Sailor’s Creek – 150 Years Later

Recently I had the opportunity to visit Sailor’s Creek Battlefield, which is part of the same-named Virginia State Park. On April 6, 1865, Union forces delivered a devastating blow to the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, which included eight generals and 7,700 men captured.

Recently updated trails, along with new interpretive signs help orient visitors to the “Black Day” of the Confederacy that was the Battle of Sailor’s Creek. A new visitor center, complete with state-of-the-art exhibits and eye-popping panels adorn the museum—all done by renowned Civil War historian Chris Calkins.

Below are a few pictures of the ground and terrain that erupted in fighting on that Thursday in April 1865.

Union infantry deployed near here before advancing against the Confederate lines

Union infantry deployed near here before advancing against the Confederate lines

One of the decisive components of the Battle of Sailor’s Creek was the advantage Union forces had of artillery. With a distance of approximately 800 yards, the Confederates had to withstand an approximate 30 minute bombardment.

Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright's Union VI Corps artillery pummeled the Confederate line in the  open space in the distance. Their effective fire was a decisive factor.

Maj. Gen. Horatio Wright’s Union VI Corps artillery pummeled the Confederate line in the open space in the distance. Their effective fire was a decisive factor.

From the opposite view, Confederate forces deployed on this ridge, and initially waited the Union advance. Some of the fighting boiled down to hand-to-hand fighting and the Southern forces actually counterattacked. Overwhelming Union numbers, including a cavalry flanking charge, eventually turned the tide.

The view from the Confederate lines

The view from the Confederate lines

This monument is situated outside the visitor center, honoring the men–both Union and Confederate–that fought here, three days before Appomattox.

Visitor Center monument

Visitor Center monument

When on the way to Appomattox this week to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of Appomattox Court House, take a few moments to stop in at Sailor’s Creek, and honor the men who made the ultimate sacrifice 72 hours before the war ended in Virginia.

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5 Responses to Sailor’s Creek – 150 Years Later

  1. Beautiful photos.

  2. Pingback: Modern Photography: Sailor’s Creek Battlefield | Emerging Civil War

  3. Bryce suderow says:

    Does anyone have a plan to write about the spell? There’s only one book on the Battle by Greg Eanes so we could definitely use a Nother book

  4. Brian Montgomery says:

    Is there any documentation giving locations of Union mass burials on the battlefield?

  5. Gordon Lawrence says:

    My great-uncle was a member of the LOUISA COUNTY COMPANY 1st Battalion Virginia Reserves commanded by Lt. Col. R.T.W DUKE mustered in May 1864.
    I am looking for a list of prisoners captured at Sailor’s Creek to see if he surrendered there.
    So far, I have only located a short article in the SOUTHERN HISTORICAL SOCIETY PAPERS written by DUKE which references himself as commander of the 2nd Battalion Virginia Reserves. I believe this an error in judgement as written some time after the war.
    Anyone with information in this regard, or any information concerning the unit please contact me @ dulcelawrence9967@yahoo.com

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