Despite his success the day before, April 1, 1865, found Gen. Pickett (CSA) having to fall back and make a stand at Five Forks. This intersection was the most critical along the whole front. If Pickett failed here against Gen. Sheridan's (USA) cavalry and Gen. Warren's (USA) V Corps, then Gen. Grant (USA) would finally be able to take the South Side Railroad and force Gen. Lee (CSA) to evacuate Petersburg and Richmond.
With Pickett dug in along side of the White Oak Road, Sheridan planned to have Warren hit the Confederate left while his dismounted cavalrymen engaged the rest of the line in heavy skirmishing.
Warren finally had his men in position and on the move late in the afternoon.
4:30 - 5:00 pm
The V Corps overwhelmed the Confederate left. Some of the Union troops accidentally veered to the north and ended up cutting off Ford's Road. It is at this point Pickett, who has been dining with subordinates behind his line, sees the Union troops and barely makes it past them to re-join his men.
Did You Know?
Union Brevet Brigadier General Frederick Winthrop was Massachusetts Bay Colony Governor John Winthrop's sixth great-grandson. Winthrop was mortally wounded at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, 1865. (Petersburg National Battlefield)