Benjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin) Butler.

Private and official correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, during the period of the Civil War ... Privately issued online

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utmost vigor during the day, but give your troops a good
night's rest. Let your remaining brigade push the works
while you are gone.

Benj. F. Butler, Major-General, Commanding

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 36, Part II, p. 556.

From General Butler
Bdqrs. Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, Bermuda Landing, Va., May 8, 1864

Major-General Gillmore

YoTJ will take all your command but three brigades, which
were detailed before, and demonstrate to the right and front
via Ware Bottom Church, upon the railroad, accomplishing its
destruction at any place where you may strike it, and along
as much of it as possible. The enemy are in our front with
scarcely 5,000 men, and it is a disgrace that we are cooped up
here. This movement will commence at daylight tomorrow
morning, and is imperative. Answer if you have received this
order and will be ready to move.

Benj. F. Butler, Major-General, Commanding

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 36, Part II, p. 655.

From General Grant

Headquarters, Pinet Branch Church, May 8, 1864, 11.30 a.m.

[Received 3.15 p.m.]

Maj. Gen. H. W. Halleck

The army commenced moving south at 9 p.m. yesterday, and
when closed up to the position assigned for first day's march
will stand thus: General Warren's corps at Spotsylvania Court-
House; Hancock's at Todd's Tavern; Sedgwick's on road from
Piney Branch Church to Spotsylvania, and General Burnside
at Alrich's. It is not yet demonstrated what the enemy will
do, but the best of feeling prevails in this army, and I feel at
present no apprehension for the result. My efforts will be to
form a junction with General Butler as early as possible, and
be prepared to meet any enemy interposing. The result of the
three days' fight at Old Wilderness was decidedly in our favor.
The enemy having a strong intrenched position to fall back on



LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER 175

when hard pressed, and the extensive train we had to cover,
rendered it impossible to inflict the heavy blow on Lee's army
I had hoped. My exact route to the James River I have not
yet definitely marked out.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 36, Part 11, p. 526.

From the Secretary of War
Ctpher. Bt Telegraph /rom Washington, May 8ih, 1864, 4.30

To Maj. Genl. Butler

YoTJR despatch of the 7th has just reached me. We have as
yet no official report from Grant. Nothing is known of his
condition except from newspaper reports, which represent
two (2) days' hard fighting on Thursday & Friday, from 6 to 8
thousand mounted are sent back, & Ingalls telegraphs yester-
day at noon to Genl. Meigs that "It is said the enemy are
retiring." In respect to the reserve mentioned in your tele-
gram, there are none at the disposal of the Department. Gen.
Grant has with him all the troops, & you will have to depend
only upon such as may have been provided in your program
with him. Your despatch will be forwarded to him to ap-
prise him of your condition & for his instructions. Your
success thus far is extremely gratifying to the President & this
Department, & we hope your skill and good luck may accom-
plish all your wishes. j, ^ Stanton, Sec'y of War

From General Butler

Hdqrs. Dept. of Virginia and North Carolina, Bermuda Landing, Va., May 8th, 1864

Major-General Smith

You will take all the troops that can be spared from your
line and demonstrate to the front and left upon the railroad,
pushing the work on your line with those that remain with all
vigor. This movement will commence to-morrow morning at
daylight, and is imperative. Former order which went out
last night, and upon your letter to the chief of staff is revoked.
Gen. GiUmore has orders to make the same demonstration to
the right and front upon the railroad at the same hour, via
Ware Bottom Church.

Benj. F. Butler, Major General Commanding



176 LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER

From General Humphreys

Headgrtarters Army of the Potomac, May S, 1864, 10 p.m.

General Sheridan, Commanding Cavalry Corps

The major-general commanding directs you to immediately
concentrate your available mounted force, and with your
ammunition trains and such supply trains as are filled (exclusive
of ambulances) proceed against the enemy's cavalry, and when
your supplies are exhausted proceed via New Market and Green
Bay to Haxall's Landing, on the James River, there com-
municating with General Butler, procuring supplies, and return
to this army. Your dismounted men will be left with the

train here. a a tt

A. A. HxmPHREYS,

Major-General and Chief of Staff

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 36, Part II, p. 552.

