Appomattox County, VA | Apr 8, 1865
Harried mercilessly by Federal troops and continually cut off from turning south to reach Gen. Joseph Johnston's army in North Carolina, General Robert E. Lee headed west along the Appomattox River, eventually arriving in Appomattox County on April 8th. His objective was the South Side Railroad at Appomattox Station where food supplies awaited. Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. George A. Custer reached the station first, capturing three supply trains. While at the station, Custer's men came under attack from Confederate artillery under Brig. Gen. Reuben L. Walker and a handful of cavalry troopers camped in the area. The Confederates were hampered by the unexpected encounter with Custer's men, lack of organization, and no central command, which resulted in mass confusion. The unique action pitted artillery without infantry support against mounted cavalry. During most of the battle, Confederate artillery crews acted as infantry skirmishers. Custer's men charged the Confederate artillery, difficult to accomplish in the rough and wooded terrain, and captured 25 guns, driving off and scattering the Confederate defenders. The action at Appomattox Station ended Lee's hope of finding food and supplies in the immediate area and undoubtedly influenced his decision to meet with Grant at nearby Appomattox Court House the next day.