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MLK Day at Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park Features Role of African-American Soldiers During Appomattox Campaign

An under reported fact of the American Civil War Appomattox Campaign that whirled through Southside, VA, in early April 1865, is the active role of African-American soldiers. Bringing this reality to light is the aim of a special Martin Luther King program at Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park’s visitor center on Monday, January 16 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Sailor's Creek Battlefield State Park will host an education program Jan 16 on the African-American soldiers role during the American Civil War.

Union Infantry (U. S. Colored Troops) are shown firing from a picket station at Dutch Gap Canal, Chesterfield VA, in late 1864. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress.

This special program is hosted and presented by park manager, American Civil War historian and author, Chris Calkins, who has spent nearly 40 years learning and sharing the details of the last campaign of the American Civil War in Virginia. Drawing on primary resources--letters, diaries, reports, and other sources--Calkins will highlight the role of Union troops (U.S. Colored) and scattered reports of African-American soldiering for the Confederacy, during April 2-9, 1865.

An open discussion period for questions and answers follows the talk. Members of the public are invited to bring lounge chairs to use in the exhibit hall where the talk will be held. The program is most suitable for adults and older children. For more information, click here.

Both the state park and the Overton-Hillsman Farm House Museum are on the National Register of Historical Places and listed as a National Historic Landmark. On April 6, 1865 - the Black Thursday of the Confederacy - Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia lost 7,700 men, including eight generals, in the Battle of Little Sailor's Creek. This defeat was key to Lee's decision to surrender at Appomattox Court House 72 hours later, thus ending the war in Virginia. The Overton-Hillsman house was used as a Union field hospital during the battle.

Sailor's Creek Battlefield State Park will host an education program Jan 16 on the African-American soldiers role during the American Civil War.

The park is located at 6541 Saylers Creek Road, Rice, Va. From U.S. 460, take Route 617 (Saylers Creek Rd.) to Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park. From U.S. 360, take State Route 307 (connecting highway between U.S. 360 and U.S. 460) to Route 617 North (Saylers Creek Rd.).

Drive Time :Northern Virginia, three to three and a half hours; Richmond, one to one and a half hours; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, two and a half to three hours; Roanoke, two hours.

Latitude, 37.305194. Longitude, -78.22764.


Published: 01/08/2012


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