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145th Anniversary of Confederate Waterloo Marked with Living History Demonstrations

DINWIDDIE – The 145th anniversary of the Battle of Five Forks was marked yesterday with artillery and infantry demonstrations at the intersection which hasn’t changed too much since 1865.

“It’s called five forks because the five roads join together here,” said Mike Hendricks, a re-enactor at the event portraying a 1st Corps, Virginia, soldier. Hendricks said that the unit suffered some of the heaviest losses of the war. “There were only about 20 soldiers remaining by the surrender.”

The surrender at Appomattox Courthouse took place a week after the battle at Five Forks. The defeat at Five Forks is sometimes referred to as the Confederate’s Waterloo. The actual battle took place April 1, 1865.

Hendricks said that 145 years ago, the five roads still intersected, but there far more trees in the area. The trees and thick underbrush contributed to two decisive factors in the battle: the delayed arrival of Union soldiers and Maj. Gen. George E. Pickett not hearing the sounds of battle.

Pickett was some distance away from the actual lines enjoying a shad bake with several other commanders. He and the other commanders were not with the units when the Union Army struck, leading to confusion on the Confederate lines, which broke under the Union attack.

Today fields flank two of the roads. The fields were where many of the demonstrations yesterday took place.

“This is our first time to Five Forks,” said Lauren Dunn who came to the event with Mark Williamson. She said the two have travelled to other places in the area including Pamplin Park – also in Dinwiddie – before, but never to Five Forks. “There’s just so much history in this area.”1

To read the entire article at The Petersburg Progress-Index, click here.

  1. Wiggins, F.M.. “145th anniversary of Confederate Waterloo marked with living history demonstrations.” Petersburg Progress-Index. Petersburg Progress-Index. Web. 28 Mar. 2010.
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