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Here passed the most famous army of all that had fought for
The conquered banner

This tragic still-life near Stony Creek, Virginia, is a witness to the turmoil of Lee's retreat. The caisson of a gun that tumbled into Chamberlain's Run on March 31, 1865, and was there abandoned, remains to tell of the last great battle. Through March Lee recognized that his only hope was to join Johnston in the Carolinas. Grant had spent many a sleepless night, fearing always that the next morning would bring him a report of Lee's retreat. To prevent this, he ordered Sheridan to destroy the railroads west of Petersburg. But on March 30th Sheridan was met at Five Forks by the Confederates under command of Fitzhugh Lee, and the next day was driven back southward to within half a mile of Dinwiddie Court House. In this engagement, W. H. F. Lee was sent along a wooded road leading south from Five Forks west of Chamberlain Bed, a creek running into Stony Creek near Dinwiddie Court House. After failing at one crossing, he succeeded in reaching the east bank at Danse's Crossing. All of Sheridan's cavalry corps then fell back on Dinwiddie Court House. Of this attack the single wheel of a caisson is the silent reminder. That night Sheridan was reinforced by the Fifth Corps; the next day, April 1st, he carried the Confederate position at Five Forks, and took nearly five thousand prisoners. The next morning, April 2d, the Petersburg entrenchments were carried by storm. The day after, the whole Confederate army was hastening westward. Seven days after this engagement came Appomattox. Lee's valiant hosts were indeed scattered, returning to their homes in a land that was once more united.

‘The valiant hosts are scattered’


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