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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 1864- "a disposition of forces was made to anticipate the supposed designs of the enemy"

Reports of Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Butler, U. S. Army, commanding Department of Virginia and North Carolina.

FORT MONROE, VA., February 8, 1864.
(Received 8 p.m.)
Our expedition, organized as stated in my dispatch, left Williamsburg at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Arrived at Bottoms Bridge, within 12 miles of Richmond, at the time indicated, 2.30 a. m. Sunday, but found the enemy there posted in strong force, and continually receiving accessions from Richmond by railroad. Waited till daylight, then found they had three regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and four batteries of artillery; the bridge taken up, and the fords effectually obstructed. An attempt was made gallantly to charge over one of them by a detachment of First New York Mounted Rifles, under Major Wheelan, with a loss of 9 killed and wounded. At 12 noon the infantry supports arrived within 7 miles, having made a march of 40 miles in twenty-seven hours. General Wistar says that with the infantry he could have forced the position; but as the enemy had received some intimation of the approach of the expedition the delay had defeated the main object, which was a dash at Richmond. Our forces then returned to New Kent Court-House; were followed by the enemy, who made an attack, but were handsomely repulsed, with loss on their side, by the Third New York Cavalry, under Colonel Lewis, assisted by one piece of Belger's battery. Our forces are returning at their leisure, unmolested. The cavalry have arrived at Williamsburg today about 3 p. in. Thus it will be seen that the cavalry in less than fifty hours have marched more than 100 miles.
Flag-of-truce boat is just in from Richmond, bringing the Examiner of Monday morning, which contains this sentence:
Some days since a report was obtained by the authorities here from a Yankee deserter that the enemy was contemplating a raid in considerable force on Richmond. The report obtained consistency from a number of circumstances, and impressed the authorities to such a degree that a disposition of forces was made to anticipate the supposed designs of the enemy.
I will telegraph further after examination of the papers. It will be seen that conveyance of intelligence has been the cause of want of success. Everything else succeeded as well as desired.
B. F. BUTLER, Major- General, Commanding.

Hon. EDWIN M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.

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