Five Forks

3569654123_6c236116d0Luckily the rain held off long enough for an enjoyable tour of the Five Forks battlefield with historians Keith Bohannon and Peter Carmichael.  We concentrated mainly in the area along White Oak Road and managed to locate and follow Pickett’s refuse line on his left flank.  The terrain is difficult to interpret given the height of the trees, but the area around the Gravelly Run Church, which served as the jump off point for Warren’s April 1 attack, gave me a sense of the rolling landscape and a better understanding of just how vulnerable Pickett’s division was along the White Oak Road.  From there we headed on over to the Five Forks intersection where we met NPS historian, Tracy Chernault.  Tracy was kind enough to take us over to the new visitor center building which is slated to open in the next few months.  It’s a marked improvement over the little shack that is currently being used at the intersection.  That building will be demolished and the two monuments will be moved to the visitor center.  From there we explored the Confederate right and drove to the approximate spot where Warren was relieved of command along with the field where Custer’s cavalry saw some heavy fighting.  Finally, we stopped at Sutherland Station and Fort Gregg.

Keith and Peter did a first rate job of explaining the ebb and flow of battle to me.  One can’t help but be impressed with their level of knowledge and their passion for battlefield interpretation.   Click here for additional photos.

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7 comments… add one
  • Ray O'Hara Aug 22, 2011 @ 7:29

    No picture of the site of the crucial event of the battle? by that I mean the site of Tom Rosser’s cookout, there is a sign.

    Visiting Ft Gregg was strange because of it’s location on the grounds of the Va State Mental hospital. Patients were wandering around the grounds in bathrobes and pajamas and gawking at us.

    oddly my most vivid memory of visiting Five Forks was meeting other tourists one of whom mentioned he had a family heirloom at home that was a letter from Martin Luther to an ancestor{yes that Martin Luther}

    it looks like they have built a new visitor center.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 22, 2011 @ 10:11

      The sign is about as close as you are going to get to the shad bake. There is indeed a brand new visitor center at Five Forks.

  • bill murray Aug 11, 2009 @ 16:40

    I’d like to talk to someone who is an expert on the Petersburt/fiveforks operation. I’m doing research about a soldier in the Union army who was killed in the Gravely Run battle of March 29th after having participated in every operation of the Union Army from Fredricksburg on without getting a scratch including fighting on Little Round Top with the 44th NY during the battle of Gettysburg! I’ve been in the Five Forks area and would like to get as near to the sight of his death as possible. I’ve become very close to this man and visit his grave in Peekskill, N.Y. as often as possible and would like to write his story so that he will not be forgotten. Any help I can get would be appreciated.

    • Kevin Levin Aug 11, 2009 @ 16:49


      If you are interested in the battle itself than I would first check out the following book by Ed Bearrs and Chris Calkins: The book is out of print, but you may be able to find it at your local college library.

      For individual records you may need to contact the National Archives. Good luck.

  • John Buchanan May 29, 2009 @ 9:10


    You will be happy to hear that 2 of my Scouts in my troop are working on Eagle Scout projects on the Five Forks battelfield. They each are building and expanding on the interpretative trails so you should have an easier time touring at this time next year.

    I always enjoy just standing there….it can be incredibly peaceful after a hectic day at work!

  • Mike May 28, 2009 @ 6:51

    I hope to hear more about your adventure.

    • Kevin Levin May 28, 2009 @ 6:58

      Sorry Mike, but what happens on the battlefield stays on the battlefield. 🙂

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