From General Smith

Headquarters, May 8, 1864

Major-General Butler, Commanding Department

General: General Brooks and his whole command returned
last evening as soon as the wounded were removed. Colonel
Dutton reported to you while here that General Brooks was
then falling back. He has not yet received reports from all
the brigades that were with him, but thinks 200 will cover his
entire loss. I have received your order for the movement of
to-morrow. Respectfully, &c.,

Wm. F. Smith, Major-General, Commanding

From General Gillmore

Headquarters, Tenth Army Corps, in the Field, May 8ih, 1864

Maj. Gen. B. F. Butler, Commdg. Department of Virginia
and North Carolina
General: Your two despatches of this date are received.
I shall move as ordered at day-break to-morrow. All necessary
preliminary orders have been issued. My instructions are to
take my whole command except three brigades. I understand
this to mean the infantry force and such artillery as I can use.
I respectfully recommend that a demonstration be made at the
same time on the left, in order to divide the enemy's force. I
would also urge that a cavalry force be sent to report to me
to-night. I shall need them much. I have the honor to be.

Very respctfy. yr. obedient servt.,
Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General Commanding



LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER 177

P.S. I forward this by my chief of staff, Brigadier-General
Foster, who will confer with you in regard to the matter. He
is entirely in my confidence.

Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
Q. A. GiLLMORE, Major-General Commanding

From Mrs. Butler to General Butler

FoRTREas Monroe, May Sth, 1864

Dearest: We hear today that our troops hold Petersburg.
If that is so, you must expect an attack at City Point. If Lee
falls back on Richmond he has no outlet, and no chance for
suppUes unless he can dislodge you from your two points, if
you really have Petersburg. Lee will be at bay; there must
be fearful fighting somewhere. If it comes your way, I pray
you to act with caution as well as with determination. No
display of personal courage merely will have any weight com-
pared to the glory you will win if your part of the grand move-
ment is carried through without a mistake. I was vexed to
hear that you were beyond the pickets and in danger of being
ignominiously captured, where you ought not to have exposed
yourself. Pray avoid repeating it. You will have danger
enough to satisfy you before you have finished the campaign
without seeking it in that form. Haggerty is miserable. He
walked up and down till three o'clock at night, repeating shame,
shame, that he could not go. I cannot see why you should
take Stackpole and leave Haggerty behind. The one is your
devoted friend, the other is Abbott's and Foster's, or any
other person's quite as much as yours. You gave me a reason
for leaving Haggerty, but I do not see why the same reason
would (not) apply to the other. I hope you will think it well
to send for him, and return both to Norfolk when success is
complete, as I have the fullest faith it will be if you will not too
carelessly expose yourself and grieve your Wife

From General Gillmore

Headquarters Tenth Army Corps, in the Field, May 9, 1864, 6 a.m.

Major-General Butler

No cavalry has reported to me yet. In advancing beyond
Ware Bottom Church the right and rear of the column will be
so exposed that I must leave a portion of my infantry there.
I would request that the cavalry be hurried forward.

Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General, Commanding

VOL. IV — 12



178 LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER

Endorsed: William S. Hunting reports General Gillmore just
starting from his headquarters, and his column just began to
move when he received this despatch. B F B

From General Butler

Head Qrs., May 9th, 1864, 5 a.m.

Gen. GiLLMOKE

My cavalry have arrived, but must have a couple of hom-s'
rest. At seven I will make the demonstration to the right
with them which was proposed. Please inform your cavalry
scouts so that there may be no mistakes.

B. F. Butler, Maj. Genl. Comd'g.

From General Butler

Head Qrs. Va. & Ca.. May 9th, S.30 A.M.

Gen. Gillmore

At 5 A.M. sent despatch relating to cavalry. When I arrive
with the cavalry I will order forward your infantry. Please
so inform your oflScers.

Benj. F. Butler, Maj. Genl. Comd'g.

From General Gillmore

Headquartera, Tenth Army Corps, in the Field, May 9th, 1864, 6.40 a.m.

Major General Butler

Despatch received. I leave two regiments of infantry

where the roads fork to the right of Ware Bottom Church.

When you can relieve them with cavalry please order them to

follow this command up to the turn-pike to join their command.

Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General Commanding

From General Gillmore

Headquarters, Tenth Army Corps, in the Field, May 9, 1864, 8 a.m.

Major-General Butler

I AM waiting for the cavalry. The pickets are engaged on
my right, and I do not like to leave this place till the cavalry

Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General, Commanding



LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER 179
From General Gillmore

Headguartera, Tenth Army Corps, in the Field, May 9ih, 1864, 8.10 a.m.

Major General Bxjtler

General Ames is destroying the railroad. General Turner
is within supporting distance. Terry, except two regiments,
is behind Turner.

Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General, Commanding

From General Gillmore

Headquarters Tenth Army Corps, in the Field, May Sth, 1864, 9.45 a.m.

Major General Butler

A FEW of the enemy's cavalry are on the turnpike on our
right. Can you not send and drive them away or capture
them? There may be a heavier force behind them, and the
pike should be struck by the cavalry this side of the creek you

Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General Commanding
From General Smith

May 9th, 1864

Major-General Gillmore

I WOULD respectfully suggest to you that I think we can
capture a force of rebels supposed to be stationed at the Junc-
tion, if you will swing your right well around so as to come in
their rear. We can then destroy the road at our leisure.

Very respectfully, Wm. F. Smith, Major-General

From General Smith

May 9th, 1864

Major-General Butler, Commanding Department of
Virginia, &c.
General: I am of opinion that if you order General Gill-
more to stop destroying the road at present, and to swing his
right well around, he can take a force of rebels at the railroad
junction, and perhaps take Petersburg early to-day. We can
then destroy the road at our leisure.

Very respectfully, Wm. F. Smith, Major-General



180 LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER

From General Butler

Headquarters, near Railroad, May 9th, 1864

Major-General Smith

Despatch received. General Gillmore is moving his troops
to aid you as you suggest. We have got the railroad pretty
well destroyed already.

Benj. F. Butler, Major General, Commanding

From the Secretary of War

Washington, May &th, 1864

To Maj. Genl. Butler

Advices from the front give reason to believe that Gen.
Grant's operations will prove a great success and complete
victory. On Saturday night the enemy had been driven at
all points, and Hancock was pushing forward rapidly to Spott-
sylvania Court House, where heavy firing was heard yesterday.
It was reported yesterday by a deserter that the enemy's
only hope was in heavy reinforcements from Beauregard.

Edwin M. Stanton, Sec. of War

From General Gillmore

Headquarters Tenth Army Corps, Turnpike, May 9th, 1864, 10.15 a.m.

Major General Butler

I HAVE just received despatches from General Smith, and
shall move my command toward the left on the railroad to
keep up communication with him. My headquarters will be
with General Ames' division on or near the railroad. No
enemy on the railroad, so far as I know.

Q. A. Gillmore, Major General, Commanding

From General Grant
Near Spottstlvania Couet-House, May 9, 1864 — 1 p.m.

Major-General Halleck, Chief of Staff

If matters are still favorable with Butler, send him all the
re-enforcements you can. The enemy are now moving from
our immediate front either to interpose between us and Fred-
ericksburg or to get the inside road to Richmond. My move-
ments are terribly embarrassed by our immense wagon train.
It could not be avoided, however.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General

War Rec, Part II, p. 561.



LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER 181

From General Gillmore

Headquarters, Tenth Army Corps, in the field. May 9th, 1864, 3 p.m.

Major General Butler

My three brigades are closed up on the right of the Eighteenth
Corps. Ames has been deployed, but now awaits Weitzel's
advance to form on his right. I sent you the boy that brought
the information forwarded to you by Lieutenant-Colonel
Smith. Your despatches to me must have miscarried, for I
have received no order for over two hours.

Yours, <fec., Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General, Commanding

From the Secretary of War

War Department, 3.20 p.m., 9th May

Major-General Butler

A BEARER of despatches from General Meade has just reached
here by way of Fredericksburg. States that on Friday night
Lee's army were in full retreat for Richmond, Grant pursuing
with his army. Hancock passed Spottsylvania C. H., before
daylight yesterday morning. Meade's headquarters were
yesterday at Ladd's Tavern. We occupy Fredericksburg.
Twenty-Second New York occupied it about 8 o'clock last

°^^ ■ Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War

From General Gillmore

Headquarters, Tenth Army Corps, in the fidd. May 9th, 1864, 3.25 p.m.

Major General Butler

Do you desire me to extend my command, or any portion
of it, on the right of the Eighteenth Corps, or have you any
orders to give? The men are well rested now. Very respect-

^ ^' Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General Commanding

From General Butler

Headquarters, near Bermuda Landing, May 9, 1864

Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War

Our operations may be summed up in a few words. With
seventeen himdred cavalry we have advanced up the peninsula,
forced the Chickahominy, and have safely brought them to our
present position. These were colored cavalry, and are now
holding our advance pickets toward Richmond.

General Kautz, with three thousand cavalry from Suffolk,



182 LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER

on the same day with our movement up James River, forced
the Blackwater, burned the railroad bridge at Stony Creek,
below Petersburg, cutting in two Beauregard's force at that
point.

