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A Life’s Work Honored

Many years ago, a young man, Chris Calkins in his early twenties embarked on trip from Detroit, Michigan to Appomattox, Virginia where he was to start a journey that would affect the rest of his life and how the history of the last 72 hours of the American Civil War was told.  

Exhibits at Sailor's Creek

American Civil War author, Greg Eanes, glances over the exhibits at the park's Visitor Center.

If you are not familiar with the battles of Sailor’s Creek here is what transpired on that spring day on April 6, 1865.  Confederate and Union soldiers and a galaxy of generals met at Sailor’s Creek for what would be the last major battle of the American Civil War in Virginia.  As darkness settled over the battlefield, Lee pondered his losses.  More than 7,700 men of the Army of Northern Virginia were gone.  This will be one of the largest surrenders of a military force in the field without the men being paroled during the war.  Three engagements at Sailor’s Creek, the Hillsman farm, Marshall’s Crossroads and the Lockett farm, took almost a quarter of Lee’s effective strength away.  His men would trudge along for another couple of days, but finally, 72 hours later, Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House.

Exhibits at the Visitor Center at Sailor's Creek.

Artifacts collected by Chris Calkins are given life by the exhibit designers from StudioAmmons in Petersburg, Virginia.

On Friday, March 9, 2012 dignitaries, co-workers, friends and family gathered at Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park to celebrate the opening of the exhibits at the park’s Visitor Center. Park Manager Chris Calkins has spent the majority of his life researching and writing about the battles of Sailor’s Creek.  His collection of artifacts and research has been given life by the exhibit designers from StudioAmmons in Petersburg, Virginia.

Exhibits at Sailor's Creek tell the story of the last 72 hours of the American Civil War.

Exhibits at Sailor's Creek tell the story of the last 72 hours of the American Civil War.

Director of Virginia State Parks, Joe Elton was the master of ceremonies and introduced guest speakers Jim Bennett, Vice Chairman of the Amelia County Board of Supervisors, Mitch Bowman, Executive Director of  Civil War Trails and Thomas M. Gilmore, Director of Real Estate for the Civil War Trust. The National Park Service, Museum of the Confederacy and Department of Conservation and Recreation were also represented.  

Park Manager Chris Calkins

Sailor's Creek Battlefield Historical State Park Manager Chris Calkins.

Mr. Calkins is the author of the highly acclaimed Lee’s Retreat driving tour along with twelve publications and numerous articles.  He served on the board of directors for eight years with the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, Inc. and helped broker the preservation of seven sites around Petersburg and Appomattox.

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at the park's Visitor Center.

The purpose of Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park is to preserve the cultural landscape as it was in 1865, and to provide historic setting to tell the story of the last major battle of the American Civil War in Virginia and its impact on the citizens of Southside Virginia. 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.

Mitch Bowman and Vicki Yates

Mitch Bowman, Executive Director Civil War Trails and Vicki Yates, Marketing Director Museum of the Confederacy.

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.


Published: 03/15/2012


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