficiently accurate and trustworthy to entitle his work to recognition as one of authority.

It will suffice, then, to add that General Lee sent no order to General Beauregard to straighten his line! Apart from the fact that he did not, he could have had no authority for so doing, since General Beauregard's Department was entirely separate and distinct from his, and General Lee was not in the habit of openly violating the rules of military courtesy and etiquette. Moreover, there could have been no occasion for such an order from any quarter, inasmuch as General Beauregard had already informed the War Department that he intended to occupy a shorter line on the next day (May 19th).

As to ‘the balance’ (to use Mr. Davis's expression) of General Beauregard's forces being sent ‘to join the army north of the James,’ the telegrams inserted in the Appendix to the next chapter of this work, wherein this subject is exhaustively treated, conclusively show that General Lee did not make such a request (it was not an order) until May 30th and June 1st; at the same time he expressed the desire that General Beauregard himself should, if possible, cross with his troops and take command of the right wing of the Army of Virginia.

Another error on the part of Mr. Davis is noticeable in the second volume of his work, page 512, where he says:

General Whiting, with some force, was holding a defensive position at Petersburg. General Beauregard proposed that the main part of it should [216] advance, and unite with him in an attack upon Butler, wherever he should be found between Drury's and Petersburg. To this I offered distinct objection, because of the hazard during a battle of attempting to make a junction of troops moving from opposite sides of the enemy; and proposed that Whiting's command should move at night by the Chesterfield road, where they would not probably be observed by Butler's advance.’

This, in the main, is correct. Mr. Davis, as he says, did strenuously oppose the junction spoken of by General Beauregard, though ‘his universal practice,’ as he asserts, ‘was never to do more than to make a suggestion to a general commanding in the field;’9 and General Beauregard, as was his duty to do, yielded to the will of the Commander-in-chief. Mr. Davis continues:

General Beauregard, thereupon, spoke of some difficulty in getting a courier who knew the route and could certainly deliver the order to General Whiting. Opportunely, a courier arrived from General Whiting, who had come up the Chesterfield road. He then said the order would have to be drawn with a good deal of care, and that he would prepare it as soon as possible. I arose to take leave, when General Beauregard courteously walked down the stairs with me, remarking as we went that he was embarrassed for the want of a good cavalry commander. I saw in the yard Colonel Chilton, Assistant Adjutant and Inspector-General, and said, “There is an old cavalry officer, who was trained in my old regiment, the First Dragoons, and who, I think, will answer your requirements.” Upon his expressing the pleasure it would give him to have Colonel Chilton, I told him of General Beauregard's want, and asked him if the service would be agreeable to him. He readily accepted it, and I left, supposing all the preliminaries settled. In the next forenoon Colonel Samuel Melton, of the Adjutant and Inspector-General's Department, called at my residence, and delivered a message from General Beauregard to the effect that he had decided to order Whiting to move by the direct road from Petersburg, instead of by the Chesterfield route; and when I replied that I had stated my objections to General Beauregard to a movement which gave the enemy the advantage of being between our forces, he said General Beauregard had directed him to explain to me that, upon a further examination, he found his force sufficient; that his operations, therefore, did not depend upon making a junction with Whiting.’

For the elucidation of the facts of the case it has been necessary to quote thus extensively from Mr. Davis's book. He drifts away so completely from the true version of the incidents he describes that, in re-establishing the facts, our statement becomes directly contradictory to his. The fault is not ours. [217]

Mr. Davis is mistaken in saying that General Beauregard was compelled to employ General Whiting's messenger to carry the first order sent him on that day, after the modification of the plan so much insisted upon by the President. Messengers familiar with the road just gone over by General Beauregard and his escort were not wanting for the purpose. The proof of this is, that three of them—not one only, as Mr. Davis supposes— were sent, on the 14th of May, to Petersburg, each bearing a copy of the triplicate message to General Whiting. It may be that the courier referred to by Mr. Davis was one of these; but it is not true that General Beauregard could have found no other. The following is the message in question:

Drury's Bluff, May 14th, 1864.
To Major-General W. H. C. Whiting, Petersburg, Va.:
Proceed to this place Monday morning at daybreak, with Wise's and Martin's brigades and two regiments of Colquitt's, with five days provisions and sixty rounds of ammunition per man, and all available baggage, wagons, and ambulances, and as large a supply-train as possible, via Newby's Bridge, on Swift Creek (20 miles), thence to Cogshill's, Punkett's, Taber's, Watkins's (14 miles), and be here Tuesday afternoon at latest. Order Walker and his brigade from Kinston to Petersburg; also regiments of Hoke's and Kemper's brigade now at Hicksford and Weldon. If they cannot come with you, order Dearing's cavalry to guard Petersburg until arrival of Walker. Baker's regiment will be sent to meet you at Newby's Bridge. Butler has his whole force in front of this place.

