On October 21st , Pickett Society members and guests attended a seminar on the battlefield at Sailors Creek in Amelia County, Virginia. Students of the War recognize Sailors Creek as the location of the last major battles between the United States and the Confederate States armies prior to Gen. Lee's surrender at Appomattox April 9, 1865.
For this event, we were fortunate to have as our teacher and guide Chief Park Ranger Dave Born. Some of the Society members met one another for the first time. Ranger Born's summary of events leading to Sailors Creek prior to our five- star luncheon (thank you Tricia Barton) set the tone for the on-site tour of the battlefield.
Ranger Born recounted the desperate final days of the Confederacy from a military standpoint. Several participants were clearly students of the war. They were familiar with the official reports, knew which regiments participated and the placement of the Confederate and the Union fighters. Some even knew that the Confederate Navy and Marines fought alongside the army on that day. Some knew that three separate battles were fought at Sailors Creek on April 6, 1865. But they learned, through Ranger Born, the feeling and the reality of April 6, 1865, as seen through the eyes of the generals and their armies, both Confederate and Union.
We began our tour on Jamestown Road at the spot where Gen. Ewell redirected the route of the wagon train of supplies and left orders for Gen. Gordon to hold that position at all costs. Ranger Born led us through the Union army's attack on Ewell's position, the desperate hand-to-hand fighting, Marshall's Crossroads where many of General Anderson and brigade commanders Eppa Hunton and Montgomery Corse were forced to surrender and, finally, to the double bridges where 300 wagons and 1,700 of General Gordon's men were captured after a bloody struggle. By dusk on April 6, 1865, General Lee had lost 7,700 men, including 8 generals, the largest number of men ever to surrender on American soil without terms having been drawn previously by the commanding generals. It is no wonder that General Lee, upon seeing the closing minutes of the battles, remarked, "My God! Has the army been dissolved?"
Space does not permit a proper recounting of the many incidents of individual valor and strength that took place during the Battles of Sailors Creek. Ranger Born shared these stories with us, and we realized that the caliber of men on both sides was the stuff of which heroes are made.
VIEW photographs from the Sailors Creek Seminar
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