The Battle of White Oak Road

The Battle of White Oak Road (HM9MA)

Location: Petersburg, VA 23803
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Country: United States of America
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N 37° 9.075', W 77° 32.766'

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March 31, 1865

Early on the morning of March 31, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee sent most of a division forward to attack the Federals from this location at White Oak Road. Fighting through the morning, the Confederate brigades enveloped and put to flight two Federal divisions in succession.

Lewellyn Shaver of the 60th Alabama was posted just west of here. There, "we were in line of battle in a piece of woods in front of which distant about 50 yards lay the road. Beyond ? an extensive field - probably a mile and a half in length by a half mile in width. In this field, about a hundred and fifty yards from the road, was a line of picket holes, each fifty yards apart, occupied by Confederate riflemen." Beyond, Shaver noted, "two heavy lines of battle of Federal infantry, distinctly visible on the further edge of the field."

Four Confederate brigades formed in the woods on the north side of White Oak Road, then advanced and smashed into the Federal columns. Brigadier General Romeyn B. Ayres' Federal division shattered under the onslaught and fled, along with Brigadier General Samuel Crawford's division, back across Gravelly Run to the south. A member of the 6th Wisconsin, one of the regiments in Crawford's division, recalled, "The formation of our lines was not completed before the enemy attacked us, bursting through gaps in our lines ? catching the 3rd brigade while getting into position and driving them back in confusion, which exposed the right flank of our brigade and our regiment especially."

Confederate General Robert E. Lee rode along these fortifications on the morning of March 31st inspecting the lines. He learned from Bushrod Johnson's men that Union troops in front of the works had their "left flank in the air." To take advantage of this careless disposition of Union troops, Lee was determined to attack and to roll up the exposed Union flank.
HM NumberHM9MA
Placed ByCivil War Preservation Trust
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 at 6:57am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 273887 N 4114686
Decimal Degrees37.15125000, -77.54610000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 9.075', W 77° 32.766'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 9' 4.50" N, 77° 32' 45.96" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)804, 434, 757
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 20813 State Rte 613, Petersburg VA 23803, US
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