Sailor’s Creek Battlefield and High Bridge Trail will Host Special Events
A tactical demonstration event of the actual battle of Sailor’s Creek as it unfolded on that “Black Thursday of the Confederacy”
For so many years past, High Bridge Trail. The site of two engagements during Lee’s Retreat to Appomattox, its story directly correlates to that of Sailor’s Creek.
Chris Calkins in the 1970's at the Hillsman Farm House
My connection with Sailor’s Creek began in the mid-1970’s when I was working for the National Park Service at Appomattox. In studying the final campaign in Virginia from Petersburg to Appomattox, I found very little detailed information on the last major battle to be fought before the surrender. Realizing that my research was breaking new ground on what exactly happened on April 6-7, 1865 at Sailor’s Creek, High Bridge, Farmville and Cumberland Church near the latter, I began writing a monograph of my findings, later to be published in 1980 as “Thirty-Six Hours Before Appomattox.”
Chris Calkins during the 1980's reenactment of the Battle of Sailor's Creek
Thirty Five years later, in a career with the National Park Service spanning stints at Fredericksburg-Spotsylvania and Petersburg National Battlefield, I had the opportunity to retire and accept the job as first full-time manager of the state park at Sailor’s Creek. With great backing from the then Director, Joe Elton, in six years the park could now boast a fully restored house museum (Hillsman house field hospital), a brand new visitor center with a museum and conference room/research library, landscape restoration to the period of 1865, numerous historical walking trails throughout the battlefield, not to mention additional battlefield land acquired to tell the story of the park.
Reenactors at the Confederate Overlook during the reenactment of the Battle of Sailor's Creek in the 1980's
With the coming of spring this year, the state’s Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War will be coming to a close with final events being held the week of April 8-12 at Appomattox. Literally thousands of individuals will be descending on the site “where our Nation Reunited,” to participate in the final drama of the war in Virginia. But along the way visitors are now able to learn about the events of the campaign by way of the 26-stop interpretive programs dealing with the engagements to preserve this strategic crossing of the Appomattox River valley for the two armies.
As Southside Virginia is going to be in the spotlight this year, visitors to our Commonwealth will find that Sailor’s Creek battlefield now beholds the title of “must see” as they learn about the tragedy of the final days of a war that was almost over.