(Sent in triplicate.)

The next day, early in the morning, the following additional telegram was sent to General Whiting:

Drury's Bluff, May 15th, 1864:7 A. M.
To be more expeditious, leave as soon as practicable on Sunday. Guides will be at crossing of creek. Communicate only in cipher.

But, knowing now that General Ransom could not join him until the afternoon of the 15th, and for other important reasons, fully explained to President Davis in a letter which is about to be submitted, General Beauregard concluded to order General Whiting to march directly on the road to Drury's Bluff, according to his original idea before leaving Petersburg. Hence, on the 15th, at 10.45 A. M., Colonel (afterwards General) Logan, formerly of the Hampton Legion, was sent to General Whiting [218] with a telegram of that date,10 together with a copy of General Beauregard's order of battle, both of which had been committed to memory by the messenger, so that no accident might prevent their safe delivery. A few hours later a duplicate of this telegram was also forwarded to, and duly received by, General Whiting.

The following is the letter referred to:

Headquarters, Department N. C. and So. Va., Drury's Bluff, May 15th, 1864.
His Excellency President Jefferson Davis, Richmond, Va.:
Sir,—Upon further inquiry as to the shortest and safest route via Newby's Bridge) by which Major-General Whiting could travel, with his small force, to this point, it was found he would require two days to reach here, the distance being at least thirty-four miles, with roads in a bad condition, owing to the prevailing rains. In a telegram of this morning he expresses his fears of an immediate attack upon him by the enemy. At the same time Captain Davidson, of the navy, informs me that a large fleet of gunboats and transports of the enemy are about four miles below Chaffin's Bluff, probably to reinforce Butler and make a combined attack by land and water.

Under these circumstances, and in view of the fact that the enemy is diligently employed in erecting batteries and rifle-pits around this place, further delay might be fatal to success; and I have determined to attack him to-morrow morning with the forces at present available here, increased by Barton's brigade, as authorized by you.

I have ordered Major-General Whiting to co-operate with all his forces by attacking the enemy in rear from Swift Creek. A copy of my instructions to him and of my order of battle will be forwarded as soon as practicable to the Department.

I have availed myself of the services of Major-General Ransom to command one of the two divisions of this army.

I hope, under the protection of a kind Providence, that our efforts tomorrow will be successful.

I remain, very respectfully, your obdt. servt.,

This is the only official communication made by General Beauregard to President Davis on the forenoon of the 15th of May (the date mentioned by Mr. Davis) relative to the order for the advance of General Whiting and his force, to co-operate with our army at Drury's Bluff. The ‘message,’ as Mr. Davis calls the preceding letter, may have been borne by Colonel Samuel Melton, [219] though General Beauregard has no recollection of the fact; but, by whomsoever delivered to the President, it certainly is the only trustworthy evidence bearing upon the subject. What Colonel Melton is alleged to have verbally added to General Beauregard's letter—namely, ‘that upon further examination he found his forces sufficient, and that his operations, therefore, did not depend upon making a junction with Whiting’—is in such direct contradiction to all of General Beauregard's views and efforts at the time, to his report of the battle, and to the whole contents of the letter itself, as to be unworthy of serious attention. General Beauregard's reasons for modifying his order to General Whiting were given in that letter to the President; and therein alone—not in any outside gossip—should General Beauregard's views, opinions, and intentions be looked for, and there only does their expression really exist. In corroboration of the foregoing statement are the telegrams, ten or twelve in number, sent by General Beauregard to General Whiting, between the 14th and 17th of May, showing conclusively that the former never wavered in his desire to secure the latter's co-operation before the expected attack upon Butler. But we have additional proof in the telegram from General Beauregard to General Bragg, dated May 15th, 1864 (the day referred to by Mr. Davis), which reads as follows:

‘I have already sent General Whiting his instructions to co-operate with me. Please telegraph him to follow them as delivered by Colonel Logan. Yours may conflict with mine.’

The fact of General Beauregard's insisting so much upon the co-operation of General Whiting's forces, and the fear that orders from Richmond might clash with his own, leave no doubt as to his opinion that Whiting's presence was necessary to the success of his plan.

