The Forgotten Battlefield - Battle Of Hanover Court House, Also Known As The Battle Of Slash Church

jcrook

Private
Joined
Oct 10, 2017
Location
Newton Grove, North Carolina
The Battle of Hanover Court House, also known as the Battle of Slash Church, took place on May 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia.
On May 27, elements of BG Fitz John Porter's V Corps of 12,000 men extended north to protect the right flank of MG George B. McClellan's Union Army of the Potomac based on a rumor from a Virginia civilian that a Confederate force of 17,000 was moving to Hanover Court House, north of Mechanicsville.

Porter's objective was to deal with the Confederate force near Hanover Court House, which threatened the avenue of approach for Union reinforcements that were marching south from Fredericksburg. The smaller Confederate force of about 4000 men, under led by Col. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch, which included the 7th, 18th, 28th, and 37th North Carolina Infantry regiments, and the 45th Georgia Infantry. Col. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch pulled his units back to Ashland VA after losing the battle.

After reading the book General Lee’s Immortals by Michael Hardy I went out to find this battlefield as our family had a few members in the 18th NC. The 18th earned the name of the "Bloody 18th" in this battle which one of our family members Captain Wiley John Sykes was killed leading a charge against the enemy lines

I found only one sign with any information and that was for the Slash Church. I could not locate any Civil War Trails or information signs about the battle. It maybe because most of the land the battle took place on is in private hands now. If not for the map provided in the book I would have not known any of the locations to go see. The five locations are (attached pics are in this order) Slash Church used as a headquarters and hospital, Lebanon Church used as a hospital, Peake’s Station, Harris farm and Dr Kinney’s.

SC.JPG


Map.JPG


SCC.JPG


LC.JPG


P.JPG


HF.JPG


DK.JPG
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2014
The Battle of Hanover Court House, also known as the Battle of Slash Church, took place on May 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia.
On May 27, elements of BG Fitz John Porter's V Corps of 12,000 men extended north to protect the right flank of MG George B. McClellan's Union Army of the Potomac based on a rumor from a Virginia civilian that a Confederate force of 17,000 was moving to Hanover Court House, north of Mechanicsville.

Porter's objective was to deal with the Confederate force near Hanover Court House, which threatened the avenue of approach for Union reinforcements that were marching south from Fredericksburg. The smaller Confederate force of about 4000 men, under led by Col. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch, which included the 7th, 18th, 28th, and 37th North Carolina Infantry regiments, and the 45th Georgia Infantry. Col. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch pulled his units back to Ashland VA after losing the battle.

After reading the book General Lee’s Immortals by Michael Hardy I went out to find this battlefield as our family had a few members in the 18th NC. The 18th earned the name of the "Bloody 18th" in this battle which one of our family members Captain Wiley John Sykes was killed leading a charge against the enemy lines

I found only one sign with any information and that was for the Slash Church. I could not locate any Civil War Trails or information signs about the battle. It maybe because most of the land the battle took place on is in private hands now. If not for the map provided in the book I would have not known any of the locations to go see. The five locations are (attached pics are in this order) Slash Church used as a headquarters and hospital, Lebanon Church used as a hospital, Peake’s Station, Harris farm and Dr Kinney’s.

View attachment 303669

View attachment 303672

View attachment 303673

View attachment 303674

View attachment 303675

View attachment 303676

View attachment 303677
Thank you for posting this. Capt Sykes was a brother to my gr(3) grandmother so we are somehow related.
 

