tv 2015 Longwood Civil War Seminar Day 2 CSPAN April 9, 2015 12:42am-1:40am EDT
historical park. chris calkins talks about the battles that took place as part of the appomattox campaign. this is about an hour. one of the benefits of those who were not here last night when i was talking about the entire campaign from petersburg to appomattox i mentioned when i worked at the park alt appomattox i would come to longwood. at that time one book was published in 1859 dealing with the final campaign called "to appomattox". it's a good popular book but i remember after reading it and
studying it i had a lot of questions as to where the events took place, how did the armys get from here to there? so this book here set up my quest, then, to learn more about these sites. at that time when i worked at appomattox i worked with a gentleman a lot of you probably know. his name was harold howard. he portrayed an ex-soldier who stayed on. i took the role of a union officer who was stationed in appomattox on provoes duty after the surrender. he and i were companions in trying to learn more about the events that took place on the retreat. and one of the areas that i was particularly interested in was the battle of sailor's creek. sailor's creek actually became a
state park in 1936. and efforts were made to purchase more land for the park and to have it become a national park. but something happened like world war ii came along and impetus was lost. after the war when things started looking up there was a particular congressman who was from appomattox county abbott. guess who got the national park appomattox. sailor's creek pretty much languished for the next couple of decades until finally in 2008 july of 2008 sailor's creek which had been just a satellite to a nearby recreational park called twin lakes and they administered the
land and one historic building on the property the hillsman house. those who see us this afternoon will have a special opening of the house for you and a tour. anyway, i was fortunate enough even though i was working for the national parks service to be asked to be on a planning team for sailor's creek and later here at high bridge. so i was very familiar with the goals of the virginia state parks service as to what they wanted. thanks to a 2002 bond referendum, $3.2 million were raised to develop sailor's creek. and that's where i came in. i was offered this job. first of all, the first year we restored the hillsman house which had some structural problems, had it furnished and opened to the public. the next year we built a visitor's center. next year after that we put a museum in it. the last couple of years we are
doing landscape restoration. those who have been out there before know that the hillsman house is on high ground overlooking sailor's creek but the battle took place on the opposite side of the creek. and for years you could never see one to the other. if you are on the battlefield you look where the creek is and all you could see were trees. now you can see both sides. we just finished a tree clearing project. getting back to our initial interest in finding out what happened at sailor's creek in to appomattox they even had a map of the battle. and we initially used that when we went out there. but unfortunately their road system and current road system do not match. it was quite inaccurate. what we would do when we go out to sailor's creek five days a
week the hillsman house was open during the summer. there was a caretaker. of course, the house was empty at that time, but it would be there and opening up and asked into questions. i remember his name was chris. i don't know. three or four times harold and i would go out there when it was supposed to be open and there was a note on the door that said gone for supplies. this went on for a couple of visits. finally we did catch up with chris. chris didn't know we made the earlier visits when he was supposed to be there. we mentioned the sign on the door and he said oh, yeah. supplies were my girlfriend at longwood college. that's where that came from. in talking to and studying the area and talking to local folks around there of course, the state park gentleman would say
the battle was here at the hillsman farm. but then a mile down the road at the intersection of notaway amelia and prince edwards county the farmer that owned that property there would tell us the state people don't know what they are talking about, the battle was here on my property. he would take him to the barn and look at the canon balls and bullets that i find here. someone told us you need to go two miles down the creek towards the appomattox river and see the gentleman who owns the laukt farm. we drive to the locket farm. and the gentleman there his mother was in the house at the time of the battle. he was in world war i. that tells you how old he was. so we go over and talk to him and he says they don't know what they are talking about. the battle was on my property. look, there is a marker out
front that the united daughters of the confederacy put up. he said look at my house. it is full of bullet holes. and then he would take us into one of his little sheds and had an artillery chest with relics that the family picked up right after the battle. that was where the confusion came in. the more i studied it the more i realized that it is the battles of sailor's creek because there were three separate engagements going on at the same time but with different forces. and last night i mentioned briefly the three sites referred as the fighting at the hillsman house, troops under general richard uwell and general wright of the sixth army corps union army would fight at the hillsman farm and then the battle a mile
beyond at the intersection of marshall's cross roads was confederate general richard anderson. anderson had with him confederate troops under bushrod johnson and the famous george picket of picket's charge. you have marshall's cross roads hillsman farms. but then two miles down creek on another road you have the battle of locket farm or what they refer to as double bridges because there is little sailor's creek and big sailor's creek. they both come together at double bridges. as they do come together there is a bridge over each one. so that's where that comes in. now, probably one of the most asked questions of our visitors to sailor's creek is how do you spell -- what is the correct spelling for the creek?
