Battle of Waynesborough, 2 March 1865

A minor battle that ended organised Confederate resistance in the Shenandoah Valley (American Civil War). After defeat at Cedar Creek (19 October 1864), the Confederate forces under Jubal Early had pulled back to New Market to over-winter. His Union opponent, General Sheridan, had launched a few unsuccessful raids before dispatching most of his infantry to the Petersburg front.

At the end of February, Sheridan’s now almost entirely cavalry army began to move up the valley, with the intention of crossing over into central Virginia to disrupt Confederate supply lines. Early decided to oppose this move with his small army, and formed up at Waynesborough. However, although Early was still keen, his troop’s morale was apparently poor. On 2 March Custer’s cavalry, acting as the advance guard of Sheridan’s army, over-ran the Confederate position, capturing almost the entire army. Early and the senior commanders were amongst the few men to escape from the disaster.

Victory at Waynesborough left Sheridan free to march into the heart of Virginia. He was able to destroy miles of the Virginia Central Railroad and the James River Canal, before joining Grant’s army at the White House on the Pamunkey River on 19 March, just in time to play a part in the final collapse of Confederate resistance around Richmond and Petersburg.

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (15 August 2006), Battle of Waynesborough, 2 March 1865 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/battles_waynesborough.html

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