Civil War Key Players
“My house was left in the Yankee lines. I had seven fine cows with calves, 52 fine hogs, and a fine lot of sheep killed. My servants tried to save them but could not save themselves. I had a great deal of fine furniture; they broke all the modern and left the old. … I was a refugee for 12 months. I got on very well with them [Federal troops] after the evacuation; they were quite kind to us, but I shall never forget Beast Butler.”
- When Union Gen. Butler landed at Bermuda Hundred Meg Gregory, who lived at Spring Hill near present-day Henricus Historical Park, was at home with seven children under the age of 12 and was nine months pregnant. She left when battle lines formed around her home, returning after three months, but Union shelling forced her to leave again.
Major General Benjamin Butler
Commander of the Army of the James who landed 40,000 troops on the Bermuda Hundred peninsula in Chesterfield County on May, 5 1864. His goal was to set up a base of operations at City Point which he succeeded in accomplishing and then advance toward Richmond and Petersburg. Battles fought here during May and early June 1864 prevented Butler from reaching his goal, and pushed his troops back into their defensive positions in Bermuda Hundred, where they remained for the rest of the war.
Brigadier General Quincy Gillmore
Commanded the X Corps of the Army of the James under the command of General Benjamin Butler. Gillmore’s troops fought in numerous battles during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign in Virginia during 1864. He was responsible for suffering the defeat at the second battle of Drewry’s Bluff.
Brigadier General William “Baldy” Smith
Commanded the XVIII Corps of the Army of the James under command of General Benjamin Butler during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign in 1864. Smith’s troops were engaged in numerous battles within Chesterfield County. His troops were engaged in the first battles for control of Petersburg in June, 1864.
Brigadier General Edward Hinck
Commanded the Third Division of the XVIII Corps comprised of U.S. Colored Troops who were engaged in Battle of Swift Creek. The division was later part of the XXV Corps and colored troops were engaged in battles during the Petersburg Campaign.
Major General P.G.T. Beauregard
Commanded the opposing Confederate "army" during the Bermuda Hundred Campaign (the Department of North Carolina and Southern Virginia) of 18,000 troops, some of these soldiers were pieced together from the ranks of teenagers and elderly men in the Richmond-Petersburg area. The troops were responsible for the defense of both cities. Beauregard is credited for bottling up federal forces and preventing them from capturing the city of Petersburg.
Brigadier General Johnson Hagood
Commanded the brigade of 1st South Carolina that stopped the initial Federal probes at Port Walthall Junction, a junction critical to controlling the railroad. On May 7, a Union division drove Hagood’s brigades from the depot and cut the railroad. Confederate defenders retired behind Swift Run Creek and awaited reinforcements. Soldiers later melted down the railroad tracks leading to the port to manufacture cannon.
Major General Bushrod Johnson
During the ensuing Bermuda Hundred Campaign, Johnson’s brigade was driven back by Union troops on May 7 at the Battle of Port Walthall Junction. His brigade blocked the Union advance toward Petersburg at Swift Creek on May 9, 1864. Beauregard defeated the larger Union offensive, and Johnson was promoted to major general on May 21.
Four men born in Chesterfield County rose to the rank of general in the Confederate army.
Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson
Was born at “Salisbury” in Chesterfield County. He assumed command of Stonewall Jackson’s division after Jackson’s death in 1863. Johnson was wounded several times during the war. He was captured along with most of his division at “The Mule Shoe” in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. Paroled by the Union, He was sent to Tennessee where he was again captured at the Battle of Nashville. After the war Johnston returned to Virginia where he was active in veterans affairs. He died in 1873.
Maj. Gen. Henry Heth
Was born at “Black Heath”, his family’s coal mining estate north of Midlothian. He touched off the Battle of Gettysburg when he ordered his men to do a reconnaissance in force and ran into Union cavalry. He was wounded in that battle when a bullet struck him in the head. Heth served in the Army of Northern Virginia until the war’s end. He was a lifelong friend of Union General Winfield Scott Hancock, and was a strong supporter when Hancock ran for President of the United States in 1880. Heth died in Washington D.C. in 1899, and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.
Brig. Gen. Young M. Moody
Was born in Chesterfield County in 1822. At the outbreak of war, Moody joined the 11th Alabama as a captain. Moody fought in the western theater until his brigade was transferred to Virginia in 1864. He was severely wounded while leading his troops at the Second Battle of Drewry’s Bluff. Moody was promoted to Brig. General on 4 March 1865 just one month before the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox. After the war, Moody tried to follow a business career in Alabama, but died of yellow fever before he could get established.
Brig. Gen. David A. Weisiger
Was born at “The Grove” in 1818. He served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Mexican War, and was officer of the day in the hanging of John Brown in 1859. He entered Confederate service as Colonel of the 12th Virginia Infantry and was badly wounded at Second Manassas. He was wounded again at The Crater. Following the war, he worked as a bank cashier and businessman. Weisiger died in 1899 and was buried in Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg.