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General Dudley M. Du Bose, CSA
General Dudley M. Du Bose, CSA
This part of my site will be dedicated to discussing the Battle of Sailor's Creek, in the waning days of the War of Northern Oppression and the part the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry played in that battle. Our Great Great Grandfather,1st Lt. George Right Smith, before the loss at Five Forks and the decison to evacuate the defensive entrenchments in and around the Richmond/Petersburg perimeter, was sent home to Georgia, on convalescent leave, to speed recovery from the effects of wounds and illnesses that he had suffered through the war, up to this point. As the war came to a close and unable to make it back through enemy lines, he was forced to surrender while still in Georgia.

General Dubose was the latest Commander of "Wofford's Brigade", after General William Tatum Wofford was recalled to Georgia. This brigade was composed of the 16th, 18th and 24th Georgia regiments of volunteer infantry, Cobb's and Phillips' Legion, and the 3rd Battalion Georgia sharpshooters, Kershaw's Division, Longstreet's Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.


When word reached Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant about the victory by Maj. Gens. Philip H. Sheridan and Gouverneur Warren at Five Forks, he ordered his Army commanders to make a series of assaults on the main Confederate defensive lines in and around the railroad center of Petersburg, Virginia. Sixty three thousand Union troops would begin to assault the nearly 18,000 Confederates, entrenched in the defensive lines around the city. These attacks would mark the beginning of the end for the Confederate forces, so ably commanded by General Robert E. Lee.

On that same day, General Lee was to lose one of his longest serving field commanders, General Ambrose P. Hill, who had once remarked that he had no desire to live long enough to see the collapse of the Confederacy. Corporal John W. Mauck of the 138th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment shot Hill as the general rode to the front of the Petersburg lines, accompanied by a lone staff officer.

Petersburg Battlefield Map
Petersburg Battlefield Map
The Union attackers crashed through the entrenchments on the right of the Rebel lines and turned toward Petersburg. After 10 months of fighting, the siege of Petersburg was finally over. Gen. Robert E. Lee advised Confederate President Jefferson Davis to evacuate Richmond and issued orders for the Army of Northern Virginia to withdraw. He was in desperate need of time to pull his army together and get them started on the road west- toward Appomattox Court House.

At Fort Gregg and again at Sutherland Station, the Confederates desperately tried to repulse the enemy thrusts, but after a valiant effort, Fort Gregg fell to the Union forces and Union Maj. Gen. Nelson A. Miles's Union division battered General Henry Heth's Confederates near Sutherland's Station and drove them off the field. The Confederate defenders were scattered and driven northwestward. With this victory, the Federals possessed the South Side Railroad, Gen. Robert E. Lee's last supply line into Petersburg. That night Lee would give orders to withdraw his forces from the three fronts he had protected.

General Lee’s “Old Warhorse”, Lieutenant General James Longstreet and his First Corps, along with Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell's Reserve Corps, moved away from the Richmond defenses and crossed to the south side of the James River. Confederate Major General William Mahone, whose division held the Howlett Line between the James and Appomattox rivers across Bermuda Hundred, took his men inland to Chesterfield Court House. Ever present to his soldiers, General Robert E. Lee, accompanying Maj. Gen. John B. Gordon and his Second Corps, along with the remnants of Hill's Third Corps, moved through the 'Cockade City' and crossed to the north bank of the Appomattox. Confederates cut off at Five Forks and by the Union breakthrough west of the city, remained south of the Appomattox River. General Lee had chosen Amelia Court House as the rendezvous point for his now retreating Army, which was located along the Richmond & Danville Railroad, just 30 miles to the west.

General James Longstreet
General James Longstreet
Initially, General Lee had made plans which after the evacuation of Richmond and Petersburg, would have the Army of Northern Virginia march to North Carolina and join up with General Joseph E. Johnston's command operating near Raleigh. In order to accomplish this, General Lee would first have to obtain supplies and subsistence for his army at Amelia Court House, then following the railroad toward Danville and ever closer to the Virginia/North Carolina border. Insisting on an all-night march on the night of April 2-3, 1865, General Lee was able to gain a lead on the Federals, who were clearly preoccupied with the newly-captured cities of Petersburg and Richmond.

