The battle of Sailor's Creek: a study in leadership
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The Battle of Sailor's Creek, 6 April 1865, has been overshadowed by Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House several days later, yet it is an example of the Union military war machine reaching its apex of war making ability during the Civil War. Through Ulysses S. Grant's leadership and that of his subordinates, the Union armies, specifically that of the Army of the Potomac, had been transformed into a highly motivated, organized and responsive tool of war, led by confident leaders who understood their commander's intent and were able to execute on that intent with audacious initiative in the absence of further orders. After Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia escaped from Petersburg and Richmond on 2 April 1865, Grant's forces chased after Lee's forces with the intent of destroying the mighty and once feared protector of the Confederate States in the hopes of bringing a swift end to the long war. At Sailor's Creek, Phil Sheridan, Grant's cavalry commander was able to put his forces south and west of Lee's Army trapping it between Sheridan's cavalry and George Meade's Army of the Potomac. After fighting a brutal, close quarters engagement, Union forces captured or killed the majority of two of Lee's corps, commanded by Richard H. Anderson and Richard S. Ewell, and severely attrited a third corps under John B. Gordon, leaving Lee only James Longstreet's corps intact to continue the struggle.
Smith, Cloyd Allen, Jr. (2005). The battle of Sailor's Creek: a study in leadership. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from