jcrook

Private
Joined
Oct 10, 2017
Location
Newton Grove, North Carolina
Thank you for posting this. Capt Sykes was a brother to my gr(3) grandmother so we are somehow related.
Captain Wiley John Sykes, brother of Mary Eliza Sykes who married John J. Melvin. John ((cousin) Sgt in the 36th NC Art / 2nd NC Art Co H Fort Fisher) was the son of George Melvin who was the son of John Thomas Melvin my 4x great grandfather.
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2014
Captain Wiley John Sykes, brother of Mary Eliza Sykes who married John J. Melvin. John ((cousin) Sgt in the 36th NC Art / 2nd NC Art Co H Fort Fisher) was the son of George Melvin who was the son of John Thomas Melvin my 4x great grandfather.
My line is through the sister of Captain Sykes, Catherine Ann who married K K Council and their daughter Adelaide Council who married Daniel M Sutton who also served in the 18th NC, Co K, wounded at the Wilderness and on the surrender rolls at Appomattox. Their daughter Josephine was my grandmother. So not close kin but more distantly related. Thanks for posting the pictures.
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Location
Laurinburg NC
The Battle of Hanover Court House was the first and deadliest for a local company -- Co. F. (the Scotch Boys) 18th North Carolina. Company F suffered six killed or died of wounds in the battle. The company had 24 killed or died of wounds during the war. The second deadliest battle was Chancellorsville (3). Tied for third with 2 each killed or died of wounds was--Fraser's Farm, Gettysburg, Shepherdstown and the Wilderness.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
The Battle of Hanover Court House, also known as the Battle of Slash Church, took place on May 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia.
On May 27, elements of BG Fitz John Porter's V Corps of 12,000 men extended north to protect the right flank of MG George B. McClellan's Union Army of the Potomac based on a rumor from a Virginia civilian that a Confederate force of 17,000 was moving to Hanover Court House, north of Mechanicsville.

Porter's objective was to deal with the Confederate force near Hanover Court House, which threatened the avenue of approach for Union reinforcements that were marching south from Fredericksburg. The smaller Confederate force of about 4000 men, under led by Col. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch, which included the 7th, 18th, 28th, and 37th North Carolina Infantry regiments, and the 45th Georgia Infantry. Col. Lawrence O'Bryan Branch pulled his units back to Ashland VA after losing the battle.

After reading the book General Lee’s Immortals by Michael Hardy I went out to find this battlefield as our family had a few members in the 18th NC. The 18th earned the name of the "Bloody 18th" in this battle which one of our family members Captain Wiley John Sykes was killed leading a charge against the enemy lines

I found only one sign with any information and that was for the Slash Church. I could not locate any Civil War Trails or information signs about the battle. It maybe because most of the land the battle took place on is in private hands now. If not for the map provided in the book I would have not known any of the locations to go see. The five locations are (attached pics are in this order) Slash Church used as a headquarters and hospital, Lebanon Church used as a hospital, Peake’s Station, Harris farm and Dr Kinney’s.

View attachment 303669

View attachment 303672

View attachment 303673

View attachment 303674

View attachment 303675

View attachment 303676

View attachment 303677
Thanks for doing this. I can recommend Hardy's 2011 book The Battle of Hanover Court House - readable and thorough (if a little pricey)
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2014
Captain Wiley John Sykes, brother of Mary Eliza Sykes who married John J. Melvin. John ((cousin) Sgt in the 36th NC Art / 2nd NC Art Co H Fort Fisher) was the son of George Melvin who was the son of John Thomas Melvin my 4x great grandfather.
I know that Capt. Sykes was reported killed at Hanover Court House & buried on the battlefield. In my research for information about the 18th NC Regiment & Daniel M Sutton, my great-grandfather, I found this book EXPERIENCES OF A CONFEDERATE CHAPLIN by Rev. Alexander Davis Betts. In it on 6 July 18__ (1862) he says "Walk, Walk, Walk, visit wounded soldiers Camp Winder & other hospitals...Capt. Sykes of Bladen". Do you think or know if Capt. Sykes actually was taken to Richmond after his wounds at Hanover Court House & died there instead of on the battlefield as reported by newspapers? I no longer have my copy of the pages from Rev. Betts book that my quote comes from for the full page to be presented here. Downsizing & my age are culprits, so only my excerpt is in my files. I know that there were members of my different families from Bladen County who traveled to Richmond to nurse wounded soldiers so perhaps that also occurred with Capt. Sykes.
 

