Towards Appomattox and Surrender
Sheridan's Pursuit - Thursday, April 6, 1865

Major General Phillip Sheridan - Library of CongressAfter the April 1st Battle of Five Forks and the ensuing collapse of the Confederate lines around Petersburg, General Robert E. Lee ordered his exhausted, famished troops west in an attempt to link with a supply train and the food they so desperately needed. To do so required outrunning the relentless federal troops who sought to finally defeat their long time foe. Union Cavalry commander Phillip Sheridan, fresh from his April 1 victory, pushed his men hard to intercept and engage in final decisive battle the remnants of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Just five days after Five Forks, on April 6, 1865, Major General Sheridan would write to his commander of his continued success and his assessment of the status of the men in gray.

"Lieutenant General U. S. Grant,
Commanding Armies of the United States:

GENERAL: I have the honor to report that the enemy made a stand at the intersection of the Burke's Station road with the road upon which they were retreating. I attacked them with two divisions of the Sixth Army Corps and routed them handsomely, making a connection with the cavalry. I am still pressing on with both cavalry and infantry. Up to the present time we have captured Generals Ewell, Kershaw, Barton, Corse, De Foe [Du Bose], and Custis Lee, several thousand prisoners, 14 pieces of artillery, with caissons, and a large number of wagons. If the thing is pressed I think that Lee will surrender.


Major-General, Commanding." [5]

Upon hearing of Sheridan's report, President Abraham Lincoln famously responded, "Let the thing be pressed" [55]