Battle of Sappony Church

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The Battle of Sappony Church, also known as the Battle of Stony Creek Depot, was an engagement of the American Civil War, between the Confederate States of America and the Union, which took place on June 28, 1864, during the Wilson-Kautz Raid of the Richmond–Petersburg Campaign.[3][4]

Background[edit]

Petersburg, Virginia, was the supply center for the Confederate capital of Richmond, and was under siege by Union forces under the command of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Petersburg was supplied by rail along three remaining lines, the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad; the South Side Railroad, which reached to Lynchburg in the west; and the Weldon Railroad, also called the Petersburg and Weldon Railroad, which led to Weldon, North Carolina, and the Confederacy's only remaining major port, Wilmington, North Carolina. On June 22, Grant dispatched a 3,300 strong cavalry unit[5] under the command of Brig. Gens. James H. Wilson and August V. Kautz to cut the rail lines. This led to a series of raids that destroyed 60 miles (97 km) of rail track and culminated in the Battle of Staunton River Bridge on June 25, where the raiders were defeated and began a retreat back to Union positions.

Since the outset of the raid, the Union force had been pursued by Confederate Maj. Gen. W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee. Lee's forces had finally been able to catch up to the Union cavalry at Staunton Bridge, and had attacked them in the rear and then continued to pursue them as they retired to Union lines.

Battle[edit]

Map of Sappony Church Battlefield core and study areas by the American Battlefield Protection Program.

On June 28, the Union cavalry crossed the Nottoway River and reached the Stony Creek Depot on the Weldon Railroad. Here, they were attacked by Confederate Maj. Gen. Wade Hampton and his cavalry division. During the resulting battle, Lee arrived on the field with his own forces and attacked the Union raiders. By nightfall, Kautz and Wilson ordered their forces to fall back in an attempt to reach Reams Railway Station to the north. During the retreat, a large number of slaves who had been accompanying the Union forces were left behind.[3]

References[edit]

  • National Park Service battle description
  • CWSAC Report Update
  • Kennedy, Frances H., ed., The Civil War Battlefield Guide, 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998, ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
  • Longacre, Edward G., Lincoln's Cavalrymen: A History of the Mounted Forces of the Army of the Potomac, Stackpole Books, 2000, ISBN 0-8117-1049-1.
  • Salmon, John S., The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide, Stackpole Books, 2001, ISBN 0-8117-2868-4.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b CWSAC Report Update
  2. ^ Most sources state unknown for this battle, though the total casualties for the raid overall are cited by the NPS as 1,817. Salmon, p. 413, states "Casualty figures for the engagement are not available but probably were light on both sides."
  3. ^ a b "Battle Summary". National Park Service. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  4. ^ Jones, J Williams. "Engagement at Sappony church-report of General Wade Hampton". Southern Historical Society Papers. 7. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  5. ^ Longacre, p. 289; Salmon, 397; Kennedy, p. 303, and Salmon, p. 410, cite 5,500 men.