Battle of Chamberlain's Bed (Run)

    March 31, 1865

           Abbereviated story

            As the 1865 spring campaign began, Barringer's brigade had 1,788 officers and effective mounted troops. Barringer had only three regiments, the 1st, 2nd and 5th North Carolina, with him when the armies met on March 31 during a continuing cold rain; the 3rd Cavalry was stationed in the rear guarding his supply train.  

            In the lead-up to the Waterloo of the Confederacy at Five Forks the next day, two crossings of Chamberlain's Bed (Run) were attempted by Barringer's command on March 31, 1865. Four miles to the southeast of Five Forks, a small, swampy tributary known as Chamberlain's Bed fed into nearby Stony Creek. This inconsequential stream separated the Confederates from Sheridan's 9,000-man force at Dinwiddie Court House, and was destined to be the scene of one of the final battles of the North-South conflict in Virginia.  The Run was very full, more than 150 yards wide, with only one cross­ing for mounted troops, and the banks were obstructed everywhere by dense foliage and obstructions The morning charge was repulsed by Union horsemen with loss. The afternoon charge was successful, but at a terrible cost to Barringer's regiments.

            David Cardwell of McGregor's Horse Artillery, positioned on the south bank of Chamberlain's Bed, later revealed what happened that March day in the waning weeks of the war: "As the bri­gade of General Barringer charged across the run, which was three or four feet deep, our gun was in posi­tion on a little knoll on the right of the ford by which the cavalry charged, and I had a splendid opportu­nity to see the whole fight. In all my expe­rience (and I had been in over sixty fights, great and small) I never saw a more splendid charge. They simply swept ev­erything out of their way. Every field offi­cer of Barringer's brigade was shot, yet on pushed these sol­diers. The splendid cavalry of Sheridan fled before them until they almost reached Dinwiddie Courthouse, where their infantry was in large force."

 

Reference: Fighting for General Lee: Confederate General Rufus Barringer and the North Carolina Cavalry Brigade by Sheridan R. Barringer.

Footnotes enumerated in the book.

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