In the footsteps of the first division

Published 10:44 am Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park will continue its annual New Year’s Day tradition of getting outdoors for a cool, brisk, ranger-led guided hike and a chance to win prizes Monday, Jan. 1 from 10 a.m.-noon.

During the three separate engagements occurring simultaneously on Apr. 6, 1865, which collectively became known as “The Battles of Sailor’s Creek”, the largest and most significant fight took place around the Hillsman Farm. It was at this location that General Horatio Wright’s Union VI Corps deployed two divisions of well-seasoned, veteran troops into a line of battle that would take them from the Hillsman Farmhouse down to Sailor’s Creek, crossing over to the opposite bank and ascending the hillside where General Richard Ewell’s Confederates lay in wait, ready and determined to hold their ground despite being outnumbered.

As modern-day “time travelers,” visitors participating in our First Day Hike will follow in the footsteps of the First Division of the Union VI Corps, which formed the left flank of the attack. Along the way, key points of interest, tales of valor, and the resulting aftermath of the fighting will be shared by your Park Ranger guide.

This family-friendly, pet-friendly program is free to the general public. Participants are encouraged to wear layered clothing and closed-toe footwear appropriate to hiking in winter conditions along a mixture of varying terrain, grassy areas and gradual elevation changes. All pets must be on a leash and under the control of their handlers at all times. Hikers will also need to provide their own water and snacks.

Starting and ending at the Hillsman House parking lot, the hike is approximately two miles in length. Immediately following the hike, tours of the Hillsman House will be offered. Please note that this is a weather dependent event that will not be re-scheduled. If adverse weather is in the forecast please contact the Battlefield Visitor Center for program status updates.

For more information about the “First Day Hike” program and the corresponding contests awarding prizes upwards of $500 in value, please call Sailor’s Creek Battlefield at 804-561-7510, or email us at

The purpose of Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park is to preserve the cultural landscape as it was in 1865, and to provide the historic setting to tell the story of the last major battle of the Civil War in Virginia before the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Army at Appomattox Court House, and its impact on the citizens of Southside Virginia.

The award winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. For more information about Virginia State Parks’ activities and amenities or to make reservations in one of the more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at (800) 933-PARK or visit