Bloodiest and largest all-cavalry engagement during the war
The Battle of Trevilian Station (also called Trevilians) was fought on June 11–12, 1864, in Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s Overland Campaign against Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. Union cavalry under Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan fought against Confederate cavalry under Maj. Gens. Wade Hampton and Fitzhugh Lee in the bloodiest and largest all-cavalry battle of the war.
Sheridan’s objectives fr his raid were to destroy stretches of the Virginia Central Railroad, provide a diversion that would occupy Confederate cavalry from understanding Grant’s planned crossing of the James River, and to link up with the army of Maj. Gen. David Hunter at Charlottesville. Hampton’s cavalry beat Sheridan to the railroad at Trevilian Station and on June 11 they fought to a standstill. Brig. Gen. George A. Custer entered the Confederate rear area and captured Hampton’s supply train, but soon became surrounded and fought desperately to avoid destruction.
On June 12, the cavalry forces clashed again to the northwest of Trevilian Station, and seven assaults by Brig. Gen. Alfred T. A. Torbert’s Union division were repulsed with heavy losses. Sheridan withdrew his force to rejoin Grant’s army. The battle was a tactical victory for the Confederates and Sheridan failed to achieve his goal of permanently destroying the Virginia Central Railroad or of linking up with Hunter. Its distraction, however, may have contributed to Grant’s successful crossing of the James River.
The results of the Battle of Trevilian Station were mixed. Union casualties were 1,007 (102 killed, 470 wounded, and 435 missing or captured). Confederate losses were reported as 612, but this includes the losses from only Hampton’s Division and 831 is a better total estimate.
“It was the bloodiest and largest all-cavalry engagement during the war.” Salmon, John S. The Official Virginia Civil War Battlefield Guide., p. 300.