This Week in the Civil War - #995
Desperate to retain his command of the Union Army of the James in the aftermath of the failed Wilmington, North Carolina invasion, General Benjamin Butler had ordered a canal cut to bypass a large bend in the James River at Dutch Gap, Virginia, hoping to move his forces closer to Richmond. On Sunday, January 1, 1865 he ordered a massive powder blast to complete the excavation. The powder was ignited, but with no significant results. Dirt showered the area but fell harmlessly back into the ditch without diverting the James. The whole project was subsequently dropped; Butler, who earlier in the war seemingly could do nothing wrong, now seemed to do nothing right. Within a week, the controversial Butler would be removed from command, ending his military career.