The Union Army, led by Lieutenant General Grant, had engaged the Confederate Army, led by General Robert E. Lee, in several battles surrounding the Confederate capital of Richmond. The Union Army had greater numbers, and was spreading out, leaving the Confederate Army very thin. Lee's army suffered through the winter living in trenches wil little food and clothing.
The forts surrounding Fort Stedman launched a counterattack beginning at 8:00 am. Union batteries and infantries were brought in to drive the Confederates from the Fort. Lee called off the attack and the Confederates fled back to their lines or surrendered, rather than trying to return to Confederate lines. There were over 4,000 Confederate casualties and 1,500 Union casualties. The attack on Fort Stedman was a Confederate failure.
General Lee ordered an attack on the Union held Fort Stedman. The assault was led by Gen John B. Gordon at 4:00 am, who was quickly able to overcome Union pickets and axmen, taking the Fort.
Gen. Robert E. Lee anticipates Grant's plan to sever the Southside Railroad. He orders one-third of his army, 19,000 men to Five Forks, to defend the Railroad. Gen. George E. Pickett commanded 14,000 infantrymen and Gen. W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee would command 5,000 cavalry.
Grant orders the Union Cavalry, led by Gen. Phillip H. Sheridan, to sever the Southside Railroad. This railroad was Richmond's final supply line to the South. Sheridan advanced with his 30,000 mixed command of cavalry and infantry.
Grant ordered Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren's V Corps to join Sheridan's command, totaling at 53,000 men. At 4:30 pm Sheridan attacked the Confederate forces at Five Forks. The Confederates disintegrated, and many fled in the opposite direction of Gen. Lee. Many were taken as prisoners. The Battle of Five Forks would also be known as "the Waterloo of the Confederacy".
At approximately 5:00 p.m. on April 6, 1865, 18,000 Union horsemen and infantrymen attacked the 9,000 Confederate soldiers who had been separated from the rest of the Army of Norther Virginia. The battle was over quickly, with six generals and 6,000 troops being taken as prisoners.
Gordon and the remainder of his troops retreated, and rejoined Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. The Battle of Sayler's Creek had left his army shortened by approximately one-third.
The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was forced to march west from the Confederate capital, which had been abandoned. The supply wagons could not keep up with the troops. At Sayler's Creek the Confederate Army was separated, and the Union cavalry entered the gap. Gen. John B. Gordon's corps was located at the rear, and took a different route than the other corps. The Union cavalry got into place to attack the separated Confederates.
Confederate General John B. Gordon and his troops were mistakenly traveling with the wagon train, when it was attacked. The wagons had bottlenecked, and caused the column to halt. The Union troops, led by General A.A. Humphrey, took advantage of the stalled column. Gordon and his men tried to defend themselves and the wagons, but were quickly overtaken. 200 wagons, 70 ambulances, 13 battle flags, and 1,700 men were captured.