Port Walthall - CHSV

Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia
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Port Walthall

Bermuda Hundred Campaign in Chesterfield County, VA
Port Walthall Junction

On July 15, 1863, the United States War Department issued General Orders No. 217, merging the Department of Virginia with the Department of North Carolina to form the Department of Virginia and North Carolina. The order appointed Major General John G. Foster to command the new department. A few months later, on October 28, 1863, the War Department issued General Orders No. 350, appointing Major General Benjamin F. Butler to command the department and the 18th Army Corps. Butler arrived at Fort Monroe, Virginia, and assumed command on November 10. On April 12, 1864, Grant ordered Butler to prepare for operations south of the James River in Virginia. Butler’s forces comprised roughly 20,000 soldiers from his 18th Corps.  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. The next day, the soldiers began disembarking at City Point and Bermuda Hundred. Instead of immediately striking toward Richmond after his army disembarked at Bermuda Hundred, Butler ordered his soldiers to entrench as he sent Brigadier General Charles Heckman’s brigade west on a reconnaissance mission.  On the same day that Butler’s army disembarked, General P. G. T. Beauregard assumed command of the Confederate defenses around Petersburg.

Port Walthall Battle Continued
Bermuda Hundred Campaign

Near 4 p.m., on May 6, Heckman’s 2,700 soldiers encountered a force of roughly 600 Confederates defending a short section of track connecting the Petersburg & Richmond Railroad to the Appomattox River. Under the direct command of Colonel Robert Graham, the Rebels were members of Brigadier General Johnson Hagood’s South Carolina brigade, assigned to Major General Bushrod Johnson’s Division. Not knowing the small size of the Confederate force in front of him, and under orders not to start a general engagement, Heckman ordered a single regiment to probe the Confederate defense. As the Yankees advanced, Graham’s men initially gave ground before entrenching themselves along a sunken road. As the Rebels mounted a stout defense from their new position, Heckman withdrew as darkness approached.General Charles Heckman’s Federal forces of Benjamin Butlers Army of the James was initially stopped by General Hagood’s CSA forces at Port Walthall Junction in Chesterfield County, VA.  Heckman left the field and retreated back to Point of Rocks leaving eight dead and sixty soldiers wounded.  Confederate reinforcements continued to arrive at Port Walthall Junction.  Heckman's attack was deemed a failure.   Two days later, General Butler was allowed to push the Confederates back to Swift Creek fortifications effectively cutting the railroad.  The 2nd Confrontation began the next day.

The Union won round one of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign. The Federals suffered about 300 casualties (killed, wounded, missing/captured), compared with 200 losses for the Confederacy. Despite the victory, Butler’s army was no closer to Richmond.
Military History Committee
Military History Committee Chair:
Scott Williams

About  Us :  We meet at the Historic Trinity Church in Chesterfield, VA.  We  research military history and historical sites within Chesterfield  County and develop educational and tourist information on military  history pertaining to Chesterfield County. We also help to preserve and  maintain the military integrity of the Civil War sites in the county and  sponsor the annual Veterans Day programs at the historic 1917  Courthouse.  Our History Committee consists of two sub-committees.  If  you are an avid military enthusiast, we encourage you to join the CHSV and the Military History Committee.   
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