Author: Patrick Schroeder

who is the historian at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, and has written or edited and published more than twenty Civil War—related titles. Among the works he has authored are Thirty Myths About Lee's Surrender (2002); More Myths About Lee's Surrender (1996); The Confederate Cemetery At Appomattox (1999); The Pennsylvania Bucktails: A Photographic History of the 42nd, 149th, 150th Pennsylvania Regiments (2001); and We Came To Fight: The History of the 5th New York Veteran Volunteer Infantry, Duryee's Zouaves, 1863—1865 (1998)

Joseph Hooker (1814–1879)

Joseph Hooker was a Union general during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and, for the first half of 1863, commander of the Army of the Potomac. Nicknamed “Fighting Joe,” Hooker was a Regular Army veteran with a checkered reputation—rumors of drunkenness dogged him for much of his career—and a talent for political infighting. When he took over the army from Ambrose E. Burnside after the debacle at Fredericksburg (1862), the Army of the Potomac’s morale was at an all-time low and desertion an all-time high. He reorganized its forces, virtually halted desertion, established reliable intelligence gathering, and, most important, boosted confidence. He also developed an elaborate plan secretly to flank Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia on the south side of the Rappahannock River, boasting to his army that “certain destruction awaits” the Confederates. At the Battle of Chancellorsville (1863), however, it was Hooker who was famously flanked and eventually forced to retreat. He then became a victim of infighting, and a few days before the Battle of Gettysburg (1863) gave up his command to George G. Meade.


Sailor’s Creek, Battles of

The Battles of Sailor’s Creek—there were three of them—were fought on April 6, 1865, part of the Appomattox Campaign on the fourth day of Confederate general Robert E. Lee‘s retreat from Petersburg during the American Civil War (1861–1865). Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant had besieged the railroad hub south of Richmond for ten months before finally breaking through at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1. Both Richmond and Petersburg fell the next day, and Lee set his Army of Northern Virginia in retreat to the west, harassed the whole way by Union cavalry and quickly marching infantry. On April 6, a gap opened up between Confederate troops under James Longstreet and those under Richard H. Anderson, Richard S. Ewell, and John B. Gordon. Union cavalry and infantry attacked Anderson at Marshall’s Crossroads. At the same time, the Union Sixth Corps attacked and overwhelmed Ewell after crossing the rain-swollen Sailor’s Creek. A later attack against Gordon was stopped by darkness, but by day’s end, the Confederates had suffered more than 8,000 casualties, including the capture of Ewell and eight other generals. Lee, watching from a hilltop, wondered if his whole army hadn’t dissolved. He would surrender to Grant three days later.


Appomattox Campaign

The Appomattox Campaign, March 29–April 9, 1865, consisted of a series of engagements south and west of the Confederate capital at Richmond that ended in the surrender by Robert E. Lee of the Army of Northern Virginia during the American Civil War (1861–1865). During his Overland Campaign the previous spring, Union general-in-chief Ulysses S. Grant had relentlessly pursued Lee before settling into a ten-month siege of the Confederate transportation hub at Petersburg, south of Richmond. Grant was finally able to dislodge Lee’s army at the Battle of Five Forks (1865), allowing him to take Petersburg and then Richmond. The Confederates fled to Southside Virginia in an attempt to unite with Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee, but Grant maneuvered Lee into a trap near the village of Appomattox Court House. There, on April 9, the Confederate general received terms of surrender from Grant. In short order, the remaining Confederate armies also laid down their arms and the war ended.