The Bermuda Hundred Campaign
On the evening of May 16, 1864 the Army of the James completed its retreat from The Second Battle of Drewry's Bluff and returned to its earthworks in Bermuda Hundred. Too disorganized to effectively pursue the retreating Federals, the Confederates remained on the battlefield that night.
On the morning of May 17, the divisions of Ransom, Hoke, Colquitt, and Hill closed on the Army of the James and established a battle line across the Bermuda Hundred peninsula that paralleled the Federal earthworks.
At the same time, Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Potomac and Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia were reeling from the horrific casualties suffered at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. Both needed replacements, and the opposing forces at Bermuda Hundred were the logical source.
On May 18, Confederate Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard was ordered to send Lee the brigades of Terry, Fry, Lewis, and Corse. On May 19, Beauregard also released Gracie's brigade and ordered Brig. Gen. William S. Walkers brigade from Petersburg to take Gracie's place in line. Recognizing that his line was thinning, Beauregard planned an attack with the objective of gaining the needed ground to secure his left flank on the James River and his right flank on the Appomattox River.
On May 20 the Confederates attacked behind a smoke screen created by setting fire to the brush and woods in the area. The 10th Corps units holding the right of the Federal line were pushed back despite several attempts to reclaim their line. In the confusion of battle, Confederate Brig. Gen. Walker was wounded and captured by the Federals.
The 18th Corps was able to initially hold its ground but eventually withdrew when Confederate reinforcements forced back the extreme left of their line. By the end of the day the Federals had withdrawn to a new position.
After several days of skirmishing the Confederates began to dig the heavy earthworks you see in this park today. Known as the Howlett Line, these fortifications stretched from the James River to the Appomattox River, and effectively prevented the Army of the James from making any more threats toward Richmond by southern approach.
Confederate attacks along the Federal picket line May 18-20, 1864This sign was sponsored by Chester Station Camp 1503. Sons of Confederate Veterans