the park and the road that goes through the park itself, public road used to be spelled saylers. but in doing research on contemporary documents, period maps -- the earliest maps i found sailor's creek on was a 1750 map of virginia and pennsylvania and maryland. and on that map this area where we are now was wilderness but there was sailor's creek and it is a sailors. other maps produced before the civil war all of them were spelled that way. and the spelling that sometimes you come across saylers the earliest i found that on a map was county, which is where we are now. so what we tell our visitors that is the post war spelling.
but if you are referring to the civil war or to the park it's sailor's creek. as dr. cole mentioned i brought some of our brochures here. i had no idea how many people would be here. if you are planning to go to the park this afternoon if you hold off taking one of these they're in the back by the book store and we'll get you some at the park. but the people who are not can take that. it is our park brochure. as mentioned my talk is referred to as black thursday the battles of sailor's creek on april 6, 1865. one of the union generals who was involved in the battle named general j. warren kiefer. he wrote in his book about the fighting. he says not 5% of the
intelligent people of the united states north or south and a far less number of those who seek to be informed of the events of that great struggle ever heard of the battle of sailor's creek at all or having heard of it by mere name still know anything of its magnitude or importance. this is not strange as the battle was fought in virginia april 6, 1865, three days before the surrender of the army of northern virginia under general robert e. lee. events were occurring so rapidly clashing one with the other that little or no note was made of the battle which came to public attention. so in the next few minutes you folks will be part of the intelligent part of our nation. just some points before we talk about the battles themselves are the engagements. there are three separate engagements referred to as the
battles of sailor's creek. you will see that as you enter the museum it refers to it as battles. and i mentioned the spelling difference and the fact that there were two branches, big sailor's creek and little sailor's creek. most of the fighting being on little sailor's creek. a lot of times you will read in books if they mention sailor's creek dealing with the war it will say i have seen anywhere from lee losing half his army or a third of his army. as i will show later with the statistics it was actually less than a quarter of his army somewhere between a fifth and a quarter of his army is lost at sailor's creek mainly taken as prisoners. officially there were eight confederate generals who would surrender at sailor's creek. one that sometimes is listed is
floridaen general theodore who was promoted to brigadier general in the last days of the war. unfortunately for him it never got ratified in the confederate congress and so he kind of was a would-be general but not. and when people refer to us you have to use the adjective last major battle before lee's surrender because afterwards there were four engagements which followed. of course, there is high bridge cumberland church appomattox station and appomattox courthouse, the latter two of which pat will be talking about today. there was fighting afterwards. it is the last major. years ago i was asked by my superiors in the national parks service to do a nomination of sailor's creek to put it on the
national register. and so i did this long nomination and somewhere along the line it got bumped up to national historic landmark which is the highest ranking that a site can get. and so sailor's creek was of national significance to get that consideration. it is considered to be the largest surrender in the field of an army without terms following. in other words, the men who -- the 7,700 confederate soldiers that surrender at sailor's creek will go to prison camps and will not be released until all southern forces cease fighting which is not until the end of may. so the prisoners from sailor's creek will be in prison either at johnson's island in sandusky bay, ohio or at point lookout maryland. conversely, those who surrender
at appomattox are paroled and allowed to go home from that site. now, the hillsman farm fight was interesting in that it had a conglomerate of confederate sailors, confederate marines, government employees who were militia or reserves and heavy artillery men. these were the gentlemen who except most war in the defenses around richmond manning heavy artillery there. upon leaving on the retreat they would be placed with infantry and would fight at sailor's creek. and their commander -- this was his first major command in the battlefield last night in the program on the photograph at richmond, there is a famous photo of general lee with walter taylor behind general lee's house in richmond.
