Sutherland Station

Joined
Oct 9, 2017
Messages
500
Location
Southern Virginia
#1
Yesterday I visited the site of the Battle of Sutherland Station, then drove along the path of the retreat to Appomattox. I'll post pictures from Appomattox and along the route of the retreat later. Here are a few to give a sense of the Sutherland site.

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This battle map comes from Wilson Greene's excellent book The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign.

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Heth's Division had been driven from their works earlier in the morning and had fallen back to a position along the Cox Road, where they entrenched and threw up works to defend the Southside Railroad. While they were digging in, a courier arrived with news of the death of A.P. Hill and ordering General Heth to take command of the Corps. Command of the Division then passed to General John Rogers Cooke. From this position the Confederates beat back two Federal assaults, before being routed and scattered by the third and final attack.

The Confederate right was near Sutherland Tavern and their left was near Ocran Methodist Church--a distance of about a half mile.

Sutherland Tavern is still standing.

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Ocran Church is also still there, although obviously rebuilt since the time of the war.

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Today Cox Road is a busy divided highway.

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Although there isn't much to see of the old battlefield, a visitor (this one at least) will be impressed at how compact the Confederate position was, and therefore how easily it could be flanked by a superior force.

The railroad is only a couple hundred yards north of Cox Road and is still in operation. A train came by while I was there.

A highlight of the visit was spending a little time in Olger's Store and Museum, which is directly across the road from the Tavern. Mr. Jimmy Olger (age 79) will be happy to share stories of his family, his life and the community of Sutherland.

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Joined
Dec 31, 2010
Messages
6,201
Location
Kingsport, Tennessee
#4
Yesterday I visited the site of the Battle of Sutherland Station, then drove along the path of the retreat to Appomattox. I'll post pictures from Appomattox and along the route of the retreat later. Here are a few to give a sense of the Sutherland site.

View attachment 301899

View attachment 301900

View attachment 301902

This battle map comes from Wilson Greene's excellent book The Final Battles of the Petersburg Campaign.

View attachment 301887

Heth's Division had been driven from their works earlier in the morning and had fallen back to a position along the Cox Road, where they entrenched and threw up works to defend the Southside Railroad. While they were digging in, a courier arrived with news of the death of A.P. Hill and ordering General Heth to take command of the Corps. Command of the Division then passed to General John Rogers Cooke. From this position the Confederates beat back two Federal assaults, before being routed and scattered by the third and final attack.

The Confederate right was near Sutherland Tavern and their left was near Ocran Methodist Church--a distance of about a half mile.

Sutherland Tavern is still standing.

View attachment 301888

Ocran Church is also still there, although obviously rebuilt since the time of the war.

View attachment 301889

Today Cox Road is a busy divided highway.

View attachment 301890

View attachment 301891

Although there isn't much to see of the old battlefield, a visitor (this one at least) will be impressed at how compact the Confederate position was, and therefore how easily it could be flanked by a superior force.

The railroad is only a couple hundred yards north of Cox Road and is still in operation. A train came by while I was there.

A highlight of the visit was spending a little time in Olger's Store and Museum, which is directly across the road from the Tavern. Mr. Jimmy Olger (age 79) will be happy to share stories of his family, his life and the community of Sutherland.

View attachment 301894
View attachment 301896
View attachment 301897

View attachment 301898
Outstanding ! Thank you sir !
 
Joined
Oct 9, 2017
Messages
500
Location
Southern Virginia
#5
Outstanding ! Thank you sir !
According to Greene's book, Cooke's Brigade retired in good order down the Nazomine Road. But the other Confederate brigades did not, with many of the men retreating to the river and finding it impossible to cross. The Federals took a lot of prisoners. That explains how your ancestor was likely captured that day. Until your recent post I wasn't even aware that Scales' Brigade fought in this battle.
 
Joined
Apr 12, 2019
Messages
16
Location
Richmond, Virginia
#7
The tactics at Sutherland Station are eerily similar to Five Forks. Isolate a Confederate force with flanks that are neither supported or securely anchored on any terrain feature. Pin them down in front. Sweep around their left flank. The fighting at Sutherland Station finally realizes what Grant hoped to accomplish during the Overland campaign. Break the Confederates up and get them out in the open, away from fortifications. Not the most lopsided battle in terms of numbers but their vulnerable position doomed Cooke's men.

Heth deserves some blame. He told Cooke to hold onto the position to protect the South Side Railroad and then rode east along the tracks. His path was blocked by elements of the Union Sixth Corps (who had broken through closer to the city), so he ventured north, crossed the Appomattox, and journeyed to Petersburg on the north side of the river. Heth never sent an update back to Cooke that the railroad had already been cut by Union forces, negating the need to protect it at Sutherland's.
 

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