One of the Last Unknowns
The Southern dead from the
Battle of Appomattox Court
House rest in a peaceful
cemetery. They include some
of the last unknown soldiers
of the Civil War.
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Appomattox Court House, Virginia
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Battle of Appomattox Court House, Virginia
Battle of Appomattox Court House
On the morning of April 9, 1865, Confederate
General Robert E. Lee ordered the Army of Northern
Virginia into its final battle.
Lee's Last Battle
The cannon of the Army of
Northern Virginia opened fire
for the last time at dawn on
the morning of April 9, 1865.
Confederate Cemetery
An interpretive panel at
Appomattox Court House
National Historical Park tells
the story of the small group of
soldiers buried there.
Battle of Appomattox Court House - Appomattox, Virginia
Last Battle of Gen. Robert E. Lee
The Battle of Appomattox Court House took
place on the morning of April 9, 1865, when
General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern
Virginia turned on the Union Army of the
Potomac one last time. The site is now part
of
Appomattox Court House National
Historical Park in Appomattox, Virginia.

Having retreated southwest from Richmond
following the breaking of his lines at
Petersburg, Lee was desperately trying to
keep his army intact until he could form a
junction with General Joseph E. Johnston's
army then moving up through North Carolina.
It was his last hope of turning almost certain
defeat into victory.

After four years of bitter war, the Confederacy
was beginning to crumble. General Ulysses
S. Grant's breakthrough at Petersburg had
forced the evacuation of Richmond by the
Confederate government and President
Jefferson Davis and other key officers had
fled by train to Danville, Virginia, to await
developments.

As Lee retreated across Virginia with Union
cavalry swarming around him, his army
began to disintegrate. Realizing that the end
had come, many of his soldiers deserted
and started for home. Thousands of others
were cut off or captured in a series of battles
that followed the retreating army.

Finally, as the Army of Northern Virginia
reached the small town of Appomattox Court
House on the afternoon of April 8, 1865,
Union troops closed the trap on Lee and
surrounded him from all directions. Meeting
with his key officers that night, he resolved to
attempt a final bold attack.

At dawn on the morning of April 9, 1865, the
Confederate cannon opened fire and
General John B. Gordon launched a furious
attack on the surrounding Union cavalry. The
Federal soldiers were positioned along a low
ridge just southwest of Appomattox Court
House. Lee, hoping that only cavalry was
present, sent Gordon's battle-hardened
infantry corps smashing into their lines.

The fighting was sharp and fierce. Gordon
swept aside the Union first line and charged
against a second line, held by the cavalry of
Generals Ranald McKenzie and George
Crook. The Federals here resisted even
more stiffly, but once again Gordon pressed
the issue and took the contested ridge.
Looking beyond the captured height,
however, General Gordon saw thousands of
Union infantry formed for battle. The Southern
forces had hoped that Grant's infantry had not
had time to reach the battlefield, but their
hopes were dashed as they looked out saw
the Federal XXVI and V Corps. Realizing that
he could not defeat the force before him,
Gordon sent word to Lee that he had fought
his men "to a frazzle."

Without heavy support from General James
Longstreet's Corps, Gordon reported that
there was nothing more he could hope to
accomplish.  Longstreet's men could already
see the Union II Corps advancing against
their own position. The battle was over.

The Battle of Appomattox Court House
marked the last attack of the Army of Northern
Virginia and was the final battle for General
Robert E. Lee. The famed Southern general
surrendered later that day.

The battlefield is now part of Appomattox
Court House National Historical Park on
Virginia Route 24, two miles from
Appomattox, Virginia. Southern dead are
buried in a small Confederate cemetery on
the grounds.
Please click here to learn more
about the park and Lee's surrender.
Photos by Heather LaBone
Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Custom Search