The Appomattox River was the first real obstacle obstructing the Southern troops on their march. It would be necessary to recross this river, in order to reach Amelia Court House and the awaiting rations. Three bridge crossings would have to be made, one at Genito, one at Goode's and the other at Bevill's. Spring flooding made the Bevill's impassible, and the much needed pontoons which were to be used to cross the Genito failed to show, whuch resulted in complications there. Eventually, a large portion of the troops were able to lay planks on the damaged Richmond & Danville Railroad bridge near Mattoax, and were finally able to cross.

The remainder of the other troops then had to pass over both the permanent and pontoon bridges at Goodes, and on the morning of April 4, 1865, they were beginning to enter the streets of the county seat village of Amelia Court House. When General Lee and his officers reached the railroad station there and after they opened the cars, they found large amounts of ordnance supplies but, unfortunately found no food. While awaiting the arrival of the rest of his troops, General Lee, desperate to feed his starving army, requested that the local citizens help provide what they could and sent out foragers to collect supplies from them. At the same time, he ordered that other supplies be sent up by railroad from Danville, Virginia.

General Ulysses Grant
General Ulysses Grant
General Grant spent most of the day on April 3, 1865 moving men into Richmond and Petersburg and preparing his troops to pursue the retreating Confederates. His large army was mostly south of the Appomattox River. General Phil Sheridan's cavalry, who had soundly defeated the Confederates at Five Forks, was already in pursuit of the Confederates who had escaped and continued fighting rear-guard actions with the enemy at such places as Scott's Crossroads, Namozine Church, Deep Run and Tabernacle Church.

The Union commanders realized that General Lee’s plans were to fall back on Amelia Courthouse, replenish and feed his army and then move on to Danville, Virginia and possibly retreat to North Carolina to join up with the Confederate Army there. So, orders were given to cut off the railroad in front of Lee. If the Union Cavalry troops could do so, and get enough infantry there to support them, Lee's plan would be thwarted.

As the nearly empty forage wagons began returning to Amelia on April 5, 1865, General Lee realized he had failed to feed his army and, more importantly, had lost his day's lead on the Union forces. He then had his commanders start moving the Army of Northern Virginia back on the march, moving down the railroad and on to Danville and the next station, Jetersville.

Not long afterward the Confederate army started again on their march, Major General W.H.F. Rooney Lee, second eldest son of General Robert E. Lee and now in command of the Confederate Cavalry, reported that his men had observed dismounted Union cavalry entrenched across the road and that he feared Union infantry would soon be in the area. This blocked the forced movement of the Confederate Army and required General Lee to rethink his plan of retreat.

General W.H.F. Lee
General W.H.F. Lee
Because of it was so late in the day and with the Confederate column being so spread out along the road, General Lee made the decision to make a night march and pass to the north of the Union left flank, and head west towards Farmville, Virginia on the South Side Railroad. There, he hoped to obtain supplies for his army, then head south, cutting into the Danville rail line near Keysville. In order to make good on this plan, he would once again have to outmarch and outdistance the pursuing Union army.

The Confederates found the going tough throughout their night march, where they first had to make a crossing of Flat Creek, and then pass through the country resort of Amelia Springs. As April 6, 1865 began, the troops had nearly completed their bypass around the unsuspecting Union troops, when the sudden noise of skirmish fire could be heard across the creek. Some of the Union infantry had observed the tail end of the Confederate column moving along the opposite ridge, sounded the alarm and immediately set out in pursuit. This would prove to be the start of a major engagement.

The Confederate’s retreat followed a route which would cause them to march through a couple of hamlets before reaching Farmville, Va. The first was called Deatonsville, a small crossroads of little significance. The road then turned and they had to pass through the bottomlands of Little Sailor's Creek, a tributary of the Appomattox River. As they continued moving westward, they finally reached the South Side Railroad at Rice's Depot, and from there they would be able to move directly to Farmville. The area was generally cut through by various tributaries, like Flat Creek, Big and Little Sailor's creeks, and the Sandy and Bush rivers, all of which made their way through the landscape. The Appomattox River was to their north, and while the Confederates could not simply ford this river, there were crossings at Farmville and another about three miles northeast, where the High Bridge carried the South Side Railroad.

The High Bridge is a 21-span structure is 2,400 feet long at a maximum height of 160 feet above the Appomattox River Valley, which had been constructed in the 1850s, as part of the Southside Railroad between Petersburg and Lynchburg, passing through Farmville between Burkeville and Pamplin City. The route, subsidized by a contribution from Farmville, required an expensive crossing of the Appomattox River valley, at a site near property known as Overton farm.

In the lead of General Lee's retreat was the combined troops of the First and Third corps, commanded by General Lee’s “Old Warhorse” Lt. General James Longstreet. These troops were followed closely by a small corps of General Pickett’s and the divisions Maj. Gen. Bushrod Johnson and General Ewell's Reserve Corps which were made up of garrison troops from the defenses around Richmond. Bringing up the rear came first the main wagon train, carrying supplies and munitions and finally the Second Corps, commanded by General Gordon, were acting as the rear guard of the slowly moving Confederate Army.

High Bridge at Farmsville
High Bridge at Farmsville
The Union troops of the II Corps had observed the Confederate rear guard troops passing near Amelia Springs early on the morning of 06 April 1865 and were ordered to pursue their retiring enemy. The Federal cavalry was under the command of General Phil Sheridan, were travelling along a parallel line to that of the Confederates and were closely followed by the VI Corps of the Union Army, commanded by General Horatio Wright, which had marched from its position near Jetersville.

Marching through a drizzling rain, the lead elements of the Confederate retreat continued on until General Longstreet received word that Union troops had been observed heading for the High Bridge to set it afire to disrupt or stop the retreat of the Confederate troops. More than 900 Federal troops were moving on the bridge, ordered there from General Edward Ord’s Army of the James.

General Longstreet, in an attempt to prevent the Union soldiers from damaging or destroying the important bridge, sent out Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's cavalry to block the Union movement. Not only were the Confederate cavalry successful in preventing the Union troops from making it to the bridge, they also captured the entire Union force sent there to prevent their crossing. However, it did not come without a high price, as Brig. Gen. James Dearing was mortally wounded during this action and finally succumbed to his wounds on 23 April 1865.

While General Longstreet and his staff were just coming onto Rice's Depot, the rear of his line lost contact with the head of General Pickett’s smaller corps, which was being commanded by General Anderson. Brig. General George A. Custer’s cavalry, saw this now widening gap as an opportunity to harass the Confederate forces and moved in for the kill. They charged into the gap and managed to place a roadblock in General Anderson's front. At the same time, General Ewell, who realized the plans of the Union army’s intent, ordered the long Confederate wagon train to turn at the crossroads at Holt’s Corner and take a more northerly route. General Gordon’s troops who were sent to follow the wagon train and give it protection, were being heavily pressed by the Union troops of Maj. Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys' II Corps. The stage was now set for the Battle of Little Sailor's Creek.

General Richard Anderson
General Richard Anderson
General Anderson, wanting to prevent the onrush of Union troops, made the decision to block the enemy advance at a crossroads bounded by the Harper and Marshall farms. These farms were located about a mile southwest of the road which crossed the creek. As the Confederate wagon train, guarded by the troops of General Gordon, departed the main column, General Ewell formed a battle line, southwest of the creek, along a ridge parallel to the creek facing northeast. From this vantage point, his troops were overlooking the Hillsman farm.

General Lee's eldest son, Maj. Gen. G.W. Custis Lee, who had spent most of the war serving as an aide to President Jefferson Davis and was also the commanding officer of the Richmond Local Defense Troops, was now commanding those troops along the left of General Ewell’s line. Major General Joseph Kershaw's division, of which the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry was a part, formed the right side of the line.

So, as the battle began to unfold, General Ewell’s line included General Barton’s Division on his far left, joining along the left of Tucker’s Naval Battalion, then followed to the right by the 19th Virginia; the 10th Virginia; Chaffin’s Bluff Battalion; and the 18th Georgia Battalion formed the center. General Ewell’s right flank was made up of a front, commanded by General Joseph Kershaw, which was composed of Fitzgerald’s Brigade (13th Mississippi; 17th Mississippi; 18th Mississippi and the 21st Mississippi) on the left; the center was formed by Simmons’s Brigade (10th Georgia; 50th Georgia; 51st Georgia; 53rd Georgia). The right of General Kershaw’s position, which is the far right flank of General Ewell’s battle line was DuBose’s Brigade, formed by the (16th Georgia; 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry; 23rd Georgia and the 3rd Georgia Battalion).

As the Union forces began forming opposite of the Confederates, along the ridges on the near side of the creek, General Wright began to have his VI Corps artillery open on the waiting Confederate troops. General Ewell did not possess any artillery, therefore was unable to counter the artillery attack and this resulted in his men having to dig in and try their best to avoid being hit by the exploding artillery shells. It was then about quarter past 5 in the afternoon.

During this artillery barrage, Union cavalry Maj. Gen. Wesley Merritt, was preparing the three cavalry divisions for an assault on Confederate General Anderson’s position, just a mile to the south of General Ewell’s troops. These Union cavalry troops were under the command of Brigadier Generals Custer, Thomas Devin and Maj. Gen. George Crook. Facing them would be Confederate breastworks which General Anderson’s men had made out of fence rails they had as they dug in along the road. These Confederate troops did have artillery and were soon putting it to use against the charging Federal cavalry.

The Union artillery of the VI Corps, laid a heavy bombardment on General Ewells defenseless troops for a half hour. Then General Wright ordered two divisions under Brig. Gens. Truman Seymour and Frank Wheaton, who had formed their battle line to advance to the creek. Spring rains had swollen Little Sailor's Creek over its banks and it ran from 2 to 4 feet deep. The Union troops crossed the stream with great difficulty, re-forming their line on the far side, and began the assault upon the Confederate line. As the Federals troops moved forward and came to within gun range, General Ewell's men were odered to rise and then fired a volley as one. This resulted in the Union line's center to break and fall back.

The Confederates soldiers remained in their position, even though the Union forces were quickly advancing against them. Confederate Colonel Stapelton Crutchfield's Department of Richmond Artillery Brigade, who now had his gunners serving as infantry, were deployed near or at the center of General G.W. Custis Lee's section of the line. Rising up against the advancing Union troops, Colonel Crutchfield, who had lost a leg at Chancellorsville, led a counterattack which resulted in driving the Federals back across Sailor's Creek. However, the proud Rebels soon were forced back with heavy losses, including the mortally wounded Colonel Crutchfield.

Sailors Creek Battlefield Map
Sailors Creek Battlefield Map
The Federals then regrouped and returned to their job on hand and once again charged General Ewell's battle line. However, this time it resulted in the Union troops overwhelming the Confederates on both flanks. General Ewell would later recall, “On riding past my left I came suddenly upon a strong line of the enemy's skirmishers advancing upon my left rear. This closed the only avenue of escape, as shells and even bullets were crossing each other from front and rear over my troops, and my right was completely enveloped.”

Seeing no way out, General Ewell surrendered himself and his staff to a Union cavalry officer. The General forwarded a note to General G.W. Custis Lee, informing Lee of the surrender. He also allowed that he was cut off and suggested, that to prevent further loss of life, General G.W. Custis Lee should also surrender. In all, the Federal attack had bagged six Confederate generals and more than 3,000 men.

18th Georgia Battalion at Sailors Creek
"Victory or Death"
Painting by Keith Rocco
All but 52 of the remaining men of the 18th Georgia Regiment of Volunteer Infantry, were captured during this action. Only three days later, at Appomattox Courthouse, these 52 fighting men of Georgia including one officer, would be part of the surrender of the tattered and still faithful Army of Northern Virginia.

General Richard S. Ewell
General Richard S. Ewell
The battle was still continuing south of General Ewell’s troops, as Union cavalry under General Merrit began their mounted attack against General Anderson's besieged troops. The Confederates were behind their defenses made of rails, but were not safe from the Union cavalry’s repeating rifles and overwhelming numbers. As the enemy cavalry closed on the rebels, they opened a scathing volley then closed on the Confederate troops. Horrific hand-to-hand combat followed and men were clubbed, stabbed, sliced by swords, cut by knives and shot dead with pistol fire at close range. Soon, more Union troopers had joined the fray and collectively overcome the Southerners' stubborn resistance. Here, they captured two more generals, but many of General Anderson's men managed to escape through the woods and headed west toward Rice's Depot. It was at about this time that General Robert E Lee had ridden to a place he could observe the battle and after seeing the fleeing Confederate troops, sadly announced 'My God! Has the army been dissolved?'

Meanwhile, approximately two miles north of the positions of Generals Ewell and Anderson, the battle continued at Lockett's farm. General Gordon’s troops had followed the fleeing wagon train and had become bogged down near the bridges where the Big and Little Sailor’s Creeks came together. Here, General Gordon was forced to defend the wagons and try to protect the valuable munitions and rations they carried. The Confederates prepared for the onrushing Union soldiers, as they dug in around Lockett’s farm. The soldiers did not have long to wait, as the Federal troops of General Humphrey’s II Corps began their attack around dusk.

As the battle continued, the Confederates were forced to fall back towards the creek. They tried to use the wagons as barricades, but this position soon became untenable. The fight became very intense and desperate, forcing the Rebels to continue to withdraw and begin to flee up the opposite bank of the creek.

The men of General Humphrey’s II Corp were now in possession of more than 200 wagons and 1,700 prisoners, as the fighting ended. The Confederate troops who were able to escape, continued their retreat along the road that brought them to the High Bridge. Here they crossed the Appomattox River and joined up with soldiers who had escaped capture from the other fights along Sailor’s Creek and were placed under the command of Major General William Mahone.

General Lee and his staff, continued along the road toward the town behind the troops of General Longstreet combined corps and that of General Fitzhugh Lee’s cavalry. Once there, the Confederates found trainloads of supplies which included a 80,000 rations of meat and 40,000 rations of bread.

General Andrew A Humphreys
General Andrew A Humphreys
When the tired and famished soldiers began to prepare their long awaited meals, the Union cavalry, which had been following their movements, arrived just east of town and began harassing the pickets. Sounds of rifle firing prompted the Confederates to close the train boxcars and send the train down the line to protect their supplies. Again, the Army of Northern Virginia, what little there was left of it, continued its withdrawal.

General Lee felt if he could get his Army to the north side of the Appomattox River, he could then have the double bridges (the High Bridge and the accompanying wagon bridge that ran alongside) burned to prevent the Union forces from giving chase and he may be able to open the distance between them.

By early afternoon, as the Confederates left Farmville, the Federal cavalry under General Crook began to enter the town and take it over. As this happened, General Lee’s troops made good their escape across the bridges and began the burning of the High Bridge, but the Union cavalry captured the wagon bridge pretty much intact.

The Union II Corps then crossed over the bridge and continued its pursuit against the fleeing Rebels. In order to protect the rear of the Confederate army, General Mahone's troops took positions on the high ground around Cumberland Church, which was five miles northwest of High Bridge and four miles north of the town of Farmville. Here they dug in and prepared to cover the retreat of the Confederate column.

General William Mahone
General William Mahone
Just after General Mahone’s troops got into their piecemeal defensive positions, lead elements of General Humphreys' II corps came in contact with the Confederate soldiers. The Union skirmishers were able to quickly overwhelm a few Confederate positions, capturing Rebel cannons as they moved. However, the determined Confederate infantrymen quickly rebounded and recaptured them. Seeing this, General Humphreys sought a way to bring his full force to bear and out maneuver the desperate Confederates.

In conjunction with this maneuvering, Union Brig. Gen. Nelson Miles moved his troops forward and to the right in an attempt to turn the exposed Confederate flank. One of his brigades was successful in getting behind the Confederate’s flank and threatened to overwhelm them. However, General Mahone quickly ordered up reinforcements, which in time was able to scatter the Union troops. As nightfall came over the battlefield, the fighting came to an end.

The majority of General Grant’s Federal troops were now in Farmville and had not managed to make it over the bridge to follow up the fighting of the day. So, seeing a respite in the pursuit, General Lee took the opportunity to again ask his now badly torn and greatly reduced Army of Northern Virginia to once again undertake a night march. They moved towards New Store, Appomattox Court House and then on to Appomattox Station.

Soon thereafter, General Lee received the first of several communications directly from his nemesis, General Grant. In it, General Grant brought up the possibility of surrender for the Confederate army.

"Gen. R.E. Lee, Commanding C.S.A.:

5 P.M., April 7th, 1865

The results of the last week must convince you of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia in this struggle. I feel that it is so, and regard it as my duty to shift from myself the responsibility of any further effusion of blood by asking of you the surrender of that portion of the Confederate States Army, known as the Army of Northern Virginia.

U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General"

Looking it over, Lee handed it to General Longstreet, who read it and replied, 'Not yet.'

General Lee then drafted a response that read:

"April 7th, 1865.