We have landed here, intrenched ourselves, destroyed many
miles of railroad, and got a position which, with proper sup-
plies, we can hold out against the whole of Lee's army. I have
ordered up the supplies.

Beauregard, with a large portion of his force, was left South
by the cutting of the railroads by Kautz. That portion which
reached Petersburg, under Hill, we have whipped to-day,
killing and wounding many, and taking many prisoners, after
a severe and well-contested fight.

General Grant will not be troubled with any further rein-
forcements to Lee from Beauregard's force.

Benj. F. Butler, Major-General

From H. T. Schroeder

By Tei/egram /rom Fohtbess Monroe, May 9, 1864

Major R. S. Davis, A.A.G., Bermuda Hundred

Attack on Newbern. After two days' fighting the enemy
retired. Captain Smith, U.S.N., attacked the ram, and drove
her up Roanoke River. Was unable to sink her or roll her over.
Henry T. Schroeder, Lieut, and A.A.A.G.

From the Secretary of War

Cipher. Washington, May 9, 4 p.m.

Maj. Gen. Butler

A DESPATCH from Gen. Grant has just been received, — he is

on the march with his whole army to form a junction with you,

but had not determined his route. Another despatch from

him is being translated. t? tvt o a > r nr

Jii. M. STANTON, Secy of War

From General Butler

Head Qrs. In the Field, May 9th

To the Adjutant-General, 10th Corps

Sir : You will see to it that the order to Genl. Gillmore goes
to him at once, and as soon as he has given the necessary orders
lie will repair to my Head Qrs. for consultation.

B. F. Butler, Maj. Gen. Comd'g.



LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER 183

From General Butler

Headguartera, in the Field, May 9th [1864], 6.35 p.m.

General Hinks

Upon consultation it is thought best that you should not
advance beyond your picket line before seven o'clock, so that
all the force may be drawn to the advance of Gen. Smith.
When you hear his guns & have word from him, engage the
enemy and push on. 3 p g^^^^^

From Generals Gillmore and Smith

Swift Cheek, 7 p.m.. May 9, 1864

Maj.-Gen. B. F. Butler, Commanding Department of
Virginia and North Carolina
General: We have conferred together upon the problem
before us, and respectfully suggest for your consideration
whether it would not be better, and secure to us greater advan-
tages, to withdraw to our lines tonight, destroying all that part
of the road this side of Chester Station which we left to-day,
and then cross the Appomattox on a pontoon bridge, that can
be thrown across below General Smith's headquarters, and
cut all the roads which come into Petersburg on that side. Such
a bridge can readily be constructed in one night, and all the
work of cutting the road, and, perhaps, capturing the city, can
be accomplished in one day, without involving us in heavy
losses. If we should remain here and be successful to-morrow,
the roads coming into Petersburg on that side will remain
intact, with the Appomattox between us and them, and we may
even then be forced to adopt the plan we now suggest.
Very respectfully, your obedient servants,
Q. A. Gillmore, Maj.-Gen. Com'd'g Tenth Army Corps
W. F. Smith, Maj.-Gen. Com'd'g Eighteenth Army Corps

From General Gillmore

Headquarters, Tenth Army Corps, in the Field, May 9th, 1864, 8 p.m.

Major-General Butler

I INCLOSE despatches just received from Colonel Voris, com-
manding one of the regiments left on our right this morning.
I have had additional consultation with General Smith in regard
to withdrawing within the intrenchments. We think it should
be done by all means, as there is nothing to gain here but



184 LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER

what can be secured with more certainty by the plan suggested
in the despatch sent in by General Devens.

Q. A. GiLLMORE, Major-General, Commanding

From General Butler

Eeadqrs., May 9th, 1864, 9.30 p.m.

Brig. General Hinks, Commanding &c.

We have very good news from the Army of the Potomac.
This involves change of plan. You will therefore not move
on Petersburg. Labor diligently to make all safe at City
Point, and go yourself to Fort Powhatan to give personal
supervision to the work, neglected by Col. Stafford.

B. F. Butler, Maj. Gen. Commdg.

From General Butler

Gen. GiLLMORE, Commanding, c&c. ^'^ «'"^' ^"^ ''*' ^''■*» ^•"-

Make such dispositions of your forces as to render safe your
right if threatened by the enemy.

Benj. F. Butler, Maj. Genl. Comd'g.

By General Warren

C ' M Inr Nn If) Headquarters Fifth Army Corps, May 9, 1864, 12 p.m.

