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Bermuda Hundred Campaign

  • Time Period: May, 1864
  • Area: Virginia
  • Explanation: The Bermuda Hundred, Virginia peninsula was strategically important to the Confederacy. Across the western base ran the Richmond & Petersburg Rairoad, the lifeline connecting Richmond to points south. It also was 7 miles north of the vital railroad junction of Petersburg. The Federal government knew this, and decided to attack. They wanted to sever the railroad center, thus stopping the supplies to Virginia and its armies.

The war finally came in earnest to Bermuda Hundred on May 5th, when the leading elements of Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler's 39,000-man Army of the James spilled off Union transports at the Bermuda Hundred plantation on the James River. Butler and his imposing force occupied the peninsula with orders to operate against Richmond. On the day that the Federals disembarked, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard assumed command of the Confederate defenses at petersburg. Ill, he gave control to Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett, who reacted swiftly to the threat by rushing reinforcements to the railroad junction.

From the 6-11th, Butler pressed westward against Pickett's beleaguered confederates. The Union-turned general, built a line of entrenchments as a secure base across the peninsula's narrowest point.

Skirmishes and minor engagements flared at Port Walthall Junction and Swift Creek. Content to destroy the railroad, Butler returned to his works on the 11th. The next day, he resumed the advance northward against Confederate defenses at Drewry's Bluff, 5 miles from Richmond. Beauregard, back in command, had bolstered the garrison there with 7 brigades on the 11th. Butler cancelled an attack planned for the 15th, and on the next day, Beauregard assumed the offensive; in a dense fog, the Confederates achieved some early successbefore losing cohesion and force. Butler withdrew in a heavy rain to his line of works. Beauregard followed, rimmed the base of the peninsula with his own works and, as Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant said, "bottled up" Butler.

Butler had failed and Bermuda Hundred was corked up for the rest of the war. During the Petersburg Campaign, the Confederate lines across the peninsula were an integral part of its defense. The Confederates abandoned their works in Bermuda Hundred when Petersburg fell during the war's final week in Virginia.

Campaign Battles

See 1861 Battles, 1862 Battles, 1863 Battles, 1864 Battles and 1865 Battles for more battles)

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