General Beauregard's report of the battle of Drury's Bluff.
Headquarters in the field, Swift Creek, Va., June 10th, 1864.General: While we were hurriedly assembling by fragments, an army, weak in numbers, wanting the cohesive force of previous organization and association, the enemy, operating from his fortified base at Bermuda Hundred's Neck, had destroyed much of the Richmond and Petersburg railroad, and occupied the main line of communication southward, and menaced its river gate (Drury's Bluff) and south-side land defences, with a formidable army and fleet. In these conditions, the possession of our line of communication southward, became the main point of contest. To wrest it from the enemy, I selected a course which promised the most fertile results, that of capturing or destroying his army, in its actual position, after cutting him off from his base of operations; or failing in this, of depriving him of future power to control or obstruct  our communications, by driving him before our front and locking him up in his fortified camp at Bermuda Hundred's Neck. Our army was organized into three divisions, right, left and reserve, under Major-Generals Hoke and Ransom, and BrigadierGen-eral Colquitt. The general direction of the roads and adjacent river, was north and south, the general alignment of the armies, east and west. Our left wing (Ransom) lay behind the trenches on Kings'-lańd creek, which runs an easterly course, not far in front of Drury's Bluff. Our right wing (Hoke) occupied the intermediate line of fortifications from Fort Stevens, crossing the turnpike to the railroad. Colquitt's reserve, in rear of Hoke, centered at the turnpike. The cavalry were posted on our flank, and in reserve, and the artillery distributed among the divisions. A column from Petersburg, under Major-General Whiting had been directed to proceed to Swift creek, on the turnpike, over three miles from Petersburg, and nine from my lines, and was under orders to advance, at day-break, to Port Walthall Junction, three miles nearer. The line of the enemy's forces under Butler, comprising the corps of Gillmore and W. F. Smith (10th and 18th) was generally parallel to our intermediate line of works, somewhat curved, concentric and exterior to our own, they held our own outer line of works, crossing the turnpike half a mile in our front. Their line of breastworks and entrenchments increased in strength westward and northward: its right, and weakest point, was in the edge of Wm. Gregory's woods, about half a mile west of James river. The line of hostile breastworks from their right flank continued westwardly, intersecting the turnpike near our outer line of fortifications. Near this point of intersection, at Charles Friend's farm, was advantageously posted a force of the enemy throughout the day's struggle, and here are said to have been the headquarters of Generals Butler and Smith. Butler's lines thence, following partly the course of our outer works, crossed them, and run westwardly, through fields and woods, until after crossing the railroad, his extreme left inclined to the north. With the foregoing data, I determined upon the following plan: That our left wing, turned and hurled upon Butler's weak right, should, with crushing force, double it back on its centre, thus interposing an  easterly barrier between Butler and his base; that our right wing should simultaneously with its skirmishers and afterwards in force as soon as the left became fully engaged, advance and occupy the enemy to prevent his reinforcing his right, and thus check him in front, without, however, prematurely seeking to force him far back, before our left could completely out-flank, and our Petersburg column close upon his rear; and finally that the Petersburg column, marching to the sound of heaviest firing, should interpose a southern barrier to his retreat. Butler thus environed by three lines of fire, could have, with his defeated troops, no resource against capture or destruction, except in an attempt at partial and hazardous escape westward, away from his base, trains or supplies. Two difficulties, alone, might impede or defeat the success of my plan. One was a possible and effective resistance by the enemy, in virtue of his superior numbers. Another, probably a graver one, existed as to the efficient, rapid handling of a fragmentary army like ours, hastily assembled and organized, half the brigades without general officers, some of the troops unacquainted with their commanders and neighbors, staff-officers unknown to each other, &c. The moral force, which, derived from the unity which springs from old association, was entirely wanting, and from this cause, generally so productive of confusion and entanglement, great inconvenience arose. On the other hand, I reckoned on the advantages of being all in readiness at day-break, with short distances over which to operate, a long day before me to manoeuvre in; plain, direct routes, and simplicity in the movements to be executed. Accordingly, at 10.45 A. M. on the 15th of May, preparatory information and orders were forwarded to Major-General Whiting, then at Petersburg, twelve miles from me, to move with his force to Swift creek, three miles nearer, during the night, and at day-break next morning to proceed to Port Walthall Junction, about three miles nearer. These instructions were duly received by that officer and were as follows:
General Samuel Cooper, A. & I. G., C. S. A., Richmond, Virginia.
General Samuel Cooper, A. & I. G., C. S. A., Richmond, Virginia.
I shall attack enemy in my front, at day-break, by River road, to cut him off from his Bermuda base. You will take up your position, to-night, at Swift creek, with Wise's, Martin's, Dearing's, and two regiments of Colquitt's brigades, with about twenty field pieces, under Colonel Jones. At day-break, you will march to Port Walthall Junction, and when you hear an engagement in your front, you will advance boldly and rapidly, by the shortest road, in the 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. [Signed]
G. T. Beauregard, General Commanding.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.
[Signed] G. T. B.
In the early afternoon, I delivered, in person, to the other Division Commanders, the following circular instructions of battle, with additional oral instructions to Major-General Ransom, that while driving the enemy he should promptly occupy, with a brigade, the crossing of Proctor's creek, by the River road, which was the enemy's shortest line of retreat to Bermuda Hundred's Neck: