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Sculpted by Gary Casteel

 

1863 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Monument Replicas

 

As the Confederate army retreated following the Union break through at Petersburg, hoping to join with Joseph Johnston’s troops in North Carolina and in search of food, General Robert E. Lee headed his troops toward an army supply depot in Farmville and ordered a night march on April 5, 1865, in order to evade a Union roadblock.

 

As rain fell on the morning of April 6, skirmish fire announced that the Union Second Corps was in pursuit.  At the same time, General Philip Sheridan's cavalry rode parallel to Lee's line of retreat, launching hit-and-run strikes on the Confederate column.  Generals Anderson and Ewell's troops halted at Holt's Corner to fend off the Federal attackers and created a two-mile gap between Anderson and the nearest friendly unit.  Union General George Custer’s cavalry units attacked in that gap while the Union Sixth Corps was approaching from the east.  With Union cavalry blocking the road to Farmville and infantry nipping at its heels, nearly one fourth of Lee's army was caught in a vice.

 

Confederate General John Gordon’s Second Corps and the supply train bringing up the rear of Lee’s army were sent north in the hopes of joining the rest of the army.  With the Union Second Corps in close pursuit, Gordon made a series of stands on high ground as the train withdrew.  When supply wagons became bottle-necked at the Double Bridges over Sailor's Creek, Union troops were within striking distance.  At around 5 PM, Union forces attacked, and the bulk of Gordon's force was driven to the opposite bank before darkness ended the fighting on this part of the field.

 

Further south, Confederate Generals Anderson and Ewell deployed on high ground between Little Sailor's Creek and Marshall's Crossroads.  The Union corps formed opposite Ewell and used twenty pieces of artillery to shell his forces.  After a thirty-minute cannonade, one of Union divisions waded into the swollen waters of Little Sailor's Creek.  In response, Ewell's defenders let loose a volley that staggered a portion of the attacking force, which bolted for cover.  However, after several brutal melees, the Confederates began to surrender.

 

At Marshall's Crossroads, General Wesley Merritt's Union cavalry pressed the Confederates on both flanks.  General Custer ordered a series of mounted assaults on General George Pickett's division while Union General George Crook's dismounted attacks put pressure on General Bushrod Johnson's men on the Confederate right.  Custer's horsemen eventually broke through and Anderson's men began rushing for the rear or surrendering.  Watching the battle and surrender from a knoll overlooking Sailor’s Creek, General Lee was heard to exclaim, "My God! Has the army dissolved?"  To which nearby General William Mahone replied, "No, General, here are troops ready to do their duty."

 

That evening, General Sheridan reported his success to General Grant saying, "If the thing is pressed I think that Lee will surrender."  When word of this reached President Abraham Lincoln, he responded, "Let the thing be pressed."

 

April 6, 1865, came to be 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.  Union forces claimed 7,700 prisoners that day, including six generals, among them Ewell, Kershaw, and Robert E. Lee's eldest son, Custis.  Lee wrote to President Jefferson Davis, "a few more Sailor's Creeks and it will all be over."  Lee surrendered three days later.

 

The monument was dedicated in 1928 and is located near the Lockett House on Virginia Route 619, on the left when traveling south.

Battle of Sailor's Creek Marker

SKU: 1114
$145.00Price
  • Size:  3 ½” x 1 ¾” x 5 ½”

    Weight:  .7lbs

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