General: I have received your note of this date. Though not entertaining the opinion you express of the hopelessness of further resistance on the part of the Army of Northern Virginia, I reciprocate your desire to avoid useless effusion of blood, and therefore, before considering your proposition, ask the terms you will offer on condition of its surrender.

R.E. Lee, General."

General Grant received the reply from General Lee, just after midnight, April 8th, 1865. An answer was drafted and again sent through the lines, to General Lee:

April 8th, 1865.

General R.E. Lee, Commanding C.S.A.:

Your note of last evening in reply to mine of the same date, asking the conditions on which I will accept the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, is just received. In reply I would say that, peace being my great desire, there is but one condition I would insist upon,--namely, that the men and officers surrendered shall be disqualified for taking up arms against the Government of the United States until properly exchanged. I will meet you, or will designate officers to meet any officers you may name for the same purpose, at any point agreeable to you, for the purpose of arranging definitely the terms upon which the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia will be received.

U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General"

As the Army of Northern Virginia continued its march, General Lee sent another message to the Union Commander:

"April 8th, 1865.

General: I received at a late hour your note of to-day. In mine of yesterday I did not intend to propose the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, but to ask the terms of your proposition. To be frank, I do not think the emergency has arisen to call for the surrender of this army, but, as the restoration of peace should be the sole object of all, I desired to know whether your proposals would lead to that end. I cannot, therefore, meet you with a view to surrender the Army of Northern Virginia; but as far as your proposal may affect the Confederate States forces under my command, and tend to the restoration of peace, I should be pleased to meet you at 10 A.M. to-morrow on the old state road to Richmond, between the picket-lines of the two armies.

R.E. Lee, General."

Exhausted from stress and suffering the pain from a severe headache, Grant replied to Lee around 5 o'clock in the morning of April 9.

"April 9th, 1865.

General: Your note of yesterday is received. I have not authority to treat on the subject of peace. The meeting proposed for 10 A.M. to-day could lead to no good. I will state, however, that I am equally desirous for peace with yourself, and the whole North entertains the same feeling. The terms upon which peace can be had are well understood. By the South laying down their arms, they would hasten that most desirable event, save thousands of human lives, and hundreds of millions of property not yet destroyed. Seriously hoping that all our difficulties may be settled without the loss of another life, I subscribe myself, etc.,

U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General"

Still suffering his headache, General Grant approached the crossroads of Appomattox Court House where he was over taken by a messenger carrying Lee's reply.

"April 9th, 1865.

General: I received your note of this morning on the picket-line, whither I had come to meet you and ascertain definitely what terms were embraced in your proposal of yesterday with reference to the surrender of this army. I now ask an interview, in accordance with the offer contained in your letter of yesterday, for that purpose.

R.E. Lee, General."

General Grant immediately dismounted, sat by the road and wrote the following reply to Lee.

"April 9th, 1865.

General R. E. Lee Commanding C. S. Army:

Your note of this date is but this moment (11:50 A.M.) received, in consequence of my having passed from the Richmond and Lynchburg road to the Farmville and Lynchburg road. I am at this writing about four miles west of Walker's Church, and will push forward to the front for the purpose of meeting you. Notice sent to me on this road where you wish the interview to take place will meet me.

U. S. Grant, Lieutenant-General."

General Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia, after four years of gallant struggle, at Appomattox Court House. At Little Sailor's Creek the army had been decimated and could not withstand any more fighting, even though the soldiers were willing. The tragic loss of six of his generals and having thousands of soldiers taken as prisoners of war, was an insurmountable obstacle even General Lee could not overcome.

Lee did the best he could under the circumstances, but his supplies, soldiers, and luck finally ran out. The surrender of Lee represented the loss of only one of the Confederate field armies, but it was a psychological blow from which the South did not recover. All of the remaining armies capitulated by June 1865.

Confederate casualties in the campaign are difficult to estimate because many of their records are lost and reports were not always submitted. National Park Service historian Chris M. Calkins, author “The Appomattox Campaign”, estimates 6,266 killed and wounded, 19,132 captured; surrendering at Appomattox Court House were 22,349 infantry, 1,559 cavalry, and 2,576 artillery troops. William Marvel has written that many of the Confederate veterans bemoaned that there were only "8,000 muskets" available at the end against the enormous Union Army, but this figure deliberately ignores cavalry and artillery strength and is much lower than the total number of men who received certificates of parole. Many men who had slipped away from the army during the retreat returned to receive the official Federal paperwork allowing them to return to their homes unmolested. Union casualties for the campaign were about 9,700 killed, wounded, and missing or captured.

Salute of Honor
Salute of Honor
by Mort Kuntsler
Banner

General George Washinton Custis Lee
General George Washington Custis Lee

REPORT OF GENERAL G. W. C. LEE, FROM THE 2D TO THE 6TH OF APRIL, 1865
RICHMOND, VA., April 25th, 1865. Lieutenant Colonel W. H. TAYLOR,

Acting Adjutant- General:

COLONEL,- In obedience to instructions, I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of my command from the time of its leaving the lines at Chaffin's Farm on Sunday night, April 2, 1865, to its capture on the afternoon of the following Thursday, April 6, 1865:

The order to withdraw from the entrenchments was received by me at Major- General Kershaw's quarters about 10 o'clock P.M. of the 2d of April, and was issued to the two brigades (Barton's and Crutchfield's) under my command at Chaffin's Farms, about 11 o'clock P. M. of that night. The wagons which had been loaded up in obedience to the preparatory order received at Chaffin's on the afternoon of Sunday, April 2d, were at once sent off to cross James river at Richmond, and proceed to Amelia Courthouse via Buckingham road and Meadville, as ordered. Not being able to cross the Appomattox river near Meadville, the wagon- train moved up to Clementtown, there made the passage of the river, and proceeded with safety until within about four miles of Amelia Courthouse, when it was destroyed by a detachment of the enemy's cavalry on the morning of Wednesday, April 5th, with the baggage of my division and twenty thousand (20,000) good rations, as I have recently learned from the Division commissary, who escaped.

The troops (Barton's and Crutchfield's brigades) crossed the James river on the Wilton bridge about 1 o'clock A. M. of Monday, April 3d. The picket line was withdrawn at three o'clock of that morning, and passed safely over the same bridge about daylight. My command then moved to Branch Church, and thence by Gregory's to the Genito road, as directed, camping that night about one- half mile beyond Tomahawk Church. In the absence of Lieutenant- General Ewell in a Northern prison, it may be proper for me to mention here that the detachments of troops in Richmond and Kershaw's division, followed by Gary's cavalry, or a portion of it, crossed the James river at Richmond and followed my division to Tomahawk Church.

On the following morning, Tuesday, April 4th, it being positively ascertained that the Appomattox river could not be crossed at Genito bridge, arrangements were made to prepare the railroad bridge at Mattoax Station for the passage of the wagons, artillery and troops, which was accomplished that night, and all went into camp on the hills beyond the river. Early on Wednesday, April 5th, the bridge having been destroyed, the column moved on to Amelia Courthouse, at which place the Naval Battalion, commanded by Commodore Tucker, and the command of Major Frank Smith, from Howlett's, were added to my division. From Amelia Courthouse General Ewell's column, following that of General Anderson, and followed by that of General Gordon, much impeded by the wagon- trains, moved towards Jetersville and Amelia Springs, marching slowly all night.

During this night march, firing having commenced between our flankers and some of the enemy's scouts, as is supposed, Major Frank Smith was mortally wounded, Captain Nash, Acting Adjutant- General, Barton's brigade, lost a leg, and several others, whose names I have not been able to ascertain, were wounded. We passed Amelia Springs on the morning of Thursday, April 6th, and moved towards Rice's Station. About mid-day, immediately after crossing a little stream, within about two miles of Sailor's Creek, the enemy's cavalry made an attack upon a portion of General Anderson's column about a mile in advance of us, at the point where the wagon-train turned off to the right, causing some delay and confusion in the train. The cavalry were soon driven off, and my division, followed by General Kershaw's, closed upon General Anderson.

About this time the enemy attacked our train at the stream we had shortly before crossed, and appeared in heavy force to the left of our line of march between this stream and Sailor's Creek, which, measured on the road we traveled, are about two miles apart. Word was also received from General Gordon that the enemy was pressing him heavily. TO cover the wagon-train and prevent General Gordon from being cut off, line of battle was formed along the road, and a strong line of skirmishers was thrown out, which drove back the enemy's skirmishers and held him in check until General Gordon came up in the rear of the wagons, which must have been from one to two hours after the skirmishing commenced. So soon as General Gordon closed up, my division, following General Anderson's rear, and followed by General Kershaw, moved on across Sailor's Creek towards the point where General Pickett was understood to be engaged with the enemy's cavalry, which had cut the line of march in the interval between him and General Mahone.

