P. G. T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray

By T. Harry Williams | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER FOURTEEN
On The Petersburg Line

B EAUREGARD'S assurance to Bragg that he would undertake an immediate offensive was based on information he had received that the Federals were withdrawing from Bermuda Hundred. He planned to form a junction with Ransom, who had crossed to Drewry's Bluff with part of the Richmond garrison, and attack Butler before he could leave. To verify his reports of the Federal movements, he prepared to send reconnaissance parties toward Bermuda.11

Beauregard's information was wrong. Butler, instead of withdrawing, was preparing to advance toward Drewry's Bluff. Another danger to the capital appeared in the presence of a large enemy cavalry force moving toward the city from the north. On the night of May 10-11 Beauregard received a telegram from Secretary Seddon warning that Richmond was in "hot danger." Although the secretary did not see fit to tell Beauregard what the specific threats to the city were, he did give the general a sound analysis of the strategic situation and a sound order what to do. He directed Beauregard to leave Petersburg at the earliest moment and join his troops with Ransom's at Drewry's Bluff. Thus placed, the united Confederate forces would be in position to counter any move the Federals might make against Richmond or Petersburg.22

A juncture with Ransom was a part of Beauregard's plan. With no objection, he ordered Hoke's division to march to Drewry's Bluff. He was not willing, however, to admit that his chance for an offensive had disappeared, and he had no intention of letting Seddon exercise a rigid control over his movements. After Hoke started Beauregard received information that Butler was evacuating Bermuda Hundred. Immediately he directed Hoke to move toward Bermuda and press the Federals. At the same time he informed Bragg that he had changed Hoke's orders and asked for approval. No reply from

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1
Roman, Beauregard, II, 199, 555.
2
Official Records, XXXVI, Pt. 2, p. 986.

-212-

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