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The Battle of Sailor’s Creek

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Last major battle of Civil War

Battle of Sailor’s Creek

The Battle of Sailor’s Creek was fought on April 6, 1865, near Farmville, Virginia, as part of the Appomattox Campaign, in the final days of the American Civil War.  It was the last major battle between the armies of Gen. Robert E. Lee and Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

After Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant broke the Confederate defenses at the Siege of Petersburg, Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia evacuated Petersburg and Richmond on the nights of Aril 2 & 3, 1865.  They began a retreat in hopes of linking up with Gen. Joseph Johnston’s army in North Carolina.  As the union Army pursued and engaged the Confederates in the Battle of Namozine Church (on April 3) and the Battle of Amelia Springs (on April 5), Lee discovered that his route to Danville was blocked by the Union cavalry under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan.  Lee’s only remaining option was to move west on a long march, without food, to Lynchburg.  But the Confederate Commissary General promised Lee that he would send 80,000 rations to Farmville, about 25 miles to the west.

Battle of Sailor's Creek

The old High Bridge in Farmville

On the rainy morning of April 6, skirmish fire announced that Gen. Andrew Humphrey’s Union Second Corps was in pursuit.  Gen. Sheridan’s cavalry cut off nearly one-fourth of the retreating Confederate army.  The Confederates counter attacked but were driven back just as the Union cavalry cut through the right of the Confederate lines.

April 6, 1865 became known as “Black Thursday” among the Confederates.  In the three engagements along Sailor’s Creek, Lee lost roughly one-fourth of his army, many of them captured.  The Federals claimed 7,700 prisoners that day, including six generals.  Lee wrote to President Jefferson Davis, “a few more Sailor’s Creeks and it will all be over.”  Lee surrendered three days later.

The Appomattox County Historical Society will present the battlefield re-enactment of “The Battle of Sailor’s Creek” April 11-13, 2014.  The location of the re-enactment is the Appomattox Center for Business and Commerce, Industrial Park Lane (access from Route 26), Appomattox, VA 24522.  The business center is about 1/4 mile northwest of Route 460 and the town of Appomattox.  Spectator admission is $10 for a single day pass or $15 for a 2-day pass.  Guests attending the re-enactment while staying at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast will be provided with a “bag lunch”  to take with you to the re-enactment.  Call us at 434.846.1388 to inquire about availability and prices.

Battle of Sailor's Creek and High Bridge

The old High Bridge was destroyed at The Battle of Sailor’s Creek. You can walk over the old bridge on the new one.

While visiting the area, be sure to visit High Bridge Trail in Farmville.