A pen-and-ink and watercolor map shows the location and movements of Union general Benjamin F. Butler's Army of the James in May 1864. The army had been created a month earlier and was charged with the task of serving as the southern pincer in General Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign against Richmond. While the Army of the Potomac—commanded by Union general George G. Meade but under Grant's personal supervision—advanced on the capital from the north, the Army of the James was supposed to advance from the south, up the James River. Most importantly, Butler was charged with cutting Confederate general Robert E. Lee's supply line, the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad.
This map drawn by Union soldier Robert Knox Sneden shows several engagements that took place between Butler's Army of the James and Confederate general P. G. T. Beauregard's forces during May 1864—one at Port Walthall Junction (on lower left), and another at Fort Darling and Drewry's Bluff (upper left). By mid-June 1864, Confederate troops under Beauregard and George E. Pickett had managed to pen up Butler's superior Union force on the Bermuda Hundred Peninsula, near the confluence of the James and Appomattox rivers. This led some, including Grant, to quip that Butler's situation was similar to being inside a tightly corked bottle.