Battle of Trevilian Station

Below is the text from a brochure on the Battle of Trevilian Station (June 11-12, 1864) including a summary of the battle, directions to the battlefield from the Fredericksburg area and a suggested tour route. The visitor centers at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville have free copies of the brochure which also includes a map of the tour route.

The Battle of Cold Harbor brought at end to a month of bloody fighting in Virginia. Since the 1864 campaign opened, General Ulysses S. Grant had lost upwards of 50,000 men, yet critics pointed out that he was no closer to Richmond than George B. McClellan had been in 1862. Stymied in his efforts to capture Richmond directly, Grant set his sights on Petersburg. Another Union army, under General David Hunter, had reached Lexington and soon would be crossing the Blue Ridge Mountains toward Charlottesville. If Grant could capture Petersburg and its railroads and if Hunter could destroy the Virginia Central Canal, Richmond would be untenable.

In order to capture Petersburg, Grant had to transfer his army to the south side of the James River in the face of General Robert E. Lee's Confederate army -- a perilous undertaking. To draw off Lee's cavalry and thus blind the Confederate commander as to his intentions, Grant sent General Philip Sheridan and two divisions of cavalry on a diversionary raid toward Charlottesville. Sheridan had orders to tear up as much of the Virginia Central Virginia Railroad as came within his grasp, then push on to Charlottesville and unite with Hunter. Together, the two men would advance on Richmond from the west, while Grant enveloped the city from the south.

Sheridan left the Army of the Potomac on June 7th and headed west up the North Anna River toward Trevilian Station, a stop on the Virginia Central Railroad. (Since the war, the town name has changed to "Trevilian" or "Trevilians.") He took with him the mounted divisions of Generals Alfred Torbert and David M. Gregg, totaling 8,000 men, 24 guns, and 125 wagons.

Lee sent the cavalry divisions of Generals Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee in pursuit of Sheridan on June 9th. Hampton had overall command of the 5000-man force. Traveling by a shorter route than that used by Sheridan, Hampton reached the Trevilian area on June 10, one day ahead of the Union column. Fitz Lee bivouacked at Louisa Court House, a few miles east of Trevilian. Rather than stand on the defensive, Hampton planned to attack the Federals at their camp, located at Clayton's Store. Two roads ran from Clayton's Store to the railroad: one struck the railroad at Trevilian Station, the other at Louisa Court House. Thick woods lay between them. Hampton took the first road, and lee the second.

Early on June 11th, Hampton engaged portions of Alfred Torbert's division and in stubborn dismounted fighting pushed him back up the Trevilian Station Road toward Clayton's Store. At the same time, Fitz lee encountered General George A. Custer's brigade on the Louisa Court House road, a few miles to the east. Lee fell back after establishing contact with Custer, creating a dangerous gap between himself and Hampton. Custer exploited this gap and captured Hampton's wagon train, 800 horses, and three caissons parked behind the Confederate lines.

When Hampton learned that Custer had gained his rear, he acted decisively, ordering General Thomas Rosser's brigade to attack Custer. Rosser's swift and powerful charge sent the Union horsemen reeling. Other Confederate brigades joined the attack, compelling Custer to relinquish his spoils and take up a defensive position around Trevilian Station. To the young general, it seemed as though the forces of Hampton and Lee had surrounded him, which indeed they had. He later wrote that "From the nature of the ground and the character of the attacks that were made upon me our lines very nearly resembled a circle." To relieve Custer's hard-pressed brigade, Sheridan attacked Hampton, compelling the Confederate general to retreat to a point several miles west of Trevilian Station. Fitz Lee meanwhile fell back to the east, to Louisa Court House.

The first day battle belonged to the Union, but not the second. During the night of the 11th, Hampton posted his division in an angled line covering the railroad west of Trevilian. The railroad embankment covered his left flank, while open ground in front of his position offered an excellent field of fire. Fitz Lee joined Hampton by noon the next day, reinforcing his right flank.

Sheridan spent the morning on June 12 destroying some five miles of the railroad track. Only then did he move out to attack Hampton's strong position west of the station. Time and again the dismounted Federals charged the Confederate line only to be repulsed. Federal soldiers took to calling Hampton's position their own "Bloody Angle," in reference to the recent battle at Spotsylvania Battlefield Court House. However, Hampton's situation was becoming critical. His ammunition was nearly exhausted, Union artillery raked portions of his line, and Union sharpshooters picked off officers and enlisted men from the vantage point of a barn situated near the front. However, the Confederate persevered. By late afternoon additional ammunition reached the front. At the same time, Confederate artillery silenced the offending Federal battery and set fire to the barn that housed the annoying sharpshooters. An attack by Fitzhugh Lee against Sheridan's right flank late in the day brought the battle to a close.

At 10 p.m. Sheridan broke off the fight and returned to the Army of the Potomac, having failed to unite with Hunter or to inflict any permanent damage to the railroad. Sheridan lost 735 men in the two-day battle; Confederate losses, though not precisely known, probably numbered near 1,000.


