Benjamin F. Butler portrait

On April 12, 1864, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant wrote a detailed letter to Major General Benjamin Butler instructing him to consolidate the forces under his command to form the Army of the James. [Wikimedia Commons]

Army of the James (USA) Facts

April 12, 1864–February 1866

Key facts about the Union Army of the James.

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Formation Date

  • April 12, 1864

Dissolution Date

  • February 1866

Commanders

Significance

  • On July 15, 1863, the U.S. War Department issued General Orders. No. 217, combining the Department of Virginia with the Department of North Carolina to form the Department of Virginia and North Carolina and appointing Major General John G. Foster to command the new department.
  • On October 28, 1863, the War Department issued General Orders No. 350, appointing Major General Benjamin F. Butler to command the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, as well as the 18th Army Corps.
  • On April 12, 1864, Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant wrote a detailed letter to Major General Benjamin Butler instructing him to consolidate the forces under his command to form the Army of the James.
  • Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard’s much smaller force bottled up the Army of the James during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign in May 1864.
  • On June 9, 1864, a force of only 2,500 local militiamen, most of whom were old men and young boys defeated a force of 4,500 soldiers from the Army of the James at the Battle of Petersburg I, also known as the Battle of Old Men and Young Boys.
  • On June 15, 1864, a smaller Confederate force defeated the Army of the James at the Second Battle of Petersburg.
  • At the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm and the Battle of New Market, on September 29, 1864, soldiers from the Army of the James sustained heavy casualties but were able to achieve their objective of drawing Rebel defenders away from the Petersburg area, thereby enabling Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant to move against the South Side Railroad, southwest of Petersburg.
  • On December 3, 1864, the U.S. War Department issued General Orders No. 297, reorganizing the Army of the James.
  • Major General Benjamin Butler’s failed assault against Fort Fisher, North Carolina, prompted his dismissal as commander of the Department of Virginia and North Carolina, and the Army of the James.
  • On January 7, 1865, the Adjutant-General’s Office issued General Order Number 1, which stated in part that “By direction of the President of the United States, Major General Benjamin F. Butler is relieved from the command of the Department of North Carolina and Virginia.”
  • On January 7, 1865, U.S. Army Headquarters issued special orders appointing Major General Edward O.C. Ord to temporary command of the department and the Army of the James.
  • Major General Edward Ord commanded the Army of the James throughout the Petersburg Campaign and the Appomattox Campaign.
  • When Richmond fell on April 2, 1865, black soldiers of the 24th Corps of the Army of the James were among the first Union troops to occupy the city on the next day.
  • At Appomattox, Virginia the 25th Corps of the Army of the James cut off the Army of Northern Virginia’s last avenue of escape, prompting Robert E. Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865.
  • At the conclusion of the Civil War, much of the Army of the James served as an occupying force in Virginia.
  • At the conclusion of the Civil War, the 25th Army Corps was ordered to Texas for border duty.
  • The Army of the James was mustered out of volunteer service in February 1866.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Army of the James (USA) Facts
  • Coverage April 12, 1864–February 1866
  • Author
  • Keywords army of the james
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 27, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 2, 2021
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