the other gentleman is george washington cust s lee and his son that commanded this conglomerate of forces at sailor's creek. as i mentioned last night when lee decided to withdraw his army from not only the richmond and petersburg front but that in between those two cities called bermuda hunter and under four columns his men would march to amelia courthouse where they would rendezvous there they were expecting to receive rationed supplies for the army for various reasons supplies were not there. lee goes ahead and decides to spend an extra day in the area canvassing the locals for any surplus food items they had. of course, amelia being about 30 miles from petersburg and richmond i'm sure most of surplused goods had been sent to
those two fronts. so when general lee leaves amelia and he is now lost his one day lead that he had on the union army he moves down to richmond heading towards north carolina and with the immediate goal of reaching danville. as he moves down the line half a dozen miles he comes across a road block at a train station known as jeetersville. what happened is union cavalry and infantry have swung around on a lower and faster route around amelia courthouse. they cut across lee's path down the railroad and consequently general lee decides not to do battle but to begin what would be three night marches in a row in other words starting from
amelia until appomattox the confederate army will march day and night until they get to appomattox courthouse. and so not fighting at jetersville, lee in his night march comes to a resort called amelia springs. while he is at amelia springs his commissary general informs him that there are 120,000 rations waiting here in farmville for his army. it would be located at the south side station south side railroad station part of which is the art gallery that dr. coles mentioned that is part of the passenger station and not that many years ago. when i was going to school here the original freight depot where supplies were located was there
and has been torn down. lee decides he thinks if he makes a night march he can move around the union army, get ahead of it get to farmville get the supplies issued to his men and head south from here towards keysville and at keysville he would reintersect the railroad going to danville and then continue his march. so that is what brought him heading towards farmville. as he is heading along he comes to the area just past detenville and amelia springs. it's a 23-mile march from amelia springs to here. as he is moving along the confederate army is on a single roadway going across the rolling land of the piedmont or south side virginia here. as they come to road intersections union cavalry and
union infantry will move uponly's wagon trains and his battle lines and there will be a hit-and-run tactics by federal cavalry which is now under general philip sheridan. that is what brings us to what happens on the evening of april 6 at sailor's creek. previous to the fighting at sailor's creek, the evening of the 6th there was another small engagement just between sailor's creek and farmville. that engagement was for high bridge. union troops stationed in burkeville realized that the confederate army is moving upon farmville at this time so general eoc ord sends a group of union infantry about 900 men of the 123rd ohio and 54th pennsylvania and along with three companies of the 4th
massachusetts cavalry and their goal is to ride in front of the confederate army, move upon high bridge which is about four miles from here and destroy it so that lee's army would not be able to use it to cross over the valley of the appomattox river. high bridge was 125 feet high. it was on 21 brick piers most of which are still there today and part of our other state park high bridge trail. if you haven't done it you can walk out to the bridge and across it. and the bridge is 2400 feet long. so it was protected by four earthen ports two of which are now in the park. in these forts they were guarded by local militia, third virginia reserves coming from farmville. so they were there.
