Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Ken Perdue.
GENERAL BUTLER’S OPERATIONS.
There are those who complain that General BUTLER has not accomplished all that was expected of him in his movement up the James River. A glance at the history of his operations will serve to convince the impartial that he has not only done all that was reasonably to be expected, but, under the circumstances, even more.
It must be borne in mind that the original plan agreed upon between BUTLER and GRANT previous to the movement against LEE, has been considerably changed. GRANT certainly did not anticipate such a long and stubborn resistance upon the part of the Rebels, and BUTLER expected to be considerably reinforced before making any very serious demonstration upon Petersburg or the Rebel capital. Reinforcements intended originally to be sent to BUTLER, were sent from Port Royal, Virginia, to fill up the broken ranks of GRANT’S brave army after its gallant struggle at the Wilderness. And in addition to this, a heavy column was sent from BUTLER’S command under General “Baldy” SMITH, for a similar purpose.
This left BUTLER with a comparatively small force; too small to have done more than hold his own at Bermuda Hundred. It may be questionable whether he could even have done so had he not improved the time prior to sending the force under SMITH away in making his position so strong that the enemy would not venture to attack him. BUTLER, however, has not only held his own, but made the Rebels sensible of his presence. He occupied the attention of the larger part of the force under BEAUREGARD, and kept it from rendering any assistance to LEE while GRANT was driving him from one position to another; and it was only when the column under General SMITH had gone to reinforce GRANT that BEAUREGARD was able to send any relief to his chief.
The late movement upon Petersburg shows that BUTLER not only has the wisdom to plan, but the energy and will to execute. So far as the plan was concerned, and the character of the orders given, everything seemed to insure the capture of the city. That these orders were not strictly carried out, is no evidence of BUTLER’S incapacity. Had General KAUTZ been properly supported by infantry, there does not seem to be any doubt but that Petersburg would now be in our possession.
Whenever BUTLER has been attacked he has repulsed the enemy handsomely, and it may be safely said that he has put at least ten thousand of the Rebels hors du combat.1
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- Philadelphia Inquirer, June 15, 1864 ↩