General Gordon having filed off to the right after the wagon- trains, the enemy's cavalry followed closely upon General Kershaw's rear, driving it across Sailor's Creek, and soon afterwards the enemy's infantry (said to be the Sixth corps) massed rapidly in our rear. To meet this movement General Kershaw's division formed on the right and mine on the left of the road upon which we were moving, our line of battle being across the road, facing Sailor's Creek, which we had not long passed.

Before my troops got into position, the enemy opened a heavy fire of artillery upon our lines, which was continued up to the time of our capture. After shelling our lines and skirmishing for some time, an hour or more, the enemy's infantry advanced and were repulsed, and that portion which attacked the artillery brigade was charged by it and driven back across Sailor's Creek. This brigade was then brought back to its original position in line of battle under a heavy fire of artillery. Finding that Kershaw's division, which was on my right, had been obliged to retire in consequence of the enemy having turned his right flank, and that my command was entirely surrounded, to prevent useless sacrifice of life the firing was stopped by some of my officers aided by some of the enemy's, and the officers and men taken as prisoners of war.

I cannot too highly praise the conduct of my command, and hope to have an opportunity of doing it full justice when reports are received from the brigade commanders. Among a number of brave men killed or wounded, I regret to have to announce the name of Colonel Crutchfield, who commanded the artillery brigade. He was killed after gallantry leading a successful charge against the enemy. I have also to mourn the loss of Lieutenant Robert Goldsborough, my Aid-de-Camp, who was mortally wounded by fragment of a shell while efficiently discharging his duty. In the absence of Generals Ewell and Kershaw in a northern prison, I have endeavored to give the principal facts of the march and capture of the former's command, so far as I am acquainted with them, and although for the want of reports, memoranda, or maps, I may be mistaken in some minor matters, I believe, in the main features, this report will be found to be correct, so far as it goes.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

G. W. C. LEE, Major- General.

P. S.- I was told after my capture that the enemy had two corps of infantry and three divisions of cavalry opposed to us at Sailor's Creek; and was informed by General Ewell that he had sent me an order to surrender, being convinced of the hopelessness of further resistance. The order was not received by me.

G. W. C. L.

SOURCES:

  1. The Civil War Trust, http://www.civilwar.org/battlefields/kennesawmountain/kennesaw-maps/kennesawmap.html
  2. The Appomattox Campaign, Calkins, Chris, Conshohocken, PA: Combined Books, 1997. ISBN 978-0-938-28954-8.
  3. The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.; Series 1 - Volume 34 (Part I)
  4. The Civil War Batrtlefield Guide 2nd Edition, Kennedy, Frances H., Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998. ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
  5. Lee's Last Retreat, The Flight to Appomattox, Marvel, William, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0-8078-5703-8
  6. The Westpoint Atlas of American Wars, Esposito, Vincent J., New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1959. OCLC 5890637
  7. The Century War Book, reprint edition of 1978 by Arno Press, Inc., ISBN 0-405-11123-1, "A condensation of The Century War Series, published from Nov. 1884 to Nov. 1887 in The Century Magazine".
  8. Never Call Retreat, Bruce Catton, c. 1965 Doubelday and Company, Inc.
  9. A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War, Craig Symonds, c. 1983 Nautical and Aviation Publishing Co. of America, ISBN 0-933852-49-5
  10. Capsule History of the Eighteenth Georgia Infantry, The Harold B. Simpson Hill College Confederate Research Center and Museum, Hillsboro, Texas
  11. The Battles for Richmond Civil War Series, William J. Miller, c. 1996 Eastern National Park and Monument Association
  12. Richmond Battlefields, A history and Guide to Richmond National Battlefield Park, Joseph P. Cullen, c. 1992 Division of Publications, National Park Service
  13. Southern Historical Society Papers, as provided by the "Civil War Richmond", an online research project designed to collect documents, photographs, and maps pertaining to Richmond, Virginia, during the Civil War.
I would like to give a special thanks to my friend Glenda Patton and brother John Strickland III, for there assistance, suggestions and "editing" of this article.


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