Follow the directions and map carefully for a tour of Trevilian Station Battlefield. The ground is privately owned; please respect landowners' rights. To reach the battlefield from Fredericksburg, proceed west on Route 3, 17 miles to Route 20. Turn left and drive 14 miles to the intersection of Route 522. Turn left on Route 522, then make an immediate right onto Route 671. Follow this route for 0.8 mile to Unionville. At Unionville turn left onto Route 669. Drive 9.5 miles to the North Anna River bridge and enter Louisa County. Continue on Route 669 for another 3.8 miles until you reach the fork the left with Route 613. Stop at the right fork and face the trash dumpster.

Stop 1 - Clayton's Store. Prior to the battle, Sheridan's cavalry camped around Clayton's Store, which stood at the road junction a few hundred yards behind you. The roads you are presently facing are those used by Hampton and Fitz Lee to attack Sheridan. Hampton's forces approached on the road to your right, and Lee on the road to your left.

Continue southward on Route 669 and drive 1.7 miles to a convenience store on the right side of the road. Stop there and face south, the direction you were driving.

Stop 2 - Fitz Lee's Route. Custer was leading his Michigan brigade south along this road when he encountered Fit Lee's division. After a brief skirmish, Fitz Lee broke off the fight and fell back, creating a dangerous gap between himself and Hampton, whose division was fighting portions of Torbert's division two and a half miles to your right. Custer left the road near this point and led his brigade along a woods road to your right that conveniently led to Hampton's rear.

Retrace your route to the road junction at Stop 1. There, turn left on Route 613 and travel 3.0 miles to Ebenezer United Methodist Church, located on the left side of the road just beyond the junction with Route 692.

Stop 3 - Hampton's Route. While Lee sparred with Custer on the Louisa Court House Road, Hampton engaged Torbert in this vicinity. Hampton held the upper hand until he was compelled to turn his attention to Custer's brigade in his read, at which point Torbert moved forward to Trevilian Station.

Continue on this road for another 3.1 miles when you will cross the tracks of what was then the Virginia Central Railroad. Having successfully driven the Confederates from Trevilian Station, Union troopers spent several hours on the morning of June 12th destroying five miles of track. After crossing the railroad, turn right on Route 33 and drive 0.7 miles, stopping at the historic markers located on the left side of the road. Step out of your car and look down the road in the direction from which you just came.

Stop 4 - Custer Captures Hampton's Wagons. Hampton had his wagon train quietly parked in a field located just a few hundred yards ahead of you on June 11th when George Custer's brigade broke out of the woods, from your left, and captured the vehicles. Thomas Rosser, approaching from the west (behind you), furiously attacked Custer's lost all the Confederate wagons he had captured plus hi sown headquarters wagon. Gleeful Southerners, sifting through the contents of Custer's wagon, reputedly found several silver spoons (presumably pilfered from a Southern household) and a collection of "racy" female correspondence.

The marker at this stop was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1926. The Virginia state historic marker at this stop incorrectly places the angle of Hampton's June 12th line at this spot. To reach the actual location of the angle, continue west on Route 33 for 0.1 mile to a fork in the road. Turn right at the fork and continue along Route 33 for 1.0 mile, when you will reach a pullout on the right side of the road. Stop there and stand so that the railroad tracks are in front of you.

Stop 5 - Hampton's "Angle.". You are now standing near the angle in Hampton's June 12th defensive line. From this point to your left the Confederate line followed the railroad and was protected by its embankment. The right half of Hampton's line departed the railroad at this point and angled across the driveway that now runs along the slight ridge crest. Sheridan's troopers repeatedly charged across the fields in front of you in an effort to break Hampton's line here.

Continue straight ahead for 1.4 mile and park at the tennis courts, located on the left side of the road beyond Trevilian's Elementary School. Stand so that you are facing the road with the tennis courts to your back.

Stop 6 - Lee's Flanking Movement. Late in the day, Fitz Lee's troopers advanced from this area to attack Sheridan's right flank. After dark, Sheridan broke off the fighting and withdrew across the North Anna River.

Turn right onto Route 33 and drive 6.4 miles to Louisa Court House. Turn left onto Route 666, travel 0.1 mile, and park on the right.

Stop 7 - Oakland Cemetery. The cemetery ahead of you contains the bodies of nearly 100 men who fought at Trevilian Station. Ninety-four of them are unknown; the identities of the others are clearly marked on the stones.

This ends your tour of Trevilian Station. To return to Fredericksburg, continue on Route 666 for 0.4 mile to Route 669. Turn left and follow this road 17 miles back to Unionville and then turn right onto 671. Drive 0.8 mile to Route 522, turn left, proceed a few yards to Route 20. Turn right on Route 20, drive 14 miles to the traffic light at Route 3, and turn right. Fredericksburg is 17 miles away; Chancellorsville Visitor Center is five miles distant.

To reach Fredericksburg by a shorter route, turn right on Route 669, then left on Route 33. Approximately one mile down the road, Route 33 will unite with Route 208. Follow 208 north to the Fredericksburg area.

To learn more about the Battle of Trevilian Station, click here.

The battlefields of Cedar Mountain, Yellow Tavern, Mine Run, Todds Tavern and North Anna are also in this area. Written guides are available for those and other nearby battlefields at the visitor centers at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

Go to Civil War Battlefields in Virginia.

Battle of Trevilian Station Sign

Battle of Trevilian Station

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