and Military Action
Between the States - Saylor's
On April 6, 1865 at
Sailor's Creek, nearly one fourth of the retreating Confederate army was
cut off by Sheridan's Cavalry and elements of the II and VI Corps. Most
surrendered, including Confederate generals Richard S. Ewell, Barton,
Simms, Kershaw, Custis Lee, Dubose, Hunton, and Corse. This action was
considered the death knell of the Confederate army. Upon seeing the survivors
streaming along the road, Lee exclaimed 'My God, has the army dissolved?'"**
Acts of Heroism
- Private Henry Cook,
who would never learn to drill properly had been assigned to duty with
the wagons until the retreat began. He was killed defending the camp
and while fighting with extraordinary courage.
- Private Percy Elliott,
attacking a Union soldier of great size and strength with his bayonet,
was overpowered and borne to the ground. As his antagonist was about
to kill him, another man, Lieutenant Turner, despite his own wounds,
ran to the enemy and shot him with his pistol, and was himself shot
- Lieutenant Grant
took a regimental colour from its bearer and presented it to his commander.
Told to throw it down and go on with the charge, he fell as he turned
away, leaving the captured standard at the feet of his chief beneath
the folds of his own flag.
- Lieutenant King,
with captured colours in his hand, came upon one of the enemy dressed
in a Confederate uniform (a spy), who had overpowered Captain Rice and
had him on the ground. Putting the muzzle of his pistol directly on
Captain Rice's breast, he shot him there. But before he oculd rise up
from his crime, Lieutenant King shot him through the head, and was himself
immediately slain. Thus, victor, victim, and avenger lay together upon
- A group of soldiers
including Sergeant CB Postell and Sergeant George James were surrounded
and refused to surrender. they were all killed while fighting desperately.
- Lieutenant Tupper,
impetuous as usual, while driving the enemy back beyond the creek, pursued
too far and fell there with a wound that proved to be mortal.
- Private John Douglass
of Company B saved the life of his commanding officer by shooting, just
in time, a man who was aiming at him from behind a tree within two paces.
If the whole truth
could be told, with all its incidents, it would probably appear that every
man of the Guards was engaged in personal conflict with one or more of
the enemy, and that while many fell, many were victorious. In a regiment
of 85 men, 30 were killed and 22 were wounded.
More detail is available
in History of the Savannah Volunteer Guards, Inc. 1802-1992 by
Henry J. Kennedy.
*On modern topographical
maps the branch upon which the battle was fought is labeled Big Sayler's
Creek. Other sources also indicate the spelling as Sailor's or Sayler's
Creek. The SVG maintains the continuity of use for "Saylor".
**Text courtesy of Paths
of the Civil War.com