Division commanders will make sure to have their com-
mands prepared for any demonstration of the enemy by day-
light. It is designed, also, to force the enemy's pickets back
to his line of battle, and ascertain its location, and early prepa-
rations will be made accordingly to advance when ordered.

By command of Major-General Warren

A. S. Marvin Jr., Assistant Adjutant-General

P.S. The Richmond papers report General Butler's com-
mand to be within 10 miles of Richmond, on the south side.

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 36, Part II, p. 576.

From General Butler

Headquarters Department of Virginia and North Carolina,

Bebmuda Hundred, May 9, 1864

Major-Generals W. F. Smith and Q. A. Gillmqre,
Commanding Eighteenth and Tenth Army Corps
Generals: While I regret an infirmity of purpose which did
not permit you to state to me, when I was personally present.



LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER 185

the suggestion which you made in your written note, but left
me to go to my headquarters under the impression that an-
other and far different purpose was advised by you, I shall not
yield to written suggestions which imply a change of plan
made within thirty minutes after I left you. Military affairs
cannot be carried on, in my judgment, with this sort of
vacillation.

The information I have received from the Army of the Poto-
mac convinces me that our demonstration should be toward
Richmond, and I shall in no way order a crossing of the Appo-
mattox for the purpose suggested in your note. If, as I believe.
General Kautz has been successful, the communications of
the enemy have been cut so far below Petersbiu-g as to render
the Lynchburg and Petersburg Railroad useless as a means of
communication with the South, and if the Danville road is to
be cut at all, it had better be cut near Richmond on the south
side, in conformity with the plan agreed upon between the
heutenant-general and myself. Therefore, as early as possible,
consistently with safety, you will withdraw your forces from
Swift Creek, attempting, in the first place, to destroy the rail-
road bridge, and then complete a thorough destruction of the
railroad as we return to our position, with the intention of
making a subsequent early demonstration up the James from
the right of our position. I have written you this note jointly
because you have agreed in a joint note to me. I have the

' Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Benj. F. Butlee, Major-General Commanding

From General Gillmxyre

Headquarters Tenth Army Corps, near Swift Creek, May 10, 1864

Maj.-Gen. B. F. Butler, Commanding Department of
Virginia and North Carolina
General: I have received your despatch in reply to the
note signed by General Smith and myself. That note con-
tained simple suggestions, nothing more. It could not have
contained any recommendation from me to change plans, as I
did not know what the plan of operation was, further than to
cut the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad. Presuming
that it was desirable to cut all the railroads leading out of
Petersburg, I could see no better way to do it than the one
proposed. I had had no opportunity to confer with General
Smith until I met him in your presence, and did not converse



186 LETTERS OF GEN. BENJAMIN F. BUTLER

with him upon the nature of his instructions, or the objects
aimed at, until after you had left. My orders from you were
to destroy the railroad, and afterwards, verbally, to support
General Smith's movement on Swift's Creek. Further orders
from you, regulating the movements of the two corps, seem
necessary. At Brandon Bridge the enemy have infantry and
cavalry this side of the creek, and the approaches are open and
covered by artillery on the other side. No practicable ford
has been found yet. I am destroying the railroad near the

•' ■ Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Q. A. GiLLMORE, Major-General Commanding

From General Gillmore

Headquarters Tenth Army Corps, In the Field, May 10, 1864

Maj. Gen. B. F. Butler, Maj. Gen. W. F. Smith

Generals: Brigadier-General Turner has been withdrawn.
The Third New Hampshire Regiment, from the bridge, is
here; my entire force is retiring and on the pike. General
Ames took the old pike on the right, but General Smith's force
is in General Ames' advance. The enemy are turning General
Terry and should be attacked in flank.

Q. A. Gillmore, Major-General, Commanding

Official Records, Series I, Vol. 36, Part II, p. 619.

From General Smith

May 10, 1864

Major-General Butler, Commanding Department of
Virginia and North Carolina

General : I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your
letter directed to General Gillmore and myself, and to reply to
it only so far as I, myself, am personally concerned.

Just after you had left yesterday General Gillmore proposed
this plan, and it seemed to me to be one worthy of your consid-
eration, as having a tendency to save waste of life to a certain
extent, and to more effectually cut the enemy's communica-
tions than any infantry force on this side the river could do.



Online LibraryBenjamin F. (Benjamin Franklin) ButlerPrivate and official correspondence of Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, during the period of the Civil War ... Privately issued → online text (page 16 of 55)