A friend and I traveled to the Five Forks battlefield, hoping to improve our understanding of the role of the 38th Virginia Infantry (the “Pittsylvania Regiment”) in the battle.
The area around Five Forks is still rural and undeveloped, probably looking much as it did on April 1, 1865, although of course the roads are now paved.
The 38th Virginia was part of Steuart’s Brigade. So maps such as this one would lead one to believe that the regiment was entrenched on White Oak Road, with the rest of the brigade.
But in fact the 38th had been detached from the brigade and was deployed on the extreme left of the Confederate line, north of the Angle.
We were able to find the entrenchments that the regiment would have occupied. They are now overgrown in young trees, but as the map above indicates, the area was clear at the time.
So while under attack from the federal forces advancing from the east, the regiment had a clear view of Crawford’s federal troops passing to their north and into the rear of the Confederate lines.
In a desperate attempt to meet the threat, Colonel Griggs pivoted the regiment to face north, and began to fire at the enveloping federals, but by this time the regiment, the division and the Army of Northern Virginia itself were doomed. Overwhelmed and being surrounded, the line collapsed. Some of the men of the 38th regiment were able to escape, but many were captured. With his crucial lifeline now gone, General Lee ordered the evacuation of Richmond and began his retreat, which would end with the surrender at Appomattox nine days later.
Many local men served in Company C, the Laurel Grove Riflemen. At least five of them were captured at Five Forks.
Samuel T. Crews had enlisted on March 15, 1862. A resident of Halifax County, he had been wounded at Gettsyburg. After being captured, he was sent to the federal prison in Point Lookout, Maryland. He was released on June 25, 1865.
Robert H. Greenwood. A 36 year-old wheelwright from Halifax County, he was sent to Point Lookout prison. He was released on June 27, 1865. His younger brother Benjamin had also enlisted in the Laurel Grove Riflemen. Benjamin died of pneumonia in Richmond in April 1862 at age 24. Their parents were Henry Greenwood and Rhoda Epps Greenwood.
John H.S. Hubbard. Enlisted in Danville on October 14, 1864. He was sent to Point Lookout prison on April 6, 1865, and was released on June 13, 1865. John was one of 15 children of Rev. Joel Hubbard and his wife Elizabeth Stone Hubbard. Forty years old when he enlisted, John was married to the former Anne Jackson and they had at least four children, all born before the war.
Thomas J. Johns. Having been severely wounded in the shoulder at the Battle of Seven Pines on May 31, 1862, Thomas had been absent from the company recovering from his wound until Feb. 25, 1865, a little over a month before the battle. He was sent to Point Lookout prison and was released on June 14, 1865.
He enlisted on May 30, 1861 and had been hospitalized with illnesses three times before being captured at Five Forks. He was sent to Point Lookout prison and later released on June 17, 1865. He married Eliza Ann Chaney on April 3, 1858 and they had raised ten children. Abram is buried in the Chaney Burying Grounds on Reeves Mill Road in Keeling.