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The Battle of Old Church

May 30, 1864 in Hanover County, Virginia
Grant's Overland Campaign

Union Forces Commanded by:
Brig. Gen. Alfred Torbert
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
- - - -

Confederate Forces Commanded by:
Brig. Gen. Matthew C. Butler
Forces Killed Wounded Captured
- - - -

**Missing and Captured
Conclusion: Union Victory


The Battle of Old Church, also known as Matadequin Creek, was fought on May 30, 1864, as part of Union Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

Click Map To Enlarge

Battle at Bethesda Church and Old Church

With the armies stalemated along the Totopotomoy Creek line, Major General Philip Sheridan's Union cavalry began probing east and south. A squadron of the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry regiment, from the brigade of Col. Thomas C. Devin, moved from Old Church Tavern to a more defensible position at Matadequin Creek. Knowing the importance of the nearby road intersection at Old Cold Harbor, six miles from Richmond, General Lee dispatched Brig. Gen. Matthew C. Butler's brigade of 2,000 troopers north from Cold Harbor to determine whether the intersection was threatened.

On the afternoon of May 30, Butler's brigade reached the intersection and they pushed back the Pennsylvania squadron. Although two more squadrons were sent in to retake the position, when the bulk of the Confederate brigade arrived, they pushed the Union troopers back to the Creek. Devin ordered the rest of his brigade to the Creek, including the Reserve Brigade, under Brig. Gen. Wesley Merritt, and two regiments under Brig. Gen. George A. Custer. Division commander Brig. Gen. Alfred Torbert ordered the entire division to do so as well. The sharp engagement was entirely dismounted, with the Union having the firepower advantage of repeating rifles. The Confederate cavalry yielded to the superior numbers of the Union division and broke, fleeing back toward Cold Harbor. The Union troopers pursued them until they were 1.5 miles from Cold Harbor, bivouacking there for the night.

The door was open for Sheridan's capture of the important crossroads the next day, the start of the bloody Battle of Cold Harbor.

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