Ewell's Line of Defense

Ewell's Line of Defense (HM7LX)

Location: Rice, VA 23966 Amelia County
Country: United States of America

N 37° 18.194', W 78° 13.631'

  • 0 check ins
  • 0 favorites

The Confederates Dig In

On Thursday, April 6, 1865, this high ground above Little Sailor's Creek was protected by troops from the Richmond fortifications under Confederate General Richard S. Ewell. They hurriedly threw up a line of breastworks consisting of fence rails and earth in preparation for the inevitable attack. For many, this would be their first and last battle.

Shortly after 5 p.m., Union artillery under Major Andrew Cowan, positioned directly across the valley at the Hillsman farm, began a thirty minute bombardment along this line. The Confederates had to endure the cannonade without returning fire as they had no artillery with them.

After the shelling stopped, the Southerners anxiously watched as two divisions (about 7,000 men) of General Horatio Wright's Sixth Corps formed into a line of battle and waded the waist-deep creep below them.

As the Federal soldiers moved up the slope toward the waiting Confederates, many of them taunted Ewell's men by waving handkerchiefs, trying to induce them to surrender. Instead, the Confederates rose and fired two deadly volleys into the Union ranks, causing a portion of the line to break and retreat to the creek. The Southerners then counterattacked, during which fierce hand-to-hand fighting broke out.

Soon Ewell's men, realizing their desperate situation, began surrendering. At the battle's end, about 3,400 men and six generals laid down their arms and were sent off as Northern prisoners. In total, General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia would lose approximately 7,700 men in the fighting around Sailor's Creek, nearly one-fifth of his fighting force. Lee would surrender close to 30,000 men 72 hours later at Appomattox Court House.

"The battle degenerated into a butchery of brutal personal conflicts. I saw ? men kill each other with bayonets and the butts of muskets, and even bite each other's throats and ears and noses, rolling on the ground like wild beasts."
- Confederate Major Robert Stiles

Sidebar: One Union soldier, Private Samuel Eddy, was pinned to the ground by a bayonet that had been thrust through his body. A Southern soldier tried to take Eddy's rifle from him, but Eddy, despite his awful wound, managed to shoot and kill his assailant, withdraw the bayonet from his body, rise to his feet and walk to the Hillsman house where he was treated. He survived this wound and was eventually given the Medal of Honor. Fifty-six others also received the medal for their actions at Sailor's Creek.
HM NumberHM7LX
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails, Department of Conservation and Recreation
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Monday, September 22nd, 2014 at 9:57pm PDT -07:00
Sorry, but we don't have a picture of this historical marker yet. If you have a picture, please share it with us. It's simple to do. 1) Become a member. 2) Adopt this historical marker listing. 3) Upload the picture.
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 745756 N 4132117
Decimal Degrees37.30323333, -78.22718333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 37° 18.194', W 78° 13.631'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds37° 18' 11.64" N, 78° 13' 37.86" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)434, 804
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 20931-20941 State Rte 617, Rice VA 23966, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

Is this marker missing? Are the coordinates wrong? Do you have additional information that you would like to share with us? If so, check in.

Check Ins  check in   |    all

Have you seen this marker? If so, check in and tell us about it.

Comments 0 comments

Maintenance Issues
  1. Is this marker part of a series?
  2. What historical period does the marker represent?
  3. What historical place does the marker represent?
  4. What type of marker is it?
  5. What class is the marker?
  6. What style is the marker?
  7. Does the marker have a number?
  8. What year was the marker erected?
  9. This marker needs at least one picture.
  10. Can this marker be seen from the road?
  11. Is the marker in the median?