Important or Major Battles in 1865
- Second Battle of Fort Fisher
- Battle of Bentonville
- Battle of Five Forks
- Battle of Sailor’s Creek (Sayler’s Creek)
- Battle of Appomattox Courthouse
In 1865, almost all of the Battles were Union victories, and with Robert E. Lee surrendering on April 10, ended the war in the Eastern Theatre. The Final Battle of the War was fought in Cameron County, Texas, on May 13, 1865, but mostly all Confederates stopped fighting after Appomattox Courthouse. After the war, the South was put under military occupation, and the reconstruction era started, which was a hard time for the south.
Before the war, the south had most of the richest states in the Union, but it has the poorest states of the Union to this day. A lot of the south’s towns and cities were destroyed by the war, and they had horrible economic problems. The population had decreased greatly, both north and south. Overall the Union had 853,838 military casualties with 110,100 killed in action, 224,580 died of disease, 275,154 wounded in action, and 211,411 captured, and 30,192 died as P.O.W.s.
The Confederates had 94,000 killed in action, 164,000 disease deaths, 194,026 wounded in action, 462,343 captured, and 31,000 died as P.O.W.s. Overall for both sides, there were a total of 828,000 Union casualties and 864,000 Confederate Casualties, and for both sides there were 616,222-1,000,000 deaths, 50,000 civilian deaths, and 80,000 slave deaths. The American Civil War was the worst war ever fought on American soil, and the worst war in all United States History.
1865 was the final year of the war, and the south had basically already lost by the beginning of the year. When the south eventually lost, they were put under military occupation, and many southern civilians had to beg on the streets for food. All of the slaves in the south were freed, but they were not educated and had to fend for themselves. They were also segregated from the white southerners. Confederate President Jefferson Davis was put in prison.
Also, on April 14, 1865, United States President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theatre, Washington D.C. He was succeeded by his Vice President, Andrew Johnson.
Second Battle of Fort Fisher
The Second Battle of Fort Fisher was fought from January 13-15, 1865 in New Hanover County, North Carolina. Before the landings, Union gunboats shelled the fort, which made the landings easier. A landing force of 2,000 men consisting of navy and army landing near Fort Fisher on January 13. The federals were commanded by General Kidder Breese, and they were routed by the Confederates. This attack, however, drew Confederate attention away from another attack party led by Brevet General Newton M. Curtis. At 2:00 P.M. Curtis attacked and took the northern wall, but his brigade suffered heavy casualties due to Confederate snipers, and two of his colonels were killed.
Seeing what he thought was an opportunity, Confederate General William H.C. Whiting ordered a counterattack. As his men charged into the Yankees, he was grabbed by a Union soldier who commanded him to surrender, and then shot Whiting who was mortally wounded. Whiting would die of his wounds on March 10, 1865. Union gunboats again kept firing at the fort with deadly aim. The battle raged on deep into the night, and the Confederate surrendered on January 15. With the capture of the fort and all of the surviving men, it was a major victory for the Union who suffered 1,057 casualties (664 army and 393 navy) while the Confederate suffered 1,900 casualties.
Battle of Bentonville
Battle of Bentonville was in Johnston County, North Carolina and lasted from March 19-21, 1865. Following his March to the Sea, Union General William T. Sherman and his 60,000 men started the Campaign of the Carolinas in which he swept through South Carolina, and moved into North Carolina only to be met by Commanding Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston army of 21,900. The Rebels attacked on March 19, and Union General Henry W. Slocum engaged them, but he was pushed back. The Confederates were attacked by Slocum in their right wing, and after they overran the Union field hospital, they were pushed back in confusion.
The Confederates tried to break the Union line at night, but they were unsuccessful. At about midnight, the Confederate fell back and dug trenches. In the Afternoon of March 20, Slocum drove the Southerns back to Mill Creek, but then the Confederate Cavalry drove Slocum back in a light skirmish. On March 21, Union General Joseph A. Mower attacked the Confederate left flank, making the Confederates retreat, ending the battle. Overall, the Union had 1,527 casualties, and the Confederates had 2,606 making it a Union victory.
Battle of Five Forks
The Battle of Five Forks was fought on April 1, 1865 in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. The Battle was part of the Appomattox Campaign, which was the final campaign in the Eastern Theatre of the war. Confederate General George Pickett had only 10,600 men, and he was hit by Union General Gouverneur K. Warren in his rear, but Union General Phillip Sheridan stupidly told Warren to let Pickett retreat. When Pickett retreated to Five Forks, Sheridan decided to pursue him, and sent General George A. Custer to do it. Custard sent them on the run at Bear Swamp. Sheridan then planned an attack: Custer’s Cavalry would attack the Confederate right flank, and Warren would attack the left flank with his infantry.
The Union routed the Rebel’s Cavalry, and they fell back to White Oak Road after the Union charged. After that at about 4:15 P.M. the Union V Corps attacked, and there was heavy fighting at the White Oak Road. There was hand-to-hand combat, and the two armies were so close to each other that they could barely shoot. Many officers were killed or wounded in the fighting such as Union General Frederick Winthrop and Union Colonel Richard N. Bowerman. Later, Union General Charles Griffin joined the main attack, and the Confederates were pushed back even farther.
By that point Pickett had rejoined the battle, but the Confederate right and left flank had collapsed, and they had withdrawn before nightfall, making it a Union victory. The Northerns only suffered only 830 casualties, but the Confederates suffered a whopping 2,950 casualties.
Battle of Sailor’s Creek (Sayler’s Creek)
The Battle of Sailor’s Creek was fought on April 6, 1865 in Amelia, Prince Edward, and Nottoway County Virginia. On the Rainy Morning of April 6, Union General Andrew A. Humphreys attacked the Confederates at 9:00 A.M., and Union General Gershom Mott was wounded. Confederate General John B. Gordon’s men suffered heavy casualties, and they had 1,700 captured. Union General George Crook started to use hit and run tactics on the Rebels at Sailor’s Creek. The Union burned the Confederate Wagons, but they were driven away.
The Union deployed a pincer maneuver, and the Confederates were routed, being shot in the back as they tried to retreat. All of Confederate General Richard S. Ewell’s men were either killed, captured, missing, or captured, including Ewell himself, making it another major Union victory. The Union had a total of 1,148 casualties, and the Confederates had 7,700 captured, but the number of casualties is unknown. It probably greatly exceeded the Union’s casualties.
Battle of Appomattox Courthouse
The Battle of Appomattox Courthouse was fought on April 9, 1865, in Appomattox County, Virginia and was the last battle of the Eastern Theatre of the war, and the final battle of the Appomattox Campaign. At Dawn on April 9, Confederate General John B. Gordon attacked Union General Phillip Sheridan’s Cavalry, and they took the ridge, but when they saw the entire Union XXIV Corps on the other side of the hill, Confederate General Robert E. Lee immediately told them to withdraw. They retreated towards Lynchburg. Lee saw that many of his men were starving, tired, and low on ammo, and he decided that the only option was to surrender.
He sent a leader to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, and they met at Appomattox Courthouse. Union General George Custer wanted an Unconditional Surrender, but instead Grant decided Lee’s men would not be taken as P.O.W.s, and not be charged for treason, but they would be free to go after they were paroled. On April 10, Lee gave a farewell address to his men, and they were sent home. In the end, the Union had 164 casualties, and the Confederates had 500 casualties, and all the rest of their 26,000 men surrendered, ending the war in the Eastern Theatre.