The Bermuda Hundred Campaign

General Ulysses S. Grant

Ware Bottom Church

On May 20, 1864, General Beauregard's Confederates attacked General Butler's Bermuda Hundred Line around the rustic Ware Bottom Church in Chesterfield County, Virginia.  About 10,000 troops were involved in this action.  Before the day was done, 1400 dead and wounded men from fourteen American states lay sprawled and bleeding upon the ground.  After driving back Butler's advanced pickets, the Confederates constructed the Howlett Line, effectively bottling up the Federals at Bermuda Hundred.  Confederate victories at Proctor's Creek and Ware Bottom Church enabled Beauregard to detach strong reinforcements for Lee's Army in time for the fighting at Cold Harbor.

General Ulysses S. Grant

Ruffin Mill Battle

On May 25, 1864, the 21st Connecticut is sent on a reconnaissance across Ashton Creek and returns to report no Confederate contact.The next day, Major General Smith, believing that the Confederate right flank is unsecured, sends a force under the command of Brigadier General Martindale towards Port Walthall Junction.  Colonel Deven's brigade crosses Aston Creek and engages an unknown Confederate force, Ruffin Mill. Colonel Dutton, commanding the brigade, received orders to reconnoiter the left of the Confederate position and designated the 21st Connecticut to do the work.  With night coming on, he returned the regiment to its camp.  The following day, May b26, Colonel Dutton moved his brigade again with orders to push the reconnaissance until stopped by the Confederates.  After and the advance of nearly two miles,  he found the Confederates were fully entrenched.  Colonel Dutton forms a skirmish line and as they engaged the Confederates, Colonel Dutton was killed.  Smith recalled the Union force fearing an attack by the Confederates against his center. This ended the reconnaissance of the Confederate positions at Ashton Creek.

General Ulysses S. Grant

Fort Dutton Battle

This fort was located 4000 feet northeast of Battery Dantzler.  It was named after Colonel Arthur Dutton who was mortally wounded on May 26, 1864 (see Battle of Ruffin Mill).  On June 2, 1864, the Confederates mounted their own reconnaissance under the command of General Bushrod Johnson.  The brigades of Wise, Ransom, and Walker advanced against the Federal picket line.  Wise had little success as Colonel Dantzler and his 22nd SC. troops attacked  Federal Battery No. 6 (renamed Ft. Dutton).Using the ravine, Dantzler moved his men with 150 yards of the fort.  As they emerged from the ravine, the Confederates pushed back a part of the 7th Connecticut before being hit with canister from the guns at the fort.  Colone Dantzler and 16 of his men were killed in the failed assault.  This incident and the arrival of Federal reinforcements forced Walker's attack to fall back in disarray.

General Ulysses S. Grant

The Battle of Old Men and Young Boys

The battle, fought on the outskirts of Petersburg, Virginia, was to capture the city on June 9, 1864.  Major General Butler sent 4500 calvaries and infantry against the 2500 Confederate soldiers defending the city.    Butler's plan was to storm the city, destroy its bridges and return to Bermuda Hundred.  Several miles from the city, tired from a night march and already behind schedule, the Union army split into three columns.    The Union infantry under Quincy Gilmore 10th Corps was composed of Hawley's brigade and the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 18th Corps, (a brigade of U.S. Colored Troops) led in person by the division commander, Edward Hinks.  The infantry ran up against the Dimmock Line under construction in anticipation of just such an attack.   Gillmore refused to push the action and consequently the Union infantry did almost nothing against a skeleton force of Confederate defenders.  The Union diversion failed. General Kautz's calvary division attempted to enter the city from the south using the Jerusalem Plank Road.  They ran into the Confederate Home Guard and were thrown back.    Butler withdrew his forces.    This was called the " Battle of Old Men and Young Boys" by the local residents.  Fletcher Archer's militia had stood up against a Union calvary.  Though the militia was driven away, their action allowed the 4th NC Calvary and the Graham's Petersburg Battery to establish a second line of resistance.  

The battle was important as it indicated the weakly defined defenses of the city and gave Beauregard time to strengthen the Confederate defenders.    The Union army again tried to take the city but was met with a stronger Confederate force.    Layer Archer recalled that details for special service and guard duty in Richmond had left him with barely a company of inadequately armed men in civilian clothing, combining those "with head silvered o'er with the frosts of advancing years" and others "who could scarcely boast of the down upon the cheek".    His command repelled the first attack by the Northern troops but a second assault forced him back into the city.  The arrival of Confederate calvary and artillery put a check to further Union movement, but at the cost of 76 casualties to the reserves; more than half of those who had gone into action.


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