Whatever credit may be awarded to this is mainly due to the energy and skill of the officers in immediate charge of the several works, and to the zealous and faithful co-operation of the men under their command.
Narrative from the report of Lieutenant P. S. Michie, Corps of Engineers, brevet brigadier-general of volunteers, to General Delafield, Chief Engineer U. S. Army, dated October 10, 1865.
(See plans 11 and 12.*) The Army of the James, consisting of the Tenth and Eighteenth Army Corps (and subsequently of the Twenty- fourth and Twenty-fifth), commanded by Major General B. F. Butler, occupied a defensive position across the peninsula of Bermuda Hundred on a line 6,058 yards long, its right resting on the James River about one mile below the Howlett house, and its left on the Appomattox River, on the high ground across the creek, from and on the high ground overlooking Port Walthall.
This defensive line, from its position, was unusually strong. With its flanks resting on and protected by two rivers, and its front of attack being diminished to about one-fourth of its length, because of impassable ravines, it was capable of being held by a much inferior force than the enemy were required to keep in its front. But it had also its disadvantages; for the enemy intrenched on a line approaching not nearer than 800 yards, with flanks as secure as ours, and a front made unassailable my means of all the obstacles known to field defense, and thus effectually closed to our forces there every avenue to do damage to the railroad and turnpike, which were the lines of communication to the wings of the rebel army and the avenues to their capital. The position of the two lines is given below in the sketch.
In addition to the line above described there was a strong work thrown up on Spring Hill, on the south side of the Appomattox River, just opposite Point of Rocks, and also strong works at Wilson's Wharf and Fort Powhatan, on the James River, all of which were constructed and garrisoned by detachments from this army.
These latter commanded the channel of the river at very important points, and on their occupation depended the uninterrupted supply of the "Armies operating against Richmond."
Brigadier General Godfrey Weitzel, U. S. Volunteers, captain U. S. Engineers, was the senior engineer of this army until October, 1864, but in consequence of his illness, in August, the duties of his office devolved upon General Michie.
July.-No engineering operations of any importance were carried on during this month. Attention was principally directed to strengthening the lines already laid out, in building water batteries for 100-pounder guns for the defense of Trent's Reach, and in general repairs to the line. During this month there was constant picket firing all along the front, constant surprises on the part of both forces of the picket-lines, and attempts to gain ground toward each other.
A signal tower 120 feet high was built at Point of Rocks, from the top of which could be seen the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad and turnpike. This gave us the means of obtaining a great deal of information, and must have impressed the enemy with this idea, fore they established a casemated battery of three Whitworth rifled field
*Plate C, Maps 1 and 2, of the Atlas.