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Battle of Sailor's Creek, VA 6 April 1865, US Civil War

Battle of Sailor's Creek, VA 6 April 1865, US Civil War

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The Battle of Sailor's Creek was fought on April 6, 1865, near Farmville, Virginia, as part of the Appomattox Campaign, near the end of the American Civil War. It was the last major engagement between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee and the Army of the Potomac, under the overall direction of Union General-in-Chief Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant.

After abandoning Petersburg, the exhausted and starving Confederates headed west, hoping to re-supply at Danville or Lynchburg, before joining General Joseph E. Johnston in North Carolina. But the stronger Union army kept pace with them, exploiting the rough terrain full of creeks and high bluffs, where the Confederates’ long wagon trains were highly vulnerable. The two small bridges over Sailor's Creek and Little Sailor's Creek caused a bottleneck that further delayed the Confederates’ attempt to escape. After some desperate hand-to-hand fighting, about a quarter of the remaining effective soldiers of the Confederate force were lost, including several generals. Witnessing the surrender from a nearby bluff, Lee made his famous despairing remark to Major General William Mahone, "My God, has the army dissolved?", to which Mahone replied, "No, General, here are troops ready to do their duty."

The battle is sometimes referenced under its old spelling as Sayler's Creek.