Battle of Bentonville 150th Anniversary
The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bentonville in North Carolina takes place next weekend March 21st and 22nd 2015. We went to the reenactments in 2010 and it was spectacular. This is the largest reenactment in North Carolina on the site of the largest battle in North Carolina during the Civil War.
Johnston County Civil War History
The Battle of Bentonville took place on March 18-21 in 1865 when the Union Army led by Major General William T. Sherman encountered the Confederate Army under General Joseph E. Johnston on farm land near Four Oaks. Sherman was heading for Goldsboro for supplies and reinforcements and had split his army in two. Despite this the Confederate force of 20,000 men were unable to stop the much larger force of 60,000 Union troops and after three days of fighting Johnston retreated.
General Sherman did not pursue the Confederate army but instead continued to Goldsboro and on April 9th 1865 in Appomattox Court House General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Lt General Ulysses S. Grant. Johnston surrendered his army to Sherman some weeks late on April 26th in Durham at a farm house called Bennet Place. Raleigh was spared from destruction when a delegation came out of the capitol and met with Sherman at a place called Stalling’s Station which is now the Town of Clayton.
Horses, Cannons, Guns Right In Front of You
Over 50,000 people attended the reenactments in 2010 and organizers are predicting the same number or more for this years 150th anniversary. There are many facets to the Battle of Bentonville historic site and this weekend there will be lots to see and learn. The major battle reenactments are held on Saturday at 3pm when “The Fight For The Morris Farm” will take place, the public will be able to access the battlefield at 1 pm. On Sunday at 1.30 PM the “Last Grand Charge Of The Army Of Tennessee And Morgan’s Stand” battlefield is open to the public at 11.30 AM. Tickets are required for the battle reenactments and to purchase them here is a link to the website.
Learn About Life During the Civil War
The rest of the site is free to visitors and that includes a wide range of historical exhibits, talks and activities. Visitors can visit the Harper House which served as a field hospital for Sherman’s Army and where 500 solders were treated for wounds. The downstairs of the house is set up to resemble a Civil War field hospital and the upstairs is decorated in furnishings of the time.
Stroll through the camp sites of the various reenactors and you will be amazed at the level of detail and dedication some of these folks put into their passions. Almost like traveling back in time, you will see food they ate in 1865, how they cooked and stored it, what men, women and children wore and how they travelled. There is a visitors center and information tent and gift shop tent selling souvenirs.
Heritage Center And Other Historical Sights
The Johnston County Heritage Center in Smithfield has just opened an exhibit titled “American versus American: Our Most Cruel War” so if you can’t make the Bentonville reenactments check out the exhibit. They have artifacts from the Civil War including a Confederate infantry officer’s sword, a Union cavalryman’s saddle and a bayonet found in a tree near Bentonville. The Heritage Center has some great exhibits and fascinating facts about Johnston County, for example it used to be ocean front which is explained by a find of sharks teeth, whale bones and dinosaur parts found on a family farm near Benson.
In Smithfield you can also tour the Hastings House which was built in 1854 and was used by General Johnston as his pre-battle command center before engaging Shermans troops. Smithfield has some fine examples of Southern style architecture and is an easy walking town.