jcrook

Private
Joined
Oct 10, 2017
Location
Newton Grove, North Carolina
I know that Capt. Sykes was reported killed at Hanover Court House & buried on the battlefield. In my research for information about the 18th NC Regiment & Daniel M Sutton, my great-grandfather, I found this book EXPERIENCES OF A CONFEDERATE CHAPLIN by Rev. Alexander Davis Betts. In it on 6 July 18__ (1862) he says "Walk, Walk, Walk, visit wounded soldiers Camp Winder & other hospitals...Capt. Sykes of Bladen". Do you think or know if Capt. Sykes actually was taken to Richmond after his wounds at Hanover Court House & died there instead of on the battlefield as reported by newspapers? I no longer have my copy of the pages from Rev. Betts book that my quote comes from for the full page to be presented here. Downsizing & my age are culprits, so only my excerpt is in my files. I know that there were members of my different families from Bladen County who traveled to Richmond to nurse wounded soldiers so perhaps that also occurred with Capt. Sykes.
I do not have that information (I only have him being promoted from Lieutenant to Captain) and I can not find a grave site for him. If he died at a Richmond Hospital he would have been placed in Hollywood cemetery after the war or his body taken home by family. If he was buried on the battlefield that is all private property now and I could not look around.
The Rev book can be read at https://docsouth.unc.edu/fpn/betts/betts.html.
 
Last edited:

1st Va Co A

Private
Joined
Jun 1, 2016
Location
Richmond, Va
jcrook et al,

Thanks for shining light on an overlooked battle of the Peninsula Campaign! As a lifelong resident of this area, allow me to share what I know about this engagement.


There is a marker shown as "Planned", but not yet in place. Here's a preview of it:

Battle of Hanover Courthouse Marker.png


I belong to a SCV Camp that meets at Slash Church, (the smaller building on the left in your pic), and the location of this battle has been a huge topic of conversation and speculation.

As best we can discern through research and local lore, the origin of the battle was closer to the intersection of Peakes Road and US Route 301/Rt. 2 at what was historically known as "Cash's Corner", with the intersection of the Va. Central RR Line and Peakes Rd. being the fallback position for Porter's troops at the end of the day. In fact, the RR line pathway is the key to the battle location.

The question of the exact location of the battlefield seems to arise from the spacial "compression" of ACW-era maps coupled with the same in modern print.

Library of Congress map from the day of the battle shows this:

Battle of Hanover Courthouse Battle Map.jpg


Notice that Peakes Station crossing is not included on this map.



Also interesting is:


- The VA Central RR never crosses the Pamunkey.

- Same RR never bisects Hanover CH as shown.



jrcook's map/pic shows this same compression WRT Dr. Kinney's House, towards Peakes:

Map.JPG


Boots on the ground don't agree.



A modern-day map of the area looks like this:



Note the RR line path with relation to Peakes Rd. and Rt. 2 US 301. The roughly wedge-shaped area between all 3 boundaries sort of match the LOC map, but place the battle lines further East than most modern accounts.


As another poster noted, it's hard to find a single acre in central VA that doesn't have some ACW history attached to it!



Battle of Hanover Courthouse Battle Map_Modern.jpg
 
Last edited:

jcrook

Private
Joined
Oct 10, 2017
Location
Newton Grove, North Carolina
Really would help if we had a county plan of when the road names changed / rerouted or something showing if the railroad line has been rerouted from 1862 to present. Using the map I had following the current roads it placed the 18th NC at the 2nd right past Peakes Crossing (no road name) off Peakes road at 695 (Cadys Mill Rd) with the 33rd NC at the end of that road. The 28th NC at Cash's Corner and the 37th on 695 by the railroad. It appeared to me most of the fighting was on present day Cady's Mill RD and at Cash's corner
 
Last edited:

jackt62

Captain
Member of the Month
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Location
New York City
This battle may be overlooked in history because Lincoln ultimately decided not to send McDowell's Corps southward to reinforce the AOTP, because of the threat to Washington DC posed by Stonewall Jackson's army in the Shenandoah Valley.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
This battle may be overlooked in history because Lincoln ultimately decided not to send McDowell's Corps southward to reinforce the AOTP, because of the threat to Washington DC posed by Stonewall Jackson's army in the Shenandoah Valley.
i think it's also overlooked for some other reasons, as well. First, limited forces were engaged' Second, it was poorly fought by both Branch and Porter (despite the latter's substantial numerical superiority and despite McClellan's hyperbolic report about the outcome). Last, Fair Oaks/Seven Pines took place only a few days latter and eclipsed it in importance.
 