and the union cavalry and the infantry made an attack on the bridge but were repulsed by quickly arising confederate cavalry sent from the area of rice. on the afternoon of april 6 union forces tried to destroy high bridge. they were unsuccessful. most of them being either killed or captured in this fight. one of the last confederate generals to die in the war, general james dearing of lynchburg would be mortally wounded and would die on april 23rd. he holds the honor, if it can be said that, of the last confederate officer to die in the war. and so with that fight being over with that evening, like i said, near the crossing of
sailor's creek the would reach the area of a small farmhouse known as the hillsman house which would later serve as the field hospital. that is part of the park. and their confederate forces the regulars along with the heavy artillery men and all would form up on high ground overlooking sailor's creek and union army corps would cross the creek. at that time the creek was up because of the spring rain and generally speaking as the troops crossed over it was up to their waist. as you will see today when you go by it it is usually ankle deep. once union forces boarded the creek they formed up at the top of the hill was forces. the union army will form up,
march forward going up the hill and the men at that time realize that the end was coming near and so a lot of the union soldiers took out hanker chfs and waved them at the confederate troops close enough to yell johnny lookout, we are coming. go ahead and surrender. with that the confederate troops froze and knelt down and fired a volley into the union line breaking it. union troops falling back towards the creek until they were reformed and made the final attack on the confederate forces. and in that fighting they will capture general joseph kershaw george washington cust s lee, dudley dubois and confederate officer who had been in charge
of stonewall jackson's artillery and was wounded in the battle of chancelorsville with the general. he will be killed in that assault and buried on the battlefield. so with the counter attack taking place there along the creek one of the confederate soldiers who are in the battle mentioned in the final part of the battle said quicker than i can tell it the battle generated into a butchery and confused melee of brutal personal conflicts. bayonets and rifle butts crushed and pierced. others lost their weapons and used teeth to bite noses and ears in the terrible scuffle. one of the union soldiers that if you come to the park you will be introduced to his name was samuel eddie in the 37th massachusetts. they had a particular advanced
weapon called a rifle that could fire seven cartridge rounds without reloading. and in this final attack eddie sees a confederate officer coming towards him with a white flag to surrender and eddie's officer moves forward to receive the surrender when the confederate officer decides he's not going to surrender and drops the flag and pulls his pistol out and shoots bradley through the sides. no sooner did he do that then sam eddie runs forward and kills the confederate officer and immediately upon doing that a confederate soldier wearing a yankee overcoat comes running up to eddie, takes his bayonet and shoves it through eddie's chest coming out the back and pinning
him to the ground. he then tries to get eddie's rifle away from him, but eddie, although he is in his 40s but had been a blacksmith in civilian life, takes his weapon, throws in another cartridge swings along and kills the confederate soldier who just stabbed him, pulled out the bayonetted weapon and marched back to the hillsman house which served as a field hospital. you will see that. one of the more unique things is years ago on the ground around the hillsman house which served as the field hospital sam eddie's dog tag was found. that is on display in the museum. and so that was the fighting at the hillsman house. at marshall's cross roads the federal cavalry was under general philip sheridan under
wesley merit. he had with him some folks you probably recognize, george armstrong custer thomas devon and george cook many of these would become fighters in the indian wars afterwards. as mentioned earlier they are facing confederate general richard anderson, george picket and bushrod johnson. that fighting at that intersection which is just beyond our visitor's center is known as marshall's cross roads or harper's farm. here the union cavalry would attack at the same time that the fighting was going on down at the hillsman house along the creek, now at the fighting at the creek the confederates did not have artillery with which to reply to the union bombardment of artillery of 20 guns set up
in the yard of the hillsman house. here at this fighting at the cross roads both confederate and union forces did have artillery with which to use. well a lot of the union cavalry had lost their horses in that they road directly from the shennen doughshen n shennen doa valley and they didn't have a chance to remount cht a lot of them were using mules to ride on. one of them, sergeant cunnington of the first west virginia cavalry remembered it took my mule just about four jumps to show that he could outclass all others. he laid back and frisked over the logs and flattened out like a jack rabbit. he switched his tail and sailed landing near the color bearer, big brawny chap and put up a
fight but the mule had some new side and posterior upper cuts that put him out of the game. eventually the union cavalry in their attack on anderson's men would cause them to break and they would leave the battlefield enroute. they were heading down the road towards rice's depot. a member of the 19th virginia who was in that route remembered this. he said for a while our retreat was remarkedly orderly and i trotted along on foot for i have lost my horse. presently a little unsteadiness manifested itself which became a decided wobble and then in a moment as though it had exploded the whole organization flew to pieces. it did not take long for me to be thoroughly infected.
