Appomattox Campaign, Episode 12: Cumberland Church (HD)


[Banjo Music] I’m standing in front of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church here, just north of Farmville. By the morning of April 7, 1865 General Robert
E. Lee has ordered his entire Army of Northern Virginia to cross to the north side of the
Appomattox River, to burn all the bridges behind them, and hopefully use the river as
a buffer to slow down Grant’s pursuit. That will be frustrated by the battle back
at High Bridge. The Federal soldiers have been able to put
out the fires on the small wagon bridge, and begin crossing to the north side – right in
the Confederate footsteps. For Robert E. Lee, he will establish his headquarters
near this church on the afternoon of April 7th, and his army will begin digging in right
here in this area. General Grant and his forces will occupy Farmville,
and two actions will take place right here in the vacinity of Cumberland Church that
afternoon. Federal cavalry under General J. Irvin Gregg
are going to cross the Appomattox River and attack this position, and they are repulsed. And, General Gregg himself will be taken prisoner
– the last Union general to be captured during the Civil War. Also in this vacinity, the 2nd Corps of the
Union army will begin attacking here, and one of their generals named Thomas Smythe will
be mortally wounded – the last Union general to die in the Civil War. Those brief, scattered Union assaults on this
position are stopped by sunset. The Confederates will have some time that
evening to move on. Robert E. Lee, from this position that evening,
will receive General Grant’s first communication suggesting that he surrender his army. Lee refuses to do this and instead will order
his army to continue marching that night heading west toward Appomattox Station.

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