As General (then Colonel) Logan's name has been mentioned in connection with this incident, we quote a passage from a letter written by him to General Beauregard, dated Richmond, Va., January, 2d, 1882:11

‘During the day of May 15th Colonel Samuel Melton, acting A. A. G., notified me that you desired me to take your written and verbal instructions to General Whiting, at his headquarters, near Petersburg, as you intended [220] attacking the enemy on the morning of the 16th, and felt anxious that there should, by no possibility, be any miscarriage of your instructions, or any misunderstanding as to their import.* * * Just before starting on my mission I was sent for by you, and in the presence of Colonel Melton the written despatches were given to me, and their contents carefully explained to me by you.’

The written despatches to General Whiting were intrusted to Colonel Logan, ‘in the presence’ of Colonel Melton, and carefully explained by General Beauregard. It is evident, therefore, that Colonel Melton knew the object of Colonel Logan's mission to General Whiting. How, then, on that very day, and while handing to Mr. Davis a letter from General Beauregard, explaining the reasons for his last orders to General Whiting, could Colonel Melton have said, ‘Upon further examination General Beauregard found his forces sufficient, and thought his operations did not depend upon making a junction with Whiting?’

It should be added, that the co-operation so persistently enjoined upon General Whiting would have been judicious and of material importance, even had the President granted, and not denied, the reinforcements sought from the Army of Northern Virginia. But, without such assistance from General Lee, the junction of General Whiting's forces from Petersburg became absolutely necessary, in order to insure success over the Federal army threatening Richmond from the south of the James.

Reference will now be made to Mr. Davis's account of his offer of Colonel Chilton to General Beauregard, as a cavalry commander.

What General Beauregard needed at that time, and what he asked for was, not a cavalry commander, but cavalry and infantry, with which to crush Butler, and afterward cross the James, so as to co-operate with General Lee against General Grant. This was the essential feature of General Beauregard's plan. Having never desired the services of Colonel Chilton—who, from the opening of the war, had been a staff officer only—General Beauregard neither asked for nor accepted him—granting that he was offered by Mr. Davis. He had with him cavalry officers of undeniable merit, namely, Colonel Dunnovant and Colonel Baker (already at Drury's Bluff), and General Dearing, who was to come up with Whiting's forces, and of whose ability and dash General Beauregard had the highest opinion. There was, therefore, no vacancy [221] which Colonel Chilton could have filled, unless he were made to supersede one of these three cavalry commanders—a thought which never occurred to General Beauregard's mind.

It is noticeable, also, that Mr. Davis, when writing of these events, lays great stress upon General Ransom's ‘unpublished’ report of the battle of Drury's Bluff, while, on the other hand, he makes not even a passing allusion to the report of General Beauregard, the chief and unquestionably the most trustworthy source of information concerning that battle. That report has been given in this chapter, and the reader should examine it with attention. Every material statement it contains is corroborated and supported by the reports of Generals Hoke, Johnson, Colquitt, and Hagood. As to General Ransom's report, which Mr. Davis quotes as authority in contradiction to General Beauregard's, it is incorrect in many important particulars; so much so that it received General Beauregard's censure at the time, not only because of its inaccuracy with regard to some of the events of the battle, but also because of General Ransom's shortcomings on that occasion, and because of the unauthorized and unofficial manner in which the paper was published in Richmond, before General Beauregard's own report had been forwarded to the War Department.

1 See Appendix.

2 See communication in Appendix.

3 See telegrams, in Appendix.

4 See, in Appendix, extract from General Hagood's memoirs.

5 General Hoke had already taken the outworks at Newbern, and demanded its surrender; when, in obedience to instructions from Richmond, General Beauregard sent him a special messenger (Lieutenant Chisolm, A. D. C.) with orders to repair forthwith to Petersburg, no matter how far his operations might have advanced against Newbern. General Beauregard had had trains collected at Kinston to facilitate the transport of his troops via Weldon. No time was lost in carrying out the order.

6 This was substantially the line in assaulting which, on the 3d of June, at Cold Harbor, General Grant was so bloodily repulsed.

7 See Appendix.

8 Inclusive of Ransom's forces, at Richmond.

9 ‘Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,’ vol. II., p. 511. The italics are ours.

10 The telegram alluded to is given at page 203 of the present chapter. See, also, General Logan's letter, in Appendix.

11 The whole of General Logan's letter is given in the Appendix.

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