The Virginia in the Civil War Message Board

The 5th Army Corps at Five Forks

By 4 p.m. Warren’s V Corps had finished their two mile march and were assembled at Gravely Run Church, one half mile east of Pickett’s line. Ayres’ Division was on the left and Crawford’s Division on the right. Directly behind Crawford was Griffin’s Division. Warren’s assault plan was for Ayres to strike the Confederate main line and for the other two divisions to sweep over and around the angle at the line of the line.

The direction of Warren’s Corps was slightly west of due north and at an oblique angle, so Crawford’s division moved out of the woods and crossed the White Oak Road slightly before Ayres. Meanwhile Munford deployed his division along the cavalry picket line in front of the Federals.

The Federals had expected to find entrenchments manned by Confederate infantry in their front and were momentarily baffled when they countered the carbine and pistol fire of Munford’s cavalrymen.

Wallace was arrayed along the part of the return that jutted out south of White Oak Road facing east beyond the far left of the Confederate line. Upon spotting Ayres he fired into the Federal left flank, his bullets striking the Maryland Brigade. Ayres took personal command of the brigade and faced it to the left so it confronted Wallace’s men. Ayres ordered his other two brigades to wheel to the left and form on the right of the Maryland brigade.

Craword’s division could not wheel to the left because Munford’s cavalry were in its front and marching to the left woud have exposed the division’s flank to the Confederates. Instead it executed a gradual wheel to the left while extending the right to prevent the Confederates from overlapping its right flank. As they advanced the Federals gradually forced Munford’s division back in a northerly direction and later towards the west. Crawford’s maneuver opened a gap between Ayres’ and Griffin’s divisions.

Part of Ransom’s Brigade left their section of the return north of White Oak Road and took position in the woods. After a spirited fight Ayres’ three brigades routed them and drove them off. But suddenly, Ransom’s Confederates fired into Ayres men who were still disordered after their victory and Wallace’s men fired into their left flank from the return south of White Oak Road. Ayres’ men panicked and drove for cover.

At first the left flank brigade under Bartlett from Griffin’s 1st Division followed Crawford, but Bartlett stopped his troops and realigned them so they faced west. Three of his regiments did not receive his orders and kept marching behind Crawford. Immediately on hearing gunfire Chamberlain, on the right far, halted his division and climbed to high ground where he spied Ayres’ fight. He turned his brigade to the left and ordered Gregory to bring up his brigade behind him and marched off to help Ayres.

As he approached the return from the west Chamberlain observed that Ransom’s men overlapped Ayres’ right, so he linked up with Ayres’ right. A first attack by Ayres was repulsed but when Chamberlain and Gregory joined in a second attack the Confederates fell back

Initially Warren made his headquarters behind Ayres. However when Crawford marched north away from the rest of the division he rode after him to direct him into the battle. Warren first encountered Col. John A. Kellogg, commanding Crawford’s left flank brigade. He ordered Kellogg to reorient his command toward the west and wait for another brigade to join him.

By the time Warren reached Crawford the division’s remaining two brigades had executed their left wheel and were facing west. Their position was due north of Five Forks. Warren ordered Crawford to turn his division so that it faced southward. Crawford now ordered his reserve brigade under Brig. Gen. Richard Coulter to take position in the front line on the left of Gen. Baxter’s Brigade. Crawford’s division then marched south down the Ford Road.

The appearance of Crawford in the Confederate rear led Charles Pickett to order Mayo to take his brigade out of the line (leaving the 3rd Virginia behind to hold the intrenchments) and form a new line across the Ford Road facing north. Mayo was able to get only two of his three regiments in place before Crawford began his assault. Two regiments from Coulter’s Brigade were committed to the attack. They fired into the Confederate artillery and silenced it and then swept aside Mayo ’s regiments.

By this time the only intact Confderate infantry brigade was Montgomery Corse’s. Pickett ordered Corse to leave the intrenchments and to form his brigade at the northwest edige of the Gilliam field to cover the retreat of the rest of Pickett’s infantry, to gather up stragglers, and stop the Federal infantry attacks. By this time Crawford’s infantry had reached Five Forks and were marching west towards Corse. When the two forces met Crawford’s men hesitated to go forward. Warren grabbed a battle flag and led his men forward on foot. His inspiring behavior caused his men to charge forward and attack Corse. After a short contest Corse ’s men withdrew.

Griffin’s 1st Division

Killed wounded captured total

Chamberlain’s 1st Brigade 4 16 3 23
Gregory’s 2nd Brigade 1 15 1 16
Bartlett’s 3rd Brigade 14 72 2 86

Total: 19 103 6 125

Ayres 2nd Division:

Killed wounded captured total
Grindlay’s 1st Brigade 4 37 0 41
Stanton’s 2nd Brigade 10 58 12 80
Gwynn’s 3rd Brigade 10 68 9 86

Total: 24 163 21 207

Crawford 3rd Division

Killed Wounded Captured Total

Kellogg’s 1st Brigade 12 90 6 108
Baxter’s 2nd Brigade 4 40 2 46
Coulter’s 3rd Brigade 15 110 21 156

Total: 31 240 29 310

OR Vol. 46, Pt. 1, p. 840.

Phase 2

West of Syndor Field

Fragments of the brigades of Wallace and Ransom and the 14th Virginia Infantry of Steuart’s Brigade fight the brigades of Gregory and Chamberain and part of Ayres. According to Lt. Col. E.W. Wood of the 14th Virginia Infantry the Confederates numbered about 1000 men. He states the stand lasted an hour or an hour and a half and ended only when the Confederates ran out of ammunition and fell back. (Warren Court of Inquiry Vol. 1 p. 487) Chamberlain estimates the actual fighting lasted 20 to 30 minutes.

Phase 3

At the Chimneys Munford versus Crawford

Munford’s cavalry division versus Coulter’s brigade of Crawford’s division. Federals lose 75 killed and wounded.

Phase 4

Ford Road

Mayo’s Brigade and some of Steuart brigade face north and oppose Coulter

Phase 5

West end of Gilliam Field

Corse versus Crawford

Chamberlain 4 16 3 23
Gregory 1 15 0 16

Grand Total: 28 179 24 246