Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 28.djvu/337
/'. //. '/: n,->i>ir,-.i>ir,l. 331
Beauregard's attention was now given to establishing the shortest practicable line across the neck and entrenching it, so as to hold with the fewest number of troops General Butler in the nil de sac to which he had retreated. His purpose was accomplished in the next ft-\v days in a series of actions rising almost to the severity of bat- tles. After each he advanced and straightened his lines, until com- mencing at Hewlett's, on the James, they ran in a line more or less direct to Ashton Creek, near its junction with the Appomattox.
Butler, says Swinton, was now in a position "where if he was secure against attack, he was also powerless for offensive operation against Richmond being, as he himself said at the time, 'bottled up and hermetically sealed.' ' And General Badeau in his military history of U. S. Grant says "an end had absolutely been put to Butler's campaign."
The recital of events preceding the battle of Drewry's Bluff, as well as the description of that successful onslaught by 15,000 hastily assembled men (excluding Whiting's 4,000, which never reached the field, or was near enough to exercise even a moral influence), upon an army in position of full twice its numbers shows how much was clue to the foresight, the skill and the devotion of the Confed- erate commander. It is a brilliant page in military history.
THE BATTLE OF PETERSBURG.
Let us turn now to another to that which records later the three days' fighting before Petersburg.
While Butler's co-operative move was being foiled, Grant was urging his sanguinary way from the northward to the vicinity of Richmond. He was now approaching the Chickahominy, upon the banks of which the fate of the Confederate capital was once more to be submitted to the issue of direct assault. To reinforce Lee, Beau- regard was depleted until he had, including " the old men and boys" of Petersburg, but 5,400 troops with which to hold Butler off of the Southern communications of Richmond and to protect Petersburg itself.
Butler's force had also been depleted by drafts from Grant, but he still retained over ten thousand men. He was but seven miles from Petersburg, and while his forward advance was obstructed, it was open to him by a flank movement across the Appomattox, where his passage could not be opposed, to throw his force swiftly upon the almost undefended eastern lines of that place. Beauregard had been