The Savannah Volunteer Guard




War and Military Action

The War Between the States - Saylor's Creek*

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?'"**

Individual 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 down.
  • 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 the field.
  • 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