General George Pickett was told to “Hold Five Fork at all hazards”, but on April 1st 1865 the Union had other ideas.
General Philip H Sheridan had moved his Federal troops forward on March 31st 1865, but the Confederates had managed to halt his progress. Sheridan’s focus was a road intersection known as Five Forks that was a pivotal point on Robert E Lee’s supply line. Lee ordered General Pickett to hold that cross road at all cost.
On April 1st Sheridan’s men supported by General Gouverneur K Warren’s 5th Corps attacked the Confederate’s with about 20,000, crushing Pickett’s 10,000. While the Union lost only about 1,000 men, there were 5,000 Confederates killed, wounded, or captured. During the battle a long standing disagreement between Sheridan and Warren came to a head and Sheridan had Warren removed from his command with General Ulysses S Grant’s approval. [Warren was cleared of any wrong doing in 1882.] With the vital intersection in Union hands and Lee’s supply lines were cut forcing the Rebel’s to evacuate Petersburg ending the ten month long siege.
Five Forks: Waterloo of the Confederacy
Battle of Five Forks