< to March • April 1865
The Army of Northern Virginia commanded by General Robert E. Lee was stretched to its limit covering the earthworks around Petersburg and Richmond. Grant launched one last movement against the Confederate right flank that crushed Picket’s Division at Five Forks, opening the way to cut the last rail line into Petersburg. The next day Grant launched attacks all along the line, breaking through southwest of Petersburg. Lee’s forces in the Petersburg lines began a desperate withdrawal north across the Appomattox River, while the forces around Richmond evacuated to the west.
The starved and exhausted Confederates tried to escape Grant’s pursuing forces, but lack of supplies and the relentless pursuing Federal Cavalry doomed their attempt. A large number of the army were captured or scattered at Sayler’s Creek on April 6, and much of his reserve artillery was captured at Appmattox Station on April 8. Lee found all his paths blocked at Appomattox Court House. After a last attempt to break through failed, Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia on April 9.