jcrook

Private
Joined
Oct 10, 2017
Location
Newton Grove, North Carolina
i think it's also overlooked for some other reasons, as well. First, limited forces were engaged' Second, it was poorly fought by both Branch and Porter (despite the latter's substantial numerical superiority and despite McClellan's hyperbolic report about the outcome). Last, Fair Oaks/Seven Pines took place only a few days latter and eclipsed it in importance.
Like South Mountain is often overlooked because of Antietam happening three days later
 

1st Va Co A

Private
Joined
Jun 1, 2016
Location
Richmond, Va
Really would help if we had a county plan of when the road names changed / rerouted or something showing if the railroad line has been rerouted from 1862 to present. Using the map I had following the current roads it placed the 18th NC at the 2nd right past Peakes Crossing (no road name) off Peakes road at 695 (Cadys Mill Rd) with the 33rd NC at the end of that road. The 28th NC at Cash's Corner and the 37th on 695 by the railroad. It appeared to me most of the fighting was on present day Cady's Mill RD and at Cash's corner

Agreed. All RR lines in this area are on their 1860's railbeds, and are your best map starting point for sure. Think your positioning of the lines are accurate as can be extrapolated as well.

Too bad the historical record is kinda all over the place on this one.

As to the roadbeds, Cash's Corner crossing's southwestern corner is occupied by a motel from the 20's, and the Peakes Rd. runs along well-established farm field lines all the way to the crossing. Pretty sure that's the 1860's roadbed as well.



Methinks the large fields on the highlighted pic would be a digger's dream, but have no knowledge of it ever being hunted.

Battle of Hanover Courthouse Battle Map_Modern 2.jpg
 
Last edited:

zhodanius

Cadet
Joined
Jun 19, 2019
In my research on the battle, I've examined the hand-drawn map extensively. Comparing it to the USGS map and the other contemporaneous maps, it looks like they may have confused the Pamunkey with Cady Creek. Cady Creek (and Lake) parallels the railroad and seems to be crossed by it as well.

They also messed up the Cash's Corner intersection. It does not appear to create a "+" but rather a "T" heading from Ashcake down to Taliaferro's Mill.
 

zhodanius

Cadet
Joined
Jun 19, 2019
I'm curious, jcrook, where you found the battle map that shows the troop movement at 1:30 (phase 2). I've found a ton of maps and documents, but nothing like that. I'd love to see a source that shows the battle in a blow-by-blow timeline.

Also, I'm not sure if there ever was a "Taliaferro's Mill." Everyone mentions it, but only the military maps show it. Others refer to it as "Phillip's Mill." And there are Taliaferros living in the vicinity.

It's possible that Branch and the other commanders thought that was the name, referred to it in reports and it stuck?

PhillipsMill.png


PhillipsMill2.png


PhillipsMill3.png


PhillipsMill4.png
 

Georgia Sixth

Sergeant Major
Joined
Dec 14, 2011
Location
Texas
The Battle of Hanover Court House was the first and deadliest for a local company -- Co. F. (the Scotch Boys) 18th North Carolina. Company F suffered six killed or died of wounds in the battle. The company had 24 killed or died of wounds during the war. The second deadliest battle was Chancellorsville (3). Tied for third with 2 each killed or died of wounds was--Fraser's Farm, Gettysburg, Shepherdstown and the Wilderness.

That is amazing that the regiment went through Pickett's Charge and only lost two dead. Wow.
 

Jamieva

Captain
Forum Host
Joined
Feb 7, 2006
Location
Midlothian, VA
I'm really surprised there is no CWT marker for this battle. There are smaller actions than this that have CWT markers, even if the battlefield is on private property. Was just reading about it yesterday in Lee's Immortals about the Branch/Lane brigade.
 
Top