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Battle of Five Forks

Sheridan's charge at Five Forks
(lithograph published c.1886)
The Battle of Five Forks, April 1, 1865, was the final Confederate offensive in the American Civil War.

The battle, commanded by Union Major General Philip Sheridan and Confederate Major General George Pickett, occurred in Dinwiddie County, Virginia and resulted in an estimated 3,780 casualties (830 northern and 2,950 southern).

Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered Pickett with his infantry division and three cavalry divisions to hold the crossroads of Five Forks. On April 1, while Sheridan’s cavalry pinned the Confederate force in position, the V Corps under Major General G.K. Warren attacked and overwhelmed the Confederate left flank, taking many prisoners. Sheridan personally directed the attack, which extended Lee’s Petersburg lines to the breaking point. The loss of Five Forks threatened Lee’s last supply line, the South Side Railroad. The next morning, Lee informed President Jefferson Davis that Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia must be evacuated. Union general Frederick Winthrop was killed and Willie Pegram, beloved Confederate artillery officer, was mortally wounded. Dissatisfied with his performance at Five Forks, Sheridan relieved Warren of command of the V Corps.