Benjamin F. Butler portrait

Led by Benjamin Butler’s Army of the James, the Bermuda Hundred Campaign was an unsuccessful Union offensive in May 1864 that failed to divert Confederate troops away from Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign. [Wikimedia Commons]

Bermuda Hundred Campaign - Facts

May 1864

Key facts about the Bermuda Hundred Campaign of 1865

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Date and Location

  • May 1864
  • South Central Virginia

Timeline of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign

These are the main battles and events of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign in order.

Principal Union Commanders

Principal Confederate Commanders

Union Forces Engaged

  • Army of the James
  • X Corps
  • XVIII Corps

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Petersburg Garrison (reinforced by local militia and Confederate troops from North Carolina)

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 39,000

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 18,000

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 5,000+ (killed, wounded, missing/wounded)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 3,000+ (killed, wounded, missing/wounded)

Result

  • Confederate Victory

Significance

  • On April 1, 1864, Ulysses S. Grant met with Major General Benjamin F. Butler at Fort Monroe, near Hampton, Virginia, to develop plans for the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.
  • On April 12, 1864, Ulysses S. Grant wrote a detailed letter to Major General Benjamin F. Butler instructing him that “Richmond” was the “objective point” of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.
  • In May 1864, Quincy Gillmore’s 10th Army Corps and William F. Smith’s 18th Corps were consolidated under Benjamin Butler’s command to form the Army of the James.
  • By May 5, 1864, (the same day that the Battle of the Wilderness began) a flotilla of naval vessels started moving the roughly 39,000 troops Butler commanded up the James River.
  • On May 6, 1864, the Army of the James began disembarking at City Point and Bermuda Hundred, Virginia.
  • On May 6, 1864, P.G.T. Beauregard assumed command of the Confederate defenses around Petersburg.
  • During the first few days of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign, George E. Pickett commanded the Confederate troops in the field because P. G. T. Beauregard was ill.
  • Many of the roughly 18,000 Confederate troops who took part in the Bermuda Hundred Campaign were local militiamen and “soldiers” from the Richmond garrison who were too old to fight or too young to be conscripted into the Confederate Army.
  • On May 6–7, 1864, Union forces prevailed at the Battle of Port Walthall Junction, the first engagement of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.
  • On May 9, 1864, the results of the Battle of Swift Creek were inconclusive.
  • On May 10, 1864, the results of the Battle of Chester Station were inconclusive.
  • On May 16, 1864, Confederate forces scored a major victory at the Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff (also known as the Battle of Proctor’s Creek and the Battle of Fort Darling) (May 12–16, 1864).
  • The Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff was the turning point of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.
  • On May 20, 1864, Confederate forces prevailed at the Battle of Ware Bottom Church.
  • On May 21, 1864, Confederate forces began constructing a series of strong defensive works roughly parallel to Benjamin Butler’s Union line stretching across the peninsula from the James River to the Appomattox River, known as the Howlett Line.
  • The Howlett Line effectively trapped the Army of the James. As Ulysses S. Grant later noted in his memoirs, Butler’s army “was as completely shut off from further operations directly against Richmond as if it had been in a bottle strongly corked.”
  • In late May and early June 1864, Confederate and Union forces engaged each other in skirmishes and artillery duels near Bermuda Hundred that produced no substantive results.
  • The standoff at the end of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign prompted Ulysses S. Grant to withdraw the 18th Army Corps to bolster his operations at Cold Harbor (May 31–June 12, 1864).
  • Eventually, P.G.T. Beauregard felt so secure with his position that he pulled soldiers away from the Howlett Line to reinforce his main defenses during the Second Battle of Petersburg (June 15, 1864).
  • Confederates forces successfully held the Howlett Line until General Robert E. Lee evacuated Richmond on April 2, 1865.
  • Union cavalry troops commanded by August Kautz inflicted minor damage on railroads and other infrastructure near Petersburg and the James River during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign.
  • The Bermuda Hundred Campaign failed to threaten Richmond, Virginia, as originally envisioned.
  • The Bermuda Hundred Campaign failed to divert Confederate troops away from Ulysses S. Grant’s main thrust during the Overland Campaign.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Bermuda Hundred Campaign - Facts
  • Coverage May 1864
  • Author
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date July 31, 2021
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update February 24, 2021
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