The Battle of Saint Mary's Church (also called Samaria Church in the South, or Nance's Shop) was a cavalry battle fought on June 24, 1864, as part of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.
As Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan's Union cavalry of the Army of the Potomac returned from their raid against the Virginia Central Railroad at Trevilian Station, Confederate cavalry under Maj. Gens. Wade Hampton attempted to intercept them, but were only able to harass them. Hampton's force consisted of Brig. Gen. Matthew C. Butler's and Brig. Gen. Thomas L. Rosser's brigades from his own division, Brig. Gen. Williams C. Wickham's brigade from Maj. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee's division, and Brig. Gen. John R. Chambliss's brigade from Maj. Gen. W.H.F. "Rooney" Lee's division. He added a newly formed cavalry brigade under Brig. Gen. Martin W. Gary.
On June 20, Fitz Lee attempted to attack the Union supply depot at White House Landing, but Sheridan's arrival relieved the garrison there. On June 21, Sheridan crossed over the Pamunkey River, broke through the Confederate cordon at St. Peter's Church, and led 900 wagons toward the James River. They crossed the Chickahominy River on June 22 and June 23, bypassing stiff opposition south of Jones's Bridge on June 23; Hampton had been unable to intercept Sheridan prior to this, so crossed the Chickahominy upstream from the Union crossing and hastened south.
Sheridan headed toward Deep Bottom on his way to link up with Union infantry at Bermuda Hundred. Near Westover Church, Union Brig. Gen. Alfred T.A. Torbert's was stalled by Confederate resistance. On June 24, Brig. Gen. David McM. Gregg's division occupied a covering position near Samaria Church, on the road to Charles City, while Sheridan ferried Torbert's division and the supply train across the James at Douthat's Landing.
Hampton's force attacked Gregg's division from several directions, leading with dismounted cavalrymen and horse artillery, with the mounted troops remaining in the rear. They fought for several hours, resulting in more than 350 Union casualties and about 250 Confederate. One of the Confederates wrote, "The enemy position was a strong one. ... They fought vigorously for a while but as our boys closed in on them they fled and when they broke the mounted cavalry was order[ed] to charge which they did driving pell mell for 3 miles capturing quite a number of prisoners, they leaving their dead and wounded in our care." Except for the men left behind, Gregg's division escaped relatively intact. Among the prisoners was Col. Pennock Huey of the 8th Pennsylvania Cavalry.
Having been blocked by Hampton's cavalry, Sheridan withdrew on June 25 and moved to Wyanoke Neck, the point where the Army of the Potomac had crossed the James earlier that month, reaching the southern bank of the James with his troopers and supply trains by June 28.
The results of Hampton's cavalry activities against Sheridan were mixed. He had succeeded in protecting the railroads and, indirectly, Richmond, but had failed to trap the Union cavalry. He abandoned his pursuit when ordered by Robert E. Lee to deal with the Wilson-Kautz raids against railroads south of Petersburg.
- Siege of Petersburg (Wilson-Kautz raids)
- Kennedy, Frances H., Ed., The Civil War Battlefield Guide, 2nd ed., Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998, ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
- Longacre, Edward G., Lee's Cavalrymen: A History of the Mounted Forces of the Army of Northern Virginia, Stackpole Books, 2002, ISBN 0-8117-0898-5.
- National Park Service battle description
- Longacre, p. 306.
- Battle of Saint Mary's Church is at coordinates Coordinates:
da:Slaget ved Saint Mary's Church