Historically important letter signed by Confederate General Gustave Beauregard, who writes to Confederate President Jefferson Davis on 21 May 1864, the very next day after securing the Howlett Line in the last battle of the Bermuda Hundred Campaign. Beauregard seeks to capitalize on his victory and strategizes here on how to secure the James River in order to prevent the Union forces from moving forward. Sent from ''Hancock's House'' at ''Headquarters near Chester, Va'', Beauregard writes, ''...I shall do all in my power, with my limited means, to hold in check the Enemy in my front, who has nearly double my present force, and, if possible, I will compel him to evacuate his present strong position. I succeeded yesterday, after a severe struggle, in obtaining the shortest defensive [Howlett] line in front of his works, which extend from the James River to the Appomattox. This line is about three miles long, and when properly fortified, will enable me, with a small force, (say about 10,000 men) to hold in check, and neutralize the force of at least 25,000 men, which the Enemy is now reported to have on the Peninsula of Bermuda Hundreds. To drive him from his present position, the best plan would then be to send a force of about 4 or 5,000 men to storm Fort Powhatan, and establish there a Battery of heavy guns to command the navigation of the James River at that point - this could be accomplished in a very few days; then, by putting into the River torpedoes and a rope obstruction, under the protection of the guns of the Fort, no Enemy's repels could pass up or down the River, and he would be compelled to abandon his present position. With regards to reinforcing Gen'l Lee, I shall be most happy to do so, whenever you shall judge proper to order it. The prisoners taken yesterday report no part of Butler's forces as having been yet sent to reinforce Gen'l Grant - they state on the contrary, that a Brigade of 5 or 6,000 men was received day before yesterday by Gen'l Butler - this is rather doubtful in my opinion; Gen'l Gilmore may have received a few Regiments or parts of Regiments from his former Department - but nothing more. I have ordered a close watch to be kept along the James River...of any reinforcements [Butler] may send to Gen'l Grant. I enclose herewith an approximate statement of the effective forces I now have in front of the Enemy...Infantry - 13,000 / Artillery - 850 / Cavalry - 680 / Total - 14,530...[signed] G.T. Beauregard / Gen'l Comdg''. 3pp. on card-style stationery measures 8'' x 10''. Notations to verso. Partial separation to fold lines at right edge, else near fine.
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