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There was little to see on the auto tour, few signs, and the park area itself was fairly small too.
Sailor's Creek Battlefield Historical State Park
Closest available address
6541 Creek Road, Rice, VA 23966
Visitor Center is open 10-5. Mon.-Sat., 12-5 on Sun. Park is open dawn-dusk.
Best time to visit
Summer, Fall, Spring
Sailor's Creek Battlefield State Park is a 380 acre park about an hour by car from Richmond. The park includes part of the grounds on which the Battle of Sailor’s Creek was fought during the Civil War on April 6, 1865. The battle was a disaster for the Confederate Army; a quarter of its forces were captured including senior generals. The park has a small but informative visitor center/museum about the battle and the Appomattox Campaign. There is a driving tour and some hiking trails as well. A historic home which was used as a field hospital during the battle was closed during a visit here in April 2015.
Following the fall of Petersburg and Richmond on April 2, The Confederate Army headed west seeking to elude pursuing Union forces and eventually move south to join other Confederate forces operating in North Carolina. While Southern troops had a head start, they lost time due to poor roads, local flooding and the need to forage for provisions. Also, their forces were continually harassed by Union cavalry. The Battle of Sailor’s Creek, actually comprises three local engagements fought around the same time. The primary engagement took place when portions of the Confederate Army became trapped in and around Sailor’s Creek due to delays of waiting for supply trains and the speed of Union pursuers, especially cavalry. Battle lines formed late in the day near the Hillsman House. Initial Union attacks were repulsed, but when the Confederates counterattacked their troops became surrounded which forced a surrender. The rest of the Confederate Army surrendered at Appomattox a few days a later.
It took about an hour to drive from Appomattox to the Sailor’s Creek Battlefield. There were only a few visitors here on a Saturday afternoon, and there was about an hour left to see the museum before it closed. If you like to read all the signs, watch videos and get immersed in information when you visit a historical site, give yourself at least an hour at this museum; it’s the best part of the battlefield experience and included a number of interesting signs, detailed maps and other historical displays that cover events from the fall of Richmond to Appomattox. As for the battlefield experience, it rated below average. There is an auto tour but it was difficult to get a sense of the fighting from the various stops, and most of the stops were outside park grounds. Views of the fields and forests were not bad in places and little development has taken place in the area, but more detailed information and additional stops could have helped to understand the actions and events on the battlefield. There was insufficient time to walk two short trails, perhaps doing so would have helped a bit to get a richer historical experience. Also, the Hillsman House was closed. It’s been restored to appear as it looked the battle when it was used as a field hospital. If you want to see the house, call the park in advance to check on visiting hours. For Civil War types, a visit here could fit in reasonably well with a visit to Appomattox. They are close enough to do both in one day, but it would be a long day. For a general audience, the Appomattox park will be a more interesting excursion. Living history events are held at Sailor’s Creek; a schedule is on the park’s website.
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