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April Park of the Month: Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park

Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park

A Park Rich in American History

Overton-Hillsman Farm House Museum

The Hillsman-Overton farm house was used as a field hospital during the Battles of Sailor's Creek in April 1865.

What does it mean to be on the National Register of Historical Places and a National Historic Landmark? To Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park it means recognition as a landmark of national significance and honors Virginia State Parks efforts to preserve the cultural landscape as it was in 1865.

Hillsman-Overton House in 1936

Battlefield at Sailor's Creek Battlefield in 1936

The Hillsman-Overton house and the battfield land in 1936.

Preserving the land where the Battles of Sailor’s Creek took place dates back to 1936 when the Virginia General Assembly appropriated $1,500 to purchase 10 acres of battlefield land and the small Southside Virginia farm house that served as a field hospital for Union and Confederate soldiers.  Over the years the park has continued to grow to approximately 380 acres along with an additional 741 acres that are in a conservation easement.

Hillsman-Overton House today.

The Hillsman-Overton Farm House Museum as it appears today.

Acquiring additional land is not the only preservation effort to take place at the park. Five years ago, the Overton-Hillsman farm house, circa 1780, was restored to reflect the 1865 conditions the family and soldiers experienced when the house served as field hospital. The house was acquired in 1936 and was unfurnished but using numerous primary sources a private donor was able to find and purchase furnishings to accurately recreate the physical surroundings of the home.  Visitors to the farm house are welcomed into the home of the Hillsman’s family where they learn about the 1865 conditions of the soldiers that were treated by medical personnel on the lawn and in the house.

Visitor Center

Visitors of all ages enjoy the exhibits at the park's Visitor Center.

In 2012 the park opened its Visitor Center that houses exhibits showcasing artifacts and research about the battles of Sailor’s Creek and the war’s impact on the citizens of Southside Virginia. Visitors can linger through the exhibits and travel back in time to that wet spring day on April 6, 1865, when 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.

Tactical Demonstration

Military demonstrations are held on the grounds of the Hillsman-Overton Museum
at various times of the year.

This year the park will celebrate the 149th anniversary of the battle on April 5, 2014.  Military demonstrations will be held throughout the day and a historical educational trail will be dedicated at 2:30 p.m.  For more information on this event, click here or call the park office at 804-561-7510.

The park is located at 6541 Saylers Creek Road, Rice, Va. From U.S. 460, take Route 617 (Saylers Creek Rd.) to the 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: 04/01/2014

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