This Week in the Civil War - #827
Ulysses Grant’s Anaconda Plan had Union forces under Benjamin Butler moving up the James River, attacking Richmond from the east and south. By Friday, May 6, 1864 Butler’s forces were at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia just seven miles southwest of Petersburg. Richmond lay approximately fifteen miles to the north. With numerical superiority over Richmond’s defenders of four to one, Butler ordered his troops of the Army of the James to attack the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad. After modest skirmishing, Confederates home guard under George Pickett forced the Union attackers to retreat. Butler had failed at his first, but not the last, half-hearted attempt to seize Petersburg, Richmond, and the lines of communication linking the two cities. With his manpower advantage, Butler should have opted for an immediate, all-out assault against Richmond’s defenses.