i got over the ground unimpeded by the reflection that i had not the least idea of whether i was going and so we plunged along huffing and puffing blowing enveloped in all of the noises of battle, helter-skelter, each for himself god for nobody and devil takes the high most. that property that i just described at the cross roads thanks to civil war trust we have recently acquired 12 acres which will be added to the park along with a conservation easement of 118 acres. and so we've added that land. it's going to be interesting when we start doing the interpretive trail there because one of our supportive groups is george picket society. obviously, george can do no wrong. and to interpret the fact that he took off like the rest of them oh well.
doing interpretation, keeping everybody happy. well, those two fights there and then finally as i mentioned two miles down creek were big sailor's creek and little sailor's creek come together and then form into one creek going into the appomattox river. we call that the battle of locket's farm. when the confederate army was coming from amelia and heading towards rice they had the whole line of infantry and wagon trains on one road. about a mile before they got to sailor's creek it was decided to turn off the main wagon train on a more northerly road known as jamestown road where general gordon's second corps would turn off with the main wagon train.
they would cross the creek at double bridges. in that fight there which was mainly referred to as a running battlefield, they would lose 1,700 men 200 wagons, three artillery pieces seven ambulance, 13 battle flags captured under union forces that would attack them there. the next morning what would happen that night is after the battle of those confederate forces who retreated from that site, they would head to high bridge and they would actually cross over the valley of the appomattox river on the bridge. at that time the bridge had
siding on each side so the infantry could cross over it. down below they had a water bridge. that piece that once the confederates got across high bridge they would put to fire the western edge of it and burn it. most of the photographs you can see it after they reskrukted that section after the war. but they tried to burn the wagon bridge below but the union forces that fought the night before got to the fight just in time and were able to put the fire off and consequently they were able to cross over the appomattox river and continue to pursue the confederate forces. as the union troops began their pursuit on the morning of april 7 they mentioned going by the abandoned wagon train and said wagons with spokes cut out and
the following inscribed covers like quote in the last ditch, unquote. the csa gone up. we all can't whip you all without something to eat. and the federal soldier added that it was strange to see the marks on the wagons denoting the various brigades once so doubtable. among the things they found in the captured confederate wagon train were items such as officers' swords barrels of applejacks trunks of toiletry chrispy confederate notes, brass band broiled ham, beef bacon onion and pickled toasted and corn meal. a rebel prisoner was asked when was the last time they were paid he said more or less remote and
then confederate bills found were lavishly handed up. the night of april 6 the confederate forces that had passed through the area of sailor's creek continued their march into farmville. one of the confederate generals captured would remark our cause is gone. lee should surrender now before more lives are wasted. general lee who was with the lead confederate forces was in the area of rice's depot and he was stationed there and wondering where the rest of his army was. and he then turned around and took general william's troops and went back towards sailor's creek and came to high ground overlooking big sailor's creek and anderson's men who had broke from the battlefield and were
retreating in that direction were spilling across big sailor's creek and lee looked down and said my god has the army been dissolved? and he then had general mahone form a battle line and straggler stragglers fall with him. that would be the group that would cross high bridge the next day. and so sailor's creek then turns out to be a major disaster for the confederate army. generally speaking between a third and a quarter of his forces were taken from him. there were 7,700 prisoners taken including the following generals. and all of them would go off to
prison. a few days later with these losses taken by lee's army upon reaching the village of appomattox courthouse on april 9 he will surrender approximately 30,000 troops and when he left richmond the confederate forces numbered around 55,000 troops. so you figure that out. at appomattox 8,000 of sailor's creek out of approximately 55,000 would bring it to like i said quarter to a fifth of the army. now, at that time medals of honor were given for different reasons than today for the most part for the capture of flags at sailor's creek 49 union soldiers were given medals of honor. nine given for gallantry. one of those being sam eddie who
