for Getty's division of the Sixth corps to get up. I therefore ordered an advance, sending word to General Humphreys, who was on the road to our right, and requesting him to push on, as I felt confident that we could break up the enemy. It was apparent, from the absence of artillery fire and the manner in which they gave way when pressed, that the force of the enemy opposed to us was a heavy rear guard. The enemy was driven until our lines reached Sailor's creek; and, from the north bank, I could see our cavalry on the high ground above the creek and south of it, and the long line of smoke from the burning wagons. A cavalryman, who, in a charge, cleared the enemy's works and came through their lines, reported to me what was in front. I regret that I have forgotten the name of this gallant young soldier. As soon as General Wright could get his artillery into position I ordered the attack to be made on the left, and sent Colonel Stagg's brigade of cavalry to strike and flank the extreme right of the enemy's line. The attack by the infantry was not executed exactly as I had directed, and a portion of our line in the open ground was broken by the terrible fire of the enemy, who were in position on commanding ground south of the creek. This attack by Wheaton's and Seymour's divisions was splendid, but no more than I had reason to expect from the gallant Sixth corps. The cavalry in rear of the enemy attacked simultaneously, and the enemy, after a gallant resistance, were completely surrounded, and nearly all threw down their arms and surrendered. General Ewell, commanding the enemy's forces, and a number of other general officers, fell into our hands, and a very large number of prisoners. I have never ascertained exactly how many prisoners were taken in this battle. Most of them fell into the hands of the cavalry, but they are no more entitled to claim them than the Sixth corps, to which command equal credit is due for the good results of this engagement. Both the cavalry and the Sixth corps encamped south of Sailor's creek that night, having followed up the small remnant of the enemy's forces for several miles. In reference to the participation of the Sixth corps in this action I desire to add that the Lieutenant-General had notified me that this corps would report to me. Major McClellan and Lieutenant-Colonel Franklin, of General Wright's staff, had successively been sent forward to report the progress of the corps in coming up, and on the arrival of Major-General Wright he reported his corps to me, and from that time until after the battle received my orders and obeyed them; but after the engagement was over, and General Meade had communicated with General Wright, the latter declined to make his report to me until directed to do so by the Lieutenant-General. On the seventh instant the pursuit was continued early in the morning by the cavalry, General Crook in the advance. It was discovered that the enemy had not been cut off by the Army of the James, and under the belief that he would attempt to escape on the Danville road through Prince Edward Court-house, General Merritt was ordered to move his two divisions to that point, passing around the left of the Army of the James. General Crook continued the direct pursuit, encountering the main body of the enemy at Farmville, and again on the north side of the Appomattox, where the enemy's trains were attacked by General Gregg, and a sharp fight with the enemy's infantry ensued, in which General Gregg was unfortunately captured. On arriving at Prince Edward Court-house I found General McKenzie, with his division of cavalry from the Army of the James, and ordered him to cross the bridge on the Buffalo river and make a reconnoissance to Prospect station, on the Lynchburg railroad, and ascertain if the enemy were moving past that point. Meantime I heard from General Crook that the enemy had crossed to the north side of the Appomattox, and General Merritt was then moved on and encamped at Buffalo creek, and General Crook was ordered to recross the Appomattox and encamp at Prospect station. On the morning of the eighth Merritt and McKenzie continued to march to Prospect station, and Merritt's and Crook's commands then moved on to Appomattox depot, a point on the Lynchburg railroad, five miles south of Appomattox Court-house. Shortly after the march commenced, Sergeant White, one of my scouts, notified me that there were four trains of cars at Appomattox depot loaded with supplies for General Lee's army; Generals Merritt and Crook were at once notified, and the command pushed on briskly for twenty-eight miles.General Custer had the advance, and on nearing the depot skilfully threw a force in rear of the trains and captured them. Without halting a moment he pushed on, driving the enemy (who had reached the depot about the same time as our cavalry) in the direction of Appomattox Court-house, capturing many prisoners and twenty-five pieces of artillery, a hospital train, and a large park of wagons. General Devin coming up, went in on the right of Custer. The fighting continued till after dark, and the enemy being driven to Appomattox Court-house, I at once notified the Lieutenant-General, and sent word to Generals Ord and Gibbon, of the Army of the James, and General Griffin, commanding the Fifth corps, who were in rear, that if they pressed on there was now no means of escape for the enemy, who had reached “the last ditch.” During the night, although we knew that the remnant of Lee's army was in our front, we held fast with the cavalry to what we had gained, and ran the captured trains back along the railroad to a point where they could be protected by our infantry that was coming up. The Twenty-fourth and Fifth corps, and one division of the Twenty-fifth corps, arrived about daylight on the ninth at Appomattox depot.
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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