Gordon's Attack April 9, 1865

Gordon's Attack April 9, 1865 (HM1L8H)

Location: Appomattox, VA 24522 Appomattox County
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 22.647', W 78° 47.964'

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Appomattox Court House National Historical Park

Prior to midnight on April 8, 1865, with Federal troops closing in on three sides and the line of retreat along the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road blocked, General R. E. Lee held a Council of War with his ranking generals to discuss options—surrender or try to break through. Believing only Federal cavalry stood in the way, the council agreed upon a last ditch attempt to breakout.

General John Gordon's infantry, already closest to the point of attack, took position during the night along Tibbs Lane, supported on the right by General Fitz Lee's Cavalry Corps and General Armistead Long's artillery. About 9,000 Confederate soldiers prepared for the assault.

Opposing the Confederates was a Federal cavalry brigade led by Colonel Charles Smith, who had deployed across the intersection of the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road and the Oakville Road. Smith had about 1,200 troopers and two cannon under Lieutenant James Lord.

After receiving scattered artillery fire since daybreak, Gordon's troops advanced in a left wheel spearheaded by General Bryan Grimes' division. A member of the 1st North Carolina Sharpshooters, Henry Bahnson noted: "I never saw [a charge] so magnificently executed as this. Our men advanced as regularly as though on parade and as the shells and grape ploughed through the ranks the files closed up without faltering. [The men] broke into a double quick and with the old time yell and an irresistible rush they carried the enemy's position . . . ." General Roberts' North Carolina cavalry brigade charged ahead and captured Lord's two artillery pieces.

Gordon s men drove Smith s brigade from the ridge and repulsed several counter attacks before reinforcements of Federal infantry from the Army of the James arrived to block the road once again. After initial clashes with the Federal infantry, Gordon's command withdrew across the Appomattox River to the Northeast and couriers with truce flags advanced from the Confederate lines. Fitz Lee escaped to the Northwest, with the cavalry divisions of Generals Rosser and Munford.

"The division had not proceeded very far before [the] brigades were exposed to a murderous artillery fire, but, instead of halting and recoiling, they promptly charged and captured it."

Shortly thereafter:
"An infantry captain was captured and brought before me, and gave me the first information that [Federal] General Ord with ten thousand infantry was in our front."
Major General Bryan Grimes

As the last of Gordon's corps retreated to the Appomattox River valley 25 volunteers of the 4th and 14th North Carolina Infantry under the direction of Captain Wilson Jenkins remained behind, near here, to slow the Federal pursuit The stalwart band fought until nearly surrounded and forced to surrender.

Major General John B. Gordon
Private Henry T. Bahnson
Major General Bryan Grimes
Captain Wilson Jenkins
HM NumberHM1L8H
Placed ByNational Park Service
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, June 21st, 2015 at 10:01am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 694841 N 4139017
Decimal Degrees37.37745000, -78.79940000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 22.647', W 78° 47.964'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 22' 38.82" N, 78° 47' 57.84" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)434
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near National Park Dr, Appomattox VA 24522, US
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Nearby Markersshow on map
Tibbs Lane
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McLean House
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North Carolina
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Wartime Landscape
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Appomattox Court House
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April 1865, a War Memorial
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Clover Hill Tavern
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