did get a medal of honor for saving his adjutant's life and one given for capture of general lee. why those who captured the other seven confederate generals did not get a medal of honor, i don't know. custer's division alone captured 31 flags 300 wagons, 800 mules and horses along and 15 artillery pieces. that night the confederate prisoners were kept on the battlefield. the next day they were marched and there followed the railroad to petersburg and beyond to city point which is now where they would board ships to be taken to prison. and the next morning as the armys woke up and the federals continued their pursuit general
custer serinated guests with bands playing such tunes as dixie to which was replied there goes a chivalrous fellow and then responded by playing followed by the rebel yell. that night the night of april 6 jefferson davis with the confederate cabinet was now in danville virginia and he sent to find or a messenger to find general lee and find out what the status of the army was. that young fellow who did that found general lee at rice's depot and asked for a message to take back to the president and general lee is said to have remarked a few more sailor's creeks and it will all be over
ended just as i expected it would end from the beginning. i suspect he means beginning of the campaign rather than beginning of the war. that night general sheridan sent a message back to city point to abraham lincoln who was visiting there. in that message he said if the thing is pressed i think lee will surrender to which lincoln sent a forwarding message, quote, let the thing be pressed. so at sailor's creek on the evening of april 6, 1865 the army of northern virginia had but 72 hours to continue to exist. thank you and i hope this afternoon you folks would like to come out. it is about 15 minutes from here to sailor's creek battlefield. all you need to do is get on route 460 east like you are
going to richmond and petersburg just a couple miles out of town you will come to a major intersection route 306. it says to richmond. just turn on like you are going to richmond. go a couple of miles and you will see the signs to the park. and hopefully the weather will hold and we will show you what we have done out there. [ applause ] >> appreciate the talk. great program. we have microphones in each aisle if you would like to ask chris a question we have a few minutes for questions. come to the microphone and give your name and your question. chris can respond. >> william thompson. it seems to me that ord made a major mistake by sending mainly
infantry and not ponderance of cavalry in that first bridge burning on april 6. shouldn't he have sent far more cavalry men because he would be held back by the pace of the infantry? >> well willie did not tell you but he is president of sailor's creek battlefield, friends of. in answer to your question, what i would say is ord was in charge of one of the two union armys on this campaign one of them being the army of the potomac but the other is the army of the james under general ord. and like i mentioned earlier troops were at burkeville a few miles beyond high bridge and he had a very small cavalry corps
only about four regiments with him because the must just of the union cavalry was under philip sheridan and they were moving on sailor's creek. so really all he had was this small group. that's where the fourth massachusetts and wasn't the whole but just three companies. i think they thought that they would get ahead of the main confederate column and get there ahead of time whether they knew that holding the fort was just the small group of reserves it's hard to say. but they went pretty much unmolested to the fort. it was only after general longstreet who was at rice realized there was this raiding force or bridge burning party as sometimes referred to that he was able to take the confederate
cavalry under lee and sent him on after the troops heading towards high bridge. i think it was just the situation of not knowing that much about who was at high bridge and where the confederate army was at that time. but i think that's why he didn't send more forces. in fact, the initial force that he sent out was reaching high bridge when he found out long street was sending confederate cavalry after them and actually sent an aid to gather the bridge burning forces and bring them back and let them know they were being cut off by confederate forces. i think it was just the situation. and as i mentioned last night about the peculiarity of the final campaign. that is the fact if you think about the four years of fighting in virginia most of the fighting is north and south.
