A Piece of Preservation at Sailor’s Creek Battlefield

An antique printed map of the Battle of Sailors Creek troop movements with pen-and-ink and watercolor annotations.
Robert Knox Sneden’s map depicting the Battle of Sailor’s Creek Confederate and Federal troop movements, published in 1865.

Courtesy Library of Congress

Recipient: Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

Award Amount: $ 71,567.50
Acreage: 1.1

Just 72 hours before Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, in a letter to Jefferson Davis he reflected on the loss of nearly a quarter of his troops, writing, “a few more Sailor’s Creeks and it will all be over.” The April 6, 1865 Battle of Sailor’s Creek was the beginning of the end for Confederate forces.

At the start of the battle, Union cavalry had effectively cut off Lee’s army at Sailor’s Creek, a tributary of the Appomattox River. During one of three separate engagements during the battle, known as Marshall’s Crossroads, Lee’s forces faced an onslaught of fighting from Federal calvary. Confederate troops were scattered across the landscape as they fell back. This was such a sight that as Lee watched the retreat, he remarked, “My God! Has the army dissolved?” Eventually, the Federal troops overwhelmed the Confederates, capturing 7,700 men. Among the thousands were six Confederate generals, including Lee’s son.

With support from a Battlefield Land Acquisition Grant from the American Battlefield Protection Program, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, in partnership with the American Battlefield Trust will preserve a portion of Sailor’s Creek Battlefield where the Marshall’s Crossroads engagement occurred. The property will be forever preserved, as the tract of land will be incorporated into Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park.

Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants empower preservation partners nationwide to acquire and preserve threatened Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War battlefields. In addition, the program administers three other grants: Preservation Planning Grants, which are open to all sites of armed conflict on American soil, the newly authorized Battlefield Restoration and Battlefield Interpretation grant programs. This financial assistance generates community-driven stewardship of historic resources at the state, tribal and local levels.

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Check out the American Battlefield Protection Program's website for more information about various grant offerings and eligibility.

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Last updated: April 8, 2022