The Bermuda Hundred Campaign began on May 5, 1864, when Union General Benjamin Butler and the 33,000-man Army of the James landed at Bermuda Hundred nine miles northeast of here. General Butler's westward advance threatened Drewry's Bluff and Richmond to the north and Petersburg to the south.
"The Confederates came on in splendid style with the peculiar "Rebel Yell" till within forty yards of our line when our crushing volley swept them over the brow of the hill and across the creek....It was a gallant charge and a bloody repulse."
-General Charles A. Heckman
By May 9, 1864, Swift Creek, located just south of here, became the center of operations. Part of Butler's army arrived near Arrowfield Church (north of Swift Creek) and deployed on this ridge astride the railroad and turnpike by afternoon. Confederate infantry, commanded by General Johnson Hagood, blocked Butler's route.
Angered by contradictory orders and the danger to two regiments under his command, Hagood sent in the 21st South Carolina to support the heavily engaged troops north of Swift Creek, near Arrowfield Church. The Confederate advance, known as "Hagood's Charge," collided with Union soldiers of Charles Heckman's Brigade. Heckman's men stood firm and repulsed the South Carolinians, inflicting approximately 140 casualties while suffering only about 60.
During the night, there were small skirmishes. The next day Confederate scouts were surprised to find that the Union army had withdrawn. The battle, known as "Swift Creek" or "Arrowfield Church," ended in a clear tactical victory for Butler's men. Strategically however, it was a defeat. The Union army's failure to cross Swift Creek temporarily ensured the safety of Petersburg. The action of May 9 was the first and last time that a battle was fought within and around the boundaries of Swift Creek.