in other words between and outside of washington, fredricksburg, richmond petersburg and in fact basically the cities on the fall line. most of the fighting is in the eastern part of virginia except for a small cavalry raid south side virginia or the piedmont here saw very little action during the war. as the armys were moving from richmond and petersburg wards danville and eventually towards appomattox they were unfamiliar with the area. they didn't have good maps. they had to rely on soldiers in the ranks particularly confederate soldiers to tell them where does this road and that road go. for once both armys were at a disadvantage in that they were in unfamiliar territory in like the areas around manassas
fredricksburg, richmond and petersburg. >> we will take these two questions. if you have more questions you can talk with chris outside in the lobby after the program. >> >> just to give you context i have very little interest in battles, but a lot of interest in the civil war. i just read washington irving's biography of george washington. i got very much more knowledgeable than i wanted to be about battles. and one of the big issues for a washington was militia and is dealing with seasoned soldiers versus militia who are very independent and not really into it in a lot of ways.
so i was wondering when you said the content of the confederate forces were sailors really militia, some of them were militia if that the relative percentage of the confederate troops at that stage was more militia than seasoned veterans? and contrasting the union troops and the confederate troops from that perspective, also from the whole war i'm curious about that if the union versus the confederates had more militia? >> actually it was i believe in 1864 that the conscription of local reserves or militia took place in the south. i will use, for example, the third virginia reserves which came from this area.
these men were on call for duty. they did not like the third virginia stay at high bridge all the time. only when they were threatened by federal cavalry raids would they go out. usually they were equipped with more inferior weapons than the main army. i would say at at this point the majority of the con fed lat army were still regulars and seasoned veter rans. now, the difference between lee's army, of course by being in a siege operation around richmond and petersburg, i always referred to that 9 1/2 month campaign as the wearing down of lee's army because, as tracy mentioned yesterday, most of fighting was for cutting the supply lines coming into petersburg and richmond. but, also, by this time the
union forces were now much better than they had been through the war, of course, for the most part union -- the union army would be on the offensive in most battles and the confederate army on the defensive. but the militia the reserves of course, these, like, in richmond, these were war clerks and, again, they had other jobs. but they were on call and would be called out. but their numbers probably didn't tilt the army's towards like, the confederate army. but there's two stories of valor by the militia or the reserves that take place in the last year of the war. one of them is on june 9, 1864 at petersburg. it's called the battle of old men and youk boys. and just to the southeast of here, at stanton river bridge,
there was a battle again, old men and young boys. these were civilian soldiers who came out and defeated union calvary attacks on both petersburg and on the bridge over stanton river. so they did see some heavy action in that last year. but they were just called out. they were not on duty all of the time. wayne? >> i've always been curious why general lee, you know, didn't -- wasn't aware or didn't do something to prevent that separation of the forces? >> well, as i mentioned in the text of the talk, the confederate army was on the move from amelia towards farmville, for the most part, was all on one roadway and general lee was riding in the van. in other words, he was riding in
the front. and lee was a general long streets first and third corps. he had passed through the valleys of sailor's creek and in that area and had gone onto rice. when they got to rice, they found out that this other union army was coming up the railroad from that direction. and so long street's corps actually had to dig in at rice and prepare for the union army coming that way. well, what happened, as i mentioned earlier, by this time union calvary in particular, would do hit and run tactics on this confederate line along the road. where ever there was a cross road, union calvary would come. they would attack and hold up the confederate forces who would have to protect the wagons. and then the union forces -- union calvary would turn and, go back and come up on the next cross road. consequently what they did was in the area of sailor's creek
they caused the line of march to spread and open up a large gap and consequently, that, with that gap opening, that's when the majority of the federal calvary and then now supported by federal infantry attacked the confederate forces at sailor's creek. but, apparently, lee being in the van, he was more interested in what was coming up the railroad from berkville. and they say, basically, he wondered where his army was. and this and that's when he turned around back a mile and got high ground overlooking sailor's creek and that's where he found the rest of his army. but, you know, it was just circumstances of how things were happening at that point.