FIRE AT DUTCH GAPó1864
Here for a moment the Engineering corps of
General Benjamin F. Butler's army paused while the camera of the army
photographer was focussed upon it. In August, 1864, Butler. with his army then
bottled up in Bermuda Hundred, began to dig a canal at Dutch Gap to save a
circuit of six miles in the bend of the James River and thus avoid the
batteries. torpedoes, and obstructions which the Confederates had placed to
prevent the passage of the Federal fleet up the river toward Richmond. The
difficulties of this engineering feat are here seen plainly in the photograph.
It took Butler's men all the rest of the year (1864) to cut through this canal,
exposed as they were to the fire of the Confederate batteries above. One of the
last acts of General Butler was an unsuccessful effort to blow up the dam at the
mouth of this canal, and by thus admitting water to it, render it navigable.